Hi everyone, as I stated in my last blog, I’d cover my longer training ride in this blog and I’m glad to say I’ve kept my word!
As my Tour route contains 10 stages which are longer than 190km, I try to include in my weekly training routine at least one ride of 200km. Every third week or so, I also include double or triple rides all of which include rides of 175km plus. In amongst these rides I have scheduled in 5 rides of approximately 225km, to help me prepare for the longest stages on the challenge.
A key characteristic of my Tour route is that it contains 8 mountain stages, so all my longer rides have to contain a significant amount of ascent – typically 3000-4000 metres per ride. Fortunately, I live in hilly West Dorset, so that isn’t much of a problem, although it’s simply not possible to replicate a large mountain ascent as the highest hills in Dorset only reach around 270 metres – more on that later.
Starting the ride is always a real drag as I’m carrying a big bag of food around 4.5 litres of drinks and I know I’ve got 7-9 hours before I’ll be home again (to see my wife and baby girl). Its even worse if the weather is bad -I do ride in all weathers and on some bad weather days I haven’t seen another cyclist on the entire route! Riding in cold weather also plays havoc with the bladder and I’ve been caught many a time marking my territory on local landmarks.
For me to complete a ride of this length is 25% preparation, 25% fitness and 50% psychological. Mentally it’s always a challenge, I have to ignore any negative thoughts, to do this I think about the end goal of completing the challenge; I also know how moody I would be for the rest of the weekend if I did give up on a ride early and how good I would feel after completing the ride – so those 2 polar opposites are a good motivator.
Sorry for those not familiar with Dorset, but friends are always asking me about the route I ride, so here’s a bit of an overview…The route takes me out from Dorchester towards Bridport where I then head on the back roads into Devon, before re-entering Dorset and heading back through Beaminster and back towards Uploders where I have my first food stop, normally guzzling a packet of salt and vinegar chip sticks.
A savoury snack is a real treat as I normally only get to eat sweeter food due to the need for fast release carbohydrates – in a typical ride I’ll eat 6 Jaffa cakes, 4 chunks of malt loaf, a mini pack of haribo, 2 banana’s, 3 energy gels, 1 energy bar and 1 cereal bar, in France I’ll raid the local boulangerie for some tasty alternatives; I’ll also add a slow release carb based lunch such as pasta with some fruit/veg and a little tuna, chicken for a touch of protein.
Moving on… I then head off towards Eggardon Hill, Maiden Newton and Cerne Abbas, this contains a sequence of 4 tough hills, all with sections of gradient exceeding 15%. After hitting Blandford and heading up Bulbarrow Hill I then tackle the same 4 hills from the opposite direction – this is one way in which I overcome Dorset’s distinct lack of 2000m mountains.
To finish the ride I then head along Roman Road, into Martinstown and back to Dorchester for a well earned protein shake, shower, some noodles and a cup of coffee. After which I prepare the bike for my next days ride and then finally put the feet up and then eat a well balanced, but very large dinner!
Thanks for reading, in my next blog I’ll be venting some of my frustrations about biking on the roads!