If you are trying to train for cycling in a city you have likely become frustrated by traffic lights, pedestrians, lack of cycling routes, and/or lack of hills. You may have even decided that cycling indoors is the only way to keep up with your country or mountain-dwelling competitors. While the city presents challenges it is not impossible to do much of your training within the city.
These are a few of my favorite tricks for training in the city:
Bike Choice and Setup
Consider riding slower tires or bikes. I often ride my mountain bike with slow tires in the city. This lets me use all the paths and trails and hills available and has the benefit of increasing resistance so I am not going very fast by people.
Whether you are doing hard intervals or not start climbing more and you will find your cycling improves. Wanting to climb better is very common for cyclists generally, but especially for city-dwelling-cyclists. Include a couple extra reps up the hillier parts of your ride and you will find those hilly weekend rides and races are not so hard anymore.
Rather than looking for a 20-minute loop try looking for a one to five-minute loop to do longer steady intervals. There are often parks that allow cycling, industrial areas or developing areas that you can go to and safely do longer muscular endurance (e.g. threshold) workouts. I have a few athletes who use grass or wood chip sections (e.g. around soccer fields) to do intervals when they can’t get out of the city, this may not always be desirable but it is worth a try, even one or two times a month if you have such a spot!
You can use tools like Strava heat map (use the ‘my routes’ function then turn ‘heat maps’ on from the left toolbar). Strava also can let you see where other people are training. Find some of the top riders in your city and download the .GPX file for their routes or just get a sense of where the best loops are. Local Crit series locations may also provide a spot to go after work hours for quiet riding.