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How many months a year do most randonneurs ride their bike?

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How many months a year do most randonneurs ride their bike?

Old 01-03-22, 01:38 PM
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How many months a year do most randonneurs ride their bike?

The other day in the pool locker room I asked a “triathlete” friend what he was going to do as far as workouts go during the off season. He responded to me that there is no “off season.” He said it was currently “pre-season.” My question is: Do most randonneurs think the way my triathlon buddy does? Or do most randonneurs ride their bike for 9 months or so out of the year, and take the other 3 months off cold turkey?
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Old 01-03-22, 02:32 PM
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I'm a "once and future" rando, so take this with a grain of salt. During the height of my rando "career", I lived at altitude (~4000 feet with rides often going up to 6k), and rode probably 7-8 months of the year, XC skiing the rest of the time. It was great! Got full-body cross training and was full of enthusiasm when I got back on the bike. I rando'ed for 5-ish years and completed two SR series, one 1000k and one 1200k 10 years ago I moved to sea level and now ride year round. There aren't any good off-season options here. It's harder for me to maintain the level of enthusiasm/commitment all year with no "off season". I'm hoping to get back to riding brevets this year with an eye toward PBP next year. We'll see...

Scott Peterson
Newport OR
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Old 01-03-22, 03:32 PM
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If you do not do any aerobic exercise for 3 months, it will take at least 6 months and probably more to return to peak form.

No athlete takes 3 full months off.

Many will cross country ski, hike, or do other stuff in the colder months.
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Old 01-03-22, 07:10 PM
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I think it depends on what you consider a randonneur. There are plenty of people who do a few 200's and maybe 300, and that's it. I expect a lot of those people hang up their bikes in the winter. Some people move to skiing, MTB, CX, or just the sofa.

Anyone who is thinking about a 1200 is probably going to very close to 12 months. Although with the advent of smart trainers, some of those people are moving indoors for the nastiest weather.

Of course there's the R12, which motivates a lot of people including myself to ride outdoors year round.

Another variable is age. In my 20's I'd veg out over the winter and use the first 6 weeks of spring to get "in shape". Now at 60+ I don't feel I can afford that behavior.
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Old 01-05-22, 07:48 AM
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The last couple of seasons I have replaced cycling over the winter with running 3 days a week and weight lifting 3 days a week. With everyone else riding zwift all winter, I can't keep up with the fast group on the early spring rides, but I think it's better for my overall health, and I'm back it top form by June. I can't think of anyone who rides GR's who just completely takes the whole winter off, but I do know a few people who never do anything longer than a 200k who use the opener as motivation to get back in shape after taking the winter off.
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Old 01-05-22, 08:59 AM
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I live in a place where it's feasible to ride through the winter. I'm also new to randonneuring.

My mindset is to ride through the winter, although I do reduce my distance. I wound up taking off most of November (due to conflicts and minor mishaps) and I'm still paying for it in terms of lost fitness—I use Training Peaks, and putting a number to your fitness can be motivating or dispiriting, depending on the direction that number is moving.
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Old 01-05-22, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
I live in a place where it's feasible to ride through the winter. I'm also new to randonneuring.

My mindset is to ride through the winter, although I do reduce my distance. I wound up taking off most of November (due to conflicts and minor mishaps) and I'm still paying for it in terms of lost fitness—I use Training Peaks, and putting a number to your fitness can be motivating or dispiriting, depending on the direction that number is moving.
Training Peaks, GoldenCheetah and other programs provide interesting and useful readiness data for a randonneur, but it takes some knowledge to interpret. I would guess most randos don't use such programs or ride with a PM. I have used a powermeter and one training program or another for 8 years.

In 2019, my chronic training load (CTL) was 67 going into my 2 week PBP taper and I started PBP with a CTL load of 61. I completed PBP with an acute training load (ATL) of 158. Outch. It took almost a full week to recover. I tend to think of CTL as base level endurance or fitness. A CTL of 67 is low for me. Paradoxically, my FTP (functional threshold power) was higher than ever. I just was not what I would consider rando fit.......like you can just ride and ride at a moderate pace like the Everready bunny.

In 2015, my CTL was around 100-105 from memory and brevets were not as hard. I flew home thursday and was riding the next day and did an easy week and the following week was "normal"

In 2016 my CTL was very high due to miles and intensity..... higher than 158. Too high. Makes brevets too easy.

My guess is something between 80-100 is a good CTL. Interested if anyone has similar guesses?

The only two things I focus on are CTL and my best 4-5 minute climbing time on a couple hills that I have used over the decades. If my climbing times are really good and I have a good CTL for me, no brevet will kill me. It is also simple and easier to measure than FTP. I just go out and ride, download the files (TP is automatic now, I think) and it monitors my CTL. Every 7-14 days, I ride my hill as hard as I can. If my CTL and climbing increase, my FTP always increases with it. FTP tests are not the most fun, so, why bother. The only other thing for me is knowing if I am too tired. Something called TSB (training stress balance) is very useful as is HRV (heart rate variability). I only use them during brevet season and as I have gotten older, it takes a little longer to recover and HRV has been more useful than TSB (unless one changes the exponents). It goes without saying one only gets stronger when resting and breaking yourself down when already tired is a fool's errand.

Back to the OP. If I assume I would like a CTL of 90 and if I increase my load 10% per week with an easy week per month, one can see starting from zero in March makes if very, very difficult to have the fitness in July for a 1200K after taking the winter off. I would argue that the most important miles for a successful summer 1200K would be those in November-March leading up to the grand randonnee.
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Old 01-05-22, 10:14 AM
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I've read some admittedly unscientific speculation that distance riding is Just Different, and that once you've got a certain number of miles in your legs, you can slog through a long ride even if your CTL is low. I don't know if that's been tested scientifically, but my impression is that some of the local randos probably have terrible CTL numbers (if they could be quantified at all) but can still finish a brevet under the limit.

Randonneuring isn't my only cycling interest right now. I ride a smart trainer four days a week, and knowing one's FTP is more or less a necessity for that. I've switched from doing 20-minute tests to ramp tests, which only suck for about 3 minutes and seem to produce equivalent results.

TSB is useful for other things: if it's negative, it shows that you're getting fitter, but the accepted wisdom is that if it goes beyond -30, you're overtraining—I've used that logic to design my training plan. I'm mildly curious about HRV, but I don't seem to get any useful data out of mine. The past 7 days has been a pretty tough training week for me, but my average HRV is very close to where it was during a week I took off entirely, and the day-to-day doesn't seem to correlate at all to my rest days.
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Old 01-05-22, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
My guess is something between 80-100 is a good CTL. Interested if anyone has similar guesses?
This is consistent with my experience. I use the tri-score in GC because I run over the winter and only have a PM on one bike, so I have to rely on HR for most of my workouts. If I can keep my CTL (tri-score) in the 50's going into the spring riding season, I can get it up to high double digits by May or June without too much trouble, so I'm in good shape for a GR in July or August which will pull me up into the low triple digits before the slow decline back down to the 50's over the fall and winter.
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Old 01-05-22, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Training Peaks, GoldenCheetah and other programs provide interesting and useful readiness data for a randonneur, but it takes some knowledge to interpret. I would guess most randos don't use such programs or ride with a PM. I have used a powermeter and one training program or another for 8 years.

In 2019, my chronic training load (CTL) was 67 going into my 2 week PBP taper and I started PBP with a CTL load of 61. I completed PBP with an acute training load (ATL) of 158. Outch. It took almost a full week to recover. I tend to think of CTL as base level endurance or fitness. A CTL of 67 is low for me. Paradoxically, my FTP (functional threshold power) was higher than ever. I just was not what I would consider rando fit.......like you can just ride and ride at a moderate pace like the Everready bunny.

In 2015, my CTL was around 100-105 from memory and brevets were not as hard. I flew home thursday and was riding the next day and did an easy week and the following week was "normal"

In 2016 my CTL was very high due to miles and intensity..... higher than 158. Too high. Makes brevets too easy.

My guess is something between 80-100 is a good CTL. Interested if anyone has similar guesses?

The only two things I focus on are CTL and my best 4-5 minute climbing time on a couple hills that I have used over the decades. If my climbing times are really good and I have a good CTL for me, no brevet will kill me. It is also simple and easier to measure than FTP. I just go out and ride, download the files (TP is automatic now, I think) and it monitors my CTL. Every 7-14 days, I ride my hill as hard as I can. If my CTL and climbing increase, my FTP always increases with it. FTP tests are not the most fun, so, why bother. The only other thing for me is knowing if I am too tired. Something called TSB (training stress balance) is very useful as is HRV (heart rate variability). I only use them during brevet season and as I have gotten older, it takes a little longer to recover and HRV has been more useful than TSB (unless one changes the exponents). It goes without saying one only gets stronger when resting and breaking yourself down when already tired is a fool's errand.

Back to the OP. If I assume I would like a CTL of 90 and if I increase my load 10% per week with an easy week per month, one can see starting from zero in March makes if very, very difficult to have the fitness in July for a 1200K after taking the winter off. I would argue that the most important miles for a successful summer 1200K would be those in November-March leading up to the grand randonnee.
Interesting, thanks for sharing.

Like most randos, I train and ride by feel. As age reduces my athletic potential, I'm becoming more interested in getting the most of of that potential. That means, I think, a more scientific approach to training.

My question to you is this. Most of my post-1200k issues are not muscular or fatigue, but rather with connective tissue and joints. Swelling and discomfort keep me off the bike for a while. Do you think those issues are mitigated any by increased fitness?
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Old 01-05-22, 11:15 AM
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I hardly rode last year due to two serious injuries and as far as slogging thru brevets, I slogged a very hilly 300K in around 15 hours where I normally do that one in closer to 13 hours. I was ruined. Toast. Normally, I am not even tired after any 300k or a flat 400k. No way I could have ridden into the night that day. Ruined. But I finished. So, I sort of agree with you, Adam but if you asked me that day, I would have laughed.

Assuming one has an accurate FTP, -30 TSB is sort of my fatigue governor unless my CTL is well over 100, then I can handle -50 TSB here and there. My rule of thumb is if I need more than one day off the bike, the training ride was too hard. It is pretty hard to stay under -30 for a 400k or 600K and not exceed those limits in my experience unless you ride really slow. So, fatigue is normal after 400/600k brevets for everyone. I have once done managed to ride them easy. For instance, in the Spring of 2019 I did a flat 400K on a Saturday and then a flat 600K on the next weekend with good volume during the week (around 1000 miles for 8 days). But, all of the riding was zone 1 and a little tiny bit zone 2. My training stress balance (TSB) went from -0.9 to -37.8. Not bad. I also burned off 5 pounds of lard that week.

There are some very good endurance coaches. From what I have heard from them and from one who coached me for a while, most randonneurs are running too much fatigue and not enough speed on a routine basis. Just plodding along slow and tired. Some say no more than a 6 hour training ride ever. Some put it at 10 hours. In other words, once you can ride briskly (Z2/3) for 6-10 hours, you have all the endurance for the event. Besides, it is pretty hard to be motivated for more than 10 hours unless it is an event. Someone who has been a solid rando or ultra rider for a long time and who takes a little time off certainly has memory in their legs. It takes a long time to develop legs and also a long time to lose them. Plasma volume comes up in a few weeks thereby increasing cardiac stroke volume (riding faster at lower HR), especially when it is hot but mitochondria enzymes take months to improve. Overall, an experienced Rando might only need 4-6 months to get there but a newer rider might need 12-36 months. "There" for me is having the fitness that a brevet is fun and not so hard that I am ruined afterwards whether I ride easy or faster. My simplified approach to training works for me. Being able to ride briskly for say 6 hours corresponds to a certain CTL. The randos that I know who always finish their brevets and grand randonnees with ease are riders who ride a lot and ride consistently thru the year.

I didn't mean getting one's FTP is difficult, I just don't see much value in testing it often because it changes so slowly. I find that a Zwift 40-50 minute time trial power to be a pretty good estimate. The most I have increased my FTP over the course of a year is a lousy 11 watts albeit hard earned watts. I also think a lot of those structured training programs are crap because they are made for 4-6 hour per week riders and not randonneurs, they simply have too much intensity. I think it was Lon Haldeman who said something like try to collect up about an hour or so a week of riding very hard like you can't talk hard and then just your bike a lot and have fun the rest of the week. Sage advice if you ask me.
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Old 01-05-22, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Interesting, thanks for sharing.

Like most randos, I train and ride by feel. As age reduces my athletic potential, I'm becoming more interested in getting the most of of that potential. That means, I think, a more scientific approach to training.

My question to you is this. Most of my post-1200k issues are not muscular or fatigue, but rather with connective tissue and joints. Swelling and discomfort keep me off the bike for a while. Do you think those issues are mitigated any by increased fitness?
I am also noticing inflammatory effects (Edit: I notice that in my joints). I am 63 young. I wish I had an answer, it is something I am trying to figure out.

If I responded to your question when I was in my mid to late 50's, I would have said that increased training load would help. Now, my perspective is skewed because recovery from my injuries places a huge load and thus, I have less capacity to exercise but it seems to me over the past few years age makes recovery much harder and thus, it is even more important not to take a lot of time off. We'd need to hear from randos in their 70's but there are few of them.....

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Old 01-05-22, 01:26 PM
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For a few years I participated in the National 24 hour challenge in Michigan, as well as doing rando rides. I targeted 400 miles, and got there after 4 years. Then I quit ultras.

It was a learning experience, but my main takeaway is that I enjoy what serious ultra riders call garbage miles - LSD. I live for garbage miles. I train so the garbage miles will be more fun. A great 1200 for me is one where I ride quickly, do non-sleep controls quickly, sleep lots, and stop at every bakery and roadside stop that appeals to me at the moment. Lon Haldeman's advice sounds like a tolerable training strategy to me. I'm probably never going to be a numbers guy.
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Old 01-05-22, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
For a few years I participated in the National 24 hour challenge in Michigan, as well as doing rando rides. I targeted 400 miles, and got there after 4 years. Then I quit ultras.

It was a learning experience, but my main takeaway is that I enjoy what serious ultra riders call garbage miles - LSD. I live for garbage miles. I train so the garbage miles will be more fun. A great 1200 for me is one where I ride quickly, do non-sleep controls quickly, sleep lots, and stop at every bakery and roadside stop that appeals to me at the moment. Lon Haldeman's advice sounds like a tolerable training strategy to me. I'm probably never going to be a numbers guy.
Most FTP and VO2 max studies are based on relatively short duration experiments. How many look at years? None that I can recall. Here is a coach/physiologist with a case of an athlete who responded very well to "junk"miles. Couzens had a few posts showing that some respond better to intensity and some to volume. So.....in defense of junk rando miles.....

https://simplifaster.com/articles/ho...le-is-vo2-max/
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Old 01-05-22, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Anyone who is thinking about a 1200 is probably going to very close to 12 months. Although with the advent of smart trainers, some of those people are moving indoors for the nastiest weather.
Back when I did my 1000 and 1200, I was riding 8 months a year and XC skiing the rest. That was the best fitness I've ever had and my enthusiasm for riding in the spring was off the charts!

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Old 01-05-22, 09:03 PM
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I like to ride in the winter but I got into Nordic skating last year and would like to do more skiing but the winter has been crap here so far.

I got into fulgaz this winter but while the video is great it's easy for me to do a lot of base type rides

I got a pm in 2019 and learning about CTL and some of that stuff helped me improve my rando pace. I did a bit of trainer road but found better improvement with zwift since it had more interesting stuff to look at then blue bars.

I work a physical job and I feel like it helps with fitness too, much like weight lifting can. I'll lift in the winter if I'm not working 7-10s or something intense.
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Old 01-06-22, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Most FTP and VO2 max studies are based on relatively short duration experiments. How many look at years? None that I can recall. Here is a coach/physiologist with a case of an athlete who responded very well to "junk"miles. Couzens had a few posts showing that some respond better to intensity and some to volume. So.....in defense of junk rando miles.....

https://simplifaster.com/articles/ho...le-is-vo2-max/
Very interested article; certainly it tells a story that I'd like to believe applies to me.
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Old 01-06-22, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Very interested article; certainly it tells a story that I'd like to believe applies to me.
The traditional HIIT and periodization from yore wasn't working for me....too sore, lousy sleep, and making more grumpy than usual.

I switch to more volume and not so frequent intervals over the past 6-8 years and my FTP has increased pretty significantly (say 15%) and I attribute much of it to lots of so-called junk miles (zone 2) and the supine position on the recumbent (I'd have to find the study to support that). Most of the HIIT studies are just 6 weeks in length. (I had a short 18 month massive decline before getting my bent legs). I know I got 6 years older but my heart rate at threshold is so much lower now even on an upright but at more power. Go figure, right? If you look up Dr. Phil Maffetone, he sort of explains it all. His formula is 180-age as the maximum exercise HR, but with a couple factors added in. So, I almost never ride over 117 BPM and usually around 100 BPM on brevets. Maffetone's approach was used by Mark Allen to win like every Ironman for many years. In jest I was saying junk miles, but at 117 BPM I am making something like 230-250 watts, which way too much power on a brevet. It is is like the heart gets super efficient with each beat. Maffetone's theory or ideas is very counter to the HIIT and time crunched training programs and might be considered crazy by some but one benefit is not having too much stress on your body, it just takes longer to get even more fit for me. If one looks at Seiler's data, it shows similar improvement for athletes over a year or two timeline (not published, powerpoints from conferences).. I know that Friel advocates a lot of intensity for us older riders but if you are riding a lot, you already collect up close to that hour or so that Haldeman recommended and then adding just one miserable interval session per week seems plenty. Structured training is a PITA. I have to admit that I started to plateau on the bent and decided to try something different 2-3 years ago. I read Coggan's favorite workout for TT fitness and tried it (2 x 20 at 90-95% FTP IIRC) except I did more reps. I abandoned any anaerobic work for a few months and I got stronger. I don't get it but I suspect it helped the shuttling and utilization of lactate from fast twitch muscles to the slowtwitch muscles because my FTP was nearly 90% of my VO2 max at the end of that experiment and that is my only explanation. So.....GL with just riding without numbers.

https://philmaffetone.com/method/

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Old 02-21-22, 06:57 AM
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10 months. 2 months at home
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Old 02-22-22, 11:55 AM
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Here in the rainy PNW, it's 12 months. We start rando group training rides in January. I once took a winter off. Total disaster, didn't get my legs back until the end of summer.
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Old 02-23-22, 03:45 AM
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I'm sorry I don't understand the question, are you asking if I voluntarily stop riding my bike?
If so, well, that's madness!

I'm a year round rider, commuter, errand runner, randonneur and occasional racer. I vary the amounts a bit throughout the year but never stop.
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Old 02-23-22, 08:34 AM
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Rando/ Ski

I ride about 8-9 months a year. Haven't done a full series in a few years but I do enjoy my 200 and 300K rides. Hoping to do my first 1200 this season. My off season includes 3 cross country ski marathons. Growing up in central Wisconsin in the early 1970's we had ample snow and developed some life long friendships with other skiers. Nothing gets me in cardio shape faster than XC skiing. Roller skiing has become a large portion of my training given the lack of snow. American Birkiebeiner is the largest and toughest race in the nordic world. I'll be skiing my 38th this weekend. I've completed 4 World Loppet international marathons and hope to ski a few more in the next 3 years. I really look forward to the bike season once the weather gets above freezing
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Old 03-04-22, 06:45 AM
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Machka 
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I ride all year round. In fact, Rowan and I just finished a challenge that involved one ride each month (at least).

https://audax.org.au/ridereport/pyrr-2021-complete/
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Old 04-25-22, 11:56 PM
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Northwestrider
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12 , only snow or ice will keep me indoors
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Old 04-26-22, 10:14 AM
  #25  
friday1970
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Shed training

During the winter months, I ride rollers in the shed. It's boring, but good music makes up for it. 30 minutes on weekdays, 1 hour on weekends
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