The Rides of March
As I prep for my rides in March I hear Meghan Trainor in my brain: “You know it’s all about that base……no treble.”
I equate that with building a training base with almost no intensity…yet.
While there are still cold and wet days (and nights) in this month, we can start to build up for the Best Buddies Challenge using the lengthening days. March is about building up the base for a successful cycling season. Yet, this is arguably one of the most challenging months to get outside and train, especially if we try to adhere to rigid training schedules.
But, March is the most hopeful month! Where I live, we turn the calendar to March 1st and find just 11 hours and 15 minutes of daylight with the sun setting at 5:38. And the average high temperatures is just 41 degrees Fahrenheit. By month’s end, however, we get 12 hours and 42 minutes of daylight, the sun setting at 7:09 p.m., and the average high temperature of 50.
I studied the training files of about a dozen Best Buddies Challenge riders I follow. Every one of them showed little to no riding in March. Experienced cyclists – equipped with proper clothing, fenders, shoe covers and lights – pour on the miles during this challenging month. This is what I suggested in that Perfect Person’s training grid.
So maybe that’s NOT you, right? (Like 90 percent of you are nodding in agreement to this, right?)
The classic beginner mistake is to start too late in the season and then try to go too hard too soon, leading to frustration and/or injury. So let’s find a compromise.
My suggestion, especially for those in challenging climates, is to not chain yourself to a rigid spreadsheet. Far too many people cannot reconcile those grids with the other boxes that dictate their lives.
I hate that expression “think outside the box.” Harry Houdini got paid to think INSIDE the box. For you that “box” may include jobs, kids, family, shopping, laundry, etc. Don’t get too tied up to some rigid program only to fail, get discouraged, put it off and then repeat. Look at your weather forecast, your commitments, and simply pick the best day of each week ahead and try to get outside for as long as you possibly can on that one day.
In March focus on low-intensity, talking-pace rides with stops for coffee or lunch. That is adequate for most beginners and novices. Having some friends along will help, provided they agree to set their speed on the slowest rider. That single day per week is important. Complement that with a day in the gym or a long walk or short run and you can be ready for the warmer days ahead.
Within three weeks – as you scale a modest rise or roll over a bridge on your regular route – you will notice some improvement. And that’s motivation.
We’ll ramp it up in April, but for now, you know it’s all about that bass…..
Richard Fries is the Director of Cycling Experience for the Best Buddies Challenges. With more than 40 years experience, he has been a racer, commuter, tourist, promoter, advocate, journalist and commentator on the sport and lifestyle of cycling. Having raced at the professional level both in America and Europe, Fries is well known as a race announcer having called countless USA Cycling National Championships, World Cups, and UCI World Championships. But he is also a tireless advocate having recently served as the executive director of MassBike. You can follow him on Strava to learn more.