Well it looks like I’m riding 100 miles this summer.
It had to happen eventually. After 6 attempts, I’ve finally won a place in the RideLondon 100 ballot.
And gosh darn it I’m going to ride it.
In fact I’m not just going to ride it, I’m going to train for it.
One of my objectives for the Sportive Cyclist blog this year was (is) to write more about improving fitness by undertaking a more deliberate and structured approach to training.
This now gives me the perfect opportunity to act as something of a test bunny as I explore these ideas.
If I can fitter, faster and lose weight. If I can put in a strong performance on my first century ride in 5 years (note: strong for me). If I can successfully navigate past all the cyclists walking up Leith Hill.
Then …. (I’ll be a man my son)
Then I reckon you can too.
Structured Training For The Common Man
It’s time for Monty to hit the books. Research-a-go-go.
Out comes my well-leafed copy of The Cyclist’s Training Bible. Perhaps a little Fast After 50. Some back issues of Cyclist magazine.
Certainly the odd YouTube video.
It’ll all be useful as I form the perfect plan.
It needs to be a plan that I can execute.
One that will fit in with my other commitments. One that builds progressively to the goal. One that won’t cause further injury to my knee.
First Things First
My first key priority is to sort my knee (or at least have line of sight on the practice I need to maintain to strengthen it and protect it as I increase my riding volume.
I’ve been maintaining my daily habit of self-prescribed (and probably ill-chosen) core, glute and leg strengthening exercises.
(For the record, since people asked, I’ve been doing combinations of the following exercises:
- Clam shells
- Seated straight leg raises,
- Abdominal crunches
- Side-lying straight leg raises
- Standing side leg raises)
Whilst my knee is definitely improving, I’ve decided to get an expert opinion. I’ve booked an appointment with a sports physio who has a particular interest in running and cycling injuries.
Whilst I’m not looking for a silver bullet (well, I am, but I appreciate there isn’t one), I’m looking for a structured programme I can follow that will result in tangible improvement.
Hmm, I’m detecting a theme.
Whilst I had grand plans to maintain the cycling habit throughout winter, the enforced rest period has put paid to that.
I therefore need to build a ‘Preparation’ phase into my century training plan. In a periodised training programme, the purpose of the preparation phase is to break yourself in gently before commencing the more structured and increasingly intense ‘Base’, ‘Build’ and ‘Peak’ phases.
If you’ve had a break from cycling, and perhaps exercise in general, over the past few months, I’d suggest you do the same.
Joe Friel (he of The Bible and FAF) notes that the preparation phase is characterised by “…minimal structure, mostly low intensity and cross-training along with the early stages of … strength work.”
Interpreting that, I’d say we’re just talking about a jumble of relaxed rides of varying lengths. ‘Cross-training’ means a non-road cycling activity (so mountain bike, a run, football, parkour, kabaddi). Just do whatever feels right to get your groove back. Or something.
The preparation phase, according to Friel, should be one to six weeks long, before moving into the ‘Base’ period of the training plan. Since I have my knee to deal with, and the fact that my knee pain was caused in the first place by ramping up my level of activity too quickly, I’ll be erring towards the longer end of that scale.
Plus, six weeks gives me more time to crack out my coloured pencils and create that perfect training plan.
Your mileage may vary.
Do You Fancy Riding A (First?) Century?
For those of you lucky enough to have received your RideLondon ‘Congratulations’ magazine this week, presumably you’ll be starting to at least think about training (or perhaps you’re conveniently blocking it out of your mind).
If you didn’t get a ballot place, or you’ve only just realised a profound desire to ride a 100-mile event, you still have options for completing a century ride in 2018.
There are plenty of charity places available for RideLondon. I rode RideLondon in 2013 for Macmillan. There is a page on the RideLondon website that contains details of all the charities with places. You’ll just need to commit to raising a certain amount of sponsorship money.
Away from RideLondon, there are a number of 100-mile (or similar) sportives due to take place around the UK this summer. I’ve done a little research and picked out a few events that you might want to consider.
(Disclaimer: whilst most of these seem pretty established, I’ve not ridden any of them, so these are not proper recommendations)
[table id=42 /]
If people would find it useful, I might even put a ‘100 Mile’ events page on the blog as a sort of reference. Perhaps non-UK-based readers could supply some good 100 mile events near where you live, in the comments below.
Who’s Up For Riding A Century Sportive in 2018?
It looks like a moment of madness next year has accidentally committed me to RidingLondon (100) in 2018. Now I’m actually pretty excited about it (well, as excited as an uptight Englishman can be).
It gives me a focus for the year, in terms of improving my fitness and prowess on the bike, in terms of getting my knee sorted and in terms of providing useful information (I hope) on this blog.
So, tell me. Who else got a place in the RideLondon ballot? Or have you since signed up for a charity place?
If (Ride)London aint your thing, are you doing any century rides this year? Perhaps the list of long sportives in my table above has piqued your interest (or you’ve got one to add)?
Let me know in the comments below.