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Numbers In Cycling, Do They Matter To You?

Cycling…it’s a numbers game says Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner, who’s a big believer in setting weekly, monthly and annual distance goals.

I always say a flower doesn’t blossom 12 months of the year, and the same can be said for cycling form. You’re not going to be flying 12 months of the year—even the pro’s find that very difficult.

The brutal reality is there will be days, weeks and even months where you’re just not firing like you know you can. 

Strava is a great way to keep track of weekly, monthly and annual goals – check out this week’s totals on the Bicycling Australia Strava Club!

Another side of it is post-event mojo—you’ve just smashed out a race or beat your time at one of the Cycling Classic Gran Fondos and there’s nothing on your radar for months. So why bother?

For me, I force myself through those lulls, but typically with a lot less volume or intensity. But I keep turning the pedals because I don’t want to rust, and I know it can be very difficult to start again once you’ve completely stopped. That dreaded thought of doing nothing and starting at the bottom of the ladder is very daunting. 

Complementing outdoor riding with indoor training is a great way to boost fitness and add to incremental goals.

The use of numbers in training is an important aspect of our journey. Numbers matter; they give you something to focus on when you don’t have an event, race or something special to look forward to. 

I always have an annual target that I like to hit, and that alone gives me reason to ride. My annual goal is 20,000km, and some years I beat it, others I don’t. But the number is always there in the back of my mind. At the time of writing, I’m 1000kms behind of where I should be year to date. Worried? Not really…the weather is starting to improve and those bigger rides are on the horizon.

In maintaining those numbers I target several major cycling events each year and build up for them. These are like carrots, they are always front of mind in everything I do. I even set myself a target to just get around some of the local bunch rides. 

Events like the Noosa, Bowral and Snowy Classic are perfect. Being in August, December and March, they are perfect times to be riding, and fantastic motivation during those dark days of winter. Events offer an incentive—they are something major to set your sights on and push through those cold June and July mornings. 

Lee is a big believer in annual distance goals and keeping track of weekly totals.

I try and spread the events out from August to March, then after March I eat what I want, drop the distance, and generally put on some weight. In other words, I let my hair down and enjoy myself. 

Strava is a wonderful tool to use for weekly, monthly or yearly goals. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short—it’s only a target and, let’s be honest, we’re not all wannabe pros or closet world champions. 

Zwift is great for those winter months where it’s raining and blowing a gale outside. It’s also been a Godsend in lockdowns and when we are living under restrictions. 

More than just a training platform, you can use Zwift to do a step test to get your baseline number then train to increase your FTP through winter. Even doing just two of these workouts during the week can make a huge difference and they are measurable which is great for number watches. You can also set weekly or monthly training goals—in hours or kilometres—on the virtual training platform.

“…it’s only a target and, let’s be honest, we’re not all wannabe pros or closet world champions…”

I’m also using a training program called Formfinder where I put in my target events, and it gives me training based around those major cycling events. Users simply input how many hours a week they want to do, and the system builds personalised training around that number.

It’s perfect because I can load the training into Zwift and do it all indoors—sensational during lockdowns or when we face LGA or kilometre-from-home restrictions.

Or, let’s be honest, even on those days we just don’t want to go out. It’s just like having a coach, I love it.

If cycling for you is all about fun, fitness and socialising, goals and events, relying on numbers make your sport far more enjoyable, more meaningful and more satisfying over time. 

Lee Turner has lofty annual goals, but says at the end of the day it’s just about enjoying your cycling.

A goal may be as simple as entering one of the Bicycling  Australia Cycling Classics with a group of friends then creating a training plan together, building individual fitness then completing the ride together…how rewarding is that!

No matter what sort of rider you are, numbers can help improve your cycling. Why not give it a go, set some numbers—whether it be kilometres ridden, your goal weight, the power you want to hit or time up your favourite climb. Set a numbers goal, stick to it as best you can, and your cycling will prosper.

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