I started my rides only doing short 5km/3mile distances. This was to get my muscles used to riding and my backside hardened up to a racing bike seat. The terrain was undulating rural roads ideal for training. I went out in most weathers except in heavy rain. Rain showers and wind are OK.

Don't over train. Listen to your body. We are all different. If you feel stressed and tired when you start your training rides re-assess your program.

I went cycle training every 2nd day and light power walking (30mins) alternate days. The walking was to exercise a broader range of muscles in my legs to prevent cramp (just a theory of mine).

You will note that near the end of my program I did a hard 34km/21mile ride then back to a good steady 50km/31mile ride. On the hard rides I used my bike computer set on "average speed" so that I was racing against the clock all the way. This was to improve my speed. Two weeks out from the event I did a club race to really push me. A hard ride followed by some lighter rides lifts your overall performance. I wound down my training in the last week before the event but did not stop training.


Training Schedule

Ride distance 50km/31m 34.4km/21m 20.5km/13m 12km/7.5m 5km/3m
  average
kph/mph
average
kph/mph
average
kph/mph
   
1st Dec 2009          
3rd          
5th         no reading
7th         no reading
9th         no reading
11th       no reading  
13th       no reading  
15th       no reading  
17th       no reading  
19th     no reading    
21st     no reading    
23rd     26.5/16m    
25th     26.5/16m    
27th     25.9/16m    
29th   no reading      
31st   no reading      
2nd Jan 2010 26.7/16.5m        
4th 25.2/15.5m        
6th 26.7/16.5m        
8th   28.3/17m      
10th 26/16m        
12th 26.3/16m        
14th   28.8/17m      
16th 26.8/16.5m        
18th   28.9/18m      
20th   27.2/17m      
21st Club Race Day   30.1/18.5m      
24th   27.3/17m      
26th 27.8/17m        
28th     25.3/15.5m    
30th Race Day          

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Riding Position

I always ride in a racing position. Backside to the back of the seat holding the 'horns' of the hand brakes on the handle bars. Elbows bent to keep the head and shoulders down to lessen the wind resistance. You may prefer to use the drops of the handle bars but I find I lose power in that position.

Avoid stones and pot holes on the road. They can damage your tyres.

The only time I would ride upright in a rest position would be if I was in a group riding back from the front.

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Pedal power

Concentrate on pushing down on one leg and pulling up on the other - you must have clip on shoes. To do this you might find it helps if you push your toes into the tips of your shoes as you cycle. This should give you a nice even pedal stroke. Your hips should not be going up and down and the bike should not be swaying from side to side. If you are just starting out cycling then it takes a while to develop a new set of muscles to do the pulling up. You will not have the strength to maintain this so practice at intervals. You will really notice the extra power this achieves when going up a slight hill.

If you are serious about training you should always keep pedalling. You should be putting the same amount of energy into pedalling in a back wind as you would into a head wind. You just go a lot faster. You pedal over the top of a hill. You pedal down hills. The only time you should stop pedalling is for safety reasons.

I have never used a cadence counter (revolutions of your pedals) or really felt the need for one. I get a good feel on the pedals whether I need to change gear. I change gears a lot as I go up and down slight rises to keep an even cadence speed but I could not tell you what the cadence speed is. It is important that you are not pushing to a higher gear.

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Hills!

riding strategically For beginners, or those less fit, hills can be something that they dread, like head winds. It is all part of cycling and when your fitness level rises you will handle both well. I have to admit that wjile training I cope very well with hills but if I am riding in a bunch I have trouble keeping my rhythm. I have a theory that some riders will always be better than me on the hills because of the power to weight ratio. If there are two riders of equal fitness, one is 70kg/154lb and the other is 85kg/187lb (that's me) then the 85kg/187lb rider is going to be pulling 15kg/33lb more (that's 30 x 500g/1lb packets of butter) up the hill. So to compete, the 85kg/ 187lb rider has to be considerably fitter than the 70kg/154lb rider. Because of how gravity works the steeper the hill the greater the difference becomes.

Let go over how I tackle hills. There are three ways. Stay on your seat and grind, stand up for more power or get off your bike and walk. Let's tackle the last one first. I would say you should never, ever get off your bike. Firstly it is really hard to walk in clip on shoes, secondly it is going to be difficult to get back on your bike on an uphill slope so you are going to have to walk all the way to the top and lastly a good chance the reason you got off was because you mentally cracked rather than physically. You looked up the hill and said to yourself, "I can't get to the top of that hill" so of course you don't, to prove you are right. So how do you get up that hill?

I cope mentally by not looking at the top of the hill. I still don't even after 14 years. I glance up to see the road to assess what gear I may need ahead or whether I should stay in my seat and grind or stand up for more power, but mostly I look down at the road just in front of me. This indicates to me that I am actually moving quite fast (usually).

The two basic hill types.

  1. A long, relatively straight uphill gradient.
    I would stay seated, slide my back side to the rear of my seat and grab the brake horns on my handle bars tightly pulling firmly to increase the pedal power, select the biggest gear I felt was sustainable and grind away changing up or down gears as the gradient changes.

     

  2. A winding uphill gradient with tight corners
    You will find that the bends in the road usually have a stepper uphill gradient than the road between the bends. I would settle into a rhythm of standing to go round the corner and sit back down and grind between the corners. Left (*right) hand corners often have a stepper and rougher bit against the curb so, if it is safe, less energy is used if you can ride the corner out near the middle of the road.

     

    You should be looking ahead to each corner to assess what gear to use. You can often go up a gear just prior to standing because of the extra power you get. Lean forwards when standing on the pedals and use your arms and upper body as well as your legs to put power into the pedal stroke. (*right-hand drive countries)

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Breathing

Having a note here about breathing is well placed just after hill climbing. When the pressure comes on I try and avoid short shallow panting breathing, instead focus on getting well paced, deep breathing. I fill my lungs right down to the bottom then expel the breath right out. By doing this I feel I get more oxygen into my blood stream and therefore more power. If I know that I am going to be under pressure I will start deep breathing before I am forced into doing so.

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Cornering

To corner well you have to have experience and confidence. The thing to remember is to keep your body upright and tip the bike into the corner. Practice this going round sharp (right angle) corners slowly. As you gain confidence pick up speed. If you are interested in cornering really well see if you can get an experienced cyclist to go out with you and follow them round the winding part of a circuit. If you lose confidence when entering a corner at speed and don't tip your bike correctly then you will end up in trouble.

Two things to be cautious of:

  1. Brake, if you need to, up to the corner but release the brake going round the corner.
  2. Take care if you start to pedal while you are still cornering. There is a chance that you will push the back wheel out and you go down.

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Upper Body Exercise

To develop my upper body I do two to three sets of 30 extended bicep curls each day.

I have 2 x 2kg/1.2lb weights sitting on the floor and at random times during the day I sit on the bed and do my 30 extended bicep curls.

I could do more types of exercises but I find this quick to do so I do them often. I picked extended bicep curls because I find it does the arms, neck, shoulders and to a lesser degree the chest and abdomen. A good all rounder. Upper body exercise helps with hill climbing particularly when you are standing up on the pedals.

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Rhys Palmer on location!

All photos of me were taken by Rhys Palmer from Waikato Photography

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