Okay, I know very little about this - to some extent it seems that whatever muscles need training to ride better will be trained by riding. But I'm wondering if I some stuff I did over a period of about a week paid off - though I wasn't trying to cross-train.
I did my usual ride on Thursday (about 30 miles), but in the of that ride, walked on the beach much more than I ever did before, especially in some coarse sand which is particularly tough. Next day my calves were killing me! The following day (Saturday), they still hurt a lot, but as it happens, I also had to spend a lot of time on my feet, usually walking. I couldn't tell you the total amount, but it was a 14 hour day and I'd say I was on my feet for at least 6 of those hours.
Sunday, my calves STILL hurt - not as much but still bad. I did ride the usual 30 miles (the calves didn't bother me riding). By Monday, the calves were okay, but my upper legs got real sore (I figure it had to be from the Saturday walking since nothing else would account for it). I have found before that sometimes if I exercise REALLY hard, it takes an extra day for the pain to hit.
On Tuesday, the upper legs still hurt a lot, especially on stairs and especially going down. I rode about 37 miles that day with a long gap in the middle. But I also hiked up Diamond Head.
Rested Wednesday and fully expected to be in a lot of pain, but while I felt some effects, it wasn't too bad - but I was worn out.
Now, here is the thing. On Thursday I rode as usual. At the very beginning of my ride I have a short downhill. If I push hard, I'll make maybe 28.x mph before I start going uphill. If I don't push hard, it will be more like 25-26 mph. Not sure what the record is, but I know it is less than 30 for sure.
Well, while I pushed hard, it certainly wasn't may hardest, yet I did 30.9 mph. Plus, after getting past the last uphill (average speed 15.8 mph at that point), I actually increased my average over the next 7 miles. That almost never happens on a good day, let alone when I should be really worn out! I might increase it for a few miles, but that's about it.
Then I rested the next day and rode today. This time I reached 31.4. But my energy didn't last - I ate REALLY bad the day before (last day of school parties).
So, to close this long story, did all that beach walking, ordinary walking, and hiking up and down a small mountain cause this improvement and, if so, were some of those things more effective than others?
I don't know whether your improvement was a direct result of doing other things, but combining different types of exercises would seem to be a good way to strengthen muscles that support cycling (or balance quad strength) and might therefore help to prevent injury. The only "cross-training" I do is deadlifts, to strengthen the hamstrings that balance the quads, and crunches to strengthen the abs which balance the leg flexor muscles (this imbalance predisposes you to back injury and discomfort) and help to maintain good posture during ordinary lifting etc..
I can't think of an exercise that would *hurt* cycling, unless it simply interfered with your recovery between long rides.
Thanks. I have managed to be over 30 mph for the past 5 attempts, but when I really push extra hard, I tend to be pretty dead as I go up the hill on the other side - it's short, but the last bit of it is pretty darn steep.