Originally I was going to call this post “Time to Panic?” but I’ve had a slight change of heart since yesterday. Last week, I started to feel a bit panicky about my lack of riding, fitness and strength after hardly touching my bike since September. The numbers are not great, I’ve averaged less than 100 miles of riding per month consistently for 4 months now (including January). It works out at 5km day roughly (or 3 miles). I know that for me to feel fit, it’s good if I can average 20km per day each month and once (on the rare occassions) I get to 25km per day my fitness really starts ramping up as does my strength and speed. I’ve not been using my Turbo trainer either as I’ll confess to anyone who’ll listen, that I hate the thing, even though I know it can make a difference to strength and fitness if you use it correctly.
The point of panic last week was realising that the Puncheur was less than 6 weeks away and I’m less fit and doing less riding than I’ve been for years. I’ve been busy with work too (which is good) so my previous model of two 2-3 hour rides during the week and a longer one on the weekend just isn’t very realistic at the moment. So my alternative strategy involves my dreaded turbo. I’ve been flicking through my copy of Chris Carmichael’s The Time Crunched Cyclist
and have a plan in mind.
The simple plan is three to four turbo sessions a week (strength building intervals for the next month, to rebuild my seriously depleted strength) and one long ride per week on the weekend from here through to after the Puncheur to build my base aerobic capacity a bit. Writing this down in a post is putting it out there as a public commitment, which is fine but really I’m putting this together so I can enjoy my ride on March 4th.
Now why the change of heart in the post title? Well it’s simple and a very nice surpise. Yesterday I met up with Twitter buddies Mark Tearle (@_BLIXA_) and Toby (@heytobster) for a hilly ride over the Ashdown Forest. I was nervous enough to ask my wife to drop me and the bike off at our meeting point to save me the 20km trip there (not to mention a couple of hundred metres of climbing) but over the course of the next few hours I ended up riding 101km and climbing over 1600m without expiring, which I’m quite chuffed about. The Puncheur will be roughly 110km and roughly the same amount of climbing I did yesterday, so I suddenly felt a bit more confident I can manage the ride distance, it’s more a question of how well I can ride the course and in what condition I’ll be at the end. Hence why we’re back to the “training programme”.
Previously my strategy has simply been to get out and ride 3-4 times a week and climb over 1,000 metres on at least one of those rides. It’s worked pretty well in terms of getting me into reasonable shape but that’s as scientific as I got. Now I have a book (see above) to refer to and less time available I need to try a new approach. Ultimately I concede I may need to get a proper coach and join a club, but this is a first step towards this and I’ll see how I get on. My next appointment with my turbo is on Tuesday.
The best news is that even after very little riding I could still manage the ride we did yesterday. I was pretty knackered at the end but not completely destroyed as the pace had been reasonably modest and I tried to pick my moments to use more energy (as all road cyclists do).
Thanks for reading
Oh and by the way, I do feel a bit slow today, heavy in the legs and hungry – but I do feel good
about yesterdays ride. Oh and the photo is of Toby and Mark, when we got back to our starting point on the Ashdown Forest.