By Victor Alway
5000 miles may seem daunting with several months of winter remaining. However, with some forethought and planning, 2020 can be a year of increased mileage, greater fitness and enjoyable hours on the saddle.
Former elite rider, now coach Paul Pickup gives us five tips on how to tackle the challenge.
1 Consistency is key
A good tactic is to ride little and often. Try and do shorter rides during the week whenever possible, and save longer rides for weekends or days off. A short three mile ride to the shops may not seem worth while, but there back is six miles, do that once a week through the year and you’ve added over 300 miles to your total for very little effort. Riding to work is key, anyone who does that two or three times a week is likely to easily hit the target.
2 It’s all in the planning
Don’t get overwhelmed by the bigger picture. If the overall goal is too big it can be suffocating. Break it down into chunks and look at how much you can do per week or month and then tick them off as you go along – watching your total increase will help to motivate you. Remember to factor in times when you can’t ride, like holidays, knowing it’s in the plan means there will be no panic when you’re away from your bike. There will always be times to get more riding in and balance these out, especially during the summer with the longer days and better weather.
3 Equipment and clothing
I can’t reiterate how important it is to get your bike and clothing right. The last thing you want is to lose a days riding, or have to cut a ride short because of a mechanical or heading out in the wrong kit. Losing miles due to mishaps is demotivating, we want to avoid that at all costs.
4 Rest and Recovery
Allow for some downtime and plan rest or easier weeks, ideally once a month which will allow time for the body to take a breather. You can still ride in this time, just keep it to a minimum and keep the effort down. Also allow days off the bike, even if you are doing a seemingly short commute. It may sound counter productive, but the last thing you want is for fatigue to set in. Charging at it and smashing out the miles will lead to burn out.
5 Don’t sweat the small stuff
You will get unexpected setbacks along the way, that’s life. You will get ill, the weather will be bad, work and family commitments will be thrown at you. Most of these are uncontrollable and unavoidable. If you have to miss a day, there will be time down the line to make it up again.
We also asked the CW5000 riders, those who took on the challenge in 2020, for their tips on reaching 5,000 miles. This is what they said. You can get more tips, advice and support by joining the Facebook group.
For me it started in earnest with Lockdown 1.0, getting out every day to make the most of it in case movement got seriously curtailed. That led to "I wonder how many days I can do in a row?" I got to 123 before an "incident" with a Kia Sportage at a roundabout. I'm now up to 138 in round 2. For me it was about variety; of route, distance, terrain, time of day (early mornings in the summer and night rides in Autumn / Winter are awesome) etc., not obsessing on the big number. Take each day as it comes, ride where and when your body and mind tells you is right and above all just enjoy riding your bike.
First I would say have a plan and a back up plan. Don’t look at the 5,000 mile finish but at either a weekly goal or a daily goal. Being able to keep in mind that it’s only 13.6 miles a day is easier than focusing on 5,000. Putting your shoes on is the hardest step in the process. If your struggling let the CW group know we are all more than willing to jump in and encourage you, offer strategies or just listen to you vent your frustrations. And the most important thing to remember this is supposed to be fun!
I started by recording every little bit of riding, starting with a 1.7 mile commute into town from the outskirts and back. The following week I parked a bit further out of town and commuted a round trip of six miles per day. A few weeks later I parked a bit further out and commuted a round trip of almost 10 miles a day. That led to commuting a round trip of 12 miles per day. On weekends I did a few longer rides.
I cycled 2,185 miles on road bike and smart trainer, so not 5,000 but 2,185 further than the previous year. I think the thing to remember is it’s fun, it doesn’t matter how far anyone else manages because they’re not you with your concerns in life. But it’s still really nice to see and hear what other cyclists are doing.
My main piece of advice would be don’t get behind at the beginning of the year thinking you’ll catch up when the weather improves. It happened to me last year and I seem to have adopted the same strategy at the beginning of this year.
For a variety of reasons, mainly work related Covid issues, I did not get to the 5,000. My advice is "don't stress about it" - it is just a goal and cycling for me is just a hobby and fun and so I reset the goal to 3,500 which I hit and I felt a lot happier for having adjusted that.
As the great Eddy Merckx said, “Ride as much or as little or as long or as short as you feel. But ride”
I loved the CW5000 last year. It was awesome to see everyone’s personal achievements and to share rides, advice, amazing photos and ‘virtual’ cycling friendship. 2020 was tough and the CW5000 was definitely one of the major positives for many people. My advice is as follows:
1. Set realistic targets but try to push yourself to achieve goals outside of your normal ‘comfort zone’
2. You can always find time! Think of all of those wasted minutes on TV, playing on your phone etc!!
3. Indoor training and miles are a viable and often sensible alternative to “outdoor” miles these days but try to get out when you can and when it’s safe to do so.
4. Find new routes to explore and new ride partners to help you to get through the miles quicker and more enjoyably. You can hook up with people indoors and outdoors now.
5. Above all... have fun!
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