Training Tips

Training

March Training

In early March the evenings finally stretch, and most people go and cut the grass. Others, however, having totally reneged on their new year resolutions will turn their thoughts to a bit of exercise.

From the comfort of the car seat one can spot the local cycling champ effortlessly gliding along at 35kph into the teeth of a gale. “That must be great fun” and “sure if that ould eegit can do it anybody can.”, and on both counts you are right !

The annual Ring of Kerry Cycle is not a race or even a mild competition. It is however 112 mls  ( 179km sounds longer ! ) and a serious challenge for anybody considering getting in shape for the summer. It is easily acheivable by a non cyclist starting in spring and “getting out for a few miles” Complete beginners should consider the following points.

  • Any type of cycling will get you started. A spin to work two or three days a week if it is dry, is excellent.
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  • Any bike  will do to get started. Rob the one that is never used in the shed, borrow your mates and forget to return it or use the girlfriends – you can allways say you are on your way to the shops.
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  • You dont have to kill yourself pushing hard. A handy spin say 15 km on rolling countryside spinning low gears is fine
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  • Treat yourself to a pair of cycling shorts. Allways worn against the skin (no undies) beneath a tracksuit legs is fine. It is too cold at present to go barelegged. A  decent dryflow vest is a very comfortable investment. Keeps you dry even if you stop for whatever.
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  • Aim for a destination, have a cup of tea/ break and return. The object is to enjoy the trip \ exercise. Cycling does not have to be a punishing regime!
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  • Wear a helmet, watch for dogs/potholes/nasty little drivers and showoffs pedalling off into the sunset. It is March, come the summer you will wreak revenge!
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  • Don’t go out at night in the dark. Next year when you are experienced you can get lit up like a Christmas tree and strike off.The long evenings will be in soon.
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  • At this stage 30 mile spins should be your maximum. The object is to just get out and enjoy the bike. Next month you will have to up the training a bit…
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  • Be seen  by every doubter/cynic/relative/workmate that “ never saw you on a bike before”  They can all be tapped for sponsorship in a few months!!
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  • Look out for the April notes regarding a training plan…
  • Good Luck!

     training-table

Preparation Advice

The way to plan your training is to work backwards from the cycle day so you can plan a progressive program of training sessions allowing for recovery and easy week before the cycle. You should try to do progressively more mileage each week leading up to the cycle, with an increase of 10% each week.

Fitness works on the basis of stress and recovery where the stress is the training load and the recovery period is where the body adapts and gets stronger for the next load. So resting after training is vital. The more you can simulate what you will do on the cycle day the easier you will find it.

When training, cycle in pairs where the road allows this (i.e. where there is a broken white line). Rotate the people on the front of the group every 3-5 minutes depending on the wind to give them a break. Cycling behind somebody saves you 30% effort. The way to rotate cyclists, is for the cyclist on the outside to move forward and into the left ahead of his/her partner this then creates a gap for the cyclist behind him to move up alongside him/her at the front of the group.

Equipment

The most important piece of equipment you have is yourself so look after it :-). The best way to ensure this is that you have a safe bike, wear a helmet and ride safely on the road. The following items should be checked on your bike as soon as you can and NOT the morning of the cycle:

Brakes – No harm in investing in new brake blocks (~€10)
Cables – Brake and Gear cables
Tyres – Check for nicks and weakness likely to cause puncture
Chain – Oiled and running smoothly
Gears – Check that are not jumping or causing chain to slip off
Bars – Ensure they are straight and tight
Water – Bottle cage – Get one if you don’t have one.
Saddle – Have you got the height checked for you?

It may be best for your local bike shop to help you with the above.

Clothes
The best approach to take is to wear a few layers that can easily be removed. The most important layer is the one next to your skin. A breathable t-shirt is well worth the investment if you intend to do any regular exercise. This will help to keep the moisture of the body preventing you from getting cold if you have to stop. A helmet is essential and no cyclist is allowed start without it.

Please review the list of recommended clothing/items:
• Light Rain Jacket
• Padded Cycling Shorts / leggings
• Helmet (helmets must be professionally fitted)
• Warm Footwear
• Change of Socks
• Water Bottles on your bike

With regard to buying clothes specifically for the cycle, a helmet and cycling shorts are needed. Leggings for warmth are good also; you can make do with tracksuit bottoms although they can be more uncomfortable if they get wet. You do not need to buy an expensive breathable rain jacket, any light rain jacket that you already have will suffice; it should be small enough that you can stuff it in a back pocket if you are too warm.

Rules and Etiquette for Safe Group Cycling

1. No helmet = no cycling. You will not be permitted to come on the cycle without a helmet.

2. Ensure your bike is roadworthy and that the brakes are in good working order.

3. Cycle two abreast.

4. Maintain your line. Notice how steady the experienced cyclists are. Do not swerve out into the path of cars or other cyclists which may be passing. Do not constantly chop and change position.

5. Stay the right distance from the bike in front – half a bike length is about right. You can save about 25% of your energy by riding on the tailwind of the bike in front. By the same token don’t overlap wheels with the bike in front – one swerve and you could both go down, possibly bringing more people with you.

6. Signal and call when turning, moving out, slowing or stopping so that other cyclists and cars will know your intentions.

Happy Safe Cycling!