I began cycling to lose weight.
I borrowed a 5-speed clunker with flat bars, and began cycling 35-40 miles several times a week to visit with a girl friend. I quickly began losing weight, but more importantly, began loving the way cycling made me feel. I didn’t train. I cycled. And, the more I cycled, the more I wanted to.
That was a long time ago.
These days, cycling continues to be an integral part of my life. I still love the way it makes me feel, but now I train for events, and each year my training becomes more focused. As I learn more about my capabilities, and training methods, my time on the bike, and in the gym, has become very focused. I have daily, weekly, and monthly goals that I continually adjust as I become stronger, faster, and more skilled.
This is too much for some. And, too little for others. I understand that. So, if you simply enjoy hopping on your bike for a recreational ride, continue no further. This post is for those who want to challenge themselves.
It’s important to have goals.
They provide direction, and purpose. Without them, you are lost, drifting aimlessly in a sea of uncertainty.
This is what I do.
At the start of each year, I think about what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months. First, I decide what events I want to complete, and usually focus on a series of local century rides. When I know which ones, I mark them on the calendar, and begin putting an appropriate training plan together. I’d train anyways. I like to sweat, and work hard. But with specific goals, I can dial in my training to perform at my best for each event.
This year, I want to complete the Whistler GranFondo. I didn’t quite finish it last year, but that’s a different story. This year, the Fondo is scheduled for September 9, 2017. This will be my main cycling focus for 2017. It is a 122 km climb from Vancouver to Whistler. It’s a challenging ride.
I have 8 months to prepare. What is the best way to do that?
Let’s talk some exercise science. Let’s talk about periodization.
Periodisation is a process of dividing an annual training plan into a series of manageable phases. Each phase targets a series of attributes to be developed within a designated period of time. Periods of appropriate overload and recovery are designed into each phase. The annual plan is refereed to as a macrocycle, which in subdivided into several mesocycles lasting 2-3 months, which in turn are divided into 3-6 microcycles lasting 3-6 weeks.
This year, I have registered in two preliminary century rides a few months apart. Each cycle includes strength, endurance, speed, and recovery stages with each segment building on the next, and as each event approaches, workouts mirror the event more.
The first preliminary race scheduled is the Pacific Populaire, the first century ride of the season in these parts. It is scheduled for Sunday, April 9, 2017. I have completed this ride several times. It is a relatively flat course circumnavigating the river delta.
The second race is the Canada Day Populaire, a 150 km local ride scheduled for July 1, 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday. The course has a more varied terrain and is completed during the heat, and humidity of the summer.
I’ll prepare for each event differently, but each mesocycle will include strength, endurance, and recovery goals. For the first, most training will be completed indoors. January is cold, wet, and unsuitable in these parts for effective outdoor training. The second mesocycle I will get outdoors more, and do less heavy lifting. And, the final mesocycle will be mostly outdoors, with more work at event pace, and distance.
In subsequent posts, I’ll outline how I determine training intensity and duration, recovery methods, appropriate weight lifting strategies, and proper nutrition for training, recovery, and racing.