How to prepare for a long-distance cycling challenge
The Tour de France kicked off at the weekend, seeing 22 teams with eight riders in each battling it out for the yellow jersey. It’s the ultimate endurance race, with 21 stages across 3,460km and five mountain top finishes.
This cycling event inspires many to jump on two wheels and take on their own cycling challenge. But what’s involved? Our Product Manager, Tom, has taken part in a few cycling challenges himself, including Marmotte Granfondo; a 174km route featuring three hors catégorie (HC) climbs and a total of 17,000ft of climbing! He shares his top preparation tips below…
Fuel your body
It’ll be tough, potentially dangerous, to compete without the correct types and amounts of food and water. Aim to consume 500ml+ water per hour in small gulps, not all at once, to keep you fully hydrated throughout your challenge. Dried fruit and cereal bars provide a great source of energy during the event while gels will give you a short boost of energy at difficult times. Test your products during training so you know what works for you in time for the main event.
Get on your bike!
Spin bikes and turbo trainers are a great way to train but are nothing like the real thing. Getting used to your balance, position and equipment on your bike will make you more comfortable and confidant, especially when tackling corners, climbs, fast descents as well as other riders. Riding in different weather conditions also can’t be experienced indoors. Try to think of headwind as a positive during training!
Training with others keeps you motivated, accountable and provides a healthy source of competition. Even better if they’re taking part in the same event as you. Get your mates involved or join a local club. To find a local club visit www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder.
Do the time
Don’t expect to hop on your bike and be able to rack up the race mileage on day one of your training. Steadily increase the frequency as well as the duration and distance of your training with the aim to complete up to 80% of the race distance in at least one training session before the event. Set yourself a goal for your event and compare training sessions against this to check your progress.
Mix up your training
Change the time, distance, speed, tempo and cadence you ride at. High-intensity sprint training combined with endurance training will improve your overall performance more compared to endurance training alone. Longer rides at race pace lets your body adjust to what’s to come and builds confidence, while interval training will improve your aerobic capacity, speed, strength and power.
Hopefully this will give you a good idea of what’s in store when it comes to preparing for a long-distance cycling event. I’ve listed a few handy websites below that feature some great training plans and nutritional advice. Good luck and enjoy the ride!
Training plans: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/knowledge/training-plans
Written by Tom Livings, My PT Hub Product Manager.