Editor’s Note: The following Ask the Coach column resulted from our Ask RBR a Question perk. It’s one of the coolest benefits of being a Premium Member: If you have a specific cycling-related question you can’t find an answer to on our site and would like to ask one of our experts directly, we provide a direct connection. In this case, Michael P. asked for advice directly from Coach John Hughes.
Question for Coach John Hughes: Following up on your answer to the 60-year-old rider who wants to work up to a 300K.
I am a 53-year-old who has been riding for about 5-7 years. I’ve completed more centuries than I can count and over the last 2 years about 1/2 dozen 200-km brevets. My longest ride to date was 150 miles, about 2 years ago. I want to do a 300K event at the end of May and have been increasing my mileage since January (I rode very little that month). My long ride last weekend was about 5 hours (70+ miles, half of that with a strong headwind) and this weekend I am upping it to about 80-85 miles. During the week I work out on my trainer, about one hour each session on Tuesdays (VO2 Max intervals), Wednesdays (Aerobic Endurance pace) and Thursdays (Sweet Spot work). I usually rest on Mondays and Fridays. Sundays, I do a shorter outdoor ride at a somewhat easy pace.
So my plan is to do long rides of around 80-85 miles this weekend, maybe 90-95 the following weekend, and then a 200K brevet on the weekend of the 29th. The weekend after that I’ll do a shorter 3- to 4-hour ride as the long ride and then another 200K brevet the weekend of May 13. I will then mostly take off the weekend of the 20th (family obligation) and ride the 300 on the 27th.
I should point out that the two 200K brevets and the 300K are both significantly flatter than my typical rides. They average around 30 feet per mile in elevation and where I live a “flat” ride is about 50 feet per mile. I can usually finish a century in about 7.5 hours of riding time, depending on how hilly it is.
Sorry for making you read through all the detail but does my plan sound about right? Like the other rider whose question you posted, I too want to make sure I can keep riding throughout the summer so I don’t want to blow myself out. —Michael P.
Coach John Hughes Replies: Michael, you are asking excellent questions and thank you for all the detail! The more information I have, the better recommendations I can give you. Here are a number of things to think about:
- Plan your training by time not distance. Because the brevets are significantly flatter than where you normally ride, you’ll go faster. Train for the brevets by your expected total time. You ride a moderately hilly century in 7.5 hours = 13.33 mph. You probably can ride the flatter 200K 10% faster = 14.5 mph = 24.5 km/h.
- Train up to 2/3 to 3/4of big ride, i.e. 6:00 – 7:30 hours for the 200K and 9:00 to 10:00 hours for the 300K. The 200K on April 29 counts as your long training ride for the 300K.
- Train at your 300K pace on all your long rides to practice riding at the pace you can sustain for 300K. On your 300K you’ll be 10% – 15% slower than the 200K, probably 20.5 – 21.0 km/h.
- Taper to be “on form” for the brevets: You can’t get any fitter in the last couple of weeks before a big ride, you can only get more fatigued. A short ride the weekend before the 200K is plenty and spending most of the weekend before the 300K with your family is great!
- Recommended long rides: based on the above here’s what I recommend.
Long Rides to 300K
|Saturday||Your Plan||Recommended Plan|
|April 15||80 – 85 miles||6:00 – 7:30 hrs.|
|April 22||90 – 95 miles||2:00 – 3:00 hrs.|
|April 29||200K||200K in 9 to 10:00 hrs.|
|May 6||3 – 4 hours||1:00 – 2:00 hrs.|
|May 13||200K||7 – 7:30 hrs. (1/2 300K time)|
|May 20||Short ride, weekend time with family||1:00 – 2:00 hrs. and family time.|
|May 27||300K||300K in 14 to 15:00 hrs.|
- Amount of intensity: Ramping up to an endurance event, full recovery for the weekly long ride is more important than intensity. One intensity workout / week is enough
- Right kind of intensity: You need sustained power for the long rides, not a high VO2 max. Keep the Sweet Spot workouts to build your power and drop the VO2 max workouts.
- Recovery after intensity: Move your Sweet Spot workouts to Tuesday, recover on Wednesday and then on Thursday do your Aerobic Endurance ride.
- Active recovery is better. Experienced riders like you recover faster with a short active recovery ride. Get on the bike on Wednesday and Sunday for no more than an hour each time. Newer riders recover faster by not riding.
- Pacing. Start the 200K and the 300K at the paces you expect you can ride to finish each ride and then slow down! The group riding the right pace for you is probably behind you!
- Mental is key: Somewhere during the 300K you’ll wonder why the heck you’re doing it? Usually happens to me! Most long rides have three phases:
- Early part – you’re fresh.
- Middle part – you’re tired and it feels like a long way to the finish.
- Final part – you smell the barn and ride stronger.
When you get discouraged recognize that you’re just in the ugly middle and you’ll feel better in a while
- Eat! Feeling discouraged is usually the result of not having eaten enough. You should eat at least 300 calories of carbs every hour!
- Small goals: When you’re discouraged by how much longer you need to ride, forget about that and just focus on riding to the next control. And then the next control.
- Dress rehearsal: On your 7:00- to 7:30-hour ride two weeks before the 300K, every 25K that you ride imagine that you’ve ridden another 50K in the 300K. Where will you be? What time of day or night? How will you feel? How far to the next control?
- Practice: Do all your training rides with all the gear you’ll have on your bike for the 300K. On these rides test everything – gearing, clothing, nutrition, lights, etc. Nothing new on the 300K!
- Check your bike: The week before the 300K go over your bike and make sure all the bolts are tight, the cables aren’t frayed and that it’s shifting and braking properly. Check that the wheels are true and put on new tires and tubes. A friend did this every week before years of riding double centuries and never had a flat! Do all of this early in the week so that you have time for a test ride.
Michael, I hope you have great rides that are a lot of fun! I got my start in distance riding just like you. I rode centuries and 200Ks and then stepped up the distance. Randonneuring is a great sport!
My New eArticle and Bundle Launching Next Week
My new eArticle, How to Become a Better Cyclist, which will be published next week. The 36-page eArticle explains in detail how to apply each of the Six Success Factors to your cycling. Roadies have different goals: riding more for improved health and fitness, covering more miles this year, climbing better, riding with a stronger group on the weekends, finishing a specific ride or setting a personal best in a particular event. Like all our eArticles, it will sell for only $4.99; only $4.24 for our Premium Members with their 15% discount.
This new article is also included in the new bundle of five eArticles The Best of Coach Hughes: 5 eArticles to Make You a Better Cyclist. The new bundle, also launching next week, includes:
- How to Become a Better Cyclist: The Six Success Factors – A new eArticle totaling 36 pages.
- Your Best Season Ever, Part 1: A 32-page eArticle on how to plan and get the most out of your training. Published in 2015.
- Intensity Training 2016: A 41-page eArticle with the latest information on how to use perceived exertion, a heart rate monitor and a power meter to maximize training effectiveness.
- Optimal Recovery for Improved Performance: A 16-page eArticle with 10 different recovery techniques illustrated with 14 photos. Published in 2011.
- Eat & Drink Like the Pros: A 15-page eArticle of nutritional insights from pro cycling teams. It contains a dozen recipes for you to make your own food and sports drinks. Published in 2011.
The Best of Coach Hughes: 5 eArticles to Make You a Better Cyclist totals 140 pages and will be available starting next week at the special price of $15.96 (this is a special 5-for-the-price-of-4 discount); and only $13.57 for our Premium Members.