Monday, 28 May 2012

Baby Steps - Training for longer rides

Some of you may have read my earlier post about doing the London night ride - 65 to 70 miles overnight around London on June 9th.

It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I signed up for this - after all 24 miles a day commute is not the same as sitting in a saddle for 4 or 5 hours with non stop cycling and I am still horrified by the idea of doing more than two hills in a 24 hour period. But my way of thinking was, unless I set myself a target I would never push myself hard enough and take the time at the weekend to get the distances.

So I have made the commute into work every day - this itself is a step forward given the weather of the past two months. Additionally two weekends ago I did a 25 mile fast ride and then on the Sunday a 40 mile ride (with many hills). Last weekend I did a 54 mile ride (with more hills than I though existed in the UK) - I was determined to get over the 50 mile mark just to see how my body would react - strangely it didn't complain at all and I had no aches the following day.

The most surprising thing of these extra weekend miles is how much it has improved my commute - the miles now glide by with minimum fuss and plenty of extra speed and lack of tiredness. I really think this night ride has forced me to take a leg up in my cycling endurance, I have been shocked at how much improvement it has given me with what is in essence very little effort and the returns have happened so quickly. I have never know such a quick jump in ability of a sport for so little.

So although the jump from 25 miles to 50 might seem great - it really isn't that much of a step up other than in time and willingness to do it. I supposed it helps that my cycling buddy is a complete nutter, he loves hills (both up and down) with a passion that I can only summon for my immediate family. I tend to make it up some of the hills he chooses (like the 2 mile 10% one last weekend) by repeating the mantra that I will kill him when I get to the top, unfortunately by the time I get up the hill I am far too knackered to do anything other than breath - he on the other hand is having a leisurely lay in the grass waiting for me to turn up (on the flat he is cannon fodder to my more expensive bike though).

So my goal for this year of cycling was to make longer distance rides and to have then be comfortable and enjoyable to a reasonable degree - I think now I am making great steps towards achieving this - I am now starting to reap the benefits of training my body muscle type. i have always been a Sprinter - max of 20 seconds flat out effort then a nice breather. By gradually forcing myself to up the cadence (now an nice average of 90) and keep to the lower gears rather than forcing and crunching the higher gears - my knees feel great and miles just melt away behind me, I was also taking out some of the slower club riders on the road at 40 miles. Therefore I am pleased to announce that I am getting better at this cycling lark!

So what about the baby steps in the title? Well I think I have taken the time to build up my general fitness - I have learnt about bike maintenance and build - I have taken the time to learn to pedal better and then to increase the cadence but as far as distance is concerned - I think I need to be more brave and just go for the longer rides earlier, some things require a bit of bravery and less of being a baby.     

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