With the launch of Bespoke Travel
for 2017, we're already working on our training. We asked one of
our coaching contacts, Mike at Bibo Bike
Coaching , for his thoughts on how best to prepare for
the riding ahead:
Over the next few weeks either Christmas weight gain or New
Year's resolve will draw many cyclists' 2017 goals sharply into
focus. Something along the lines of;
"Oh dear Lord ! I've put on 5 kilos and I've entered La Marmotte in
July ! Time to get riding".
By nothing like coincidence I've been thinking a lot about what
makes the perfect Sportive plan, and putting together what I think,
and what I have found, is the best approach. It'll be ready right
before that Christmas weight gain, somewhere around here.
As with any training plan you need to look at what the event
involves before creating the training recipe. The majority of
Sportives are hilly, positively mountainous if they are in mainland
Europe. They're endurance events. And you probably want to get the
ride done as quickly as you can. So endurance, climbing and some
sort of speed work are required.
Straight away this deviates from a lot of traditional training
plans which are aimed at racers, for whom lactate tolerance and
sprinting are important. If you're doing Sportives like that
something has gone wrong.
Another traditional approach is to start with long, steady miles
at low intensity and ramp up the power as your event gets close.
There are two reasons I dislike this approach and think it can be
The closer to your event you get the more your training should
resemble its requirements. Physiological demands aside, imagine
you're about to start 160km in the Alps and all you've been doing
for the last month is a series of 3 minute intervals - you're
unlikely to feel very confident.
It's January, you have 8 hours of daylight in total, it's raining
and it's 3ºC. Fancy a slow 5 hour ride ? Thought not…
'Reverse periodisation' has you starting with gaining your
top-end fitness, then, once you are fast and fit, getting you to be
so for longer durations. The advantage of this approach is that
when it's wet, dark and cold outside you can be
indoors doing short and sharp (Zone 5) sessions. As
the weather warms up and the days get longer, so do your rides.
The caveat for this type of training is that it works best for
riders who already have a lot of miles in their legs, at least a
couple of year's worth. Beginners are better off riding more often
and gradually increasing the duration.
Now you've decided you prefer warm extremities, put that to the
test by doing 4-6 weeks of high intensity interval sessions (Zone 5
power or heart rate). Always remember recovery weeks, one or two in
the middle and one at the end of the phase. You can keep your
endurance ticking over by venturing outside for a couple of hours
Around February / March you can start doing some indoor climbing
sessions, still pretty short, doing low cadence repetitions in or
below Zone 4. Lengthen those outside rides and include some
Zone 4, time trial-like work within them.
Once the clocks have changed, start looking for hills. Ride them
often, in dedicated sessions and included within your long rides
(which should be getting to about 4 or 5 hours duration now). Those
rides should also include Tempo (Zone 3) and Sweet Spot (high Zone
3, low Zone 4) efforts of lengthening durations.
With a couple of months to go start aiming to climb as close to
the same number of metres as in your event. In the UK this can be
very hard since we don't have the 10+ kilometre climbs that festoon
the Alps or Pyrenees. You're likely to find you have to climb the
same few hills repeatedly. So be it. It may sound (and feel)
interminable but the likes of La Marmotte, L'Etape or the Maratona
dles Dolomites will have you doing multiple climbs that, on their
own, can take 1 to 2 hours to conquer. "Train hard, race easy"