Occam’s Razor — on a Bike

If you’re looking for results, you’re probably best served with the simplest approach

[content_box type=”with-header” title=”StartConfident Summary” text_color=”dark” color=”default” animation=”fade-in”]
  • If you’re a beginner racer, you need simplicity

  • It’s hard to repeat something that confuses you

  • If you can get custom for the price of stock, go for custom

[/content_box] [dropcap style=”default”]Occam’s Razor[/dropcap]

is an elegant way of thinking when you have a problem to solve. One way of interpreting it goes something like this:

[callout icon=“hb-moon-bike”]When you have a number of possible approaches to a problem, go with the one that has the fewest number of variables — in other words, the simpler the solution, the better your results are likely to be.[/callout]

What does this have to do with bike racing? Quite a bit. Specifically, it has a great deal to do with effectiveness in training for a beginner racer.

This blog is for the beginner who really wants to improve. You want to train, but you want to train simply — and “simple training” seems awfully difficult to locate.

The need for simplicity

If you have ever conducted a search online for training information, you no doubt have been inundated with two extremes: minutia, or a doctorate in physiology.

Let me explain.

You’ll either be inundated with bits and pieces of how-to’s… Tips. Tricks. Ideas. Options. Approaches. Stuff like “how to climb like a pro,” or “10 ways to get more aero on your existing road bike” or “why sweet spot intervals give you more bang for your training buck.” Heck, I even offer that sort of thing here at StartConfident (with the exception being my dedication to writing for the new racer.)

OR… you get a full on dissertation that assumes you’ve been racing for more than a few years; it’s over your head, and honestly, it’s overwhelming.

Either way, you end up frustrated.

How do you know what information is relevant to you?

How do you know what questions to ask?

How do you know what training “stuff” to prioritize? After all, you only have so much time to dedicate to getting better, right?

Wouldn’t it be great if someone understood that you were new at this racing thing, and laid out a plan that was step-by-step, without terms you didn’t understand, and without being condescending?

Read on, gentle racer…

The issue of Repeatability

One of the aspects of training for bike racing is getting on your bike, or hitting the weight room and doing a lot of tasks over and over again. In the process, you’re looking for measurable gains. After all, you need to know that you’re putting in all this effort for a reason; you need to see improvement. If nothing else, it’s good for the morale, if not your speed!

However, if you have gotten your hands on any of the available training plans that are out there, you may find them to be a bit…esoteric. Random. Workouts that have so many twists in intensity and time and technique that you’re left dizzy.

It’s true that you should train like you race. Ultimately, as your training draws closer and closer to the race event or events that you want to do well for, your training should start to feel like the event; it should be as intense as the event and it should mirror the features of the event, that is, climbs that are like the event’s climbs and sprints that are like the event’s sprints.

But most of the more “robust” training plans are designed for those who have raced, and who are familiar with the many twists and surges and “elasticity” of racing. For you, however, the newcomer to racing, it’s more important that you build solid fitness, followed by specific, race-like skills; this builds endurance, speed, and strength — and it builds confidence.

To do this takes a simple, repeatable plan.

With me, so far?

Made for you, vs. off-the-rack

The other big problem with pre-packaged training is…well, it’s one-size-fits all. Anyone who buys it is buying the same calendar with the same workouts and the same intensities.

And this doesn’t make any sense at all.

In road racing, you have sprinters, climbers, break away artists, and GC-contenders (“general classification” riders with do-it-all skills). Do you really think all those different body types, with their different strengths and weaknesses will all benefit the same from the same plan?

That’s crazy talk.

You may be a beginner, but you can do some simple self-examination to define where you need the most work. Additionally, when you think about where you’re weakest — say, climbing or sprinting, you can then think about the specific needs of the race(s) you want to do well in. If the course for your “A” race has a significant climb, you can be sure that’s where the decisive moves WILL happen…and if you can’t keep pace on the hill, you’re not going to be finishing with the main group.

Your training plan will need to have a way to factor in a focus on climbing.

What beginner plan does all this?

Glad you asked.


3×25 is my training plan designed for the bike racer who’s never raced, or for the racer who has a season or two but is seeking improvements and simple structure.

It’s based on the same kind of tiered intensity training the pros use (called “periodization”) but it’s distilled down to it’s simplest form.

It’s called 3×25 because:

The main component is a video that clocks in just under 25 minutes long. You can stream it, or you can download it and use chapter markers to go to just the section you need or want to review.

The entire protocol, taking you from untrained to your chosen peak race or event, lasts 25 weeks. You can use other races along the way if you wish as training, but the goal is to get you to a “peak” of fitness at the end of the full 25 weeks if you follow the plan.

The plan costs a dollar a week: $25. That’s cheaper than most race registrations, and a hella-lot cheaper than a basket of video downloads — or a coach.

What 3×25 is NOT

3×25 is NOT “one size fits all.” You’ll get instruction to determine what your specific fitness is. You’ll get instruction to determine where you’re weakest, and in choosing your featured race or event. You’ll be reminded to pair your weakness with the needs of that event, so you’ll know what to work on, and then you’ll get instruction on which workouts to include on which weeks that focus on those weaknesses

3×25 is NOT an “advanced” plan. By “advanced,” I’m referring to multiple peaks over a season, or the instruction to “ramp” or adjust the intensity of the plan over time. Those are features that a more seasoned racer will understand or desire, and the kinds of things a dedicated coach are great for.

3×25 is NOT a guarantee of results. No training plan is. 3×25 is designed based upon the most recent published literature on periodization, as well as my own experience as a coach and fellow racer. However, it’s up to you to track and measure your own efforts, and to get in touch with your own body and it’s ability to respond to training. My aim with 3×25 is to give you a configurable, adjustable plan that is easy to follow, and incremental in intensity leading up to a proper peak and taper. While I’m confident that any new racer will absolutely see performance gains from 3×25, I can’t assure you that it’ll take you from where you are now to a podium in 25 weeks.

A mediocre plan is better than no plan at all

3×25 isn’t mediocre. I’m extremely proud of it. It’s the kind of training I use, personally, and it’s the kind of training you’d experience with any coach that uses a periodization approach. But my big encouragement to you is this: if you’re going to race, then race to be IN THE RACE. Race to be competitive. Racing is far, far more fun when you’re mixing it up with the peloton rather than gasping off the back. A well-thought plan, mindful of your needs and your specific event’s needs will take you far further towards your goals than simply riding lots of miles or tons of club rides.

I encourage you to find a plan that’s right for you, stick to the plan, and trust your training. Give 3×25 a look. It may be what you’re after.

[icon_box icon=”hb-moon-bike” icon_position=”left” align=”left”] Question: Are you training with a plan? How is it going? Share your stories, here. I really want to know about your experience. [/icon_box]

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Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.

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