Purple Patch [colloq. ~ winning streak] (1). cycling high-performance period; a.k.a. peak form, flying, on fire, bombing, untouchable); (2). any part of an athletes training program where the top form is so good that it seems unexplainable (traditionally color-highlighted in ‘purple’ on the schedule sheet).
Experiencing a ‘purple patch’, as it has been called in recent decades by those before us, is a period of ‘peak form-fitness’ best known as racing form on the bicycle, and most typically lasting 2-3 weeks. The lucky Purple Patch rider is characteristically observed executing seemingly untiring turns at the front of fast bunches, leading out race-finishes as well as sprinting, recovering quickly enough from attacking that they can counter-attack themselves, repeated surging while climbing at high speed, and the ability to pedal any gear ratio at any rev range at any point in the ride.
Creation of a Purple Patch is most often possible when a rider gets the correct combination of training intensities and volume of kilometres done over an 8-12 week fitness-building phase. Note that as intensity of riding goes up, the required volume of that workload is proportionately less and less – such that ‘power-riding’ intensity makes up approx. 10% of weekly riding volume. When training mixtures are designed properly within sessions, during the week, and across the year, the possibility of more Purple Patch riding form is greatly enhanced.
The balanced ‘mixture’ of training intensities such as endurance (blue zone), strength (green), power (orange) and high performance riding (red) in their required proportions is cleverly depicted in the Ridewiser Training Pyramid (pictured) which governs the design of all Ridewiser Ergo sessions.
Important Note: real Purple Patches must be distinguished from other types of momentary super-performances, such as a flow-state or drug-induced performance. Flow states are more of an ‘easiness to cope’ with and recover from challenges presented, and occur as one-off occasions of supreme mental competence (mind-over-matter) rather than physical peaks.
Rob Crowe OAM