Ride Big!

Ride Big!

Today we are kicking off our first ever Endurance Corner Cycling Challenge. The great folks at Zeal Optics have offered up some prizes to help spice up this year’s challenge. Full details on joining our challenge can be found on the Endurance Corner Cycling Challenge – Ride with Zeal page.

It has been my experience that most successful long course athletes have, at one point, gone a little overboard with their bike training. Often, when reflecting back on those times, the athletes will kind of chuckle at themselves, but at the same time, they often attribute those overloads as a beneficial component to their overall athletic progression.

Let’s take a trip back to 2004…

I remember in March of 2004 I went to Fredericksburg, Texas and joined a group of cyclists during Hell Week. I did some pre-camp riding and managed to log 2000 kilometers across 13 days with one of those weeks riding upwards of 1200 kilometers. That is still my biggest two week total to date. Later that year I went on to race Kona as an age grouper and finished 3rd in my AG as well as taking the title for top American age grouper overall.

Marilyn Chychota left the cold winter of Calgary in January of 2004 and traveled to New Zealand to join her then coach, Scott Molina, for Epic Camp. Scott decided to extend the camp a bit for Marilyn and the result was 3000 kilometers across three weeks. Not too long after, she toed the line at Ironman Malaysia and took first overall.

Gordo Byrn dreamed up an idea of riding across the United States with Clas Bjorling from March-May of 2004. He and Clas averaged 100 kilometers per day for 63 days (and 3K swimming and 10K running for that matter). A few months after completing this trip, Gordo went on to set a new Ironman PR (and marathon PR of 2:46) while finishing 2nd Overall at Ironman Canada in Penticton. If you want to read an account of what Gordo called gRAAM, the archived blog is still available.

Now, riding 1000K/week might not be in the works for the next two weeks, but increasing your standard weekly volume by 25-100% might very well be.

Coach Marilyn has put together some of her thoughts on Riding Big below:

Marilyn writes:

Bike fitness has a huge impact on your long distance triathlon success and it is the best — and easiest — way to build volume in your overall program. Building superior bike fitness not only benefits your ability to ride faster, but also allows you to access your run fitness more effectively. Cycling is a blue collar grunt sport; the more work and riding you can do almost always leads to becoming a better cyclist.

Most triathletes are time limited and cycling is time consuming, so if there is a block that presents itself to take advantage of for 2-3 weeks, I highly recommend it. If you are doing this, hopefully it can be placed well in relationship to your AAA event. Everyone recovers differently and everyone’s work period of specific race prep is different so take both these details into account when Riding Big.

Additionally, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  1. How much is enough?
    You want to do enough to challenge yourself, but not so much it takes you longer than 5-7 days to get back to normal training routine after the block is complete. How much someone can do and and recover in time will be different for everyone.
  2. How can I still maintain my swim and run through this block?
    I recommend at least 3 runs per week and 2-3 swims per week to maintain fitness.
  1. Should I focus on time or distance?
    That is up to you. Some athletes set miles per week they want to get and some hit hours per week they want to target. I recommend giving yourself a range rather than an exact number. For example: 300-500km per week for 2 weeks or 10-15hrs per week for 2 weeks.

Marilyn makes a lot of great points above. A few extra ideas:

  1. Try to create an adventure with it. If you look at all those examples from 2004, all three of us ventured out in places we had never been before. You might not be able to travel in the next two weeks, but you might be able to do some routes you have never done before.
  2. Eat early, eat often. To keep the quality of the camp up, you are going to need to start taking in calories very early in your rides. This becomes even more important as the camp progresses as each day you are starting out a little more depleted than the day before.
  3. Warm up easily. The more fatigue you start the generate, the longer it is going to take to warm up. Athletes who are less accustomed to big volume training sometimes are a bit shocked by how long it takes to get going. Paradoxically, you will be building some fitness with this fatigue so some of your rides might start out very slowly only to end as some of the best sessions you’ve ever had. Take your time.

Happy Riding!

Categories: Bike, Training

About Author

Justin Daerr

Justin Daerr is a professional triathlete. You can follow him on Twitter @justindaerr.