JANUARY TRAINING HINTS
2010 Etape – foot of Alpe d’Huez photo CMC
I hope you have had a chance to get out on your bike during the recent fine spells! I certainly did!
I hope your training is going well!
Maybe you are struggling to do 10 miles at 12 mph between rain storms, or maybe you are doing 60 mile club runs at weekends averaging 16 mph or more.
Either way, your aim is to get fit enough to complete, or excel in, the Etape du Tour in July!
Fortunately it is nearly 6 months before the Etape du Tour, so there is plenty of time to get fit!
STARTING FROM NORMAL
If you are starting from a fairly normal fitness level, this section is for you!
Obviously the objective is to get fitter. To move towards gaining fitness and avoid losing it!
There are nearly 6 months before the Etape du Tour. We hope 6 months of increasing fitness! At this time of year slow steady improvements are fine.
If you are a club rider doing a 60 mile ride each weekend at high speed, you do not need to read next section! It is for normal cyclists!
It is good to get on your bike for an hour or so and just ride at a comfortable pace when the weather is fine, riding generally below the level where you feel any pain. Between rides, rest as much as necessary. You will probably see a steady increase in your speed and distance as the weeks go by, as your fitness increases without forcing the pace. This strategy allows forward progress without any damage to muscles and joints. It also does not over stress the system, and so reduces the chance of winter infections such as colds and flu.
This may sound like a slow route to fitness, but it is not in practice, as your leg muscles will be making steady forward progress, without the need to repair damage.
With this approach you may find that your leg muscles feel keen to do more, instead of protesting!
If you able to get on your bike four or so times a week, you may want to set yourself a weekly mileage target. With winter weather, you may miss your target on occasions, and exceed it on others!
As the months go by and the weather and hours of daylight improve, you will have reached a good fitness level, it will be time for more exciting forms of training!
It is well known that slip streaming another rider saves around 25% of your energy! That is not the only reason for riding with others, preferably with a similar fitness level. It is more fun, and the element of competition may lead you to surprise yourself on occasions!
If you are starting at a normal fitness level, joining a local CTC group is worthwhile. Apart from mutual encouragement you may discover new routes!
If you are at a higher fitness level, seek out your local Racing Cycling Club.
IN CASE OF WINTER WEATHER…..
Winter weather may lead you to loose fitness rather than gain it! Getting a soaking, or low temperatures, may lead to hypothermia followed by colds and flu, and ice on the road and darkness may lead to injury if you are unlucky. Indoor training therefore has its virtues at this time of year!
In extreme conditions why not train indoors?
Spinning classes at the gym have their social element, and using a turbo trainer or an exercise bike at the gym enable you to measure your fitness as well as get fitter.
My favourite measure of fitness is to plot a graph of heart rate against power measured in watts. If you are not a fan of graphs, simply measure your heart rate while riding steadily at, say 150 Watts. As the months go by you will probably see your heart rate at a given power output drop as you get fitter, or looking it the other way up, your power output at a given heart rate increasing. This is most relevant when measured at heart rate that you are able to sustain for long periods.
A good plan is, starting from your current fitness level, to progress to hilly rides, then long hills, then to real mountains as the months go by. A holiday in a mountain area with your bike is ideal training (if your family agree!).
If you are starting from scratch, you may like to try out a few Audax events, or as you get fitter there is probably no better training for the Etape than participation in cyclosportives. There are now many of these dotted around the country. Charity rides also offer a chance of a long distance ride in the company of many others.
Etape.org.uk also offers a range of training rides and trips: see the 2013 Events page.
If you wish to join the event in the Chilterns, the North Downs, Snowdonia or Annecy, drop me an email at Ron@etape.org.uk More events will be added to the Events page as time goes by!
Enjoy your training!