Spring is finally here. The roads are clear enough to dust off our skinny bikes and head north for some longer training rides.
Whether you’re currently increasing your riding volume for fitness reasons, to see more of the beautiful countryside, to contemplate an autumn cycling event or – like me – to prepare for the RTCC: a 2 day cycling event in 7 weeks, there are so many important things to remember and consider in order to make your training experience safer, more effective, more comfortable and fun!
The vast majority of endurance cyclists ride at cadences between 85-95 RPM. In short, here’s why!:
- Better speed
- Quicker acceleration
- More efficient transition onto hills
- Speaking of hills – avoid “grinding” and use your gears to keep that cadence high!
- Less fatigue
Our FLIGHT bikes at the Adelaide Club track cadence, speed, and power simultaneously. We can show you how even subtle shifts in your cadence can make a positive difference. Click here to view the A-Ride Schedule at the Adelaide Club.
The RTCC posted a really terrific, easy to follow, well balanced 15 week Training Plan.
Many of you may be halfway through this or the equivalent. If you’re a bit behind on your training, please avoid the mistake of pummeling yourself with a sudden high volume of training. There’s immense benefit in challenging shorter, high intensity rides and optimal recovery times including a proper taper.
If - like the RTCC - your event runs over two consecutive days, ensure you get a number of back-to-back training rides in too. Katya Masun and I will be extending our Friday A-Ride (12:00 - 1:15pm). Join us for this high-intensity 75-minute ride, and then hop on your bike Saturday for a longer, slower paced ride.
Whatever strategy you intend to use for race days, PLEASE use them during training! Every athlete is different; and, therefore, requires different types, amounts, and timing of nutrients before, during, and after. But here’s a few guidelines that work for many:
2-3 hours before:
A small mixed (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) meal with water
0-60 minutes before:
For most, something easy to digest – smoothie or shake is the best option. Again, a mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrate is ideal – though more emphasis on carbs is better for most.
- Hydration is key!
- For rides longer than 2 hours, the majority of athletes perform best by supplementing with a mix of carbohydrate, protein, and electrolytes (especially salt – increasingly important if it’s extremely hot or you’re a heavy sweater!)
- For many endurance athletes, a ratio of 4-6 grams of carbohydrate to 1 gram of protein is the ideal ratio. Fueling should begin within 20-30 minutes of race/training start, with a MAXIMUM intake equating to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. (Assuming 10 grams of protein, that equates to about 280 calories per hour.) Amounts, of course, vary with larger athletes and higher intensity rides requiring more than smaller riders or lower intensity efforts. For example, a relatively small athlete might find half that amount (30 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of protein per hour) optimal.
- Sports drinks either cut with or alternating with water is a fabulous strategy. The calories help keep blood sugars stable and the electrolytes augment hydration, balance your sweat loss, and improve recovery so you’re in better shape for day 2.
Nutrients post-exercise facilitate recovery (including muscle repair), rehydration, and refueling. There’s lots of mixed messaging around the timing of your post exercise nutrition: my personal bias is the sooner you can get 100-150 calories worth of protein and carbs (some fat doesn’t hurt either!) into your system, the better. It’s ok to wait a few hours for a proper meal – as you may not be able to stomach one right after a long training session or race – but a quick snack, protein shake or bar within 25 minutes is a great recovery strategy. Glass of whole milk or almond milk?!
Balancing your training: Strength, Mobility and REST!
Riding is a leg dominant activity that keeps you in a position of spinal flexion for relatively long periods of time. Balance out all that forward leaning leg work with some weight training that targets the back (including backs of the legs and glutes!) and challenge your work while keeping your spine neutral (skip the crunches and opt for Front Planks, Side Planks, Dying Bugs, and Quadruped exercises!). Practice your deep even breathing in these braced positions too!
Better Mobility will keep you more comfortable on the bike, as well as more powerful. Kevin Darby is an amazing Toronto-based Performance Coach and Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) practitioner. His Core Four Series is amazing:
Training strains and stresses the body. Rest allows the body to recover and rebuild so you end up more fit and powerful. Again, every body is different, but a good rule of thumb is one rest day per week. It can be active rest – walking, stretching, gentle yoga, but the effort should feel light.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night! This restorative state is even more vital when your training is increasing!
Tapering your training before the event will benefit race day performance. Just how much and how you taper, varies greatly. What we do know is that it’s best for everyone to maintain intensity and frequency of training, so the only thing you taper or decrease is duration. If you’re entire training cycle is 14-18 weeks, a 2-week period where duration of your training rides decreases by between 40-60% works really well for some. For others, decreasing volume and increasing rest days for the last 6-8 days of training has been a positive option too.
Meg Sharp, Director of Personal Training, Cambridge Group of Clubs