basic endurance training
Having good, basic endurance is a requirement for all cyclists.
If your basic condition is not on a satisfactory level, higher-intensity training will have little or no effect. Your body will simply not be able to recover if you are not in solid shape first. The importance of endurance is hightened during long races. Races lasting several weeks and consisting of several legs require good endurance for every leg. This will also reflect on how quickly you recover during legs.
Training to increase basic endurance aims at developing an athlete's aerobic fitness level.
The benefits of increased basic endurance:
Long-distance sessions improve a cyclist's psychological tolerance for "pain" during competition. 5-7 hour rides will train an athlete to recognize personal performance limits, as well as determine ways to exceed those limits, or to at least delay fatigue. This is very often the very skill that wins races.
Endurance training gives results if heart rate levels remain optimal. However, the session will not be spoilt if heart rate levels increase momentarily due to uneven terrain, for example, as long as the more intensive phases do not last too long nor force heart rate above your aerobic threshold.
Long biking sessions in large crowds, on the other hand, may actually result in low-intensity training, especially for a good cyclist. Monitoring heart rate is, therefore, especially important when riding in slipstream to make sure intensity doesn't slide too low. A good cyclist can easily cycle very long distances, but endurance will only improve when heart rate is at least 65% of maximal heart rate.
During long sessions, you should pay extra attention to your pedalling technique to make sure your muscles and nervous system are primed to work continuously in good form. Also, remember that ingesting fluids and solids is imperative during long sessions for maximum results. Consuming carbohydrates during training will speed up the use of body fat reserves.