Friday, January 3, 2014

Riding with a Plan

The first ride of 2014 is already in the books.  As is my tradition, it happened on New Year’s Day. Of course, living in the temperate Wine Country of Northern California makes this a little easier.  Especially when you compare it to my friends who live in New Hampshire and have to dress up like they just stepped out of the L. L. Bean winter catalog just to take out the garbage.

217310_10151617993302284_500107913_nMy first goal was to figure out where to ride.  As I mentioned in my last post (The final ride of 2013), I want 2014 to be more focused so I might as well start the process with the first ride of the year.  My strength is still not where it should be because of my cold so I settle on a 35-mile route that is basically flat with an few rollers just to keep me honest.

My plan?  I am going to alternate between endurance drills (riding in a medium gear at a lower cadence) and recovery (low gears, high cadence).  Well, that’s what my legs will be doing.  I also plan to keep the entire ride at a consistent level 3 heart rate.  I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty focused to me.

As I roll along, I start to develop my training plan for the first part of the year.  I’m starting to set some big goals so an actual plan will be crucial.  This made me start thinking about the training plan Coach Tim created when I attempted to ride the Terrible Two and just how beneficial that plan was to my attempt.

Coach Tim’s plan played such an important role that I consider it one of the main characters in the book I’m writing.  While triple digit heat spoiled my ability to finish, there’s no doubt in my mind that from a strength perspective I was 100% ready to go.   There will be a lot in the book about the plan, my ability to follow it, and the ultimate benefits it provided.

Of course, all of these thoughts lead me to think about all the weekend warriors out there, like myself, who try bigger and bigger rides without a training plan.  Many of these cyclists feel that you need to be a pro to benefit from a coach or a formal training plan.  Personally, I think the exact opposite is true.  I believe that recreational cyclist can benefit from guidance even more than the pros.

Why? Well for one thing your fellow cyclists are always going to give you a ton of advice whether you ask for it or not.  Most of this advice will be things that worked for them and a lot of it will be conflicting. Next, if you’re like most recreational cyclists you have limited training time because of things like jobs, family or other life obligations get in the way of your riding.  A plan can help you make the most of what little time you have to devote to cycling.

Another reason recreational cyclists don’t use coaches is that they think they are expensive and that can definitely be true.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  For the last couple of years Coach Tim has offered a very specific training plan for people attempting the local Gran Fondo (103 miles with nearly 10,000 feet of climbing) for $100.  There are many coaches out there who will design a plan specifically for you for very reasonable rates.  For me, spending $100 to ensure I have a successful day at my event seems like an investment in fun.

So, here’s my advice (I don’t you you would get advice without asking) to anyone who is attempting bigger events in 2014.  Find a plan that fits your needs and schedule!  If you find a plan that works for you and stick with it not only our your chances for success be higher but you’ll have a lot more fun in the process.


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