Lately, the question I’m asked most often is “how’s your training going?” It’s been two months since I began training for the RACV Great Vic bike ride and I have another two months to go. I’ve never trained for anything like this before. I’ve never trained full stop. I’ve surfed and hiked and biked but nothing has ever needed training. So this idea of having an event to aim for is quite a new thing.
Goals have a way of focusing the mind. When there’s a good plan to go with it, then even better. The Great Vic website has a lot of resources for preparing for the ride. Amongst them is a training program starting twelve weeks out from the event. The training sees me riding four days a week with rest days in between; every fourth week is a recovery week requiring fewer kilometres. Over the twelve weeks, the kilometres build gradually and then will taper off as the event nears. I’m currently in Week 5 of the twelve-week program.
As a result of this training, I’m riding longer distances more regularly. When I finished the first year of my experiment in November 2015, I was riding about 70-80 kilometres each week but over many smaller journeys. Now, I’m averaging about 140kms each week comprised of longer journeys. Given that many of my smaller journeys – the ones that take me from ‘a to b’ for shopping, going to the beach and meeting people – are still part of my everyday living, I’m mindful of the choices I’m making while I’m training.
With these extra kilometres and longer distances, my attention is going towards two things: fuel and comfort.
By fuel I mean eating the right things at the right time. A couple of friends who are keen triathletes have been giving me good advice. I’ve learnt that eating protein before or during my ride will probably slow me down because the body takes more energy to process protein. On the other hand, eating protein immediately after I finish my ride will aid my recovery. Oops, I’ve been having my Matcha Tea protein shakes during my rides! I thought they were giving me a lift. And maybe they were but perhaps they were also slowing me down later on. I’ve learnt that during my ride, I should be eating carbohydrates.
Of course, I’m not doing the intense racing that my friends do as triathletes but because I want to make my riding as easy and enjoyable as possible, being well fuelled is worth the effort.
Comfort is also front of mind at the moment. Riding longer distances means more pedal time and more time in the saddle. As the kilometres began to stretch, I found my bike seat increasingly uncomfortable. So last week, I bought a new saddle designed specifically for women. I’m still settling into it but it’s definitely better than my old saddle.
For me, comfort also extends to making pedalling easier. And with that in mind, I bought a pair of shoes that click in to my pedals. This allows me to pull up on the pedal as well as push down. It also means my feet can relax because there’s no need for my foot to grip the pedal. Making sure my bike is running well also makes pedalling easier. So three weeks ago, I had my bike serviced and it’s running like a dream.
Getting into the rhythm of training is bringing me a whole collection of new experiences. And I have to say I’m quite enjoying it.