Help with base training.


New Member
Feb 29, 2012
This is my first season racing this year. I hardly prepared during the winter and hurried up training during the spring months. So out of the three times I raced, the results were really bad. Most of the bigger races where I live are in April and May. Now that I really want to get more serious about riding. A guy from my LBS said I should start base training. Is it a little too early to start now? My first race is in mid April. Thanks


New Member
Sep 13, 2006
You will hear a lot of opinions as to what constitutes 'base' as well as how to go about doing it. The one thing that is certain is that cycling, especially road cycling has a very large endurance component, and that the endurance component takes the longest to develop.

The trend these days seems to be more of a continuum type training where all facets are 'trained' but individual facets, like endurance, are emphasized at certain times of the year depending on your personal goals and schedule.

One thing for sure, if you're not getting the results you would like, or think you should, continuing to do the same thing, or just more of it, can lead you down the rabbit hole.

Food for thought:



Nov 25, 2010
It would be a touch early for an April peak to start what everyone calls base training. It however is not too early to go out and ride your bike and gain some good fitness. Make a plan for next year and follow it, it will go a long way to helping with results next year. I will caution that if you are on form in April you will need to have some type of transition period in late May early June or you will be toast in August.


New Member
Feb 29, 2012
So when should I start my base? Also this will be my first year that I want to train through the winter so wouldnt it take longer for me to establish a aerobic base?


Well-Known Member
Oct 3, 2006
It depends a lot on how you define 'base' and how you'll go about establishing it.

Personally I'd never advocate delaying riding your bike with the possible exception of someone coming off a very hard and long season who usually needs to get away from the bike and training for a while to detox a bit and give their body a break from many months of hard efforts. But that doesn't sound like your case. But the riding I'm talking about is just fitness riding, building overall endurance, getting used to riding more often and longer and establishing patterns of riding regularly and basically having a ton of fun on your bike. There's no reason to delay any of those things unless you really need an end of season break.

What Bgoetz was probably getting after and what you want to watch out for is introducing so much hard work or big hours into your schedule so early that you hit a limit on hours, workload or mentally begin to fry in mid to late winter and get into January superstar mode followed by race season burnout. From that standpoint I agree August is pretty early to start a big structured ramp up with a lot of highly structured days in your schedule but that shouldn't keep you off the bike or keep you from doing longer rides or enjoying the end of summer and the great riding into autumn. But I sure wouldn't be beating myself up on the indoor trainer or forcing big hours or trying to push yourself too hard with a plan to continue building without interruption till next spring.

So personally I'd be riding a lot, doing whatever type of rides are the most fun and get you on the bike a lot over the next couple of months without holding back or worrying too much about next spring other than knowing that the riding you do now and fitness you build now will help you later on. Then think about taking a little bit of downtime somewhere in the late September to October time frame and then get on a more structured winter build cycle using whatever training methods you use to build your base for next season.

IOW, I agree it's too early to get onto an long ramp towards next season. But it's also a great time to be riding your bike and there's plenty of time to ride for a while do big rides, hard rides, whatever kind of rides you like but get on the bike a lot and then detox a bit just like folks coming off their race seasons and begin the winter cycle in a couple of months so that you hit late winter and early spring with a ton of base under your belt but not too fried so that you're ready to transition to race prep and early season racing.

Good luck,


Active Member
Oct 24, 2004
I thought what both Dave's posted were good and I was hoping Dave R was going to stop by and give you some insight. He has been the biggest positive influence to my progress.

Last year I kind of put a number on this as I started to understanding trends within the PMC and how that impacted my fitness. I made it a goal not to dip below 70 CTL during the winter months. Crazyb1, I am not sure if you are familiar with those terms, but in short 70 CTL was sort of the bottom (base level) that I wanted to hold through those months. For me to stay above 70 CTL I still needed at least 8 hours of training per week, but this is very manageable. It is not hard to recover on this and stay mentally refreshed.

Because each of us adapt (progress) at different rates and mine being a very slow rate by letting my fitness go too low there was no way that I could come out of a deep hole for any sort of spring event (for me it is not racing, but still set endurance events requiring "x" amount of fitness). Some that are more genetically inclined will come out of that hole at a much faster rate. You have to understand your own rate of progress, which is how do you respond to a certain training load, recovery and adaptation.

By what both Dave's posted you can keep at a certain level of fitness with dropping back to just going out and having fun on the bike, enjoy group rides and so on. For me I went through the winter months more structured because that is what it took for me to stay above the 70 CTL mark that I wanted to hold. But training with structure like the standard 2 x 20 L4 type session is not very hard to recover from and I can recover from this just about daily and then do a nice long ride or two on the weekend just to keep my mental attitude where I want for being on the saddle for hours.

Having the power meter and PMC available certainly has helped me get focused, but it is not necessary. This can be governed by how you feel mentally and physically.
Mentally - are you having fun cycling.
Physically - are you able to get through certain courses/routes without much strain.

If I were basing it on perception without the whole power meter aspect I have a few routes in mind (one is an 80 mile route) that I should be able to do without much strain and if I cannot get through those routes than I have let my "base" drop below where I want.