MARCH TRAINING HINTS
Temperatures are hitting record high temperatures for the time of year, and the weather is generally improving. Cycling is becoming a pleasure again!
It is time to move from Winter training to Spring training!
Get fit in 3 minutes!
There has recently been publicity on getting fit in 3 minutes. The idea is to exercise at maximum level for 3 minutes once a week. Does that help with Etape training?
Yes and no!
The Etape is an endurance event. Suitable training includes riding long distances over hilly terrain.
A fit cyclist will be able produce a power output approaching or even exceeding a horse power (745 Watts) but only for a few seconds! How does that help?
Many of us find that we are not achieving speeds we expect at this time of year.
It has been found that even one short burst of maximum effort will condition the system to a higher level of fitness.
For example, once you have warmed up, climbing at maximum effort for even a minute lifts the fitness level after 5 minutes of recovery.
The improvement may last for more than a day!
On a turbo trainer, or exercise bike the method involves cycling at the highest power possible for a few seconds.
This type of exercise is of course only suitable for healthy individuals!
Interval training is an extension of this idea. If anyone has some experience of its effectiveness – I would like to learn more!
Going back to Spring training, it is now time to ride faster, and to start to tackle more hills. You may prefer to train by feel, by speed or by heart rate.
You may have a local circuit you ride when you have the odd hour or so to spare. It is now worth recording your average speed round the circuit, and monitoring your improvements from week to week.
This year the Etapes involve more climbing than usual, so it is good to choose a circuit with a some hills. (if you live in Norfolk – ride into the wind!)
If you have been following these training notes, you have probably done a 60 mile ride by now! If not, 60 miles is a good target. Once you have passed the 60 mile mark, an 80 mile, 90 mile or even a 100 mile rides are good targets. Achieving 100 miles early in April would be perfect. Plenty of food stops are allowed, and speed is not too important on your first long rides. It will be tough!
Much literature on cycling talks about the “lactic acid threshold”. This term is a bit obscure to most of us, as we have no means of measuring lactic acid, which is a by-product of exercise. If it builds up faster than you are able to dispose of it you feel tired, whereas if you are able to metabolise it faster than you generate it, you feel you could go on for ever!
Fortunately, with training, your lactic acid threshold rises, so you are able to ride faster without becoming exhausted.
The Etapes contain some very long, steady climbs. A good training strategy is to gradually increase the lengths of the hills you climb. If you only have short hills in your area, hill repeats are quite good, increasing the number of repeats each time. For example, climbing a 100 metre hill 5 times is equivalent to climbing half way up a 1000 metre mountain! The only snag is that you get a rest after each ascent, so it is not a perfect substitute for training on longer hills. A good plan is to start with climbs in the Chilterns (about 100 metres) followed by climbs in Cheddar or the Cotswolds (about 200 metres) followed by climbs in Snowdonia or abroad (300 metres or more)
This philosophy forms the basis of the Training Events listed on this web site.
He who rides alone rides at his own pace – but may get a bit bored!
There are now numerous rides suitable for training for the Etape all over the British Isles! If you are new to this type of cycling, try an Audax. There are numerous events in the UK – see March Audax events
For more competitive riders, there are plenty of Sportives – Cyclosport.org is an excellent source of information – you will find their March calendar at:- March Cyclosport Events
Enjoy your training!