The aims of this plan are to:
1) Build your work capacity so that you can handle more training in the future. You can think of this as 'training to train'
2) Improve your endurance so that you are comfortable completing long training rides without excessive fatigue
3) Include a small amount of speed work and high intensity training to maintain your top end fitness and avoid the sluggish feeling that can often accompany extensive endurance training
This plan is written to start on day one of your off-season training period. As such the plan will typically be preceded by 1-2 weeks of time off the bike, or unstructured cross-training. You can read the rationale behind this plan in the PBscience fact sheet series. Of particular interest should be:
The plan is based around 3 training blocks, each with a slightly different aim. The time commitment is no greater than 8 hours per week, typically with a longer ride on the weekend and 2 or 3 shorter midweek rides. There is also an optional ride included where appropriate, so that you can tailor the routine if you have more/less time available than expected. This optional session is scheduled for a Saturday but can be completed on any day, provided the extra fatigue does not detract from the other sessions.
The first two weeks are dedicated to simply establishing a regular training routine with primarily easy riding. There is minimal progression in this first block, the idea is to finish this first block ready to start increasing the load in block 2. Workouts are primarily guided on feel, you should rarely if ever feel physically taxed at this stage.
Weeks 3-5 are entitled 'Basic Endurance'. The aim is to increase your training volume and accumulate as much time in the upper half of training zone 2. No individual workout is overly hard, but the accumulation of consecutive workouts is the first challenge.
Weeks 6-8 are entitled 'Quality Endurance'. Progression in this block comes from beginning to incorporate blocks of riding in zone 3. The focus remains on accumulating steady riding but some extra intensity will help to increase you power at lactate threshold and futher develop your work capacity. The end of this block should see you with the condition to think about an event specific training plan, or ready to include some more intense training.
The plan contains instruction for using power, heart rate and/or feel to guide the training. Using a power meter will undoubtedly give you an edge when completing the plan but if this is not an option then heart rate and feel (rating of perceived exertion or RPE) are perfectly adequate. Many of the workouts also benefit from use of a home trainer but all can be done on the road if necessary.