FEBRUARY TRAINING HINTS
How is your training going? In my area we have had warmish sunny days interspersed with wet days – I know which ones I prefer! I’ve just come back from a ride in the February sunshine!
I suppose there are three types of rides – the normal ones you might do on a weekend ride, the short ones that you fit in at odd times, and the long ones you might do every couple of weeks or so. Perhaps in January your normal rides might have been 30 miles, your long ones 45 miles or so, and your short ones 5 or 10 miles.
Short rides are useful for speed training. It is worth measuring your average speed on a convenient short route near here you live, preferably on a quiet road, and working on building your speed up as the weeks go by. Interval training may also be valuable here. As time goes by your rides will become faster. It is fun to exceed various targets, for example averaging 15mph over 10 miles on the flat, then averaging 17mph ….though these figures are just an example – and it is early days yet!
This involves doing the rides you enjoy, maybe with your local cycling club or with friends. Find scenic rides with great coffee stops! Don’t forget to carbo load with a cake at the coffee stop! If riding with others who are less fit, a slow heavy bike will give you plenty of exercise without leaving them behind. Then one day you will be able to amaze them (if you want to) by shooting off into the distance on your fast bike!
Unless you have likeminded friends, you may need to perform endurance rides on your own. Preferences vary as do commitments, but one method is to find a long, straight, flat road (such as the Romans built!) and head off, maybe on a Sunday when there is little traffic. The advantage of this type of route is that it is easy to do a ride of a measured distance, and to assess your performance by riding at a target speed. Again, comparing your performance on successive rides allows you to measure your progress. But don’t forget to find a route ending in a coffee stop! People vary, but a 45 mile route might be good start, building up to a 50 or 60 mile route. A route in this region is suitable for a reasonable day in February.
It is unlikely that there will be mountains near you, but there are probably a few hilly routes. Maybe you will have a chance of visiting areas such as Scotland or Wales on family holiday or better still somewhere like Mallorca, later in the year. It is often possible to hire good bikes in such areas – check on the web before you go!
On a rainy or cold day, training in the gym or on a turbo trainer is valuable. A machine with a watt meter is very valuable. Early in the year you might ride at 150 watts for half an hour, moving towards 200W for an hour (or even more!) as the months go by. Naturally you will start with gentle warm up. I quite like going flat out for a few seconds at the end of a session to try and approach a horse power (760W) You may not achieve it – but it is fun trying!
STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES
It is worth assessing your strengths and weaknesses as you go through the training year. In particular, you will need to have good climbing capabilities for the Etape. If you find that your climbing is weak, either from the point of view of leg strength or of aerobic fitness, it is good to concentrate on that area. Even one climb, of say 200 metres climbed vigorously, will improve your performance.
You will also need considerable endurance fitness to ride 92 miles over the mountains and climb over 3000 metres! As the months go by we need to aim at fitness levels in this region!