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First time "training" for a long time cyclist

Old 01-20-23, 07:08 AM
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First time "training" for a long time cyclist

I'm 50, long time rider - never really "trained". Most of my riding has just been riding along with no plan, mostly Zone 2 with random hard rides. My fitness has flatlined & I'm trying to take my modest FTP and bump it up a bit, would like to do some 50+ gravel races or just be better during my longer rides.

I'm doing the three weeks of increasing intensity, followed by a rest week. Just finished week two and am pretty beat up.

Doing 80/20 - zone 1/2 with one day of FTP intervals and one day of VO2 Max. Using both heart rate and power as metrics.

Been adding minutes to my FTP intervals and going from 3 to 4 VO2 max intervals.

The past two rides my heart rate vs power is off. My HR is higher, and my power is down. Z2 Power that used to be at 120-125 BPM is now 130-135BPM. Threshold power is 15-20 watts lower for the same heart rate.

I don't know what signs/clues to look for that will tell me if I am going to hard, too easy, when to rest. Most of the plans I read are for younger people, or for the pro's.

Is 3 weeks on/1 off too much for us older folks? Will 2 on/1 off provide results?

I just don't want to burn my time, nor do I want to over train.
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Old 01-20-23, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed View Post
I'm 50, long time rider - never really "trained". Most of my riding has just been riding along with no plan, mostly Zone 2 with random hard rides. My fitness has flatlined & I'm trying to take my modest FTP and bump it up a bit, would like to do some 50+ gravel races or just be better during my longer rides.

I'm doing the three weeks of increasing intensity, followed by a rest week. Just finished week two and am pretty beat up.

Doing 80/20 - zone 1/2 with one day of FTP intervals and one day of VO2 Max. Using both heart rate and power as metrics.

Been adding minutes to my FTP intervals and going from 3 to 4 VO2 max intervals.

The past two rides my heart rate vs power is off. My HR is higher, and my power is down. Z2 Power that used to be at 120-125 BPM is now 130-135BPM. Threshold power is 15-20 watts lower for the same heart rate.

I don't know what signs/clues to look for that will tell me if I am going to hard, too easy, when to rest. Most of the plans I read are for younger people, or for the pro's.

Is 3 weeks on/1 off too much for us older folks? Will 2 on/1 off provide results?

I just don't want to burn my time, nor do I want to over train.
2-1 on/off training cycle is the general recommendation for older athletes. I'm 55 and switched from 3-1 to 2-1 about a year ago as a trial and found that I do prefer it. Go with your feeling on this one. If you feel beat-up after 2 weeks then listen to your body.

I wouldn't stress too much about your variable HR for a given power. There are loads of factors affecting it on a daily basis. That's why training with power is more consistent, but I do track both. I keep an eye on my resting HR and HRV (via fitness tracker, not manually) as indicators of fatigue. Over time you get to know how these things trend relative to your form.
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Old 01-20-23, 09:17 AM
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Thanks Pete. I just about read the 2/1 in another thread. Looking back, I am on week 2.75 of this. First week was a FTP test, that I failed - went too hard out of the gates, followed by one day of intervals, then two weeks of 2x per week intervals.

I will make next week a rest week, then continue.

I don't have a fitness tracker, need to look into one... I do check my resting HR from time to time, it was elevated this morning.

Another fun factor - I am T2 diabetic and eat low carb/keto to control blood sugars. It works well for long rides, but training at intensity is a whole different animal. I'm trying to eat what's called targeted keto - adding carbs for hard efforts and recovery - it's a tough thing to balance.
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Old 01-20-23, 10:31 AM
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You donít need to stick to integer weeks, or pre-plan the rest weeks for that matter. Train hard until your body tells you you need some recovery then go easy until you feel ready to go hard again. That may be 14 days on 7 off, but it could just as likely be 16 on, 5 off.
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Old 01-20-23, 08:39 PM
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Consistent higher HR with lower power at that HR means you're tired, which is a good thing and the signal to put in a couple recovery days and see how that goes. Your schedule is quite ambitious. My approach is to use TrainingPeaks or some other website to keep track of my numbers. Then, since you're not familiar with how training plans work, find an inexpensive 12 week plan and see how that goes.

IME a fairly reliable way to tell your readiness for hard exercise is to take your resting morning HR. After you get up and pee, lie down and watch your HR for a few minutes and record the number where it settles. Usually it will be in quite a narrow range. If it's say 6 beats above that range, you're tired and need some rest or easy days. A much fancier way to do that is to have an HRV app on your phone and record that. I use both.

Another approach is to buy The Time-Crunched Cyclist (book) and use one of the training plans therein. They're structured for 6-8 hours/week, which is pretty common. The book'll help you figure out what's going on, too. Experience is a tough way to get the hang of anything, because experience essentially means learning from your mistakes. Another takeaway from that is "mistakes are good." If you're not making mistakes, you're not learning. IOW, good on you!
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Old 01-22-23, 09:41 AM
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Mind boggling amount of info out there!!

Threshold work won’t do anything - threshold work is what you want to do.

VO2 training is all you need - VO2 is worthless without threshold..

Sweet spot is the way to go - sweet spot sucks…

For now I will stick to 80/20 with a mix of VO2/Threshold work, and long weekend easy rides. I will drop the three week to on week down to 2/1…
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Old 01-22-23, 10:34 AM
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How many hours/week are you riding? There are basically 2 approaches, hence the dichotomy you observe. 12 hours and up, 80/20 is common. 10 hours and under, it's more trad, sweet spot, some VO2max, some Z2. Thing is, at under 12 hours it's hard to get enough high end with 80/20 - understanding that it's not 80/20 in terms of time-in-zone, but rather workout days, so 4 Z1-2 days, 1 Z5 day. One does see a lot of recs for making that time-in-zone, but as you saw, that's way too much time in the high end. Obviously you're not going to spend as much time doing the Z5 as you do on a Z2 ride, so getting fit means a LOTTA time on the bike. I tried Polarized one winter, but I just couldn't put in the hours. Winter in the PNW means a lot of time indoors, and I just couldn't ride my rollers for 2-3 hours at a sitting. Ugh.

See this study with Stephen Seiler, the guy who noticed and popularized Polarized training: https://www.researchgate.net/publica...nsity_Analysis
If you aren't familiar with the European 3 zone system, it's simple: Z1 is below VT1, Z3 is above VT2, Z2 is between. Some call Z2 in that system "junk miles" and you see that Polarized training avoids it for the most part. Which is another reason I couldn't manage doing Polarized. I'm not a really strong rider and just couldn't go out for long rides in hilly terrain and stay in Z1. (3 zone system).
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Old 01-22-23, 12:17 PM
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When it comes to what zones are best for training, I find myself looking back at Coggan's table:



From Coggan, Training and racing using a power meter

It seems that the in thing to do now is to do lots of zone 2. But the Coggan table suggests that not much is going on when doing zone 2.

It appears that the main benefit of zone 2 is that you can do it a lot without getting exhausted. But then again, if you want to see improvements while doing zone 2, you will have to do it a lot.

I asked Coggan why so much zone 2, and he gave me this answer:

I can think of lots of reasons:

1. It's fun.

2. It allows you to burn more calories, and thus eat more/be leaner.

3. It's a great way to work on your tan.

4. It helps condition ancillary/support muscles (having done a 120 mi
district road race on a borrowed bike as only my 2nd or 3rd outdoor ride
of the year, I can tell you that this is very important <g>).

5. You *might* be able to tolerate a greater overall "dose" of training
if it is achieved via lower intensity+greater volume vs. higher
intensity+lower volume.
Not quite the "you really should be doing lots of zone 2, because it will make you Superman" recommendation.
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Old 01-22-23, 03:42 PM
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A couple points about Z2:

Like CFboy, I don’t have a tremendous FTP. 250-260 @ 195#. Riding in Z2 with any type of hill is difficult. All the hills leaving my neighborhood are short 10-17% grades - I’m at 3-400w right out of the gates. Even the local bike path has 3 10% hills. Z2 is 150-175w.

My 60 mile ride yesterday averaged 165w, 127 BPM - should be perfect Z2 for me, but I had at least 10 times over 300w just to get up hills.

Z2 is one of the best healing zones for T2 diabetics, I need to do a bunch of it.


As for some of the other questions - I’m 7-9+ hours in the winter. 1 hour per night on the trainer, try to get out 3-5 hours on the weekends. Sometimes more.

So I’m right on the edge of 12+.

Yes, I’ve seen the 3 zone model.

At this point I’m in the middle of polarized 80/20. Has to be better than nothing… will stick with it for the next two/theee planned cycles and see if it works.

Looking for 280w FTP, I want to cruise comfortably at 200-210 on my long events, right now I’m 170-190.
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Old 01-22-23, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
I asked Coggan why so much zone 2, and he gave me this answer: ...
Another reason Andy has given has to do with with a riders glycogen budget. From Andy, although riders have vastly different aerobic capacities, glycogen stores and the ability to replace glycogen don't differ that much from one person to another. That means that both the elite and average athlete have about the same amount of glycogen available for training. implying not only is power relative to FTP (or whatever measure you might use for aerobic capacity) important, but absolute power is as well. Consider an elite rider with an FTP around 400 W and a more average one with FTP=250 W. Riding at 70% of FTP, the elite rider will be burning around 60% more glycogen than the average one. Given the two riders have about the same amount available go glycogen available to them, the average rider will be able to sustain a higher percentage of FTP before exhausting their glycogen. Remember Seiler's 80/20 is merely an observation of how elite athletes train and as far as I know, he doesn't explain why. I believe they spend so much time at low intensities because they are glycogen limited. For those of us with lower FTPs, our glycogen stores allow us to train at higher intensities and as seen in Coggan's table below, get more stimulus for adaptation.
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Old 01-22-23, 06:06 PM
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^That explains a lot.
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Old 01-22-23, 06:24 PM
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For the reasons I explained above, and which the OP enlarged upon, my practice has been to ride a lot on my rollers in Z2, in fact most of my weekly Z2. Outdoors, I do 1-2 group rides a week, one of them as hard as I can go, and one with a view toward moderation. Any other outdoor rides will be on the flat and Z2. I can find maybe 20 miles of it near my abode. So I don't really do structured training, though I do keep track of my weekly time-in-zone and have goals for that which vary during the year. Doing that has made me a decent rider for my age and ridiculously low FTP. The key has been that one hilly ride of 3-6 hours at race pace and then a good bit of Z2.

Starting at about the OP's age, I did a good bit of strength training in the gym, 1 hour twice a week, especially the AA work prescribed by Friel in the Cyclist's Training Bible. I think that made a big difference. It was fun to do with a cyclist's lungs and legs.
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Old 01-23-23, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Another reason Andy has given has to do with with a riders glycogen budget. From Andy, although riders have vastly different aerobic capacities, glycogen stores and the ability to replace glycogen don't differ that much from one person to another. That means that both the elite and average athlete have about the same amount of glycogen available for training. implying not only is power relative to FTP (or whatever measure you might use for aerobic capacity) important, but absolute power is as well. Consider an elite rider with an FTP around 400 W and a more average one with FTP=250 W. Riding at 70% of FTP, the elite rider will be burning around 60% more glycogen than the average one. Given the two riders have about the same amount available go glycogen available to them, the average rider will be able to sustain a higher percentage of FTP before exhausting their glycogen. Remember Seiler's 80/20 is merely an observation of how elite athletes train and as far as I know, he doesn't explain why. I believe they spend so much time at low intensities because they are glycogen limited. For those of us with lower FTPs, our glycogen stores allow us to train at higher intensities and as seen in Coggan's table below, get more stimulus for adaptation.
I wish I could get access to these guys about topics like this.

Personally, I have problems processing and storing glycogen. I can't consume carbs without my blood glucose going to the moon, and insulin resistance makes getting glycogen into the muscles a problem.

90% of my cycling is done in while in Ketosis. 10% is supplemented with a small amount of carbohydrate. I can't eat recovery carbs - can't process them very well.
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Old 01-23-23, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed View Post
I wish I could get access to these guys about topics like this.
You could try emailing Andy Coggan. I've exchanged emails with him and he's been quite helpful.
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Old 01-25-23, 09:53 AM
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So, per the advice above, I took my rest week on week 3 (3.5 if you count the first 1/2 week I did) vs week 4.

Turns out, I was smoked after 2.5 weeks of intervals/intensity - completely smoked. And my Garmin was screaming at me as well, if that means anything... I don't know if Garmin takes age into account.

Day 4 of rest/easy rides @ low power/HR - and my legs are still sore. Getting old is a bit$ch!
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Old 01-26-23, 12:26 PM
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Note the time in zone found by Seiler in that link in post 7. More like 5% of weekly time at the high end, not 20%. That was the main issue. Also my comment on weight work in the gym. The older we get, the more we need it. Your legs shouldn't be that sore, you should "just" have a tired aerobic system.

If that link didn't work for you, here's the same paper in a different journal: https://www.academia.edu/32019113/Fr...nsity_Analysis
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Old 01-27-23, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed View Post


As for some of the other questions - I’m 7-9+ hours in the winter. 1 hour per night on the trainer, try to get out 3-5 hours on the weekends. Sometimes more.

So I’m right on the edge of 12+.
That is actually a pretty high volume, especially if you are in the higher zones for a significant part of it. So I'm not that surprised you are feeling it. I'm more or less in the same position as you (55), except without diabetes, and over the last couple of years I have cut my training volume down considerably. At the moment I'm doing only around 5-6 hours per week and actually feel better for it. I do ramp up the volume when training for specific endurance events, but I rarely sustain 12+ hour weeks for more than a month or so.
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Old 01-27-23, 07:03 AM
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With your insulin insensitivity and difficult assimilating glucose, why are over stressing your glycolytic system with FTP an VO2 max work???

Very clearly overreaching with the program as others have noted.

When I was young, I would race on the weekend or do long rides. Rest Monday. Sprints Tuesday. Short TT Wednesday. Intervals Thursday or easy spin. Easy spin Friday.

I still ride 9-16,000 miles per year and could not do the intensity that you are doing nor would it help.

When my FTP was 280 watts, I would cruise at 200-210 watts for 12+ hours as you desire. The key isn't FTP, it is LT1 and for you as a diabetic, the ability to burn fat is essential or really paramount. I would focus on volume in zone 2 but no higher than low zone 3 in order to minimize glycogen use and maximize fatty acid oxidation (beta). Your current approach is counterproductive. I would recommend reading Alan Couzens, inigo san millan, and Phil Maffetone. If you only want to do a fast 40-60 minute time trial, contact Coggan.
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Old 01-27-23, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Note the time in zone found by Seiler in that link in post 7. More like 5% of weekly time at the high end, not 20%. That was the main issue. Also my comment on weight work in the gym. The older we get, the more we need it. Your legs shouldn't be that sore, you should "just" have a tired aerobic system.

If that link didn't work for you, here's the same paper in a different journal: https://www.academia.edu/32019113/Fr...nsity_Analysis
So I say 80/20, but its not 20% time in zone. 20% of the workouts +/- contain intensity. Total intensity for that period was about 45 min for the week.

I do lift weights/core/whole body work off and on. Not as consistent as I should be though.

I will look at the link, like I said before - there is a ton of info out there, a bunch to assimilate. Tyring to pull it all together. Thanks!!
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Old 01-27-23, 07:26 AM
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You do not need quality work, you need to work on your aerobic engine if your objective is 200-210 watts steady on long rides.

https://twitter.com/alan_couzens/sta...213761?lang=en
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Old 01-27-23, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
With your insulin insensitivity and difficult assimilating glucose, why are over stressing your glycolytic system with FTP an VO2 max work???

Very clearly overreaching with the program as others have noted.

When I was young, I would race on the weekend or do long rides. Rest Monday. Sprints Tuesday. Short TT Wednesday. Intervals Thursday or easy spin. Easy spin Friday.

I still ride 9-16,000 miles per year and could not do the intensity that you are doing nor would it help.

When my FTP was 280 watts, I would cruise at 200-210 watts for 12+ hours as you desire. The key isn't FTP, it is LT1 and for you as a diabetic, the ability to burn fat is essential or really paramount. I would focus on volume in zone 2 but no higher than low zone 3 in order to minimize glycogen use and maximize fatty acid oxidation (beta). Your current approach is counterproductive. I would recommend reading Alan Couzens, inigo san millan, and Phil Maffetone. If you only want to do a fast 40-60 minute time trial, contact Coggan.

Good stuff.

So I've been riding for the past 3 years, 4-5k per year at mostly zone 2, some zone 3 while in ketosis. I have to assume that my fat oxidation is in a really good place... during this time my insulin sensitivity has improved immensely. Went from 0 ability to process any carbs, to being able to tolerate moderate amounts from time to time - I just can't take the amounts most of these programs recommend. And the T2 is officially in remission.

And I agree - zone 2 exercise is absolutely the best treatment for my condition. One of the main issues with insulin sensitivity is mitochondrial dysfunction. Not much better for that than zone 2 exercise. I've studied Zone 2 in depth - Inigo and Dr Attia - with the latter being one of the people I credit with helping to put the disease in remission.

Dr Attia also claims that VO2 max is a great indicator of longevity. I wish I could afford to hire this guy...

I'm just frustrated and hit a plateau for the past year. So I decided to "go hard"!! and break the barrier.

Looks like I went to hard.
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Old 01-27-23, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
You do not need quality work, you need to work on your aerobic engine if your objective is 200-210 watts steady on long rides.

https://twitter.com/alan_couzens/sta...213761?lang=en
I also have a crazy objective to do some 50+ 50-75 mile gravel races this year. I don't know why, other than to just try. And possibly a masters TT or two.

And I am trying to swing a trip out west to climb Mt Lemmon, Onion Valley and the like, and the French alps the following year. At a 190#'s some extra top end and power buffer zone would be nice.

Big goals I know!! I get a bit obsessive from time to time.

I will read the info from Alan Couzens as well.

Thanks for all of the info - I am trying to absorb it all and meter my overzealous ways.
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Old 01-27-23, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed View Post
Good stuff.

So I've been riding for the past 3 years, 4-5k per year at mostly zone 2, some zone 3 while in ketosis. I have to assume that my fat oxidation is in a really good place... during this time my insulin sensitivity has improved immensely. Went from 0 ability to process any carbs, to being able to tolerate moderate amounts from time to time - I just can't take the amounts most of these programs recommend. And the T2 is officially in remission.

And I agree - zone 2 exercise is absolutely the best treatment for my condition. One of the main issues with insulin sensitivity is mitochondrial dysfunction. Not much better for that than zone 2 exercise. I've studied Zone 2 in depth - Inigo and Dr Attia - with the latter being one of the people I credit with helping to put the disease in remission.

Dr Attia also claims that VO2 max is a great indicator of longevity. I wish I could afford to hire this guy...

I'm just frustrated and hit a plateau for the past year. So I decided to "go hard"!! and break the barrier.

Looks like I went to hard.
Makes more sense now, you mitochondria aren't as hosed as I had interpreted and your race duration is shorter than I had guessed. TT and 50-60 mile races need some intensity during training.

FWIW, I have found waking HRV (heart rate variability), sleep quality, mood, and my ambition to train to be decent indicators keeping me from overdoing it. You are still youngish. I also found a much longer delay in the effects of a hard ride. I might feel decent the next day but the worse on day 2. HRV will be lousy on day 1.

I have used a polarized approach to training for many years.

The interval session is like the seasoning in a good dish or the icing, but don't forget it is not the cake let alone the meal. 5% of time per week might be enough but be careful if you start exceeding 10% of time per week doing "quality" work especially so early, certainly peaking for say a District TT or something, the distribution will tilt towards intensity leading into it. OTOH, if you were preparing for a 10-12 race or Fondo type event, you could just skip the intervals in my opinion and keep working on your metabolic fitness. Glad Attia's podcasts helped your medical condition. I wish I could hire Couzens.
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Old 01-27-23, 04:15 PM
  #24  
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So I’ve decided to stay the course and do two more 2 week cycles and see how it works.

I will cut down on overall volume.

What killed me last week was the 175w metric I did on a 37 degree windy day. Probably not the best way to end a cycle!!
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Old 01-28-23, 07:42 PM
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Here is a UCI world tour pro cycling team whose member are all type I diabetics. https://www.teamnovonordisk.com. You may be able to get some ideas from the website or their Facebook page. Good luck with your training.
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