Can You Handle the Truth?

Training Plan

Cycling Fitness

Illustration by Mark Matcho adapted from Chris Carmichael's The Ultimate Ride.   


Weeks 1–4:
King suggests spending 60 to 90 minutes on the time-trial bike for one casual ride a week, allowing your body to adapt to the position. Keep in mind you should integrate this program with standard road-bike training, like Chris Carmichael's hill-climbing regimen on page 56.

Weeks 5–8:
Begin adding three or four intervals of five minutes each of hard riding followed by five to ten minutes of easy pedaling, concentrating on maintaining intensity from the beginning of the hard interval to the end. "Focus on either speed or heart rate," King says. "At first it'll be trial and error. Set a goal and try to improve on it."

Weeks 9–16:
Increase the intervals to ten minutes, and over the weeks bump them up to 15 minutes, then ultimately to two hard 20-minute efforts. Every few weeks you'll want to cover the same section of road to gauge your progress. Plan an easy day before and after each time-trial session, and throughout the progression rest at least as long in between intervals as the intervals themselves, in order to be able to give your best effort.

Week 17:
You're ready to try the race of truth: After a 30-minute warm-up of easy riding and a few two-minute bursts to get your heart rate up, ride as fast as you can for 25 miles. Your time will vary according to terrain, but in general pros cover the distance in an hour or less. Make no mistake: The time trial will still hurt. But long after the pain fades away, the truth will remain.

1.) Riding position is aerodynamic—low and forward to reduce wind resistance.

2.) Nose of the saddle is tilted slightly down.

3.) Saddle is positioned up and forward, as compared with a standard road bike.

4.) Extensions on bars are parallel to the ground and close together.

5.) Knee angle when leg is fully extended is slightly bent, similar to road position.

6.) Shoulders and elbows are bent at about 90-degree angles.

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