Happy New Year! After my December rest period, it’s time to start training for the 2011 cycling season. Whether you race and prepare for a specific event, whether you plan to ride your first double century or brevet series, or whether you want to be in shape for a week-long tour, having a goal gives the season a nice focus.
It’s like being a farmer: You sow your crops, you tend them as they grow, and it all culminates in the harvest. Similar to the seasonal cycle that allows the soil to replenish itself, a seasonal training cycle allows you to “peak” and reach a top form that is far higher than the form you can maintain throughout the year. For me, this keeps cycling interesting, and prevents burn-out and boredom.
My goal for 2011 is Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), the 765-mile ride in France. PBP is in August, so I have outlined my training roughly as follows:
- January through mid-March: base miles
- Mid-March through early June: endurance (qualifying brevets) and speed training
- Mid-June through late July: speed training
- Early August: rest
- Mid-August: Paris-Brest-Paris
To stay with the farming analogy, it’s time to sow right now, to work on my basic form. Having a good base provides a sound foundation for working on speed and endurance later in the season. Training hard without a base often causes injuries or excessive fatigue.
My base miles consist of a weekly ride of 80-120 miles with a friend or two, at a moderate pace, with a stop at a café along the way. For now, we stay on relatively flat roads. Bike trails are great for this sort of training. It’s nice to revisit lowland roads and trails that we haven’t ridden since last January. (We don’t miss much doing this, as the mountains aren’t accessible right now anyhow… see the photo above taken near Paradise, Mount Rainier, in May.)
This also is the time to think about changes to your equipment. Are your handlebars comfortable? Do your feet get numb? Do you have the right gearing? Are you thinking about adjustments to your position (longer/shorter/higher/lower stem, etc.). Do you plan to get a new bike? Making changes now enables you to fine-tune them during the base miles, rather than when the events of the season start in the spring. You also can try out new nutrition on these rides. My goal is to have well-honed equipment and strategies when the season starts.
Most of all, I enjoy these casual rides with friends. Spending a day on the bike really does keep the winter blues at bay. What are your goals for the season?