June 2, 2012

No Warmup, A Question

A few grey, rainy Saturday pictures of local hills, and a few questions. One theme.

Yesterday, not a rainy day, I had an "ahh-hah!" moment, immediately followed by a  "duhh, right, obviously!"  moment. So today I have a question for you, readers.

I started out from a new place on a very familiar route. Immediately, the road went up a gentle hill that I have ridden very frequently, and that is an easy easy climb. But right away my legs were screaming at me, while my HR was low and my breathing easy. What's this, I think....ohhhhhh, bingo....no warmup. NO WARMUP! Duhhhh.

 Looking back at a few of the many times when I have been quickly dropped on the first hill, I wonder: perhaps with an adequate warmup I would have felt a bit better on those hills right at the start. My questions relate to any event with a group start, whether randonnée, race, grand fondo, club ride ... or I suppose any timed ride.

How do you handle warmups before events, what is your routine?

How much time do you think can elapse between your warmup and the start of the ride?

Have you seen the effect and need for warmups change in your riding over time?

Any other tips?

Thanks, up front and in advance, to any of you who take the time and energy to respond!


  1. Hi Sue,

    No warmup for me, ever. Even if the ride starts immediately uphill. I just go. Sometimes my legs have it, sometimes they don't. I think it's related more to my overall fitness, age, and however the stars align on any given ride, rather than to a warmup or lack thereof.

    PS, those pics look an awful lot like Portland.

  2. Hi Ellen,

    We're together so far on no warmups, though you with better results. You just may be right about age, fitness and the stars ... with the stars being the most reliable.

    Yes, from photos on your site I think Portland and the Berkshires have a good bit in common, though I've come to imagine it steeper there. Sometime in August it should be over 75F, sunny and dry here. Aaaarrghhh.

    Imagine France! In September!!

  3. One thing I have found when it comes to riding hilly routes is that it takes my legs a minimum of two days between rides to start to recover, with three days being preferable. I really notice a difference when I've taken the proper number of rest days. Which is why the week prior to an event I usually don't ride at all. I'll do my final hard ride the weekend prior, then nothing in the 4-5 days leading up to the event. Unfortunately, since most of my riding is on weekends I don't really have the luxury of resting them properly. So oftentimes (like today) my legs spend a lot of time complaining. I road Thursday night; then Saturday; not enough time between rides; but what's a working girl to do.

  4. I've given up on warm-ups for the most part, except for the usual stretches I do in the morning. Unless you can time it perfectly, I'm not sure how beneficial a warm-up would be in an event, since you'll inevitably be stuck in a pen for a while before the thing starts. I've only ever been in one diabolic race where they started with a long climb, and it almost killed me (but split the field nice and soon, too). I suppose one way to look at it is, most everybody else is in the same predicament as you in an event, so you start off even.

    If you're talking about just riding then yeah, I do a 15 min warm-up every time.

    1. Hi Gerry,

      Yes, you hit the dilemna right on the head: how to warm up, then hang around and wait. Plus there are the logistics of drive to the event, park, etc.etc. Doesn't sound promising, and so I suppose there was no ah-hah moment after all.

      Wish it took a long climb to knock me out, but sometimes it doesn't need to be terribly long!

      Yes, I do a routine warm up at the start of rides, which I think is good for my neck, knees, ankles as much as muscles.

  5. I don't warm up before events. The longer the ride, the less warmup is needed. I and many others warm up in the event by easing into it. Many people who start too fast end up getting dropped by others who are actually warming up while less fast riders are with them. Then, when the pace picks up, the ones who were not ready for the A group get dropped.

    I think the only time a warmup may be helpful are in very short races or time trials.

    1. Hi Iron Rider, Whoosh, thanks for commenting, especially if you rode the 600K ... which I mention partly in case my readers might not know just how long a long ride is in your world! Hope it went perfectly, or at least as perfectly as possible if there was a lot of rain.

      The very few events I've ridden I have used the beginning as a warm up, but on 2 of them there was a hill right at the beginning, and in both cases the hill was the last time I saw the vast majority of the group. Much longer and/or steeper hills later in rides don't chew me up so badly. So my thinking was that the big difference might be ... a need for some warmup. Perhaps I'll take a look at route maps, and if there is a hill right at the beginning, try to do something to get myself in gear a bit faster. Other than that early-on hill challenge, it's fine.

      Hope all went well on your ride and I'll keep my eyes on your site for a ride report!

  6. I'm too impatient to do warm ups for anything these days. I like to get straight in there! However, since I only do sport non-competitively, perhaps it doesn't matter. In my competitive swimming years though, I'd always warm up and do exercises until getting in the pool to race. And occasionally I even won, so maybe it did help!

  7. Hi Steph,

    Odd thing, that competitive notion. I'd say that I ride non-competitively, but that might be bogus. I've always "trained," but for touring or events, not for races or to win. Then there was the cyclosportif that "wasn't a race" according to the organizers, but did list times, have a podium and qualify winners for international competition. So, hmmm... noncompetitive? By the way, my husband thinks that it is funny, as in ha-ha, if he hears me say non-competitive.


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