Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The Jesse James Bike Tour, or JJBT for short, is a one-day event that takes place in Northfield, MN in early September. They offer routes ranging from 10 miles to 100 miles, and I like to take the 100 mile route. By the way, the JJBT is named as it is because Northfield was the last town which Jesse James tried to rob before he was caught or killed, I can’t remember which. Those rugged Scandinavians are still proud of this fact, and well they should be!
As for the route, it’s very hilly for Minnesota which makes this one of the most challenging rides in the state. Minnesota is relatively flat, however, the Northfield area is rich with rolling hills. So the problem is that it’s hard to find good training routes that resemble the realities of the JJBT, and thus I find it a wonderful late season challenge and consider it my second “A event” of the year.
My goal at this JJBT is to complete the ride at an average speed of 17.0 mph. Last year I came in at 15.5 but there was a nasty 25+ mph wind which was in our face for about 60% of the route. If the wind is less brutal this year I should be able to achieve this goal, even with 100 miles of rolling hills. With this in mind, here’s my training plan:
Week One: Week after the TRAM, so I will spin easily and keep the miles low.
Week Two: Complete 4 rides of 10 miles at a total average speed of 15.0 mph.
Week Three: Complete three training rides focusing on speed, strength, and aerobic endurance, and then take one ride of 45 miles at a total average speed of 17.0 or above.
Week Four: Complete three training rides focusing on speed, strength, and aerobic endurance, and then take one ride of 60 miles at a total average speed of 17.0 or above.
Week Five: Complete three training rides focusing on speed, strength, and aerobic endurance, and then take one ride of 75 miles at a total average speed of 17.0 or above.
Week Six: Crush goal at the JJBT for the glory of God!
After this event, I will spin easily for a week or two and recover as well as I can, and then I will simply focus on reaching the final goal for the year: putting in 3,000 total miles. I will ride hard when I feel like it, but I will be more concerned with enjoying the bike and one of my favorite times of the year. With this, my cycling year will come to an end.
Thanks so much for reading, have a great day!
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The Ride Across Minnesota, or TRAM for short, is a 5-day, 300-mile bike ride designed to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. My wife has MS and thus we take this ride every year, in fact, this will be our ninth TRAM as family, the eighth in which Iâ€™ve ridden and the fifth in which my wife has ridden. The 1,000 or so cyclists at this event range from recreational riders who are pushing themselves to new heights, to semi-pro riders who fly by the rest of us and say, â€śOn your left,â€ť more times than they wish to remember! In this particular ride, Iâ€™m usually at the back of the front group but I hope to work my way up to the middle of that group this year.
To put it succinctly, the TRAM is my Tour de France and most years my training is specifically designed to prepare me to ride fast at this event. Joe Friel, author of â€śThe Cyclists Training Bible,â€ť suggests that serious recreational riders rate the events in their year as A, B, or C events. â€śC eventsâ€ť are those which youâ€™ve scheduled but are not in themselves very important and are thus used to develop this or that aspect of oneâ€™s fitness or cycling skills. â€śB eventsâ€ť are somewhat more important and call for more consistent and intense riding but still the goal is not maximum performance but rather training. â€śA events,â€ť on the other hand, are what all the other events and training have been about. They are the â€śpeaksâ€ť of the season and if one crafts his plan carefully, he can peak just at the moments when the â€śA eventsâ€ť occur.
I have two â€śA eventsâ€ť this year: the TRAM and the Jesse James Bike Tour. Iâ€™ll write about the latter tomorrow but for today I want to share my training plan for the two months before the TRAM. All of my training in the first five months of the year is designed to prepare me to train well at this time of the year, and that training is designed to prepare me to perform well at the TRAM.
By the way, my specific goals at the TRAM this year are (1) to complete the ride at an average speed of 18.0 mph or higher and (2) to put in an extra 75 miles for a total of 375 for the week (last year I put in 353 and I want to beat this mark). With these goals in mind, hereâ€™s my training plan:
Week One: Complete 5 rides of 10 miles at a total average speed of 18.0 mph.
Week Two: Complete 5 rides of 15 miles at a total average speed of 18.0 mph.
Week Three: Complete 5 rides of 20 miles at a total average speed of 18.0 mph.
Week Four: Complete 5 rides of 30 miles at a total average speed of 18.0 mph.
Week Five: Complete 5 rides of 25 miles at a total average speed of 18.0 mph.
Week Six: Complete 5 rides of 15 miles at a total average speed of 18.0 mph.
Week Seven: Complete 5 rides of 10 miles at a total average speed of 16.0 mph.
Week Eight: Crush goals at the TRAM for the glory of God!
So the idea is to build on the aerobic base and strength Iâ€™ve developed earlier in the year and now focus on the ability to perform at a high level five days in a row. By starting with low daily miles and building up to a max of 30 miles per day, I allow my body to adjust to the new demands and learn how to perform at a high level day after day. The TRAM itself is an average of 60 miles per day but Iâ€™m not able to set aside enough time to work longer training rides into my schedule, so Iâ€™ll simply trust that training hard and consistently will prepare me to perform well at longer distances. Besides, I will have done many longer training rides in the two months before this training plan commences.
Notice that in the last week I take short rides and shoot for a lower average speed. This is called â€śtapering,â€ť that is, backing the intensity way down so that the body can heal well, grow strong, and be prepared to perform at a high level at the big event.
Thanks again for reading, and have a great day!
Monday, December 27, 2010
In Phase Three of my 2011 training plan (April-May) I plan to introduce a weekly strength training workout on the bike. Today I simply want to share the workouts I’ll be using to develop strength.
1. Fixed Gear: pick a course with rolling hills, find a challenging but manageable gear and do not shift for the duration of the ride.
2. Big Chain Ring: pick a course with rolling hills and stay in the big chain ring throughout the duration of the ride. You may also choose to limit the number of cogs you will use and push as hard as you can for as long as you can regardless of cadence. (The chain ring is connected to the pedals near the middle of the bike and the cogs are the individual sprockets on the back of the bike.)
3. Moderate Hills: pick a course with rolling hills and stay seated throughout the climbs keeping your cadence at 70 or above.
4. Long Hills: pick a course with longer hills on it and stay mostly seated through the climbs keeping your cadence at 60 or above.
5. Steep Hills: pick a course with steep hills of 8% or greater that take 3-5 minutes to climb. You may want or need to do repeats on the same hill. Ride both in and out of the saddle keeping your cadence at 50 or higher.
Thanks for reading, hope you have a great day!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Phase Three of my 2011 training plan calls for me to gradually decrease the time I spend in the gym as well as the intensity of the workouts, and to simultaneously increase the time I spend on the bike and the intensity of the workouts. By the end of this phase (late May) I hope to be cycling at or near peak intensity 2-3 times per week.
In his classic book “The Cyclist’s Training Bible” Joe Friel writes, “In training both elite and recreational athletes, I’ve noticed a curious difference. Elite riders generally treat high-intensity training as if it’s a powerful drug. They use it carefully and in measured doses at pre-selected times. Recreational cyclists, on the other hand, almost always devour high intensity as though it’s candy. Why the difference? Perhaps elite riders are more patient, or maybe they’ve learned the hard way that too much, too soon, means doom” (VeloPress, Boulder: 1996, 25).
For this reason I save regular, high intensity workouts until the fifth month of the season. Developing an aerobic base is like building the foundation of a house: if you don’t build it well the house will crack or crash; if you do build it well you’ll be able to build a large and heavy house upon it. Thus, although I complete a host of different aerobic exercises earlier in the year I keep the intensity between 3-7 on a scale of 1-10, depending on the day and the workout I’m completing. But having thus developed my aerobic base over the first several months of the year, I now take 4-6 weeks and ramp up the intensity to between 8-10. I utilize the same exercises I’ve shared over the last few days but, again, I simply up the amount of effort I put forth.
No one can sustain an intensity of 8-10 for very long on any given ride, but by forcing the body to do for short times what it cannot do for long times, one increases his or her ability to produce speed and power over time. So that's the plan of Phase Three!
Thanks for reading, hope you have a great day!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Yesterday I blogged about developing a high cadence style of riding my bicycle this year and today I want to blog about developing the aerobic endurance necessary to that style. I explained the reasons for this connection yesterday so I wonâ€™t re-hash that here, rather, I will simply share the exercises I plan to use to help me increase my aerobic endurance.
1. Group Ride: choose an A/B or B ride and ride as fast as you can on that particular day. If you can hammer, go for it, but if not feel free to sit back, enjoy the ride, and work on form and group riding techniques. (I belong to Twin Cities Bike Club and A/B rides average between 18-22 mph, whereas B rides average between 14-17 mph. Even on B rides, though, there's almost always a pack who goes faster and I love to ride with them and hang on as long as I can before they drop me!)
2. Matchbook Maker: Find a stretch of road where you can do a handful of uninterrupted 3-5 minute efforts. Push the pace until itâ€™s uncomfortable and hang on for 3 minutes. Recover for 2 minutes and then repeat 2 times. Repeat this exercise until you can complete 5 such efforts and then do 3 efforts of 4 minutes, working up to 5 efforts, and then do 3 efforts of 5 minutes, working up to 5 efforts. (Build 1-2, Peak, Race)
3. Pyramid Intervals: same as the last workout except the efforts are to be completed in 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 minute intervals. Recover for the same amount of time as the current interval, i.e., 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5.
4. Hill Intervals: after a thorough warm-up, find a hill that takes 3-5 minutes to climb and climb it 5 times keeping your cadence at 60 or above throughout. Climb both in and out of the saddle. (Build 2, Peak)
5. Hill Sprints: same as the last workout except this time stay in the saddle until you are about 30-45 seconds from the top of the hill. At that time, kick it up a gear or two, stand and sprint as fast as you can to the top of the hill. Recover completely after each rep and make sure to keep your cadence at 60 or above at all times. (Build 2, Peak)
Thanks for reading. I pray that you'll have a very merry Christmas!
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