Training for LEL and Mille Alba

Not that I know much about this, but I seem to be getting a reasonable amount of hits from search engines from people looking it up. All I can really relate is what I’ve done this year to get round an SR (subject to validation atm) and what I’m planning to do over winter for next season’s targert (at least one SR, complete a RRTY, get some AAA points and also the 1000km Mille Alba in June)

I started riding in January 2011 after about 12 years off of riding bikes anything like regularly. I’d run a couple of half marathons in 2010, and a couple of years of Kendo before that. But mixed in with beer and smoking (don’t smoke now, but still enjoy the beer). So not a complete couch potato, but not the fittest by a long way.

This year I started by building up a reasonable base by cycling twice a week after work (<2 hours) and a longer ride (4-5 hours) at the weekend so by March I could happily go out at the weekend and do 80 miles without too much effort. This was enough to get me around a 300km event, though I wasn’t feeling too hot on that towards the end.

Then I started adding in some extra riding by commuting to and from work a couple of times a week (walking through the office in Lycra was one of the biggest hurdles), this meant I was getting in over a 100 miles a week. But not putting in too much effort unless I really felt like hurting myself on a hill. This was enough for me to get around a 600km

Over the summer I added more regular long rides (going for the RRTY award was a good motivator to keep up with 200km rides) and started thinking more about a HR training regime. So I turned on the feature on my Garmin 800 and started thinking a bit more about my base, and making more effort to control effort to about 70-75% HR. With once a week going a bit faster on a hilly stretch. This seems to have gotten me to a point where I can decided to do a 200km DIY on 24 hours notice, or not feel too worried about setting off on a solo 400km ride with expectations of completing in 20 hours.

So no real heavy cycle training yet. The main things I have learnt which make the difference are:

  • What I can and need to eat/drink on a long ride. I’ve not got a pretty good idea of what I can cram in for calories without upsetting my stomach, and what to carry in water bottles that I don’t get bored of
  • Night Riding. This was a new thing for me this year, and it’s been one of the best bits. Some of my favourite audax moments have been skimming along country roads with only my little pool of light with nature running under my front wheel (luckily I’ve managed to miss them all so far)
  • Clothing – My first attempt at a 400 I overdressed and carried too much stuff. My second go (much later in the year) I wore less, and carried less.
  • Comfort on the bike – Just putting the miles in means I fit better on my bike, and have learnt the warning signs for the onset of normal aches so I can adjust position or do some in place stretches
  • Navigation – Much better now at having a quick glance at a map and spotting a main road or other better route if I need to make up time or route around a closed patch
  • Weather – Been reasonably lucky this year with weather, but when it’s been bad it’s been really bad. So I’ve learnt to cope with 300k of head wind, getting soaked to the skin in <30 seconds and being in the middle of a major storm. So I know that I can cope with most things, or at least cope for long enough to find some shelter

So the plans for the winter and next year are looking like:

  • Put in some more speed and strength work over the winter. A turbo may be procured, and I’ve joined work’s gym for some weight and their pilates/yoga classes for some flexibility
  • More bad weather acclimatisation by carrying on the RRTY attempt
  • Starting with the longer distances earlier in next year (Looking at the 300km Dean in March)
  • Back to back long rides. So if I do the Skegness ride again next year, I’ll head out for another 300 on the sunday
  • Reduce faff and time at controls, it’s always amazing to look at the GPS tracklog and see how much time was spent stationary and not moving. Am also going to try a bar bag or top tube bag so it’s easier to eat on the move.
  • New positioning, am tempted to get some clip on aero bars so I’ve got a couple of extra positions and also to help out a bit with headwinds.

So nothing revolutionary there, but then again it’s all achievable, should make life easier on ‘standard’ distance audaxes and give me the best shot of getting round the longer ones without doing too much damage to myself.


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