Editor’s note: Travis Woodruff is a Tucson-based cycling coach (USA Cycling certified Level I Elite Coach) and founder of Momentum Endurance, a coaching business. On Monday, Travis will begin providing bi-monthly training columns to help you take your cycling to the next level. If you would like more personalized service, contact Travis. Read more about Travis and his coaching in Tucson Velo’s Q&A.
Understanding where you’re at or how your fitness might be coming along is an important part of the training process.
After weeks of diligent (or not so diligent) training, how might it have affected your riding performance for the better (or worse)?
Knowing yourself and what you’re capable of doing in training is valuable knowledge and will help you best use your training time. Pacing yourself appropriately for hard, steady efforts is also possible when you know just where your limit might be when you’re nearing it. It takes practice to pace really well and field testing is a great way to improve pacing technique.
Tucson has some excellent options for field testing and for the road cyclist, using Mount Lemmon is one of the best options. Mountain bikers may prefer to use the climb up Redington Road instead.
Select a distance that should take you approximately 20-30 minutes when going full speed.
For many this means that if you start at milepost 0 on Lemmon, setting milepost 4 or 5 as your finish will work best. Select your distance before you start and commit to giving it your full effort.
Since you’re aiming for the highest average intensity, try not to start off too hard. Instead, use the first couple minutes to build into it and find your rhythm. You’ll want to collect as much information as possible (here are some suggestions):
Conditions (temp, wind, etc):
Equipment (bike, wheels, etc):
Your first test will be a baseline measure and will allow you to set your training zones/ranges appropriately.
The biggest value comes when you’re able to compare multiple tests over the long term, however, since you’ll learn how your day-to-day riding ultimately affects your fitness. Learning what it takes to be at your best (or to always be improving) is valuable knowledge and testing yourself on a somewhat regular basis can help you figure it all out.
I suggest testing every six to eight weeks, or whenever else it might seem appropriate to do so. Whether or not you compete, field testing will be a great means to take control of your developing fitness.
If you’re curious to know where you’re at or how your recent training might be working out, you best go test yourself.
It’s only daunting before you do it and afterward you can be satisfied knowing that you put in a best possible effort.
Feel free to comment with your results or questions!