Thursday, October 20, 2016

#10WeeksTo100 - Week 6 - Training Aches and Pains

It is true, you are likely to experience some aches and pains during and after a long (2-3 hours or more) ride. Anyone’s perception of pain, of course, is a subjective, and can be influenced by your prior experience. If you have been actively athletic in your past, you may recall joking (or not) about “feeling the burn”, or “that hurts good” after a workout.

Linda and I at the finish of the Wabash River Ride century, 1986.  
If you are new to all this, consider the pain in endurance riding as falling into three categories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That is the easiest way to thing about aches from exertion and fatigue, pain at your body contact points and (possible) repetitive injury pain in your joints.

The Good
: Muscle aches from exercise and fatigue is the “good” pain. Post-exercise aches are a natural part of your muscles being used and getting stronger. It is also good sign that you are challenging yourself. Some of these aches will be immediate, but don’t be surprised after a long or strenuous ride, you don’t feel the ache in your muscles until the next day.

Relief can come from rest, light stretching, or even an easy recovery ride. A recovery activity will warm tired muscles and increase blood flow, whch in turn removes fatigue agents and speeds your recovery. The good news is that with consistent exercise, your body will improve in condition, and your easier rides are less like to cause post-ride muscle aches.

The Bad: The pain from contact points, saddle, hands and feet, while not debilitating, can take the fun out or your riding. While minor issues are another part of the training cycle, recurring or persistent contact pain all relate to bike fit, riding technique and gear.

If your bike does not fit you properly, it will be hard to be comfortable on longer rides. The wrong seat height or seat angle, improper foot position or the wrong stem length, can all contribute to aches and pains. The modest investment in a basic profession bike fit can make a very big difference in your riding comfort.

Riding technique comes next after fit. Would you sit in an office chair for 2-3 hours with changing position? The same goes for cycling. Regular lifting off the saddle (every 10 minutes or so) is a good way to alleviate saddle pain, and is important for any style of bike or saddle. Moving your hands around the handle bars as your ride change both your seating and contact on your hands.

And of course, the right gear makes a difference. A few good pairs of cycling shorts will help you stay comfortable in the saddle. A cycling specific shoe, even without a retention system, will help prevent foot and ankle issues. Padded gloves and additional handle bar padding makes a difference too. (More gear details were covered in Week 5.)

The Ugly: Pain from Repetitive Motion is your greatest concern. The knee joint is the most common cycling complaint, but some riders may experience hip or ankle issues. These can occur with improper fit, poor technique, or from riding to far or too hard too early in your training. If you feel a sharp pain in the joints with motion, your body is telling you something is wrong, and should be taken care of immediately.

You should not ignore or ride through severe joint pain, since the only real recovery is time (and possibly specialist prescribed therapy).  Persistent joint pain after extended rest should may also require a visit to the doctor, especially if it interferes with your normal movements and activities.  The good news about all this is that today there are many more resources for active athletes of all ages when it comes to finding knowledgable, medical resources.

One of the beautiful things about bicycling is its potential to be life long, injury free activity.  It will be perfectly normal to have some aches and pains during your training and events.  What is important now, and has you gain experience each riding season, is learning  to "read" your body has it adapts to longer rides and your improving fitness.  And has you gain experience, you will learn to get the most out of your body, so that you are always riding in comfort and pain free.

Week 6 of the #10weeksto100. 

Continue to Week 7: How To Find the Time

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Thursday, September 8, 2016

#10WeeksTo100 - Week 5 Getting Your Riding Gear In Order

For my first years of cycling in the early `70's, while growing up in rural Michigan, figuring out where to find cycling gear was as big a challenge as learning what you needed.  I started with magazines and books on cycling, where they touted the value of wool (for everything, it seemed) and the need for a quality chamois (whatever that was?).  Nearby Ann Arbor had a few shops with the good European stuff; thankfully, for my paperboy/dishwasher budget, Cool Gear came along to offer some good (and not so good) shorts and jerseys in cotton and nylon, that I used for my first few seasons.

However, my first true cycling gear came only after I survived an 80-mile charity ride in cut-off jeans and a tank top.  That tank top left me with second degree sunburn across my neck and shoulders,  and shedding skin for weeks.  As for the cut-offs,  I bought my first pair of cycling shorts my next trip to a bike shop, and never did more than ride to work in jeans again.

Many of the challenges you face on longer rides are made easier by gear designed for the job.  The right cycling gear keeps you comfortable for hours in the saddle, protects you in changing weather conditions, and is light enough to always have along.   You will course want the basics, like cycling shorts,  jerseys and gloves.  However, over the years I found a many other items that I consider essential for my longer events.  The right gear requires a moderate investment, however it can be acquired over a couple of seasons.  You will also find that with proper care, quality cycling gear will also give you many seasons of service.
You have to be ready for any weather on event day.
TOSRV 2014

Body and Bike Contacts Points:  Most novice riders concerns about aches and pains on long rides are from the bike/body contact points, and this the gear you should look into first.

Hands: Start with a quality cork style handle bar tape, and add gel pads underneath.  Most cyclist will will also use a quality pair of padded cycling gloves.  (Bike fit and technique also make a difference in hand comfort.)

Saddle:  As you ride greater distances, a firmer saddle may be more comfortable.  If you are riding a road bike, a wide padded saddle may actually be worse for comfort and interfere with efficient riding. If in doubt, a bike fitter can help you with a saddle choice.

Shorts: You should have at least a two pairs of quality cycling shorts. Since you need to wash them regularly, it is good idea to have at least 3 or 4 pairs. Plan on wearing our your best pair for the longest days (and you can also use your older and “economy” shorts on your shorter work out days).  If you buy a new pair for an event, be sure to wear them for a couple of workouts prior to the big day to avoid any surprises.

Shoes: Novice riders frequently overlook the importance of cycling footwear, which provide both support and proper alignment.  Even if you are not ready to "lock-in" with a pedal system (SPD, Look, Speedplay, etc.) for proper position, an entry level cycling shoe offers more support than a running shoe.   The more you plan to ride, the more important your foot position on the pedal and pedaling technique will become.

Eye Protection: All day exposure of your eyes to bright light and wind will leave you a feeling tired before your body is physically tired. A quality pair of wrap around glasses will also protect your eyes from dust and insects while you are riding.   If you wear prescription lenses (like me), you will find options  available for you.

Dressing for event success:  Along with cycling shorts, you should consider the following:

Jersey:  A good jersey has it all, handy pockets for snacks, breathable fabric, a zipper that let’s you adjust for climbing (and descending!) and a cut designed for riding comfort.

Wind Jacket/Wind Vest / Arm Warmers / Knee Warmers: Ideal for a cool morning start, these lightweight accessories turn your summer wardrobe into 3-season wear.  The can be easily removed and will fit in a jersey pocket or a generous seat bag or rack trunk.  Tip: Dress your core for conditions at the rides mid-point, and then add easy to remove layers for the early hours, especially in cool weather.

Rain Gear: If you are on a point-to-point ride in temps below 65 degrees, hypothermia is a very real concern if you are caught without proper rain gear.  You can find lightweight rain jackets that will pack in jersey pocket, ideal for traveling light.  A touring cyclist on extended trip may want something little heavier that can be use both on and off the bike.

Protect Your Skin: Any time you ride longer than an hour you should use an "sport" rated sunscreen, and re-apply at least once during the day.  Be sure to protect your arms, the back of neck, the top of head, and your nose.  And don't forget having sun protection for your lips form the sun and wind too.

While not required, the right gear will make much easier to enjoy the event, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.   It can also help to insure your event is memorable for the right reasons, and ready to prepare for your next big ride.

Week 5 of the #10weeksto100. 

Continue to Week 6: Training Aches and Pains

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Friday, September 2, 2016

#10Weeksto100 - Week 4 - Your Bike is Your Training Partner

Anyone can do 100 miles on any bike – once.

I have written about my annual pilgrimage to Ohio for TOSRV many times (here, here and here). It a ride that started in the early 60’s, and its peak, drew close to 6,000 riders. It became the standard on which so many other Midwest bicycle events were based. While it is struggling now (like many similar rides), it still draws 1,000 to 1,500 riders every year.

Spring Training in Michigan
One of the most amazing things is to see riders who have returned year after year on the same bikes they rode in those early years. You will still cold steel Schwinn World Travelers, and similar “bike-boom” bikes from Peugeot, Raleigh, Motobecane, Fuji or Nishiki, to name just a few. And these are bikes that have been maintained, not restored.

Of course, you will see hundreds of riders, both old hands and novice, riding the latest and greatest carbon super bikes. Whatever you are riding now, the important thing to keep in mind is that almost any recent entry-level road bike is likely to be equal in every factor but weight to any pre-1990 pro racing bike. And if your bike was in the $1,500 to $2,000 range, they are probably even better than what a pro rider had access to just a couple of decades ago.

Your success (and fun) in endurance riding requires a well-maintained bike, that shifts reliably, and with wheels and tires in good condition.  Your bike should be properly fitted to you for riding efficiently and in comfort. If you have those basics covered, you have a bike for your century ride. While there is no denying the benefit of a lighter bike, the marginal differences are not great enough to prevent you from having a great ride on the bike you own now.

And just like preparing your body, be sure your bike is ready for both your training and your event. During a 10-week training plan, you will easily cover 700 to 1,000 miles, so your bike will require some routine maintenance (lubing the chain, and airing the tires), as well as the possibility for new tires and other service parts, before your event.

Here are the basics you should be sure of:

Tires: Any time during the training plan is good time to check your tires. Check for wear, cuts and stone chips in the tread. Have you had flats before with your current tires? If you have had more than a couple of flats, you may want to consider replacing them in the weeks leading up to your event. (Frequent flats could indicate worn tires, or a rim strip problem, both issues you want to resolve.)

Wheels and Brakes: Do both your wheels spin smoothly between the brake pads, without side-to-side movement? Wheel problems can magnify over time, so if you suspect a problem, have it taken care of by a professional. Wheel issues can also lead to braking problems, and this is a good time to have that resolved.

Shifting: The more you ride, the more you will shift. The more varied the terrain you ride, and the more varied the weather, the more you will shift. Using your bikes gearing to maintain a steady, constant effort is critical part of successful (and fun) endurance training and riding. A bike that does not shift smoothly will hamper your developing a smooth riding style, and will be even less fun to ride when are fatigued.  This is especially important if you heading to hilly terrain. Be sure to test the entire shifting range of your bike, to know it is ready for those hills you can’t find near home.

The Fit: Bicycle fitting the art and science of positioning the saddle, handlebars and shoes for proper comfort and pedaling efficiency. While you will have some aches and pains, riding should never be consistently painful. Look for more on that in later in this series.

If aren’t sure about the condition of your bike, or how to judge it yourself, a bike shop is your best resource. Take you bike by your favorite shop (or ask riding friend for recommendation), on a weeknight evening (not a Saturday in the Spring) and ask their service department to evaluate the condition of your bike with an eye on your big event. Be sure to mention you preparing for a distance event; a good service department will listen to your questions and point out things that could create issues for you down the road.
At the park in Portsmouth - 1 century down, 1 to go - TOSRV 2013

Week 4 of the #10weeksto100. 

Continue toWeek 5: Getting Your Bike Gear in Order

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. That being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2016: My latest RAIN by the numbers

My official results from RAIN 2016: 296th (out of 1282) at 9:52 (HR:MM). Riding time was about 9 hours. And the most important part, I had fun!

On the way to Plainfield, with Nathan Dinges on my wheel.
I want to start with a very warm thank you to Nathan and Kristin Dinges. They were my ride to and from RAIN, I rode a portion o of RAIN with Nathan, and Kristen was our on the road support. It was really great being able to grab my prepped bottles from the cooler, and to save my lunch for post ride. And Kristen did a great job with cowbells and vuvuzela horn along the route.

And of course, a big thinks to all the volunteers and law enforcement that make this event possible. The Bloomington Bicycle Club and others again did a great job.

My actually riding RAIN for 2016 was an on again, off again thing. While I was riding all spring with RAIN in mind, it was a last minute decision to sign up and commit. So I am pleased with both my preparation, and the results.

Not your typical taper week
My taper week was was a little out of the ordinary; 5 days off the bike due to an unexpected business trip out of state. After a quick ride Sunday morning, I would only have a a couple of miles Friday night before RAIN to test gear. I wasn’t too worried, having already ridden 4 centuries this year, along with multiple 200 mile plus weeks since April. And luckily, my longest travel day was Thursday, so I was able to have a normal Friday to rest and prep for the ride.

Riding old school, no computer
My Domane,  ready to roll.
My plan all along was to ride RAIN using the Wahoo RFLKT, Ticker HR monitor and Blue SC that I have used on my trainer bike the last two indoor seasons. Unfortunately my unplanned trip meant that was a task for Friday, rather than Monday. Of course, this meant that things were going to go wrong.

To start, both the RFLKT (a shared display, that allows your iPhone to be stowed during the ride) and the Blue SC (speed and cadence) needed new batteries. That in turn broke the Bluetooth synch for both, and the wheel size. With the new batteries installed in both, I then ran into an App conflict, and I thought I had that resolved Friday night.

That proved not to be the case on Saturday morning, when the Rflkt decided not to synch with my phone. As a result, I had only an error message for the next 10 hours*. While I was still able to record the ride with RidewithGPS, I was left riding old school, just relying on my watch, mile markers, rest stops, other riders and my “dialed-in” cadence experience. After all, I rode for almost a decade before electronic speed, cadence and distance were even available. (*Turns out I was just one step away, and it has worked perfectly since.)

On the road
For the most part, this was planned as solo effort year. I did join some packs and pace lines when I could, but not for anything planned or sustained. (That is something I would like to change for next year.)

The first 40 miles were at 20mph, with most of the downtime for traffic lights while riding through Terra Haute. I was passing a lot of riders, and probably would have done better to have started about at the 9 10 hour start seeding, rather than the 10/11. It seem’s minor, but that also delays your start time by 4-5 minutes waiting for the big group of riders to start.

The rest of the day was only slightly slower. The most challenging section for me continues to be the “Indy miles” between Plainfield and lunch; the stop and go, on narrow high traffic roads make it hard to keep a rhythm, but for my third RAIN, I handled it better mentally.

The final 70 went well, and it felt good to be rolling along on 40, and I was able to fall in with some good groups, and ride a nice consistent pace to the finish.

Total off the bike and non moving time was about 50 minutes, including stop lights.

The Weather
The weather this year was about as good as you could get for a Hoosier July. We woke to a partial overcast with a light breeze out of the north. It was almost cool enough for a wind vest, but I decided for go it at the last minute. Tithe collier start also meant I could for go the a CamelBak, knowing my two 25 oz. bottles would be enough for the intervals between stops. Along with having a sag vehicle with my 4 spare bottles, it was a relief not having to wear the CamelBak.

Food and drink

Bottle prep the day before.
Personally, I have had very good results on endurance rides when minimizing heavy foods and relying drinks and gels. This RAIN was probably the most extensive (for me) of this strategy.

  • 6 Servings of Hammer Gel (Apple Cinnamon)
  • 5 25oz(CamelBak Podium Big Chill) of Gator Ade
  • 1 32 oz of GatorAde (pre-ride)
  • 2 Clif bars (1 for breakfast)
  • 1 bowl mixed fruit (1 1/2 cups) for breakfast
  • 1 roll of Rolaids (to fight cramps, and it worked!)
  • 3 oz cup of mixed nuts
  • 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 2 oz of potato chips. (I was really craving some salt at lunch!)
My next big event is Carmel’s Rollfast Gran Fondo in September, which I plan to ride for time. I feel real confident I have a dialed in nutrition and hydration distance riding. Over the next month I hope to do more speed work, and keep my distance edge.

All for that key ring and big grin!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2016: TOSRV by the Numbers

I’ve had a few weeks to recover from my 17th or (18th*) Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), hosted by Columbus Outdoor Pursuits. For the second year in a row, the weather was the big story, as I enjoyed rain-free riding both Saturday and Sunday, temperatures in the high 60’s, with light variable winds. In other words, near perfect spring weather, and blissfully great for TOSRV.

The TOSRV Gold sticker is back!
I want start by giving a big thank you to all the volunteers that make TOSRV possible. The organizing committee did their traditional great job with well staffed, and well stocked food stops. Registration and pick-up went smoothly, and ride was well-supported at every point. It was also nice to renew an annual connection with some volunteers, like those at the SOMC in Portsmouth, who I have been “staying with” for almost 10 years.

And I would be remiss not mention how much I appreciated the return of the real "Gold Seal" sticker for full TOSRV finishers.  Thanks for bringing it back!

TOSRV attendance seems to have stabilized at about 1,300 to 1,500 riders. While not the 5,-6,000 riders of the TOSRV glory years, it appears to be a sustainable number. It was nice to see younger riders and more families out this year. The different options, (full, half and 1 day century) are also helping TOSRV adapt to a changing cycling demographic. Maybe after two years of good weather, and with the route options, will see a few more people out next year.

Lunch in Chillicothe
This was the longest TOSRV, at 114 miles. The 8 extra miles, starting about mile 70, included a hilly detour around Lake White, where the road along the lakes dam and spillway is being rebuilt. Another bridge repair south of Chillicothe required a ride down the east side of the river, meaning we skipped much of the scenic Three Locks Road section. But the Kodak-moment pass under the viaduct made it worthwhile, and this was a nice break from the hills, especially on Sunday’s ride north.

My riding time both days was right at the 7 hour mark, averaging around the 16.4/.5 mark. I was 6:54 on Saturday, and 7 flat on Sunday. It was very satisfying to ride a stable pace the entire ride. In many regards this felt like one of my best efforts, and it’s nice to know I haven’t peaked yet.  (I rode with a about 90 minutes of breaks, waiting for friends and enjoying the food stops.)

Saturday, riding down river had 2,653 feet of elevation gain while riding down river, and Sunday’s return had 3,159. You are riding down river and then up river, so it all makes sense. And my overnight was over at the top of the hill in Portsmouth, so my day started with a descent.

After 3 attempts, I finally got full ride stats for each day on an iPhone app. This spring, I switched to Ride With GPS, and it really works. Compared to the app I used the last couple of years, Ride With GPS has better power management and better pause/resume functionality (nice for lunch breaks off the bike) then previous apps I have tried. It does a great job with distance summaries (Career, Year, Month and Week), and the capability to share rides, all in a very clean interface.

My phone stays in my bike bag, not on the handlebars, and I use the data after the fact. It is nice to get segment speeds, and times, and climbing information. My next project is link Ride With GPS with my Wahoo Rflkt and Kickr heart rate strap, primarily to hit some training goals for my next big ride.  I will let you know how that works out.

With regards to phones, apps and battery life, I finally replaced my 3-year-old Duracell battery with a GoalZero Flip 20, rated at 5200mAh and 3.6V. This is capable of recharging my iPhone 2 to 3 times (depending on when you start), can plug directly into a charger, and is GoalZero solar charging compatible. It worked as advertised, charging my phone twice (starting about about 40%) with another charge still indicated.

Saturday night in Portsmouth, after reflecting on the great ride, I did another blog on riding another TOSRV, which you can find here. This companion piece really explains what TOSRV is about for me, and while I will be back next year for number 18 (or 19), and many more.

*I have to do little research and see if I can finally get this nailed down. I can confirm 5 times on the tandem with friends, 4 times on the tandem with Tyler. But it gets fuzzy in the `80s on that extra time on a single.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

2016: Riding through my Field of Dreams

“And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces . . .”

The first time I saw “Field of Dreams”, I immediately added it to my top 10 movie list. Considering that this list includes the Lord of the Ring series, the Star Wars series, “Forbidden Planet”,  “The Fifth Element” and “The Big Red One”, it is a pretty eclectic mix.

But why “The Field of Dreams"?
Ready to roll on TOSRV 2016

I find it a fascinating story, tightly crafted, touching many themes. It blends time travel, fateful choices, missed opportunity, second chances, `60 rebellion and finally,  redemption. I watch it again every couple of year, and sooner or later will have to buy a download or DVD to replace my VHS copy.

There is a family connection, with my Mom’s love of the Yankees, and the golden era stars she grew up listening to, and even had a chance to meet. And looking back at different times of my life, I reflect on those similar themes and questions, and I wonder about the “what ifs” of my own life’s choices.

So what does my 18th trip to TOSRV have to do with a baseball movie?

As I rode the first half of my 18th TOSRV today, there was a downpour of memories, something from every one of those prior rides. With each mile came a flash of recollection, taking me back to rides 5, 10, or even the first 36 years ago. Each memory brought back a smile, and each smile made that mile of pedaling that much easier.

For a time it was as if my legs were ageless, moving the pedals with strength of my early 20's, and yet with all the fluidity of 40 years of riding.

So while bicycling is not baseball, and Ray wasn’t building a velodrome, TOSRV is my “Field of Dreams”.  It has become my annual spring pilgrimage of renewal.  And with each mile, the last year of wear and cares is for a time brushed away.  
All smiles in Portsmouth, 1 day of TOSRV 55 done.

And that explains why I keep coming back to ride this ride that comes so early, is sometimes too wet, sometimes too cold, sometimes too windy and sometimes, perfect riding. I am not just returning to TOSRV, I am my own Moonlight Graham (you'll have to watch the movie), turning back the clock to again be that 17 year-old kid who first discovered the joy of bicycling down a county road.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

#10WeeksTo100 – Week 3 – Faster is as Important as Farther

Sizzling Century, Kokomo Indiana, 2013
I must admit, during my first decade of riding, preparing for centuries was all about just riding more miles. It was bicycle touring that drew me into the sport, and I never seriously pursued anything competitive beyond a few citizen races (none of which indicated I had a future in bicycle racing).

Most of my early centuries were all-day events, with lavish food and lunch stops, and long breaks off the bike. Through the early 90’s, most of these bike club events were sanctioned by the League of American Wheelmen (later to become the League of American Bicyclists), and their “standard” for a century was to complete the 100 miles in under 12 hours. (Sadly, September as National Century Month as all but disappeared from the current LAB scope of interests.)

Even after I acquired a used Raleigh Pro, a vintage (road) racing bike made in the early 70’s, (and bike #4), it was more for just riding “light” when I didn’t want to ride my fender and rack equipped touring bike. It was fun and sporting, and let me dabble in sew-ups and those few citizen races.

Shady Sag, Sizzling Century 2013
It wasn’t until my late 20’s and early 30’s that speed became a part of my distance regimen. Riding “Sub-6”, 6 hours riding or even total time became my goal for many centuries, as I also worked on less time off the bike, even riding some solo centuries non-stop.

This was at the same time I was able join fast club ride on a more regular basis, both sport group rides and race training rides. I soon realized that shorter, faster mid-week rides were allowing me to improve my endurance rides, even when they did not approach the pace of midweek fast rides.

Those short, high intensity workouts were make me stronger, and more rested than my previous “all miles, all the time” regimen. And over time, my average speed began to pick up as well, in line with the confidence and experience of riding with those faster groups.
So use your midweek rides to keep yourself more rested and prepared for your longer weekend efforts as you build up your distance. While you may have small increases in distance mid-week, a regular training loop route that is the same distance each week is ideal for your brisk ride day.

Just remember to add the speed incrementally, testing yourself and watching the overall speed. If you average speed was 14 mph in your talk test, riding to maintain 15 ½ to 16 ½ on short evening ride is fine. And you may want to return to your “test ride” loop again, working to improve from your original time for this ride.

Tips to get faster
  • Accelerate out of stop signs. Don’t just roll away, stand up and accelerate after a stop to get more quickly back up to speed.
  • Shift up and stand on the flats. When there isn’t a hill to be found, it is easy to drop into an easy pace. Shift to a higher gear, stand for 15 to 20 pedal strokes to accelerate, and the settle down at the faster pace. (This is good skill to learn for saddle pain relief too, and we will talk more about that later.)
  • Hold that effort at the top of hill. Once you crested a hill, hold that effort and use to to accelerate back up to your higher pace.
  • Use a Tailwind. Don’t just coast along, use a tailwind to learn what your bike feels like going faster.
  • Use a Headwind.  A bit more challenging, but strive to maintain your event pace into a wind.  This is just as good a riding faster!

Week 3 of the #10weeksto100. 

Continue to Week 4: Your Bike is Your Training Partner

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. That being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Thursday, March 3, 2016

#10weeksto100 - Week 2 - The Training Plan

When I talk about my spring riding to prepare for one of my favorite events, novice riders are surprised to hear that I have my first 1,000 miles of riding in so early in the year.  While I start the year with that goal in mind, those miles come about has much by habit as anything else.   A training plan is just that, laying out your weekly preparation so it becomes habit.  By breaking down your training into routine, weekly events, it becomes much easier to accomplish.  And when the preparation becomes a habit, the end goal is much easier to complete.

Our first step in your training plan was to have an end result in mind. With your answers to the 3 questions from week 1, you have given some thought to who you are as a rider and how you want to ride your event. You should also have a MPH base number from  10 mile “talk test” ride. With this information in hand, we can go about creating a training plan.

My suggested training plan is very basic, with a focus on maintaining a schedule for your riding for the 10 weeks leading up your event.  The plan is based on time rather than mileage.  Your first step in your training plan was to have an end result in mind. With your answers to the 3 questions from week 1, you have given some thought to who you are as a rider and how you want to ride your event. You should also have a MPH base number from your 10 mile “talk test” ride. With this information in hand,  your plan is almost done.

At the start of TOSRV, 2007

Each week is a minimum of two 90-minute workout rides*, typically during your work-week, and one long ride that will incrementally increase 30 to 45 minutes per week over the 10 weeks.  While most or your riding will be at your event pace, one ride per week should be a “Pace Plus” ride.   When your schedule allows, you can add additional rides, and you can be flexible and change from the 3, 4 or 5-day schedules I have included.  (In fact, if your life is like mine, you probably will!)

Planning Tip – don’t forget to include and pre and post workout time, along with travel to the ride start, when planning your week.

The ride plan focuses on these three goals:
Training your body to maintain your event pace
Exceeding your event pace for an entire ride once per week
Incrementally increasing your longest ride each week, while maintaining your event pace

Each of the goals supports the other.  Learning a consistent riding pace is the key to endurance riding success, while riding over your event pace for short intervals helps build strength and confidence.  Your endurance ride will build upon what you gain from Pace and Pace Plus rides.  Pace Plus riding under normal conditions will also help you to maintain your planned pace on a windy day or hilly route.  Another important aspect of a Pace Plus ride is that it helps to avoid the risk of overtraining, a common novice mistake.

Another work out type is the Rest and Recovery ride, i.e. going riding just for fun, with no goal in mind.  A short, easy ride, a day or two after your longer ride will help to warm and relax tired muscles.  You will be pleasantly surprised how much better you feel the day after this type of short ride, compared, to just resting for 2-3 days with no activity after a long or challenging ride.

Finally, your workout schedule, like mine, may include bike commuting.  Bike commuting, is typically going to be at or below your event pace.  This is all a factor of the distance you commute, the number of days you can commute, and how much you need to carry along.   My commute of about 10 miles (1 way) is usually 3 days a week, with an easy ride in, and challenging myself more for the ride home.  I then do my pace plus rides on the non-commuting days.  Bike commuting may not work for you for you, but certainly consider it, especially if you feel training time is hard to find.  (See also, How to Find the Time, also in this series.)

The total plan is based on 8-10 weeks.  The number of weeks will vary on base level of fitness, and where you are in your riding season. An early season ride may need the full 10 weeks, but if you are already riding longer distance, you can adjust the schedule, as long as you build up the distance over a few weeks. You may not ride all the way up to your distance, but that is okay.

Here is a quick summary of your different workout rides, and their goal.  With the schedule summaries that follow, you can add these into your calendar (another important habit).

Your Pace workout goal is to maintain your planned event pace for the duration of the ride.
Your Endurance workout goal is to increase your distance at event pace each week.
Your Pace Plus workout goal is to exceed your planned event pace, by 1-2 mph each week.
A Rest and Recovery ride is a short ride at your event pace or easier, to warm up and relax the muscles you have been training.  I sometimes call these “Just Out Riding”, just getting out for the fun of it.
Bicycle Commuting can be used as fits your schedule and needs, from easy base miles, to a Pace Plus ride home at the end of the day.

When you look at the weeks ahead and laying out your you schedule, here is how the different options might look

3-Day Schedule – Tuesday, Pace ride , Thursday – Pace Plus – Saturday – Endurance Day.

4-Day Schedule - Tuesday, Pace Ride , Thursday – Pace Plus – Saturday – Pace Day – Sunday Endurance  Day
- OR - Saturday – Endurance Day – Sunday Pace or  Rest and Recovery Day

5-Day Schedule – Monday – Rest and Recovery Ride Day Tuesday, Pace Ride , Thursday – Pace Plus – Saturday – Pace Day – Sunday Endurance  Day

(Revised July 27, 2017)

Week 2 of the #10weeksto100 series 

 Continue to Week 3:  Faster is as Important as Farther

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. That being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. 

 You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Saturday, February 27, 2016

#10Weeksto100 - Week 1 - Three Questions to Answer First

Having a clear picture of what you want to accomplish is the one of the keys in setting, and achieving, a goal.  So before you begin to train for your first (or next) endurance event, here are three important questions to ask yourself.  Your answers will guide your training, and help in setting a realistic expectation for your ride.
  • What type of rider are you?
  • How do you plan to ride your event?
  • What pace can you maintain today for 10 miles

Question 1: What Type of Rider Are You?
The first question: “Which type of rider are you?” Besides the competitive cyclist (or the serious cyclist/runner/triathlete), cyclists new to endurance events tend to fall into two broad categories.  Don't confuse these with fitness levels, these are as much about where your cycling fits into other time commitments and pursuits.

A Social Rider
  • You ride 40-60 miles per week
  • Ride 2-3 times per week (you ride somewhat regularly, but don't make your schedule around it)
  • Occasional rides of an hour or two.

If you are just a social rider now, the weekly miles you will be adding will be bit more challenging. You will need to find more time in your schedule for riding to meet your longer distance goals. You will need to learn some new habits for comfort during your riding.

A Sport/Fitness Rider
  • You regularly ride over 60 miles per week
  • You ride 4-5 times per week, and riding is regular part of your weekly schedule
  • Your weekend rides are regularly a couple of hours or more, and you regularly ride an hour more in the morning or evening

Some Sport/Fitness riders may find they have to change habits to ride the time and distance of longer  endurance events. Those with a running or spin background may also be surprised by the longer time commitments, especially for preparing with an event lasting of 6 to 7 hours or longer.

Question 2: How Do You Plan to Ride Your Event?
Your expectation and how you want to ride the event will influence both your training, and what to expect the day of the ride. For the first time, recreational endurance rider, consider these two broad categories.

A "Social" Century Event
  • Total Time of 10-12 hours
  • Riding Time of 7 to 10 hours - average speed between 10 and 14 mph 
On a social century, you are riding to make the distance, while stopping to smell the flowers. You are enjoying the scenery, riding alone or in a small social group, taking breaks and eating a sit down lunch or snacks.

A "Fast" Century Event
  • Total time - Under 8 hours
  • Riding time - under 7 hours - averaging 14 mph or better
On a fast century, you are riding with a specific time in mind, and you are training for that goal. You may be riding in a group for the pace line advantage. Any breaks from riding are short stops to pick-up water and snacks.

Which sounds like you? Which matches your expectations? There is no right or wrong way to “do” a distance event; that is part of the beauty of cycling. I have done both kinds of distance rides, and enjoy each for their unique rewards. I have ridden for the challenge of a personal best time, or for the variety of scenery you can see in 60 to 100 miles of Michigan coastline. The choice is yours to make, however, it is important to have the right expectation during BOTH your training and during your event.

(I have deliberately left out the competitive event. Endurance competition is the next level, and this series is intended for novice and recreational riders.)

Question 3: What pace can you maintain for 10 miles?

Your final last question is “What Pace Can you maintain for 10 miles?” This is not your fastest 10 miles, but at the best speed you can comfortably ride while still able to maintain a conversation. This time trial (ride against the clock) test helps find a useful base-line for your training plan.

There are 3 reasons knowing your pace is important. First, it will help you set a realistic expectation for your event. Second, it going to be an important base number for training rides over the next several weeks. And finally, it will also provide you a measure of your improvement over time, a great motivationally aid.

Ideally, this simple test can be the middle 10 miles of a ride of about 15 to 20 miles, and on a loop or route you know. Don’t worry about the effect of traffic signs (obey them). If it looks like a windy day, try riding 5 miles out into the wind, and then 5 miles back to even out the effect.

It is also very important that you are able to maintain a conversation, (sometimes referred to as the "talk test"), during this ride. Passing the talk test is the simplest way to insure you are staying aerobic, and riding below your anaerobic threshold.  For both recreational and sport/fitness riders, most your endurance riding should be using your aerobic capacity.

We all have limited amount of time we can spend at our “best” or fastest effort. Our aerobic pace is what we can maintain for a much longer period of time. A recreational endurance rider, needs to stay at an aerobic level of effort as much as possible.

Over the next 10 weeks, you are going to be focused on improving your aerobic fitness and endurance.  While you are going to see some improvement in your speed over time, your success in long events is going to be while you are riding in your aerobic range.

Weekly Riding Goals: 4 Rides and your 10-mile pace test

You should be riding about 4 times a week now; a couple of weeknight evening rides and a couple weekend rides, with one focusing on riding a longer distance. We will add more details with next week.

Include your 10 miles pace ride, and in week two we show you how to include that information as you build your training habit.

With my son Tyler and our tandem, on TOSRV 2008.

Week 1 of the #10weeksto100.

Continue to Week 2:  The Training Plan

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy.

You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

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