Does riding a sub-three-hour time in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge seem like an impossible dream?
Not so, says cycling guru Andrew Mclean. Virtually anyone can do it – the key is simply to train consistently.
With six weeks to go till South Africa’s second biggest road race, Mclean believes cyclists from ages 16 to 60 are capable of reaching this goal but should already be able to ride 100km in three-and-a-half hours.
“In order to achieve a sub-three you need to build a solid base and by now that phase should be complete,” he says.
“From here on, you need to start improving the quality of your training with shorter, faster rides.”
The former national road and time-trial champion says the training should replicate as much as possible the route, intensity and duration of the actual race.
“Make very sure though that you get enough rest and recovery after hard training sessions.”
Mclean says the single biggest mistake sub-three hopefuls make is to try to make up for lost time by cramming in too much training in the time that remains. “They only succeed in getting to the big day too tired to ride at their peak.”
To ensure a balanced approach, he recommends following a structured training programme specifically geared towards the event.
“Possibly the best advice I can give cyclists is to go to www.fittrack.co.za and pick up a Cycle Challenge training programme. These programmes have all the principles of training built into them by qualified coaches.”
As far as optimum nutrition is concerned, Mclean says riders should not be starving themselves in order to reach their goal weight.
“There is no magic number, as a rider of almost any weight is capable of a sub-three. However, the lighter you are, the higher your power-to-weight ratio and the better you’ll perform.”
A sensible eating plan will fuel the final weeks of training, he says. “I’m not a dietician but I believe in eating small meals often, drinking lots of water and eating as much food in its natural state as possible.”
This includes lots of raw fruit and vegetables and avoiding highly processed foods.
When it comes to race day, Mclean recommends a balanced breakfast three hours before the event.
“For a sub-three-hour time, I would suggest you start your race with your carbohydrate stores nice and full.
“Sip at least one bottle of your favourite carbohydrate nutritional mixture and then start the race with one or two bottles of cold carb drink on your bike.”
Although it is an endurance event, he says eating on the bike should not be necessary. “Remembering that it takes a long time to digest and absorb solids, I would rather suggest liquids.”
Conserving energy is important but how riders pace themselves depends on a wide range of variables such as their personal strengths and weaknesses, the calibre of riders in their start group and weather conditions, says Mclean.
“Remember, slipstreaming is a huge advantage and you ideally want to be in a group that’s a little stronger than you and tows you around the route to a sub-three-hour time.”
“Afterwards . . . I suggest an ice-cold beer to celebrate your success!”
For those who still fall disappointingly short of the mark on race day, Mclean has these words of wisdom. “Cycling is a way of life.
“The 94.7 is not the end of a journey, but rather a stepping-stone to your next goal. Use everything you have learned and experienced to help you achieve your objectives at the next event.”
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