I have a request:
Two weeks from now, I’d like to feature some more goals and 2015 riding plans from readers and a few of our coaches and contributors. Don’t feel like you have to focus solely on goals, though. If you’re not a goal-driven rider, I’d still love for you to share what you hope to gain from cycling in 2015. Or what cycling means to you. For those of you who are motivated by goals and plans, by all means, tell us what yours are! (Just click https://www.roadbikerider.com/contact-us/ and write “2015 Riding” in the subject line.)
Next week, don’t miss a really interesting point-counterpoint feature on the value (or lack thereof) of stretching for cyclists. The “futility of stretching” was broached in a column a few weeks ago by Dr. Gabe Mirkin in his newsletter. I read it with interest – and some dismay – as did a number of RBR readers who wrote me about it. Dr. Mirkin tailored a version of his article specifically for RBR, and Coach John Hughes provides the counterpoint. Look for that next week.
— John Marsh
Michael M.’s Big Ride Goal for 2015
After Michael wrote to us (using the Ask RBR a Question form – a Premium perk that allows Members to ask us questions directly) Coach John Hughes was so excited about Michael’s goal that he responded personally to Michael. Excerpts of that dialogue follow.
Michael: I just purchased your eArticle Cycling Past 50, 60 and Beyond: Peak Fitness. I also own your book “Distance Cycling” and several of your other eArticles.
I will be 60 in 2015. To celebrate that, in September I’d like to do a multi-day ride known as the “Grand Traverse of the French Alps.” The Grand Traverse from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean is one of Europe’s great cycle, motorcycle and auto routes covering approximately 430 miles (696 km), with 47,200 feet (14,410m) of climbing over the continent’s highest mountain roads.
My target is 7 days, self-supported and staying at either hostels or small lodges/refuges. I’ve climbed a number of passes in the Alps, including Alpe d’Huez, Galibier, Tourmalet and Col de l’Iseran, and Pyrennes (Hautacam).
I’m not sure how to adapt your training plans to achieve peak fitness for this endeavor.
Coach Hughes: What a great project – a good test of your riding and a wonderful adventure with great scenery.
To start, what is your athletic background?
Michael: I have fairly good Athletic Maturity (23 points) [Athletic Maturity is a measure of fitness Coach Hughes coined and uses in some of his training eArticles]. I’m 172 pounds, not the best weight at 5’11”. In 2013 I rode 2,945 miles and, through September 2014, I’ve covered about 2,500 miles. I enjoy climbing. My training is disciplined, primarily endurance training and hills. My hours are flexible, so I can train in the a.m. or later if need be. I can train 4-5 days a week.
I also enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, cycling, kayaking and walking, and am a 4th-degree Black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate. I have a family, who are supportive! I have a full-time job and can commute 10 miles/day in NYC on a folding bike after taking the train from Long Island.
Coach Hughes: Your Athletic Maturity is very good and you have a good endurance base. Based on your height and weight, your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 24.0, which is right in the middle for athletic people.
You’re a normal 60+ rider with a full life. All the variety of exercise that you manage to fit in is great for overall fitness!
To start, what are your objectives to be achieved before you start the tour?
Michael: I would like to be able to ride 300 miles per week with climbing. I’d like to average 10 mph if the climbing is 4,000 feet in a given ride or 11 mph if elevation is 2,000-3,000 feet.
Coach Hughes: Training up to a peak week of 300 miles (482 km) in 7 days, about 2/3 the distance of the Grand Traverse, is plenty. The Grand Traverse averages about 110 feet of climbing per mile (20 m per km), so in those 300 miles you should climb about 33,300 feet (10,000 m).
What are the Success Factors [this is something Coach Hughes uses to help riders focus on the “building blocks” of reaching a goal] necessary to complete the Grand Traverse?
Michael: I need to
1. Build fitness to ride 60 miles with 6,750 feet of climbing per day for 7 days.
2. Increase power to handle the climbing.
3. Increase cruising speed to finish the days faster, with less time in the saddle.
4. Build holistic strength around the knees so appropriate muscle balance exists (not just quad strength).
5. Continue core workouts.
6. Lose 3 or 4 pounds, to 169/170 pounds, to help with climbing and compensate for on-bike stuff to carry.
7. Dial in what I carry on the bike. I tend to bring too much.
8. Dial in and balance my nutrition. I eat when I’m beginning to get hungry and then I get really hungry.
9. Of course, spend time with my wife and 2 daughters, ages 18 and 22.
Coach Hughes: Starting December 1 you have about 10 months to prepare for the Grand Traverse in September. You want to train in different phases to develop different aspects of fitness. Here’s the overall plan, which I’ll later explain in detail:
• Pre-season: Not really an off-season! Build basic fitness. 12 weeks, Dec. 1 – March 1.
• Break: 1-week break so that you are fully recovered, March 2-8.
• Base: When you can start riding outdoors is the time to lay your endurance base that you’ll need for the Grand Traverse and to support the harder training to follow. 10 weeks, March 9 – May 17.
• Mini-Tour: 3-day tour over Memorial Day, May 23 – 25
• Break: 1-week break so that you are fully recovered, May 26 – 31.
• Power: Maintaining your endurance base while developing your climbing power. 4 weeks, June 1 – 28
• Mini-Tour: 3-day tour over Independence Day, July 3 – 5
• Break: 1-week break so that you are fully recovered, July 6 – 12.
• Peaking and Power: Continue building your power and doing rides to simulate the Grand Traverse. 4 weeks, July 13 – August 9
• Peaking: Continue doing rides to simulate the Grand Traverse. 4 weeks, August 10 – 30
• Taper: Recover fully for the Grand Traverse, 2-3 weeks, starting Aug 31.
You’ve listed nine success factors. How do you accomplish these using the big plan? Each phase has a different purpose and different type of training. These will develop your different success factors. Recovery is important, especially at our age, so each phase is followed by a recovery break. Here are some keys as you get started:
Pre-season: Don’t take the off-season literally!
This is the time to start laying your foundation. Last winter you rode 2-3 times a week, which is a terrific start. During these 12 weeks, Dec. 1 – March 1, work on these success factors:
• Spend quality time with your family at the holidays — no training!
• Start building the endurance to do the ride.
• Build balanced muscle strength around your knees.
• Continue your core workouts
• Lose those 3 or 4 pounds.
Last winter you rode 2-3 times a week, which is very good since you live on Long Island. This winter I suggest that you follow the 12-week program in Off-Season Conditioning Past 50. Do the longer aerobic workouts, which may include hiking and snowshoeing. Be sure to do the cycling technique workouts to complement the cross-training. One-legged pedaling, in particular, will develop a rounder stroke.
Starting in week 5, add the bonus long rides if possible. By the end of the 12 weeks you should be riding 4-5 hours a week. You can substitute karate for some of the circuit training—if it doesn’t include squat-like or lunge-like moves you should include these from the circuit training program. You may also find Year-Round Cycling helpful, because it has lots of tips on riding outdoors in the winter.
Pre-Season is Vital to All Riders
Staying active during the pre-season (again, what most refer to as the “offseason”) is one of the keys to any rider’s success – whether you’re looking to accomplish a big ride this year, or just strive to maintain your fitness. If you’re goal-oriented like Michael, think about your goals for 2015 and the Success Factors to achieve them. What should you be doing this winter to work on those success factors?
We’ll publish an update on Michael’s preparations when he starts his Base training.
John Marsh is the former editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of "less than podium" talent, he brought our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That's what we're all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John's full bio.