FEBRUARY TRAINING HINTS
Good weather at last!
At last, the snow has gone (though the ice is still lurking!) – we are out on our bikes again! It is encouraging to see a few fast riders out on the road!
Intentions of high mileages in January were thwarted by snow for most of us!
For some of us the first ride of the year was quite a shock to the system, after several weeks off the bike! It is great to get out on the road again though.
The idea of recovery time has probably become clearer after the first ride after a few weeks off the bike – whether it takes a few hours, a day or two days to recover! This gives us a good picture of the optimum frequency for our training rides in the winter months – allowing time for full recovery before the next ride.
It goes without saying that a single layer of Lycra will not suffice at this time of year. Plenty of layers, winter grade leg gear, plus warm gloves and foot protection are definitely a good idea.
Traditionally, winter is the time for long, moderately paced rides – but not so long that you freeze! If you are starting from scratch, 20 miles is a good start, though many of us will be doing 30 or 40 mile rides by now, building up to 50 miles or possibly more during February as conditions allow.
As you know, the Etape has a few hills in it this year ….. so in warm conditions it is worth tackling a few. In the coldest weather it is worth keeping the climbing speed down a bit, as inhaling large volumes of freezing air may cool your core temperature excessively.
So what is training, and why do we do it? Take a sedentary person and stick him on a bike – he may wobble along at 10mph and be exhausted. However by July we will be riding over 100 miles in a day, and climbing mountains kilometres high! How is it done?
Pushing yourself to a reasonably high level of activity will cause amazing adaptations in your body – improvements in blood flow, muscle strength, heart capacity, and ability to absorb oxygen and therefore power output, and endurance. A lot of the improvement takes place in the recovery period after the exertion.
This will take time, but as the months go by you will build up your fitness, reaching your target level.
Weight is not a worry for everyone. If your BMI is in the normal band, there is not much to worry about. In fact most great racing cyclists have a BMI greater than average, because muscle is quite dense. If you don’t know your BMI, try the BMI calculator on this site.
However, if you are above the normal weight range band for your height, you may wish to loose weight for health reasons as well as for faster and easier climbing.
Good news! If you are overweight, you will probably already have strong muscles, just to carry all that weight around. Lose some weight and you will be at an advantage over the rest of us! A couple of years ago a rider joined us on a training ride who had reduced his weight from 18 stone to 12 stone over a year and a half. He was the fastest sprinter I have ever met – hitting around 34 mph on the flat, and able to disappear over the horizon!
The recognised method of losing weight is long, moderate rides, as at slower speeds body fat is utilised in preference to glucose. This is particularly true on rides of over 2 hours.
This will depend on your starting point, but “getting the miles in” is a good philosophy – mixed with a few café stops to re-fuel and warm up!
Rides of around 40 to 50 miles, maybe mixed with a few shorter faster rides, is a reasonable target for February. The number of training rides you do a week will depend on other commitments, but around 2 is probably about right. In bad weather, an hour on the turbo trainer or exercise bike at the gym is a good fill in, though not quite a substitute for the joys of the open road on a sunny day!
Whatever you do – look out for ice!
Enjoy your training!