Q&A: Best prep for an up and coming event…

Having been cycling seriously for around four years and completed a handful of 100-mile sportives, I’ve signed up to do the London-to-Paris cycle ride.

At 57 years old this is the biggest challenge I’ve attempted. I’m looking for advice on how to adjust my training to prepare for a multi-day event like this. It’s a daunting three consecutive days at around 80 to 100 miles per day.The event is in July 2013 so I have seven to eight months to prepare. What’s the best strategy?

Geoff Woods

Geoff, this is quite a straightforward challenge and easily met. Your aim should be to increase distance until you can ride three consecutive days of 80-100 miles as the L2P demands.

So it’s a simple case of dividing up the time you have available and putting in some monthly stepping stone ‘goals’.

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In the short-term, these can be simple, increased mileage targets, but to make things a little more interesting in the long-term, consider making these goals two or three-day events (the Tour of Wessex for example is a suitable three-day sportive) or targeting back-to-back sportives on consecutive days once per month in the build-up to the event. These interim events will keep you motivated and working towards your main goal of the L2P.
Build up to riding three, solid endurance rides on consecutive days and do it progressively.

So at the moment, in deep mid-winter you might be doing three consecutive days of 10,50 and 10 miles respectively. Then in four weeks’ time you might have a target of 20, 60 and 10. Then the following month: 20, 60 and 20. And so on.

Do the maths and see how many miles you need to add per month in order to build to target distance. Finish every four-week block with your three consecutive days of riding, followed by a reduced-volume week to recover from the previous three weeks training.
In the intervening weeks, build on distance in individual rides, but also work on your efficiency on the bike with a gym-based strength programme and some flexibility exercises.

Both of these areas contribute greatly to your ability to sustain increasing duration on the bike as you go beyond 57 years of age and will help ensure you are able to complete the distance. Make your rides more varied too, don’t just sit at your steady ‘endurance’ pace for hours on end in every ride or you’ll soon get bored.

Mix up the intensity by doing some shorter, harder sessions where you include seated, hill repeats and consider joining a regular group ride a couple of times a month as the social aspect really helps motivate you to get out when the weather is bad. 
Finally, use consecutive days of your training rides to practise both your nutritional and equipment strategies.

Riding 80-100 miles three days running places a lot of demands on the body both in terms of fuelling, the kit you wear and the equipment you need – so make sure you leave nothing to chance on the day by nailing down what works for you during the preparation rides.

Huw Williams, BC Level Three Coach

This article was first published in the December 13 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.