Ride your best Cycle Tour with these key 'sharpen up' sessions.
With the CTCT just around the corner, here are the secret skills and a training plan to take you to the next level… and beat your best time.
With the Cape Town Cycle Tour just over a month away, it’s important to sharpen up for those repeated accelerations; the fast, rolling terrain; and the testing climbs that can make or break your race. Doing that now will leave you in great shape – not just fit enough to survive, but strong enough to go for a best time. Here are some skills routines and race simulation intervals to help you prepare.
Sprints require skill. They demand enormous amounts of energy, and poor form compromises energy delivery. Start weekly rides with hotspots on the route – up to 10 on a ride, but build to this volume over a few weeks. Focus on body position, feeling the bike and your weight transfer out the saddle. Feel the pedals, and how you’re delivering power – don’t just thrash away..
Attacks happen out of the saddle, both on flats and uphill. You need to be efficient out of the saddle – and that’s a skill lacking in many cyclists, because it’s rarely practised. You’ll have to develop the skill first, with lower intensity uphill – for example, during Long Steady Distance (LSD) rides – and then build to race- pace efforts and attacks over the weeks. Stand for one to three minutes at a time; and as with sprinting, focus on feeling the bike.
Once these skills are developed, it’s time
to combine them into an attack and hold. Go too hard, and you blow; so you need to know just how hard and long you can afford to attack, and still have the legs to hold a fast pace – whether that’s on a flat road or up a climb. Heart rate is no good for this: your perceived effort needs to be well honed. Alternatively, having a power meter will help with pacing.
Remember, it’s no good going flatout on the attack; you need to get the speed up out of the saddle to drive the attack, and then sit and maintain the power.
Long Steady Distance (LSD)
The key is ‘steady’ – not ‘slow’! Heart rate around 75% of max, and you should be able to chat with riding partners. Freewheeling and bunch coasting won’t make you fit; your muscles and aerobic system need to be under load to stimulate change. This type of training should make up 80 per cent of your training volume, and one of these rides can be set aside to develop your sprint and attack skills.
Set aside two days a week for the aerobic power sessions (see ‘ Maximise Aerobic Power’, right), one day a week for combined LSD with hot- spot sprints, and everything else can be disciplined LSD – with standing incorporated, so there’s always some skill development.