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  1. #1
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    Solo Training: How do you do it?

    I'm trying to transition to training mostly solo on the bike. I've always thought as a road racer, group riding is almost essential to being an effective bike racer and bike handler. However, there are no decent groups around where I currently live, so I really need to try training solo.

    Here's my problem: I find riding alone extremely boring. How do you mix it up to keep it interesting? How do you motivate yourself to get out for a long ride? How do you maximize the efforts on hard days?

    Just looking for some ways to make my solo riding more interesting on the weekends. My weekday rides are about 1 hr to 1 hr 30 mins, which isn't too hard to stay motivated for. However, as the racing season winds down, and I start looking toward base building, I'm dreading 5 hrs on the bike alone. Any tips or insight would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    could swear i just saw a similar thread on slowtwitch

    so, fess up, how do we know you are actually a road racer?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by echappist View Post
    could swear i just saw a similar thread on slowtwitch

    so, fess up, how do we know you are actually a road racer?

    LOL. I saw your name on Slowtwitch and thought I recognized it from somewhere! I started in triathlon and converted to road racing after realizing how badly I suck at swimming and running. I'm only VERY mediocre at cycling. But I enjoyed it the most out of the three.

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    coffee-stained punk hammy56's Avatar
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    ipod.

  5. #5
    impressive member badhat's Avatar
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    podcasts, mostly news and comedy, for base and tempo and TT work, use HR to keep me in the right zone.

    upbeat music for intervals.

    i do basically all my intervals on hills and pick the appropriate hill for the appropriate interval. i pretty much only do 2 to 3 mins, 5 mins, 20 mins, 30mins TTs, and hour TTs.

    hardly ever group ride anymore in the season (defined as between the start of build and the end of the road season in late aug). i do in the winter and early spring and fall but mostly just for the social component.

    i genuinely enjoy the solitude and focus and meditative quality of long solo base rides more than group rides most of the time.
    Your Group Ride:Your guide to getting dropped in Northern Colorado

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nate552's Avatar
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    Specific workout goals and these.

    sony-walkman-nwz-w260-waterproof-1.jpg

  7. #7
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  8. #8
    Roadie brian416's Avatar
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    Powermeter and intervals. For me, I enjoy going out and riding where I want at whatever pace I want, no waiting for a group or going too slow when I want to ride hard, etc.

  9. #9
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    Adrenaline is the best answer to motivation. If you have adrenaline you an push. If not then it's hard. I used to go training while pretending I was working for a team leader and pulling back a break (those that know me would laugh as I can't do those kinds of efforts). Or I'd save my efforts while I rode to a loop where I do sprints with traffic. Or try and kill it up a hill. Etc. I get an adrenaline rush when I'm psyched to do something and if I have to pretend Boonen is chasing me so be it.

    I also watch pro cycling while on the trainer. I watch the pros and their form, their pedaling style, and try to emulate it. On the trainer I can do limited 3-5+ hour rides if I watch good new movies, good movies I've already seen, and for the 5+ hour rides I cap two movies off with some of my own helmet cam clips (see note on adrenaline above).

    btw to answer more completely:

    1. How do I motivate to train harder? I enter races or do group rides to train hard. I can't ride hard in training anymore, it's a real struggle to do an hour or two of hard riding in a year when I'm solo.

    If I absolutely want to train harder than I do then I'll go find a big climb or three, or I'll do long miles. Climbing raises my minimum power requirements (else I fall over) and long miles means I fatigue my muscles so just getting back home takes some doing.

    2. Long rides - I do either an out and back loop (in SoCal I ride from near the shore to the top of Palomar Mountain and back, about 100 mi), a point to point (like I ride 80 miles to my dad's house), or a big loop (at home I used to do a loop that heads into MA, goes west for a while, then heads south back into CT). There's a no-return commitment once you get past a certain point - a 50 mile out ride means you double your mileage when you turn around, so if you "give up" after 30 miles you're still going to get a 60 mile ride in. The loops and point to points are even more merciless - one of my point to points I really faded hard but had to make it before dark.

    With long rides I try and ride hardest in the last hour. I usually just want the ride to end, it's getting dark, I'm out of food/water, etc, so I have motivation to push a bit.

  10. #10
    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmill23 View Post
    LOL. I saw your name on Slowtwitch and thought I recognized it from somewhere! I started in triathlon and converted to road racing after realizing how badly I suck at swimming and running. I'm only VERY mediocre at cycling. But I enjoyed it the most out of the three.
    i was just yanking your chain, but the podcast suggestion below is very good. Anything up to tempo with podcasts, and something up-tempo for FTP & above.

    oh, and a powermeter is nice
    Quote Originally Posted by badhat View Post
    podcasts, mostly news and comedy, for base and tempo and TT work, use HR to keep me in the right zone.

    upbeat music for intervals.

    i do basically all my intervals on hills and pick the appropriate hill for the appropriate interval. i pretty much only do 2 to 3 mins, 5 mins, 20 mins, 30mins TTs, and hour TTs.

    hardly ever group ride anymore in the season (defined as between the start of build and the end of the road season in late aug). i do in the winter and early spring and fall but mostly just for the social component.

    i genuinely enjoy the solitude and focus and meditative quality of long solo base rides more than group rides most of the time.

  11. #11
    stole your bike roadiejorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmill23 View Post
    I'm trying to transition to training mostly solo on the bike. I've always thought as a road racer, group riding is almost essential to being an effective bike racer and bike handler. However, there are no decent groups around where I currently live, so I really need to try training solo.

    Here's my problem: I find riding alone extremely boring. How do you mix it up to keep it interesting? How do you motivate yourself to get out for a long ride? How do you maximize the efforts on hard days?

    Just looking for some ways to make my solo riding more interesting on the weekends. My weekday rides are about 1 hr to 1 hr 30 mins, which isn't too hard to stay motivated for. However, as the racing season winds down, and I start looking toward base building, I'm dreading 5 hrs on the bike alone. Any tips or insight would be appreciated.
    For me cycling is a great way of keeping the mind quiet. I ride with no distractions because I enjoy the surrounding sounds whether it be out of necessity in the city where you have to listen for cars/other cyclists, or on quieter roads where the sounds of nature are relaxing. I've done 5-6 hour rides alone and what keeps it interesting is simple: site seeing. Take in as much as you can while remaining focus on the type of work you're doing on the bike. When there isn't much to see I turn inward and pay attention to the feedback my body's giving me; sometimes focusing on the rhythm of pedaling helps as well. Find what works for you but the best place to start is not dreading anything, just get out there and ride.

    I like pie

  12. #12
    una carrera contrarreloj Matt2.8NJ's Avatar
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    For me, it's nice to get a bit of time away from the daily grind... and I usually use it for training.

    Or, use the tools you have at your diposal. Strava. IPod, Powermeter.

    ...Or just point your bike into an unknown direction and go get yourself lost.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member jsutkeepspining's Avatar
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    i enjoy riding alone, and with a group. But i generally only ride alone because of when i ride and what im doing. I find that if i just throw my earbuds in and go do what ever type of ride i need to do, i get a great feeling of peace...except during hill repeats, then i just feel like i have to throw up and want to stop and take a nap on the side of the street.
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  14. #14
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    http://michaelbarry.ca/
    ^^
    CDR's post reminded me of it. Great blog. Some of his entries remind me that I love to train, both alone and in the group.

    For some reason I like training alone. Granted I can't do it all the time, but there is something about a 4 hour base ride in the mountains that I look forward to.
    Nothing should come between you and your chamois -- lawkd

  15. #15
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kindablue View Post
    http://michaelbarry.ca/
    ^^
    CDR's post reminded me of it. Great blog. Some of his entries remind me that I love to train, both alone and in the group.

    For some reason I like training alone. Granted I can't do it all the time, but there is something about a 4 hour base ride in the mountains that I look forward to.
    Love that guy, raced against him for a long time.
    I train alone alot mostly because I have no friends and I am obnoxious.

    To pass the time I always listen to music, reflect on the day/week, plan out or talk out different things I have going on or just look around at where I am riding (I live in a beautiful area except for the rednecks)
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

  16. #16
    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    IMO, solo training is the best way to really train. I know what I need to do, and when I am alone, I can do that. Group riding, or even riding with just one other person, doesn't always conform to individual needs.

    For shorter workouts, it's pretty easy. Headphones and concentrating on intervals can make it go by quickly.

    Off-season base building can be a bit tedious. Five or six hours alone can get boring. I try to break those rides up some. For example, I will work in bathroom breaks or meet up with a group for an hour in the middle of my ride. Just little things to break up the monotony.

  17. #17
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
    IMO, solo training is the best way to really train. I know what I need to do, and when I am alone, I can do that. Group riding, or even riding with just one other person, doesn't always conform to individual needs.

    For shorter workouts, it's pretty easy. Headphones and concentrating on intervals can make it go by quickly.

    Off-season base building can be a bit tedious. Five or six hours alone can get boring. I try to break those rides up some. For example, I will work in bathroom breaks or meet up with a group for an hour in the middle of my ride. Just little things to break up the monotony.
    I'd have to pretty much agree with everything you have said here. I use to do most of my training with my wife during the race season and then group rides in the fall/winter/spring. This season, due to an injury, I've been forced to solo training since we are different points in our training plans (well she has a plan ). At first they were a bit tough since most of it was just base, but then I discovered ear buds and an MP3 player. That really helped to pass the time. Once I moved into the build phase where intervals were added the music helped with motivation.

    The wife and I have done some training rides again together, but I find the solo stuff works much better if you are trying to achieve a specific training goal.
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

  18. #18
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    Endomondo and mp3 files running on my smart phone. I don't mind riding in silence but the audio coach telling me how far and fast I went every km and then comparing it to a previous day and telling I'm ahead or behind has me riding at max output the whole time. I also much prefer solo rides as I don't need to match pace or riding time with others.

  19. #19
    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsutkeepspining View Post
    i enjoy riding alone, and with a group. But i generally only ride alone because of when i ride and what im doing. I find that if i just throw my earbuds in and go do what ever type of ride i need to do, i get a great feeling of peace...except during hill repeats, then i just feel like i have to throw up and want to stop and take a nap on the side of the street.
    singular, not plural. Right side earbud in but leave the other out so you can hear the traffic

  20. #20
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I look forward to those 5 hour solo base rides. I have never needed external stimulation. There is plenty to look at and think about.

    Sometimes I work out difficult technical problems for work. Sometimes I design bike parts in my head. Or I write stories, or think about some part of my life.

  21. #21
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by echappist View Post
    singular, not plural. Right side earbud in but leave the other out so you can hear the traffic
    I use both that way I don't hear people honk or yell which in turn causes me to tell the to **** off and flip them the bird...
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by echappist View Post
    singular, not plural. Right side earbud in but leave the other out so you can hear the traffic
    +1

    Or if you have a smart phone use a hands free single earbud setup.

  23. #23
    fuggitivo solitario echappist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkwaki View Post
    I use both that way I don't hear people honk or yell which in turn causes me to tell the to **** off and flip them the bird...
    i wouldn't expect any less from you
    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    I look forward to those 5 hour solo base rides. I have never needed external stimulation. There is plenty to look at and think about.

    Sometimes I work out difficult technical problems for work. Sometimes I design bike parts in my head. Or I write stories, or think about some part of my life.
    The Santa Cruz Mountains is like the Tyrrhenian shore line. I don't think i can ever get bored cycling along the California coast.

  24. #24
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    I look forward to those 5 hour solo base rides. I have never needed external stimulation. There is plenty to look at and think about.

    Sometimes I work out difficult technical problems for work. Sometimes I design bike parts in my head. Or I write stories, or think about some part of my life.
    +1

    While (some of) the team does group rides on the weekend, I really enjoy having time to myself. Never earbuds here, just the sights and sounds of nature. The problem with group rides is that you're often sitting on a wheel so you're not really getting in that great of training anyway.

    In the end, it comes down to how motivated are you to win bike races. Generally those that train will have the most fun in the races, with some exceptions of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by echappist View Post
    so, fess up, how do we know you are actually a road racer?
    Likewise.. you hang out on slowtwitch, and haven't posted a race report in ages!
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  25. #25
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    +1

    While (some of) the team does group rides on the weekend, I really enjoy having time to myself. Never earbuds here, just the sights and sounds of nature. The problem with group rides is that you're often sitting on a wheel so you're not really getting in that great of training anyway.

    In the end, it comes down to how motivated are you to win bike races. Generally those that train will have the most fun in the races, with some exceptions of course.



    Likewise.. you hang out on slowtwitch, and haven't posted a race report in ages!
    Hey fuggers are you taking shots at me??????????
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

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