You will need enough endurance to ride 180 Km. (112 miles) and the key preparation for this is to spend as much time as possible riding your bicycle. Aim for at least three sessions per week but four is the ‘sweet spot’ – when you get most return in terms of fitness for the number of sessions you put in.
There are a number of other key principles to keep in mind in your build up:
Fitness is built gradually as the body adopts to increased levels of effort. Therefore, build gradually and also allow time for the body to adjust to the increasing effort – i.e. for fitness to develop. In other words, you need to take rest days too.
A big mistake is to be too ambitious and enthusiastic at the beginning and do too much too soon. This will lead to tiredness, soreness, lack of motivation and perhaps injury. The general guideline is to add no more that 10% mileage or time per week.
Don’t struggle through if there are times when you are feeling overly-tired or if life is just otherwise too busy or stressful – take a short break. However, consistency is important – get back on the saddle as soon as possible if you are forced to take time off.
Include one long steady ride per week and gradually extend this month by month. On this key weekly ride practice your pacing, nutrition and technique, and also get used to your equipment. This should include some riding in the rain in case you experience it on the event.
Most of your training on the bike should be at a comfortable endurance pace – for example, you could carry on a conversation relatively easily. However, in the monthly advice below we encourage you to add some harder efforts once you have a basic endurance base. It is wise to get the go-ahead from your GP if you are not used to this.
Adding this intensity once a week at least will pull up your fitness – aim for efforts that make it difficult or impossible to talk. There are various ways of doing this:
- Ride with somebody who is faster, or in a fast group
- Make an effort on hills on one of your normal routes, with a normal pace in between
- Ride a short, familiar route faster than you would normally.
On the other hand, if you just don’t like this type of effort you can ignore it as you will build sufficient fitness with steady, aerobic riding.
To make the challenge seem less daunting it may help you to think of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle as four separate segments or chunks of approximately 40K (25 miles) each, and you can take a good break between each. Therefore, your first main target is to cycle of 40K (25 miles) and you should achieve this relatively easily with the proper preparation.
Your second big target is 80K (50 miles) and, when you can do this in the timeframe set out in the monthly guidelines below, you can be confident that you will finish the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle.