Recently one of my readers asked, “What is Bart Haynes average weekly riding schedule.” The full answer is it depends on the time of year, and what my goals are.
Every year, I ride somewhere in the vicinity of 10 full century races (~106 miles), and a handful of metric century races as training rides. I start riding metric centuries in March to get ready for full centuries in April, and general ride my last full century in November (Tour de Tuscon).
I always plan out what races I want to do at the beginning of year. I usually choose 1 full century per month, and sometimes two races per month for the ones I have participated in for a long time.
By the time May roles around, I might modify my training schedule a little bit two weeks prior to a full century race. But usually by that point I have hit my weekly training stride and am in good enough shape to where those modifications are more about optimizing my performance rather than trying to be ready.
My advice on training
If by May 1st I am not prepared at any time to hop on my bike and ride a full century, then I would be either sick or have just raced the day before. But that preparedness comes through a lot of grinding in February, March, and April, and a dedication to staying fit in the off season.
I have honed my training regimen from years of trial and error. The “advice” I read online often simply does not work for me – I’ve tried it. That’s not to say that it doesn’t work well for other people, but I have learned (often the hard way) that we are each unique creates and the best thing we can do for training is:
- Take online training schedules with a grain of salt – they’re simply a good place to start;
- Listen to your own body’s needs; and
- Work on a schedule that works best for you.
I’ve seen too many injuries (including myself) from trying to religiously follow what the “experts” say for cycling training. Push yourself as hard as your body can safely and comfortably go based on how you feel, not based on how far/long some article says you should be going.
Training schedule off season (mid-November – mid-February)
During this time, I am on my trainer. During the week I usually hop on my bike 3-4 times during the week (MTTh and sometimes F), anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
Then on the weekend I usually get on the trainer for a longer ride, perhaps anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.
During these rides I am:
- Not keeping track of miles;
- Not trying to push myself to my limit;
- Trying to keep my legs warm and active; and
- Trying to maintain a good degree of endurance and muscle readiness from the past racing season.
I know over these three months that I will lose some endurance and stamina, but riding regularly without pushing myself too hard is a good way to keep me from having to “start over” come February. The goals of these rides is to:
- Give myself a mental and emotional break from riding so that when race season comes around I am motivated; and
- Keep me within 2-3 weeks of hard riding to be back in performance-ready shape.
I want to get warm, sweat a little, make my legs ache a little, but still feel great afterward.
Training schedule getting back in shape (mid-February – mid-March)
This is the time of year where I really grind myself back into shape. And by grind myself I am talking brutal rides where afterward I am completely exhausted, and my legs are wobbly.
Fortunately, this hard riding usually only lasts about four weeks. The first three weeks are on the trainer riding hard that by the time I get out on the road in week four, my muscles are feeling pretty good.
Week 1: 6 rides on MTWThFSu on the trainer. During the week, I am on the seat for one hour (exactly) pushing pretty hard. Saturday is a rest day. Sunday is pushing hard for 2 hours
Week 2: 6 rides on MTWThFSu on the trainer. Monday is a lighter day, 30 minutes of moderate riding to recover from Sunday. The rest of the is riding hard for one hour. Sunday is another long day, 2.5 hours of hard riding.
Week 3: 6 rides on TWThFSaSu on the trainer, riding hard for an hour every morning during the week. Saturday is a two-hour ride, and Sunday is a three-hour ride, both days riding hard.
By the two longer rides at the end of week three, I am usually starting to feel pretty good. It doesn’t feel like I am grinding it out anymore. I’m tired, not quite performance ready, but I could probably ride a full century if I needed.
What I do next depends on two things: the weather and how I am feeling. If the weather is good (it’s about mid-March), I’ll get out and start riding on the road. If the weather is still cold, or my legs are feeling a bit lethargic, I’ll spend another week on the trainer, taking it easy and letting myself recover. These recovery weeks usually are: TWTh for moderate riding for about 45 minutes, followed by SaSu of moderate riding for an hour and half each day.
For the past 5 years, by the time mid-March comes both my legs and the weather have been ready for road riding
Training schedule optimizing cycling performance (mid-March – May 1st)
The mid-march to May 1st riding is still a grind, but it’s significantly more enjoyable than the February to March period for two simple reasons:
- I’m outside; and
- I feel like I can really start to push myself (without feeling like I’m killing myself).
In other words, by this time I am feeling pretty good and that my hard work is finally starting to pay off. The first week of riding outside is a very liberating feeling. It’s definitely different than riding on a trainer, and I tend to feel sore in weird ways. But that goes away after the first couple of rides.
In this time period I tend to not stick to a particular schedule every day – I am simply trying to push my performance without overworking myself. And it’s easy to do. There have been years where I have pushed it too hard in this time period and felt completely wiped out during my first race in April.
What I am doing most of all in this time period is:
- Every Saturday ride 40 miles moderately to prepare for long Sunday races
- Every Sunday ride a metric century, which at first I ride moderately and every ride push a harder. I time races so that I can continuously improve on my times from previous week and ensure that I am getting better.
- Ride 3 times per week TWTh for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Ride inside on the trainer if weather is cold or if I simply want some peace and quiet. If riding on the trainer, I do one-minute sprints every 5 minutes. If riding outside, I try and find as many hills to climb as possible. Mixing an matching inside/outside allows my to mentally and physically focus on different things.
In this time period I also try and ride a couple of metric centuries. In these races I am really pushing myself hard, looking for two things:
- When do I start to hit my wall (sudden fatigue, cramping); and
- How hard can I push myself without hitting my wall.
So these cycling races are less about racing and more about learning how I can best pace myself in rides to come. They are more of a litmus test for my performance than anything, and they are very important as I notice that I ride differently each year.
Training schedule race season (May – mid-November)
Finally, during race season there are two Bart Haynes:
- Racing Bart, who is using the races as opportunity to improve riding ability and performance; and
- Training Bart, who is trying to maintain peak performance but is not using training rides to “get better”
I call two weeks before a race “in the red zone.” This is where I modify things a bit to make sure I feel good come race day.
I have found that what works well for me during racing season is:
- When not in the red zone Ride 4 times during week moderately-hard for one hour. On the weekend do one 60 mile race, riding moderately hard;
- When in the red zone two weeks before a race, ride every day hard, take Saturday off, and ride hard on Sunday for 60
- When in the red zone on the week before race, ride every day for ~30 minutes just to keep muscles warm and ready. Focus on getting lots of sleep. Saturday get on bike for 20 minutes for light riding.
During race season I am in peak performance, and sometimes modify things depending on how I am feeling. I may add a bit of time to my rides or take a little time off. As I said, the bid secret to sustained success for me has been to:
- Listen to my body;
- Push hard but know when to stop; and
- Err on the side of taking a rest day.
I would rather ride at 99% all season that ride at 100% for two months and then get injured. It’s happened to me and I have seen it happen too many times to worry about shaving that last extra 5 minutes off my century times.