Posted on July 11, 2017 by Gordon Smith
Get your riding positions checked and your chains oiled – the 2017 Prudential RideLondon is nearly here!
This annual three-day festival of cycling runs from London through Surrey at the end of July. Although this challenging ride involves 100 miles of outdoor roads taking in Box Hill, Leith Hill and an imperceptible but draining climb through Wimbledon, many cyclists will be relying on their home gyms for the endurance gym training necessary to beat this challenge. Here is our advice on how to use your home gym to ensure that you’re ready for the RideLondon route.
Setting training goals is the only way to prepare for such a long ride, particularly if you have a PB you want to beat.
First you need to decide what time you want to achieve. Be practical; if your base fitness level isn’t very high, make sure your target isn’t too much of a stretch. Or if you have left training a little late, don’t expect too high a rate of improvement.
The two main measurements that professional cyclists use are heart rate and power. The easiest way to measure improvements in both is to purchase a gadget to do the measuring for you. Heart rate monitors have been around for years and there is a wide range on offer to suit any budget.
Power refers to the amount of power (in watts) that you are producing when you turn the pedals on your bike. As Cycling Weekly points out, power meters require a much higher level of investment, with most meters starting at £400-700. So unless you’re already a keen cyclist, with many more races planned, it is sensible to stick with measuring heart rate as your main way to check improvements your fitness levels.
Interval training and core strength
For the uninitiated, it’s logical to think that the only training goal is to be able to bike the requisite 100 miles in time for the race. However, people from all sporting backgrounds are now benefitting from adding interval training into their endurance gym training as a shortcut to improved performance. The Prudential RideLondon site has a couple of training plans you can follow; one for beginners and one for advanced athletes. You can adjust the times to suit your fitness level and they are easy to use in a home gym setting.
Another area to focus on is the core. Having a strong core will give you the flexibility and strength to endure the long ride. Incorporating leg exercises, so long as you’re not looking to add bulk, is also good preparation. This set of circuit training exercises can be done anywhere, including in your home gym and would be a great addition to your hours on the bike.
Anyone who has prepared for a big race will know about tapering. As Runners World explains, it is the practice of reducing training in the lead up to the big event to minimise accumulated fatigue. For long distances like RideLondon, tapering can begin about two to four weeks ahead of the event.
Professional cyclist Stephen Roche recommends reaching a distance of 80 to 100 miles once a week at about six weeks before the race. It is of course essential that this goal has been reached before starting any tapering.
Prepare for outdoors
If you have done all of your training indoors, there are some common sense things to do to make sure you’re ready to complete a long bike ride outdoors.
First of all, do try and get some long rides in outdoors, on the bike you will be using, and wearing the clothes you are planning to wear on the day. Ride some of the route if you can. Take all the other equipment that you’re planning to use on the day such as water bottles, headgear and gel packs. On the day of the race, everything that you are using and wearing must have already been tried and tested. Although you can undoubtedly get your fitness to a very high standard indoors, nothing else can prepare you for riding on roads, negotiating bends and dealing with sudden weather changes.
Possibly the biggest challenge of doing the majority of training indoors is boredom. No doubt one of the reasons you want to take part in RideLondon was to be out and about, watch the change in scenery and generally be caught up in the atmosphere of a challenging outdoor ride. Think about how you are going to keep yourself motivated indoors. Do you have a television set up in your home gym? Are there any audiobook versions of books you’ve been meaning to read? Try breaking down your overall fitness goal into micro challenges and reward yourself for successes. Another idea is to partner with a friend and ‘duel’. Who has put the most hours in on the bike this week? Who can do the plank for the longest?
As with all matters in life, planning is the key to success. When undertaking this type of endurance gym training, set yourself sensible goals, mix up your training methods, schedule some outdoor cycling time and be imaginative when it comes to keeping your indoor training interesting. Good luck!