The fall months are my favorite riding season.  I enjoy riding in the cooler weather along roads passing under turning leaves or through golden fields ready for harvest.  At the same time, the shortening days makes it a little more challenging to get rides in before or after work.  When my schedule does not allow a longer mid-week ride, I have to revert back to my favorite quick workout ride.

This ride is just 35 to 40 minutes and less than a dozen miles, though it can be both a good workout, and a work-day stress reliever.  I especially like it on those days when I “don’t have time” to ride.  The format is very simple, and can work for someone at about at any level fitness.  

(Here I must insert the normal caveats about not starting any fitness regimen without consulting with your physician, and to please follow all rules of road while bicycling.  It is very  important for you to be fully aware of your surroundings anytime your are riding a bicycle on the road.)

There are three short simple segments; a 10 minute warm-up, 20 minutes of active riding, and 10 minute cool down.  I don't worry about distance, and just set my bicycle computer to display time.

You start with an easy 10-minute warm-up, ideally one that take you to 4-5 miles of open road,  although you can do this with as little as a mile, if you don’t mind doing circuit repetitions.

After this short warm-up, next comes the “hard” or active part of the ride.  With a clear stretch of road ahead of you, shift to a higher gear, and pedal standing and out of the saddle for 25 to 30 seconds.  This can be at a hard intensity, a sprint if you will, or just shifting to a higher gear to simulate climbing a hill.  

At the end of 25 to 30 seconds, drop to your saddle and shift to a lower gear, and recover in an easy spin for about a minute and half.  

Your goal is to repeat the 30 seconds out of the saddle after 90 seconds of recovery for a total of 8 to 10 repetitions (“reps”), and then finish with your 8-10 minute ride home.

I usually do half my reps going “out” on my route, and then turn back, so I finish with just my 8-10 minute cool down ride home. 

This workout is a variation of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which has been shown to improve both endurance and cardio fitness when part of a regular fitness program.  HIIT workouts are also part of the Sprint 8 programs on Vision Fitness equipment featured at Bicycle Garage Indy and BGI Fitness.

If you are preparing for a fall event with a short time available, or need a quick workout, this ride may be just what you are looking for.  (And while it is no substitute for riding in hills, can't hurt if you are trying to ready for a ride like the Hilly Hundred Weekend.) You can also use this for short, quick workout on an indoor trainer.   It is great fitness maintenance routine to keep your riding fun into the fall.