Guest Post: New year, new focus by Total Cycle Coach

IMG_3568This is the second guest post I’ve asked Colin from Total Cycle Coach to provide. The last one was about winter riding, this time it’s about the point in time where we start to emerge from winter and consider the year ahead. I hope you find it interesting and useful and my thanks to Colin for the post…..

With spring almost here, it’s time to start putting some of the plans you made over the new year into practice.

Look back at the plans you made during the winter. Check those plans are still valid – Have I got the same targets? Have I still got the time? Do I need a new bike? – and then start moving towards them.

Start upping your mileage, but start upping it gradually. So, for example, if you have a 100 mile event in June and the most you’ve done in a single ride over the winter is 35 miles, don’t suddenly go out and ride 70 or 80 miles; build gradually. As a general rule of thumb, add 10-15% more mileage each week when starting to build up. So, starting now at 35 miles, we can easily be up to riding 100 miles and beyond by June.

Alongside your riding, remember to schedule time for recovery. Again, a good rule of thumb should be 3 weeks’ training followed by one easy week, if you’re under 40, and 2 weeks’ training to one easy week, if you’re over 40.

So what else can we think about? Building our mileage is all well and good, but can we do anymore?

Let’s build speed. As with building our distance, we will put our bodies under a lot of strain if we suddenly try to jump from riding a 14 mph average to an 18 mph average.

But with building speed, the technique is slightly different from simply adding 10% more speed each ride. Start by upping your pace for a segment of a ride, say upping your speed from 14 to 18 for a few minutes, then riding easy for a while before upping again for another “interval”. Push yourself during these intervals, but remember you need time to recover between efforts, otherwise the efforts won’t work. Start with 3 or 4 of these intervals on your ride and, as you start upping your mileage, start adding in an extra interval.  How hard should an interval be? Well, ideally the interval needs to stress your system, so aim to ride at a pace where you find it difficult to talk for more than a few seconds at a time.

If you’re going to start upping your mileage and speed, you can do a lot to make sure you maximise all that hard work. So have a think about:

Getting a bike fit: Would you wear a pair of shoes without trying them on first? If your bike fits, you will ensure that you maximise all the effort you make into forward movement and you will also reduce the possibility of injuries. A good bike fit should be carried out by a trained fitter and not just by someone looking at your position and saying “Raise your saddle a bit”.

Looking at your diet: Making sure you’re well fuelled will ensure that you’ll have the reserves when the miles and the pace start going up. The old adage “junk in junk out” really does apply when we talk about cycling.

Getting on the scales: Cycling is a power to weight trade off, so with that in mind, think about your diet and see what you can do to lose some weight. You’ll ride faster and you’ll ride for longer. The only downside is you might need to buy some new cycling kit!


You can follow Colin on Twitter as @onthebanking or visit his website here: http://www.totalcyclecoach.com/