APRIL TRAINING HINTS
Hopefully you will now have achieved a reasonable level of fitness, and regularly be riding over 35 or 50 miles. If you have not, do not despair! There is a way forward after setbacks.
April is a good time to extend the length of your rides and increase the intensity of your rides. A good target is the 100 mile mark, preferably approached in stages.
Long and Short sessions
Training is a very individual matter, and will depend on how much time you have free, your fitness and your targets. However, here are a few general ideas which may be of use.
Now the evenings are lighter, evening rides of half an hour or an hour become a possibility. This is the time to ride at greater intensity, to prepare yourself for the climbs. You may want to repeat a known route to try and exceed your previous speed, or tackle a nearby hill or two.
Most people will have a chance of a good long ride at weekends – this is the time to extend your distance if you have enough free time. One approach is to ride at a fairly low heart rate, known as “endurance” rate. If you use a heart rate monitor, this is around 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. Don’t worry if you exceed this! It is only the sort of level where you will build up your fitness without too much strain, allowing your body to get fitter easily. It will also give you a feeling for your sustainable level of riding, which will enable you to pace yourself over long distances. It may well be that a totally different heart rate may suit you better for you of course.
Logging your rides
Many people find it useful to keep a record of their rides, recording distances, speeds, conditions, routes, terrain etc.
You may also want to plot graphs of things such as:
Length of rides
Speed vs distance
Heart rate vs power
This may be useful for seeing how your training is progressing, refining your training methods and planning future training. It may also help in setting targets which are realistic for you.
If there is not a mountain near you, repeating the same hill a number of times is useful for building leg strength and respiratory fitness. However hill repeats do have a slight drawback – they tend to train you to take a rest after each 100 metres or so of climbing – not really the best way to conquer Soulour or Tourmalet!
Climbing hills with increasing steepness is however a good way to practice for Marie Blanque which does just that – though it may be difficult to find a hill as high as Marie Blanque near to you!
A mountainous cycling holiday in a location such as Mallorca or Spain or Italy is ideal, though it is possible to find some good mountain climbs nearer home.
One good possibility is to join our cycle training camp in North Wales on the early May bank holiday – Richard and his friends are expert in leading demanding rides in Snowdonia. Contact me if you are interested.
It is great to see how organised rides in the UK have become more popular in recent years – especially Sportives – which only 10 years ago were almost unknown in the UK. Audaxes are also very useful training rides, as you are required to ride within a given speed range over long distances. Club rides will also spur you on, and give you practice in riding with a group.
I hope some of you will join us in Snowdonia!
Enjoy your riding,