Pick Your Terrain Wisely for Training


How many times do you throw your leg over the bike and think where should I ride? Happens to me all of the time. I have a couple of go-to routes I take rolling away from P7HQ. One is a flat to rolling ride with minimal forced stops (traffic lights/stop signs). The other is up one of the local canyons that has options for some steep sections as well as extended moderate grades. I've used these routes for years because I know how to execute a variety of workouts due to the terrain and distance.

Many athletes contact me because they want to optimize their training time to make it super efficient and easy to execute. It becomes that much easier if you have that collection of go-to routes. You pull up your training plan and see 4x10 minutes at Tempo. Perfect, it's time to hit the sections of canyon road that aren't super steep. Day after tomorrow you see the workout is asking you to do a repetition of 5x2 minutes at VO2Max. Yes, let's do the punchy rolling route.

There's nothing more frustrating than seeing that stoplight turn red when you are 7 minutes in on your 10 minute Tempo interval or realizing you've just picked the wrong loop based on the prescribed workout. You can save yourself from that kind of annoyance by having specific routes that match well with the workout demands. Here are some general suggestions for your go-to routes:  

  • route with extended shallow climbs less than 5% providing 15-30 minutes of continuous climbing
  • route with steeper climbs between 4-10+% providing 10-12 minutes of continuous climbing
  • route with rolling terrain, ideally with some 90-120 second power climbs
  • route with flatter terrain to be used for steady efforts as well as less than 1 minute all out efforts and short sprints

Having those predictable routes can be beneficial to executing your specific workouts. It's also a benefit to have repeatable terrain so you can make comparisons to your efforts on the same stretch or road or trail.