Threshold Rides — Keys to the Speed Kingdom

Alright, I didn’t workout today. We had some real crappy and heavy snow overnight and I spent my workout time removing snow from my driveway and from a couple of neighbors because they really can’t do it themselves. Blame it on my lady friend — she makes me do nice things for people all the time. She is a good person and tries to make me be a better person all the time. Dang her!

Threshold Rides and Why You Need them Now

We have talked a ton on this blog about some of the different types of workouts that are available to improve your cycling. I know I don’t need to tell you that you should be spending time on your trainer this winter if the weather is prohibitive to you riding outside. There is no excuse for you not spending time in your own Pain Cave and on your bike going absolutely nowhere.

One of my favorite workouts on the trainer is a Threshold Ride. I incorporate this workout into my schedule once a week during the winter and twice a week (on the road) during the season. It is a tough workout, and not for the weak. But you need to push through the pain because it will improve your cycling efficiency and speed in leaps and bounds.

If your fitness levels are low right now, start off by using an hour ride as your foundation. This workout is best done if you have a PowerMeter, but it can easily be done as well without one. When you do it without a PowerMeter, you will need the mental toughness to ride hard — really hard — because this workout is designed to get you anaerobic and make your muscles hurt.

Really, it is designed to sustain a higher power output for a longer period of time. If you have a PowerMeter, you should do a threshold test before you begin your workouts. It will give you the watts you will need to maintain for the workout when you are riding in a threshold zone. You can use a heart rate monitor, but I don’t love to for this workout. I prefer to go off of perceived exertion in the absence of a PowerMeter.

Here is how it goes:

  1. Start with a warm-up. This is so important. For an hour ride, I will usually warm-up for at least five minutes and up to ten minutes. Really, I know when my muscles are warm and ready to go.
  2. I then like to do what I call “super warm-ups”, where I push the pace pretty hard but then back off. I like to go for five sets of :30 seconds each with a :30 second rest between each. The muscles really start to fire and start to understand they will be pushed.
  3. I then do two sets of 20 minutes each with a five minute recovery between the two sets. During the sets I really push my pace. Without a PowerMeter when I have to go by perceived exertion, I try to maintain a pace that I could only hold for about 20 minutes. Riding with a PowerMeter I stay about 5-10% above my threshold of about 240 watts. If I can hold it, I will spend the last 10 minutes of the second set in my VO2 max zone.
  4. I will spend at least the last five minutes of the hour cooling down. Sometimes, depending on the workout, I will need more time to get my heart rate down. I take whatever time is necessary to get my heart rate down.
  5. A very important component if this workout is recovery. I always make sure I eat at least 150 high quality calories within the first 30 minutes of ending this workout. You also more than likely will need to schedule and easy workout the day after this Threshold Ride.

You need to make sure you take more than one water bottle with you on this ride. It is tough and you will sweat. I love this workout and think it makes a big difference in my performance. Here is another way to get it done by the Official Coach of Ironman, Coach Troy. Coach Troy of course is the personality behind Spinervals. He was a top 20 finisher at Kona and I love his approach to workouts and this one is no exception.

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...