Bicycle Touring is the Life for Me
I've written a few articles now that stress the importance of changing your routine, switching things up – not only for your body to reset and strengthen again, but also for the mental break it provides.
It's funny because now I find myself coming full circle. It's how I started out in this crazy game. Innocently enough, I just wanted to see the world. I welded BMX wheels to a steel trailer and bought a crappy used 10-speed bike from a Value Village. Loaded down with way too much stuff, I hit the highway with my dog and fell in love with the freedom of the road.
Now, some 20 years later, I shake my head at the path I've taken from that simple life. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret a thing. It's been an amazing journey, but I find myself craving that simplicity once again. So this summer, when faced with a month of hard training before the Vuelta, I saw two options. One was to go the same path I've been beating down for 15 years. Intervals, climbing efforts and time-trial workouts on the same routes that I could ride blindfolded. Or option two, which was to hit the road and explore the Pyrenees, ticking off all the boxes while seeing one of the most beautiful parts of France and Spain. I chose option two, and it revolutionized how I go about training these days.
Two-hundred-plus kilometres go by quite nicely when you're riding point to point and the terrain is mostly new to you. It changes your entire outlook on training. You no longer dread those 5x5-minute Vo2Max efforts; you just let the distance and the parcours do the work. The adaptation will occur. Of course, you will still need to work on your intensity, but I think there's much to be gained by throwing some fun touring into your program. Riding an hour-long climb with an extra 15 kilo strapped to your bike definitely builds the aerobic system, and the distance and hours ridden tap into an energy reserve I can't say I've experienced when only doing five- and six-hour rides.
I'm still a big believer in undertaking many different activities and finding that balance in life, and I really think if you're struggling with your same old training program, it's great to throw in a mini-tour here and there. Begin with a few days and work your way up to a week. I recommend three-day blocks. Be sure to stop somewhere interesting on your rest day and enjoy it!
I've just come back from a team camp in Switzerland. I decided to ride from Andorra to our team base in Varese. I gave myself six days, with five days of riding the 1,000 kilometres. By the time I was closing in on Varese, I just wanted to continue right on past and carry on down south exploring the Mediterranean. I'm addicted, and will continue this as part of my training in the coming years.
Travel is a beautiful part of life, and if you love biking, then traveling this way will be something you will grow to love. Happy travels.
Tuft hitting the road to throw some fun into his training program.