Ask RIDE…3 Peaks Challenge #2
It has come to my attention that there are only four more weekends left to training before the 3 Peak Challenge. If you have entered and have not been utilising the extra time on Saturday and Sunday to put in some big rides then you had better start now. It’s not necessarily the distance that is going to be the challenge, it’s the amount of climbing that will be tackled during the 235km route. There is almost 5,500m of mountains that need to be overcome before reaching the finish line at the top of Falls Creek and having the endurance to ride in the saddle for up to 10 hours will be a big physical and mental challenge. I can understand that many of you might not have unlimited time on the weekends for long rides but if you have committed to completing this event the least you can do – for yourself and riding partners – is arrive fit and ready to go. So how are other riders going to prepare for this day? Over the next few weeks I will be posting the kind of training rides that I hope will give me the best chance of making it an enjoyable day. I’m not intending on driving from Sydney only to suffer because of a lack of preparation.
It is important to remember that you don’t have to train long hours through the week to be ready for this ride. Most of us can manage a minimum of two hours each morning and still get to work in time to keep our bosses happy. If 50-60km is all that can be done then it needs to be quality time. Living in Sydney and working near the city makes Centennial Park a great place to do a proper session. There are few cars and doing laps can be enjoyable if you go about it the right way. For example, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I ride with a group in the Park. We meet early and do about 40km (or 10 laps) which includes a warm-up and warm-down. Ride there and back and it quickly adds up to around 70kms. We do a mix of rolling through in a paceline and riding two abreast but the most important part is that the heart rate gets up and everyone pushes themselves to ride faster each lap. There might not be any hills in this session but it is the level of intensity which matters – long rides with climbs can be done on the weekend but this intensity will make the long climbs easier on the day.
After the session is finished I often do some strength efforts (SE). These involve riding in the biggest gear which you can sustain, for say 15 minutes and at a cadence of 50-60 rpm. The time is then spent riding in that gear. It requires a higher power output and can simulate the extra energy required for a hill. Keep the upper body still (a strong core will help) and focus on smooth pedalling. Try doing 3 x 10 minute SE’s with 5 minutes in between each. So ride for 10 minutes in a gear that feels heavy to push but manageable and then take a five minutes rest between the next one. Put it in the small ring and spin the legs over during this rest period.
I find these types of exercises really help build strength not only on the flat but also for climbing. Being able to sustain a high power is critical to being a good climber so practicing on the flat can be a good way to improve on the hills when you can’t actually get to one. As you get stronger try riding a bigger gear or making the efforts longer. This is not meant to spike the heart rate so if you find that it is getting to high then try slowing down and pedalling at a lower cadence – this should drop your heart rate.
I will be posting my favourite training routes and accompanying data over the coming weeks.
Alex is the Technical Editor for RIDE Cycling Review.