Training with HUCA

You can find our training rides and team events on our team calendar.
The team trained hard in 2011-2012.
Cycling at Harvard is a club sport: there are no mandatory rides, and everyone trains at their own pace. Our racing members run the gamut from first-time competitors to ex-varsity athletes from other sports to battle-hardened road racing veterans (including a national champion). But despite our varied backgrounds, we share the common goal of preparing for the collegiate race season in the spring, and most of us ride year-round (even in the Boston winters).
If you are new to cycling, we simply recommend riding your bike as much as possible before your first race season. But if you're feeling ambitious, or if you have an athletic background, you are welcome to join many returning racers who have a training schedule that plans out phases of training leading up to the race season.
Regardless of whether you choose to follow a plan or just ride for fun, our training is very flexible, and you can train as much or as little as your schedule allows!


These dedicated volunteers have offered their time and expertise to make you a stronger rider. Feel free to contact them for more information.
Ed Sassler has been coaching the team since 1998 and can be found on all of the weekday morning rides through the fall and winter. In his own words, "I am a student of John Allis, who coached the Harvard team for 30 years. What I've learned in that time is that good coaching is about teaching solid fundamentals of pedal stroke and bike handling skills - leave the fancy stuff for later. The other half of the equation is being there. It takes dedication to get on the bike early in the morning when it's cold and dark, but that's what it takes to make good riders." Among Ed's success stories is Eve McNeill, who won the New England Women's Criterium Championship against none other than Nicole Freedman.
Marc Bowen is a fixture in the fall skills series, teaching riders how to improve balance and handling skills, and coaches the nascent Harvard cyclocross team. "I first managed to balance on my big brother’s bike when I was six. I rode out the driveway and around the block. I was hooked and have never stopped riding since. The bike has been an integral part of my life and I am grateful for it. I built bikes from the dump and in doing so learned about machines and tools. That led me to engineering and a rewarding career. Engineering let me meet Amy Kerdok who got me involved with HUCA. HUCA got me back into racing and gave me the gift of meeting so many remarkable young people. I love helping people learn to ride because cycling has given me so much. I also serve as a USAC official, which helps make races possible in our region. My palmares aren’t worthy of note, so I can’t believe how lucky I am that HUCA keeps asking me to coach them."

Fall Training

Scenery along the H2H ride.
Fall is a time to get to know your teammates, learn bike skills, and work on technique. Rides tend to be slower, with an emphasis on building endurance as well as fun & social rides. Regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday morning rides (20-30 miles) are led by team coach Ed Sassler and women's team captain Heather McLaughlin, while a few training clinics will be held on Saturdays to build important bike skills like drafting and group riding.
Later in the season, morning rides lengthen a bit and the Saturday rides phase into longer endurance workouts (40-80 miles) as racers build base fitness in preparation for the racing seasion.
Morning rides pass by Belmont Wheelworks to pick up more riders.

Winter Training

Training for the race season continues in earnest through the winter. Winter rides tend to be longer endurance rides at a relaxed pace, designed to build stamina and aerobic capacity. Take a look at our Winter Training Plan for an idea of what a cycling training program is like.
Since everyone trains according to their own schedule and goals, some riders opt to ride in small, informal groups instead of the structured team rides. If you choose to ride on your own, we still recommend that you show up on the Saturday rides, as they are consistently well-attended and remain a great time to get in a long ride and catch up with your teammates/friends.

Spring Training

HUCA riders pumped to race!
In the spring we race! Some of the best training at this point is simply to go to as many races as you can. In addition, during the week, to boost high-end speed and power, rides tend to be shorter and higher-intensity, including intervals on the trainers. The Hammer Ride starts in the spring, and is a fast-paced, 45-mile ride with attacks and sprints every Wednesday.
The spring collegiate race season lasts throughout March and April, culminating with Nationals in May. During the summer, some racers continue training for the summer USA Cycling race season, while others take a well-earned break and simply ride for fun!