The tired-legs-wobble, what is the solution?
I tend to get the tired-legs-wobble after about 5 hours of riding, what is the solution?
I notice my handlebars sway left & right with each pedal stroke, especially while climbing. I know I'm becoming less efficient, and this can't be good on a longer ride.
I'm sure better conditioning would help, but I don't always have the opportunity to build a better base, I ride between 250 miles and 500 miles per month, about 3500 miles per year.
My bikes with aero bars seem less likely to wobble when I'm tired. Does the position while using aero bars reduce this problem?
I am not sure I have an answer for you, I think a cyclist's riding style is more or less engrained by repetition, not by conditioning. I'm a masher, but halfway through a 1200k, I'm still spinning at the same speed whereas a lot of people have started pedaling like they are starving refugees. I think a lot of that has to do with the amount of time I spent riding a fixed gear. Even though it has been decades since I rode fixed, I still hesitate sometimes when I want to stop pedaling like I'm riding fixed.
When you hit about the 5 hour mark of cycling, you're running low on calories. 200-300 calories per hour gives you about half (or slightly less) of the calories you need. After about 5 hours, you're down 1250 calories and you're starting to draw on other resources ... and all of that can make you wobbly and less efficient.
Many long distance cyclists, including myself, like to stop for something more substantial to eat around 5 hours, and repeat every 5 hours or so until the ride is finished. Stopping provides time for a rest and allows you to replenish your energy sources.
If you stop and consume, say, 1000 calories, you will not be able to hop on the bicycle and dash off into the distance, but you can ride slowly into the distance for the next hour or so while the food digests, and then I've found that all of a sudden I have a huge burst of energy for the next couple hours.
If your handlebars sway, then your shoulders are probably bobbing. That means that you're just pushing down with your legs and transferring your upper body weight over the pushing leg. That's a vicious circle since you are now putting more stress on fewer muscles so you tire even faster. The fix is to improve technique and strengthen those muscles that are getting tired too early. Winter is the time to do that.
I'll tell you what I do every winter (warning - rollers in use) (apostrophe = minutes):
From now until the end of January, once a week:
On the rollers, 15' Z1, then 15' - 45' continuous Z2 at 115-120 cadence, then 15' of Z1 again. No resting during the interval. Start with 15' and increase gradually over a few weeks to 45', then start over with 15' again. If you can't pedal that fast without bouncing, pedal at the bouncing point. If you can't stay in Z2, choose a lower gear. This isn't supposed to put a training load on your system. It is rather a recovery ride once you get used to it. Relax your feet and entire body, including legs. Pedal with the uppers, with a cushion of air under your foot. Make the roller noise a continuous, unvarying hummmm. Don't push down. Push forward at the top, pull back at the bottom, lift up on the backstroke. Make your legs supple. Keep your upper body still - use a mirror if necessary.
From the end of January until your A rides:
On the rollers or trainer do one-legged pedaling once/week instead of the high cadence work, times as above, but pay no attention to HR during the OLP intervals. After the 15 minute Z1 warmup, do 2 minutes each leg at 50-55 cadence, then 2 minutes legs together Z2 90-95 cadence, then 2 minutes each leg 80-85 cadence in a smaller gear, 2 minutes legs together, repeat for the 15' to 45' time period, then 15' Z1 cool-down. If you can't hold it for 2 minutes at first, stop and start again until you get the 2 minutes. I use the same gear for legs together and the 50-55 cadence intervals.
Then the 1st of April (for me) I start doing muscle tension intervals for 4 weeks:
3 X 10' X 10' at 50-55 cadence at the upper end of Z3. Absolutely no upper body movement. Utterly smooth. You need a 10' hill or a very large gear on the flat or a trainer.
Then about the 1st of May (for me) I start doing tempo intervals for 4 weeks, on the rollers or trainer:
Start with 2 X 15' X 15', ~70 cadence in Z3 and work up to 2 X 30' X 15', again no upper body movement. Very important that the interval be without breaks, and with the continuous ~70 cadence. Not many roads like that. What you want to see is little or no HR drift while holding the same gear in the second interval. You get that, you're good to go.
Then about the 1st of June (for me) I start doing high cadence intervals on the road for 4 weeks:
2 X 30' X 5' at the highest continuous cadence you can maintain, at least 100, Z3. It's important to maintain about the same cadence the whole length of the interval whether climbing, descending, or on the flat, so you need a fairly flat road or at least very gentle hills or you'll lose the HR on the descents. But I think this is better done on the road, because of these variations. Hold your form, no upper body movement.
The above 3 interval workouts don't need to be done exactly then or even every week. You can mix them up, alternate with hill repeats, whatever. The important thing is to do them and do them with good form.
I also do weight work at the gym and core work at home all winter. The work that I do that might most effect being able to pedal circles would be leg sled, barbell squats, one-legged calf raises, straight legged deadlifts, and bent leg raises on the Roman chair. I start with one set of 30 and gradually work up to 3 sets of 30 done in a circuit. Then I'll do the more usual progression of hypertrophy and strength, then back to 1 set of 30 in April and until just before A events, for maintenance.
If you do this stuff, by next summer you'll be a different rider. Be sure to maintain good form on all your rides, not just these. Push forward at the top, pull back at the bottom, unweight the back leg, minimize the pushing down.
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