Training for a Cycling Event
Entering an event is a great way to have a training focus and a goal. Whether it is a 10km Run or a 100-mile Cycle, planning and preparation is key.
My passion for cycling started 6 or 7 years ago as I wanted to be able to join my husband on bike rides. Our first ever event was the London to Brighton. Since then, I have got the bug and regularly partake in 100-mile events. My best achievement is riding the 1st stage of the Tour de France, 123 miles in June 2014.
Cycling is a great way to get outside and join friends while gaining fitness. However there are things to consider before entering an event…
Choosing Your Bike
Road: This type of bike is light, fast and fashionable. They will cover long distances at a fast pace. They have skinny tyres and light wheels that help to make them fast, but also make them vulnerable to damage from curbs and pot holes. Available in carbon fibre, aluminum or a combination of both. Generally the more you spend the lighter the bike.
Hybrid: This type of bike has flat bars, often fitted with road bike size wheels and fatter tyres. They have the upright riding position of a mountain bike, but the details vary a lot. You will find road bike style caliper brakes and mountain bike style disc brakes fitted to these bikes. Also bikes fitted with racks and guards to stripped down machines that are essentially road bike but for the flat bar. They are a perfect all rounder and an ideal bike for a beginner or regular commuter. Available in carbon fibre, aluminum or a combination of both.
Mountain: They have an upright position, bombproof frames and the option to take them off road. They generally have powerful disc or caliper brakes that give their riders confidence. They have thicker wheels fitted with knobbly tyres, which is great for rough terrain but makes them slow on tarmac. They are available with no suspension, front suspension only (hard tail) and front and rear suspension (full suspension). Steer clear of full suspension if you do not intend to do proper off road racing, otherwise you will be paying for technology you will never use. They are normally aluminum or steel frames, but top of the range bikes are available in carbon fibre.
Essential equipment for any bike is: Bottle cages, small seat bag with puncture repair kit, small pump and lights.
- A helmet should be the first thing you buy. They are available in lots of different colours and styles. Make sure they are well fitted and comfortable.
- Sunglasses or clear glasses would be a good option. This will help block sun from your eyes and protect them from any oncoming bugs.
- Cycling shorts with fitted padding are a good investment. The pad inside of these shorts can vary. So if you are considering doing a long distance event it is worth investing in a good quality pair.
- Gloves are a vital item of cycle clothing. They prevent your hands from blisters, cuts and offer some protection if you fall off you bike. They also keep you hands warm in cold weather. You can buy fingerless or full depending on the weather. A gel pad across the hands makes gripping the handlebars more comfortable too.
- Leg and arm warmers are good as they are easy to remove and store in your back pocket.
- Over shoes are good for wet and cold days as they help your feet stay warm and dry.
- Cycling shoes are also good thing to have. There are typically two types: with cleats or without cleats. If your bike has pedals with cages you may opt for shoes without cleats; having cages or cleats will help you with cycling up hills.
Finding and entering an event
Entering a road event is best in spring, summer and early autumn. You can choose your distance anything from 15-100+ miles. There are always plenty to choose from with a simple online search.
Once you’ve chosen your Event
Mark the event in your diary and count back the number of weeks remaining before your event. It is very important to build up your training by increasing the miles steadily and progressively to avoid injury.
Build the miles up gradually until 2 weeks before the event with your final training ride just short of the event distance.
For example: For a 50-mile event, add 5 miles a week from a 20 mile starting point – 6 week plan.
20 mile + 5 mile each week = 50 mile (6 week plan)
Adding hill work to your plan is a great idea to increase fitness and endurance. Find a hill along your routes and maybe a few hill repeats 2/3 times.
Other things to consider
Fuel for your ride – bananas, energy bars & gels are easy to use while cycling and can be stored in the back of your jersey. You could also add electrolytes to water if needed to prevent cramps.
Have a decent breakfast of porridge, brown toast and give yourself plenty of time for it to digest.
Remember never change your diet just before the event. If you want to change it, change it at the beginning of your training plan. For the main event, use the same fuels as you used in training to avoid stomach upset.
Use clothing you know is comfortable and that you used in training to avoid discomfort and chaffing.
Enjoy the fabulous experience of training for and participating in an event. Trust me… you’ll be booking your next one on the journey home!