Sunday, 16 August 2015

My training and preparation for my 208km audax attempt

As I mentioned before, I am going to be attempting a 208km audax/randonnee next Sunday (the 23rd).
I cycle to work every day, and I have a pretty active job, but that isn't going to be enough.
So this is just a short summary of my 2015 training, just so that folks who want to do a similar distance for the first time have some sort of idea what is required!

Rides 50 to 74 km in length = 8
Rides 75 to 99 km in length = 0
Rides 100 to 125km = 4
Rides 125 to 150km = 1

Runs 10km to 14.9km in length = 7
Runs 15km to 20km = 2
Runs - half marathon distance (21,1km) = 1

So with 5 "centuries" completed this year already, and having run my first half-marathon for 30 years, I am in the best shape I have been for a LONG time.

Why am I running, and not just riding?
Well, riding a bike uses three different parts
1: Cardio-pulmonary system
2: Energy production/transport system
3: Muscular system.

Running is an easy way to tone up the cardio-pulmonary system. Getting the heart and lungs fit and healthy means I don't run out of breath on the big climbs anymore!
Admittedly, a good session on a turbo-trainer or rollers will allow a cyclist to maintain a steady, high, level of workout, but on the roads round here, it is always a bit of a stop-go affair!
Running is cheap, and quick, and can be continued even when away from home (a pair of running shoes doesn't take up much room in a suitcase!
Distance running requires the body's energy systems to tone up as well. You can't run a half-marathon without the glycogen getting to the muscles. Distance running also seems to increase the Interleukin-6 response, which some folks thinks makes your body use less glycogen for the same level of output (in other words, the "wall" is reached later!)
Running is also an effective way to lose a bit of weight - one mile run is commonly held to be equivalent to 4 miles cycled.

So that's the core of my training.
Of course, there are lots of shorter rides and runs as well, and I also tend to walk about 7km a day while at work, so that also helps underpin things.

And how much running and riding am I doing at the moment?
Not much.
Two weekends ago I did a 66km ride on the Saturday and a 100km ride on the Sunday.
Last weekend I did a 138km ride, and it was clear that I still felt a bit of the previous week's exertions.
That's not the same as 200km in a day, but it is 300km over two consecutive weekends.
So this weekend, I am resting.
I might lose a bit of fitness, but it is better to go into a long ride in 90% shape due to excessive rest than it is to go in to the ride at 75% (or less!) due to too much late training.
Some of the younger folks in their late teens and early twenties will recover faster than me.
But I'm 50, and "mature" riders often need a bit of extra recovery time.

Remember, training alone doesn't make you fitter.
Training plus recovery makes you fitter.
Cut back on the recovery, and the benefit of the training will be delayed until you do rest.

It;s no good me being at my best a couple of weeks AFTER the big ride - I need to be in good shape on the day itself, and that day is just a week away.

I've stopped recording my short commute to work on my bike during thus recovery period, too, just so I have less temptation to try to go faster :-)

Have I done enough training?
Am I "ready"?
I'll let you know in a week's time!

My 200km badge.
Update, 25th October 2015:
It would make sense if I added an extra section to the bottom of this post to talk about how I prepared the bike, and any special kit I took with me.
I know this stuff works for me, because I finished the ride, and got the certification and the badge :-)

The bike: 
  1. Make sure the tyres are properly inflated
  2.  What is your "puncture plan"? Mine was have Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres (the TOUGHEST), AND carry a spare tube, an old-fashioned puncture repair kit with patches, tyre levers and rubber glue etc. etc, AND a couple of cans of tyre repair foam. Plus a pump, of course! Don't forget the tyres levers, or you will look daft. No-one can get Marathon Plus tyres off with just their fingers. If you have flimsy racing tyres, well maybe you can, but you're more likely to get a puncture in the first place!
  3. What is your "damage/crash/injury" plan? I had a first-aid kit, two 'phones in different places (in case I crashed on one!). I also had a roll of gaffer/duct tape, and a spare derailleur cable. As well as being usable to replace a derailleur cable, it can aslo be used to patch up/tape on any damaged panniers and/or some minor bike parts after a crash. Also good if a screw or fitting breaks. Gaffer/duct tape is one of those "magic" ingredients. You can use it inside a tyre to "patch" a hole, too (as long as you fix the tune, too!)
  4. What is your lighting plan? Although I rode in daylight, I had a pair of lights on the bike - just in case.
  5. What is the terrain like? Good idea to have "wide" gearing. I had an 11-32 on the back, and a "triple" 48/34/26 on the front. I fitted the 26 specifically so that I could still get up a 10% climb when tired. Some pro racers now have 11-32 on the back, but they run MUCH bigger rings on the front. But I'm not a pro racer :-) Gear to your legs, not someone else's!
  6. Saddle - never mind how much it cost or what make it is. Can you ride on it? You should have already worked this out in training. Mine was brilliant for 50km, OK for the next 50km, I was rather saddlesore at 150km, and it stayed bad for the rest. Not sure any other saddle would have done better. But if you can't do 100km on your saddle, then first check it is properly adjusted front to back (layback), and tilt. And check it is straight. One saddle may be the best for you, but no saddle is always perfect. Remember that even the pros get saddle sores! And, like they say, sometimes you just have to go out and face the man with the hammer. It hurts. It's supposed to hurt. Get over it, and get on with it.
  7. Waterproofs - what is your rain/weather plan. I was hoping for dry weather (it was August 23rd!), but I got two hours of rain. I had both a lightweight jacket and rain trousers with me. A cap tucked under my helmet kept much of the rain off my glasses (spectacles) beacuse it had a much bigger peak that my hemet has. Why did I go that day, and not wait a week for better weather? Well, I had a three-day weekend off work - that gave me a rest day, a cycling day, and a recovery day. Had I waited, I wouldn't have got another 3 day weekend for 5 weeks, and by then I would have been involved in family stuff or whatever. So it was that (wet) day or wait another year. Sometimes you just have to get on with it!
  8. Tools - as well as tyre levers (mentioned above) always take a "multi-tool". Handy if something comes loose, even if multi-tools don't always have the leverage to do something up fully - sometimes you might have to stop ever hour or so to fix the same fault. But It has to be better than having to abandon the ride!
  9. Timing - don't make big repairs or carry out lots of work on the bike just before you ride. Do any work preferably a month or more before. The test it on some of your training rides. Fiddling with the bike at the last moment is a good way to get a bolt not properly tightened etc. etc. Of course, if a problem happens in that last month, you just have to fix it, be careful, and hope for the best. But if there are any planned upgraded/replacements, leave at least a month.
    I fitted a new chain in May, and changed the chainrings from a "broken" 38 and a 28 to the 34 and the 26 I rode with. I tested the "new" setup on several "century" rides. It worked fine in testing/training, and it worked fine on the day. But no last minute fiddling about if it can be avaoided!
The logistics:
  1. What is your pacing plan? Crawl round like a tortoise, hardly stopping, like I did? Or zoom like a hare and have a number of decent stops. Both plans work - just choose the one that suits your style of riding. If you need a braek every hour or so, then plan one in. The "hare" style also means less time in the saddle, which may help with the stiff butt. If you go for the "tortoise" option, things like weight matter less, and if you carry more of your food and water then the route planning becomes easier - you may find all the shops closed in small places at certain times of day... AS for me, I carried the lot, and didn't buy a thing.
  2. Talking of buying things, always carry a little money. Part of my "back-up plan" was to get a train or bus home, then take the car to go pick up the bike. This needs money :-) If you are intending to buy food, etc. make sure you have enough - the cheap local store you have in your town may not have a store in a distant town, and things may cost more than you are used to!
  3. Maps. Carry maps. Waterproof maps. I got partly caught on on this one. At least my maps were printed on a colour lazer printer, not on an inkjet, so the print/pictures didn't run! But by the end I had a pile of paer mache that I had to peel apart to read each page...
  4. ... Luckily, I had "scouted" part of the route. I had trained on the first third of the route only two weeks before, and I drove the last quarter of the route a week before (I was resting, so I drove rather than rode). Those parts went really well. The part after that first part I know reasonably well anyway because I used to drive that as a "back-up" route to work in snow or if the regualr road was close by an accident or whatever. The bit from about 50% to 75% was not so good. It was new to me. Although I have been to all the places before, for some of them, it was 20-odd years ago! So next time I think I will have better, waterproof, maps, and better scouting! Training rides are an ideal time to scout parts of the route.
  5. Of course if the ride is "organised", and there are a bunch of riders, the mapping part is simplified. But have at least a "back-up" map in case you get separated from them. Contact the orgainser for such rides to see what sort of facilities are available. Many organised rides are arranged with parking at the start/finish, and a route that stops at a number of places for food etc. But they may not start/finish that close to where you live, or they may all seem to be on days when you work! (My shift pattern currently has 4 out of 6 Saturdays at work, and the boss is talking about making that 5 out of 6!). Solo rides start where you want, finish where you want, stop where you want, and happen when you want. But you don't get the cameraderie and "moral support" of a group ride. For example, I could do a ride to my sister's house, have lunch there, and ride back home. That's actually about 200km (!) That;s the sort of freedom you get with a "solo" ride. But if you have a problem, then there is no-one to help you fix that puncture!
  6. Get to the start on time. I was 16 minutes late for my ride,  but as it was a "solo", all I lost was a bit of daylight. A group ride is only going to wait so long, then they will go without you! Late starts may also mess up your schedule for rest stops - you might get somewhere after it has closed!
To be expanded as I think of anything else!

No comments:

Post a Comment