I want to do anything and everything. I can’t say no to an adventure and I can’t sit still for more than about five minutes, even when I’m knackered. I pretty much go full hog until my mind and body shuts and I find myself unable to keep my eyes open so I’m either napping or running from my bike straight to the gym.
In the spirit of challenging myself and wearing myself out just that little bit more, this year, along with racing multiple disciplines in countries as diverse as the United States, Iceland, Italy and Sweden, I’ve decided to try my first long distance ride; cycling from Lands End to John O’ Groats.
As someone who favours short, fast, intense racing such as criterium, I don’t regularly ride for longer than 90km, which I’ve just calculated is 55 miles...
Having no desire to spend valuable time plotting a route and sourcing convenient accommodation, I’ve signed up with Deloitte Ride Across Britain, leaving them to make all the arrangements so that I’m free to just ride.
Following a 960-mile route, we’ll be completing the ride in 9 days, climbing approximately 15,000 metres in days of 100 miles plus.
As someone who favours short, fast, intense racing such as criterium, I don’t regularly ride for longer than 90km, which I’ve just calculated is 55 miles. And those are my ‘long’ rides. The majority of my training mimics the 45-minute races in which I compete, so though I’m fit, I’m a very specific kind of fit.
From wondering how useful that will really be in my quest to ride the length of the country, I’ve done some research into training for long distance rides to find out what I need to do in the preceding months with back-to-back days in the saddle.
It turns out that it’s nothing wildly different to what I’m already doing, which is quite a relief.
Here’s what I’m planning to do:
1. Work on core strength
Though it’s the legs doing much of the work on a bike, a strong core is essential for efficient pedaling.
Without good abdominal strength you’ll tire more quickly and struggle to hold yourself in a good position, wasting energy rocking from side to side.
2. Commit to doing yoga once a week
Sitting in a fairly static position for hours on end is definitely going to make me feel stiff and sore, so I’m planning to improve my flexibility and make sure I set off with nice long, relaxed muscles.
I already stretch before and after rides, but I’ll be adding a dedicated yoga class per week.
3. Add longer rides
I’m going to stick with the mid week interval sessions that form the foundation of my training but up the length and frequency of my longer rides at the weekend.
I’ll be aiming to ride these mainly in Zone 2 with a few ‘sweetspot’ Zone 3 intervals. I’ll build up the length of these rides and as I get closer to the event, I’ll do more back to back long rides.
Looks to stay the course
4. Stick to my rest days
Though I like to go hard with my training, rest days are when the body adapts to what you’re doing so skipping them is a big fat no no.
As someone who always likes to be doing something, I find rest days annoying but I’m going to try and enjoy the downtime and make sure I recover, rest and relax properly.
Looking at Deloitte Ride Across Britain’s training plans, I think I’ll go with their suggestion of a rest day before and after my two endurance rides at the weekend.
This will mean I will able to go hard on my mid week intervals as they’ll be bookended by days off.
5. Find what works for you
I like having a structured training plan as it’s nice to be able tick things off but essentially what you really need to do is just ride your bike a hell of a lot, so don’t.