Leave the race wheels for race week

“My training set up: Alexrims wheelset with Maxxis Re-fuse tires (bullet proof!) which helps bring my bike weight up to 11.6kg. Throw a couple full drink bottles on board and we have a training set-up weighing in at over 13kg”

The idea of this blog is to explain why race wheels are a serious advantage on race day, but why they can also be a major hindrance to progress when attached to your bike in training. But first let’s do a quick revision of what we are trying to achieve as we train to improve cycling fitness and performance.With the popularity of power meters now, we have fantastic insight into our watts on the bike. But what exactly do the watts mean? In other words, what is power? Well, in the context of cycling it is the combination of force (your legs ability to deliver energy into the pedals) and cadence (your neuromuscular capacity to turn the pedals at a rate that optimises the efficiency of the force going through the pedals). Increase either force or cadence, without compromising the other, and you increase power.Back to the wheels. If we want to get stronger in the gym, what do we do? Lift heavier weights. Because we know that increasing the resistance our muscles work against will force said muscles to overcompensate by becoming stronger. If we want to get stronger on a bike, what do we do? Ride up hills, into wind, at varying levels of effort etc. So why would we overlook doing all of this with extra weight and resistance? By training on race wheels, you are doing exactly this. You are selling yourself short. If I go riding with a friend and he or she has some nice light, stiff, aerodynamic Profile Design Twenty Four Series wheels for example and I ride some heavy, clunky, non-aero training wheels with cheap hubs (more rolling resistance) and heavy robust tires, guess who gets the best training effect? Thank you very much. We have both spent the same amount of time on our bikes, ridden the same route and followed the same session structure, but I go home with a little more fitness currency in my bank account. Better return on investment in other words.Training on race wheels is like taking the weights off the end of your barbell. Sure it makes the squat feel easier, but why did you go to the gym in the first place? Throw the weights on the barbell and get squatting. Throw the heavy wheels on and get training. Heck, throw a couple full drink bottles on too, even if you won’t need that much fluid. That way, when race day rolls around and you do throw the Profile Design hoops with the fast race day tire on your bike, your legs will produce more force at an efficient cadence (aka deliver more power) and the race wheels will travel faster in response. Intuitively you will notice the difference too of course and we cannot underestimate the advantage that this psychological edge presents on the day that really matters. 

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