Offseason/maintenance CTL

Hello, I’m familiar with the CTL recommendations on the upper end, but am wondering about the opposite- in general, what sort of low CTL numbers are recommended to maintain a basic level of cycling fitness during one’s least active cycling periods of the year? Specifically, I’m 52. Would an offseason “maintenance” CTL of about 50 be appropriate, or should I let it get lower during the cold dark wet period of the year when outside activity is less? (Seattle area) Thanks, -Ray

I think letting your CTL free fall for our recommended 2 weeks post season break is critically important. To levels 20- 45 ish. For those that do NOT let their CTL fall (getting greedy) - those are the athletes that burnout, lose motivation or don’t accomplish their goals.

Here is my TSTWKT where I let my CTL free fall to 42 before I resumed riding for a Fall Foundation before I plan to enter the weight room after Thanksgiving


Thanks, Frank! Cool- it sounds like I’m on track. My CTL reached a low of 37 on the last day of September. Since resuming consistent, moderate activity through Oct and Nov my CTL has steadily increased a point or two per week, just nice & easy, and is up to 50 as of today. The plan is hit some weights, then do the 18 Wk SS again, followed by whichever 6 week sharpening plan you would suggest as the best prep for a Mt Lemmon PR attempt in late April. Thanks for everything- much appreciated!

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Very helpful info Frank. I’ve been guilty of no reset break for years. My excuse was I took a week for work, or sickness or…never have really been off the bike for years. Classic always mediocre rider. For whatever reason I hit a wall this fall. Just got interested in a different sport, exchange student, lots of work to pay for kids college, etc…anyways, it’s always hard to let clt drop but, knowing you let it drop that much I’m totally cool with it.

When I was racing as a pro full time I would not pay too much attention to my CTL till January 1st. Not to say I wasn’t riding before hand. I would have my 2 weeks completely off the bike but than I would focus on strength and general fitness. I would not stress about long trainer rides, long cold rides in the dark, rain or bad weather or if I missed a ride because of all the holiday activities. Again I was sticking to a plan but it wasn’t about CTL.

Then come January 1st I would be all in, super motivated and ready to go! I would have two blocks of training that would lead into a training camp and than some early season races. I always felt strong come March and April.

Let your body and mind relax. You put together 12 weeks of solid training and you will be surprised how much the fitness comes back up. You will be super motivated if you rested properly as well. That will help you get through some dark, cold and indoor days in January till March and carry you over to racing strong still come September. It’s a long year! Don’t plateau and come flat in February.


Thanks Jake! Yeah great point about 12 weeks of training…I have decades of big miles in my legs and was always (wrongly) afraid I’d be starting over. Here in Phoenix it’s possible to ride and race year around and that’s sort of the trap I’ve fallen into. At least for 2020 I’m in with some guys my age who have similar goals for the summer. This will be the first year in decades I’ve not peaked around mid March!

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Thanks Frank, this is super helpful, had a good break, and was looking for some guidance on what CTL goals should be for winter training, so that I can build on the good year I’ve had.

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