Training and Preparation
200 miles in one day is a long way to cycle for most of us, so we’ve been talking to Dr Ian Rodd for some tips on how to prepare and train for long-distance riding and long days in the saddle.
“The concept is to be able to focus your training, riding and performance to one aim—to ride 205 miles in one day, and have FUN doing so!”
Dr Ian Roddsuccessful CTS rider and veteran of previous LEJOG world-record attempts
There are no shortcuts, you need to be putting in the miles riding regularly to build a base fitness early in the year. Then build up your training in the months before mid-summer, steadily increasing the mileage, working on pacing, feeding, navigation and the aspects noted below.
It is a good idea to set yourself targets using other organised rides during the April and May months, your eventual aim should be to be able to complete an event of circa 100-130miles, at a comfortable pace, minimising your stops, and feeling like you could ride further at the end.
On longer rides, measure your progress by comparing Total Distance covered against Total Time Elapsed, rather than average speed on the road. Concentrate on developing an even cadence, comfortable heart-rate, and delivering a constant power, using your gears to climb hills steadily and capitalise on descents. Ian’s motto is just either “Pedal or Brake”, no freewheeling!
Spare parts etc. may be carried in the support cars, however it might be a wait for them to catch up, so try to be self-sufficient.
If you want a change of clothes at the finish make sure it gets in the boot of a support car prior to the ride!
Half of your supply may be pre-loaded into support vehicles for re-stocking at the lunch stop.
Longer rides when you have time, should be supplemented by shorter sessions to work on speed and fitness. These can be focussed on the road, hill reps or intervals, or as Ian suggests, on the turbo.
“I find this a brilliant way of getting fit, without spending hours out on the road. When I am busy at work, I can fit the turbo in around my working week, if you are able to replicate these efforts on the road, all the better.”
The bottom line is getting on the bike regularly, and focusing when you are riding, with the right motivation, training can be fun too!
Ian’s training programme
up to 4 turbos a week:
Finally, train early, and make sure you wind down or ‘taper’ your training in the last 2 weeks. Don’t stop riding altogether, just go for easy distance and intensity, and increase rest and recovery periods.
Bike, Body and Mind
During your training, you need to focus on preparing the three key elements that you can control. Ian describes the concept of the ‘widening angle’ of influence—small deficiencies that are not noticed on shorter rides, are magnified over longer durations, to become insurmountable problems if not dealt with early.
Start now with replacing worn-out items, any planned component upgrades, or position changes (consider a bike-fit), puncture resistant tyres, to ensure all is tried and tested over considerable distance and time prior to the mid-Summer’s ride.
In the weeks before the ride, ensure your bike is clean, serviced, all spares and tools available etc. Trial new map mounts/water bottle cages etc in advance, see kit essentials above. Lightness is a noticeable benefit over such a distance, but for your bike, comfort is the most important aspect.
Motivation is essential in both training for, and completing the ride. Set yourself realistic goals to enable you to meet them and then go further.
Navigation stay alert, be vigilant, are you on course? Aim to spot any errors quickly and address them in order to avoid significant extra miles. Know where you are and where you are going next, don’t just follow others.
Timing as above, know yourself! You should know if you are ahead or behind your target time schedule, set time checks and landmarks.
Practise utilising maps, timesheets, GPX devices and spare batteries, etc, during your training rides.
Psychology CTS is a long day. Breaking it down into chunks and thinking about where you are helps. The first quarter should fly by. The second quarter should be fine, but may start to feel hard. The 3rd quarter is always the toughest. The 4th quarter is tough, but you are nearing the finish, and this should help you. Knowing where you are, and what you expect of your body at that point is key.
The Low you will at some point feel a bit low during the ride, perhaps because of traffic, weather, routing, hunger, dehydration, mechanicals, etc.
Overcoming this is all part of the experience. When you do get into the low, don’t think about the end destination, just think about riding for the next 30mins, or until the next town, or garage or pub or whatever, somewhere much shorter in distance that you can reach easily. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a 5 minute rest to calm down, relax, re-fuel, and begin to feel ok again. Doing some simple stretches off the bike can help. These periods typically occur between 40% and 65% of the distance. Practice recognising this point and dealing with it on your training rides.
On the day remember, have fun, enjoy the ride—it’s not a race. Don’t just focus on the 5 feet of tarmac in front of you. Look up, look around, enjoy the scenery and take in the view. Travelling 200+miles under your own steam is an experience to be savoured. If you have put in the preparation, you will succeed and most likely enjoy it too!