Spin to win
Early on in your base training phase, try and keep the cadence up and around the 90-100rpm range.
If you are riding along at 96rpm instead of 64rpm then you are doing one-and-a-half times the pedaling. All that pedaling will create a much more ingrained muscle memory - this means that when you are getting tired towards the end of a hard race or sportive your pedaling technique will remain efficient.
Power = torque x cadence. In simple terms, how hard you are pushing the pedals x how quickly. If you keep the cadence up, it keeps the torque lower. This shifts the focus away from muscular power and onto the aerobic system. Doing this means your aerobic system (heart and lungs) is getting a bigger work out than your muscles and, as a result, you become more efficient on the bike. Muscular adaptations may take place quicker than aerobic ones but you also lose them much quicker. Working on your base now and muscular strength later on means that both will be in top shape come the first events of the season.
Base training can seem a little monotonous at times or even boring. One element that you can add in that won’t affect the quality of the base training is short six to ten-second sprints. Sprints of this length use a different energy system than long endurance workouts and therefore the two can be combined into a session without one affecting the other. Sprints of this length have also been shown to increase your body’s production of natural growth hormone. Therefore, not only does it make things more interesting, but by including five x six-second sprints with eight to ten minutes recovery in the last hour of a ride it can actually help you recover better for the next day.
That's the science explained, the intensity set and the technique nailed - now it's time to embrace the base. Here's how your winter training plan should look.