Training – the Rider

After completing the Deloitte Ride Across Britain in 2018 I thought it may assist riders who have signed up for the 2019 edition if I shared my top tips for being able to enjoy the whole experience rather than just surviving.  This blog post will be about the physical side of preparing for the ride.  As I write this post, in nine months time the 2019 edition riders will have hopefully completed the ride.  While you cannot always prevent accidents causing you to pull out of the ride, there isn’t (at this stage of the year) anything from preventing anyone getting in the best physical shape for the ride.

Here are my tops tips for training for the ride:

  • Do follow a training programme.  Threshold Sports publish training plans for Novice, Intermediate and Experienced cyclists.  I was lucky enough to have a personal trainer with a background in endurance sports (Ironman races) so had the best of both worlds with a personalised training programme and I chose the Intermediate training plan as a reference point.
  • Do get used to cycling in wet weather.  I’m not advocating going out when it is icy or absolutely pouring with rain, however, you do need to know that your wet weather gear keeps you dry and warm.  If your kit copes with February and March weather it should be able to cope with anything that Scotland in September can throw at you.
  • Don’t think you can get away with just going out for 50 mile training rides.  Long rides are necessary to get used to being in the saddle for 7-10 hours a day.
  • I did very few training rides of more than 90 miles.  However, I did enter a number of 100 mile sportives.  It is good to know that you can ride 100 miles in a day before you arrive at Land’s End.
  • Do consider entering at least one multi-day event.  Nothing can really prepare you for the cumulative effect of riding at least 100 miles for nine days, although the Rapha Festive 500 comes close.  Threshold Sports organise the Dulux London Revolution (11-12 May 2019), a two day ride round London which includes a night in the infamous little green tents!  London Revolution I did the Dragon Tour in South Wales last year, three days riding in the Brecon Beacons and finishing with the Dragon Ride (7-9 June 2019) Dragon Ride with options for 160 km, 223 km and the Dragon Devil at 300km.
  • If you cannot find time for a multi-day event, try and replicate the effect by entering a 100 mile sportive and doing a long ride on the day before or the day after the sportive.
  • Think about attending the RAB training ride (24 March) RAB Training Ride.  I picked up some good tips last year (see my previous post RAB Training Ride) and met some riders before the RAB started (particularly useful as a solo rider).
  • Do not neglect hill climbs as part of your training.  I’m very lucky with lots of hills in South Wales.  If you live in London, the Chilterns are pretty close to the west (the tube runs to Amersham and trains run to High Wycombe and Princes Risborough) and the South Downs (to the south!).  Anyone living is Norfolk and Suffolk has a bit of a problem!  The Chiltern 100 sportive (14 July) is a pretty good way of duplicating Days 1 and 2 of RAB.
  • Don’t believe the RAB “bubble” will get you through.  You still have to do the riding and there is only so much encouragement the Threshold Sports Chaperonnes can give.  Remember, on the third pick up in the Broom Wagon, you are “asked to leave” the ride.
  • You really don’t want to be getting into camp after 6 pm each day (which could mean 11 hours out on the road).  You have to deal with cleaning your bike, showering, possibly seeing the medics, hopefully having a massage and getting some supper before listening to the rider briefing at 8 pm.

What would would I do differently if I was riding the Deloitte Ride Across Britain 2019 (by the way, I’m not!) ?  I would do more two day consecutive long rides of 5-6 hours duration on a few more occasions in the summer (June and July).

Next month, I plan to write about the choice of bike for the ride.

Mini “Beast from the East” – oh no Mk II

After all the build up the Brewin Dolphin Wye Tour last Saturday, I arrived at Chepstow Race Course bright and early at 7.30 am to be told the event was cancelled.  I had wondered given the forecast the night before although I was hopeful the snow would hold off until the afternoon.  However, once I got through Newport, the rain turned to sleet and then to snow as I got to Chepstow.  To be honest I was relieved the event was cancelled – a 54 or 72 mile ride in sub-zero temperatures (with the wind chill) would not have been fun!

The morning was not a compete washout.  We were treated to a great breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs rolls and lots of coffee.  While the snow continued to fall outside and the marque shook in the wind (thank goodness we weren’t riding at this point) we had the benefit of training tips from two ex-pro cyclists, Luke Rowe (of Rowe & King Training) and Yanto Barker (founder of Le Col, the cycling kit company).  All very useful stuff and confirmation that all the workouts that Lawrence, my coach, has me doing have a purpose to them !  I was also able to take home a very nice Le Col Brewin Dolphin cycling jersey – thanks Brewin Dolphin.

I even managed a ride at the end of the afternoon – nice and warm inside on my Tacx Neo smart trainer while watching Wales beat France in the rugby.  The less said about England’s performance the better !

Sunday was even worse – I certainly didn’t expect to wake up to 4 cm of snow on 18 March.

IMG_0542
Snow in Penarth on 18 March !

No outside riding that day and I couldn’t even summon the enthusiasm to spend time on the smart trainer.  My excuse, and what Luke said the day before, rest is equally important as hard sessions on the bike.  I did make productive use of the day by converting my Cannondale bike to tubeless tyres which I hope will mean lower tyre pressures (a smoother ride on rough roads) and less punctures (the “slime” inside the tyre is meant to fill any small holes).

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