This ride is patterned after a running workout on a track. Runners use training sessions like this to assess their fitness level using different energy systems at the start of the training season and then will fine-tune the areas needing work. I use it with my cycling classes to provide them with a simple understanding of the body’s different energy systems, each with different durations, outputs, and responses.
Each interval is performed at a specific intensity and power level, which are tied to a pace in a running road or track race. Many of our riders have participated in running races, perhaps their local 5K, 10K, or even a half marathon or marathon. Using road races as a frame of reference can help instill a deeper and more personal understanding of the various energy systems than explaining the Krebs cycle (don’t even think about trying that). Even if they haven’t participated in running races, most people have some firsthand knowledge of running intensity, even if it was from gym class 40 or 50 years ago! In fact, more people will understand running intensity than cycling intensity since there are no gears, bike weight, or coasting downhill to confuse matters.