Evans Cycles
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If you want to stay on track, the first thing you need is a target – something specific to aim for. And set yourself a time limit – pick your date, write it on the calendar and commit to it. Here, we’re going to use two examples. First, there’s our beginner’s plan that’s aimed at completing a 40-mile ride within six weeks. Second, we’ve got an intermediate plan for someone with a bit more cycling experience who wants to do a 60-mile ride within six weeks. The most important thing in both is to build up the length of your weekly long ride gradually so that your body can adapt and be ready for the demands of your big day.
 
 
Aiming for one of the Ride it! events is perfect because then you’ve got an immoveable target to focus on. Whatever you choose, keep it realistic. You want something that’s going to challenge you and keep you interested. Set the bar at an unattainable height and you’ll lose enthusiasm. Fit your bike with a computer to track your speed and distance. It will help keep you motivated too because it allows you to gauge your progress. And if you want to take your training to the next level, get yourself a heart rate monitor. By telling you exactly how hard you’re working, it allows you to fine-tune your training for the maximum amount of fitness in the shortest amount of time. If you’re not used to regular exercise, get the go-ahead from your GP before starting on any sort of training programme, and get any niggles that develop checked out by a professional. Good luck! 
 
 
       
 
 
 
Week 1
Beginner:
Aim for two rides a week: a fairly short ride in midweek and a longer ride at the weekend. Ride for 45mins in the week, focusing on turning your legs quickly (80+ revolutions per minute), and practise drinking on the go – it gets more important as the weeks go on. Make your first weekend ride 15 miles long and as flat as possible – you’re getting used to being in the saddle as much as anything. Do both rides at a light to moderate level of effort – your breathing should be easy and you should be able to hold a conversation without gasping. Feel free to add other rides if you like, but keep the intensity low.
Intermediate:
Aim for three rides a week, including a longer ride at the weekend. Follow the advice for beginners (above) but make your first weekend ride 25 miles. Add an extra 60min ride in the week that includes 10mins of hard but still controlled work.
 
  
Week 2
Beginner:
Ride 45-60mins in the week, spinning easily in a low gear. Increase your longer weekend ride to 20 miles but keep the intensity low. Concentrate on controlling your effort on any hills – change down through the gears and back off – so that you get used to climbing without steam coming out of your ears.
Intermediate:
Follow the beginner’s advice but increase your weekend ride to 30 miles. Include a 15min section of hard work in an additional 60min midweek ride.

 

Week 3
Beginner:
Make your mid-week ride 60mins long – take in some hills and ride them at a moderate effort so that you’re breathing fairly hard. Make your long ride 25 miles this week at a light to moderate intensity. Go a little harder on the hills but stay at a level that you can sustain without going into overdrive.
Intermediate:
Do the training we’ve suggested for beginners but increase the length of your long ride to 35 miles. Also, add a 60min ride in the week that includes 20mins where you’re breathing hard. 
 

 

Week 4
Beginner:
Most serious cyclists have an easier week about once a month so they can absorb their training. You’re due one now so keep the intensity as low as possible on your 60min midweek ride. Drop the length of your weekend ride down to 15-20 miles and keep you breathing at a conversational level throughout. 
Intermediate:
Do the beginner’s rides (above), dropping the length of your long ride down to 25-30 miles. Take your additional ride in the week down to 45mins and pedal as easy as you like.
 
Energy in the Saddle
Exercise won’t make you fitter. Huh? Okay, let’s qualify that: exercise on its own won’t make you fitter. You need to make sure you recover properly between rides if you’re going to improve your speed and endurance, and that means getting enough rest and paying attention to your food and drink.
The amount of time you need to leave between rides depends on loads of different things including your level of fitness and how hard you cycle, but bear in mind that you’re trying to push yourself slightly, then recover fully… It’s a gradual process. You don’t want to batter yourself into the ground on every ride and then head out on next one still aching.

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And certainly give yourself more sleep after riding – it’s the time when your body does its most valuable repairs. You’re aiming to get up feeling refreshed and ready to go, not groggy and in need of a jumpstart. You don’t need to start eating tons of pasta to fuel your cycling. A straightforward, balanced diet containing all the major food groups will give you everything you need. You’ll need to drink more water though, to replace the fluid you use up – anywhere from 400m to 900ml extra for every hour you spend in the saddle.
 
Week 5
Beginner:
Concentrate on staying relaxed on your 60min hilly midweek ride. Increase the distance of your longer weekend ride to 30 miles, mostly at a light to moderate pace but pushing a little harder on the climbs.
Intermediate:
Follow the beginner’s advice but increase your weekend ride to 40 miles. Add an extra 60min ride in the week that includes a  30min block of hard riding where any conversation has to be limited to simple sentences.
 
 
Week 6
Beginner:
Keep your 60min midweek ride nice and easy – you can’t add fitness at this stage so you’re trying to conserve the fuel in your muscles and avoid fatigue. It’s time for your goal event: ride it conservatively to begin with and drink plenty from the off. If you feel you’ve got plenty of energy in the bank, increase your intensity gradually from halfway.
Intermediate:
As well as the beginner’s rides, do an extra 60min ride in the week where you take any climbs as easily as possible. Make sure you drink plenty on your big ride and, most of all, enjoy it.
 

 

This story was last updated on 26/03/2014