Its autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, and mother nature is doing her best to hold off winter in Colorado for as long as possible. Everywhere you look golds, yellows, oranges, bright reds and every shade in between adorn trees as they do their best to cling tightly to their leaves.
What does that mean for cyclists?
Base miles! Which includes the type of mileage where you plant yourself onto your saddle and pedal for as long as possible. The reason? To check out the changing colors of leaves, of course! AND build your aerobic engine, tap into your ability to use fat as an energy source and provide a solid foundation to build the rest of your season from.
If you’re performance minded, base season is quite a bit different than race season. You intentionally go slower in order to go faster later. Instead of 1.5-2 hour rides, you target more around the 5-6 hour range. The good news? That long time in the saddle requires some calories to fuel… and I recommend aiming for around 50-60g of carbs per hour to start.
It’s hard to pack that much food for a seriously long ride, not to mention training your gut to stomach that amount of fuel! But with practice, you can make it happen. Next thing you’ll know, 4 hours will seem like a recovery ride compared to the 8 hour session in the saddle.
Yes, you read that right. A full day’s work on the bike. All in preparation for some longer endurance based off-season events (like the upcoming 100 mile gravel ride SpiritWorld and our yearly tandem duet at Tour de Tucson).
However, the kind of saddle time is pretty hard on the body. Not from an exertion standpoint – I could ride all day in that low endurance zone. No, no. I’m talking about a muscular aspect. And more specifically my feet. They scream at the end of the ride, yearning to be out of my shoes. Something about being locked into a stiff shoe for hours at a time, with little room for stretching my toes out can drive me crazy.
I know I’m not the only one. Lachlan Morton ditched his fancy cycling shoes for his Birkenstocks at one point this past summer when he road the Tour de France route ahead of the Tour.
The day after a long 6.5 hour ride, my feet were still cranky. My arches felt stiff and tight, my toes would barely move individually. So I asked my Pilates guru and teacher, Whitney Shea if we could just focus on my feet during our recent Pilates session.
We used a foot corrector and did a series of exercises to lengthen and stretch my feet, then used a toe gizmo to open space between my big and middle toes, getting those little piggies to start wiggling!
We topped it off with some foot work on the reformer and included some long spine jack knife moves (if you know, you know) and viola! Feet are happy, body is recovered and I’m ready for another LONG ride.
If you’re curious about how to get your body to handle long miles, shoot me a message and I’d love to help you figure things out! Pilates really can help every body!
Happy pedaling and tailwinds.