In this article I will share with you insights from a Road Cycling Academy member – Dave Green: Age 57, H 182cm, W 83kg, FTP 303w, LHTR 165 – who recently completed a 1087 km solo charity ride. Dave has provided details on the ride itself while also sharing this training experiences; from from the learnings he took away from working with RCA coach Ryan Thomas, right through to the tangible improvements he saw on the bike.
Over to Dave…
Ten years ago, I lost my older brother (Steve) to pancreatic cancer. Six years ago, a good friend introduced me to road cycling. Thus, I have recognised that charity events are a great way to combine my love of cycling with fundraising for cancer research. I initially started with a one-day Gran Fondo event but my competitive nature had me looking for a greater challenge…
In 2018 and 2019 I join a dedicated group of cyclists on a 7-day ride around Lake Ontario to raise awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer research. These were well supported group rides with 30-40 participants that usually formed into 4 pace lines of 8-10 people, covering 100-185 km per day.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario, Canada, (in 2021) has meant that group rides of this nature are not allowed. While disappointing, the silver lining of this situation lead me to a unique personal challenge – 7 days of riding solo, 150 km per day.
I had never participated in a formal structured training program before but I knew I would need better training to meet this challenge. Especially considering I was going solo!
My goals for the training were simple: to have the strength to complete the 7 days of solo riding as quick and as efficiently as possible. With the addition of sustained performance across all 7 days.
Training with the Road Cycling Academy
After signing up to the Uplevel Road Cycling Course, RCA Coach Ryan Thomas set out an ambitious 12 week training plan to build up my cycling endurance and speed. Thanks to my regular indoor Zwift sessions (the Canadian winter is not conducive to road cycle training) my base fitness was reasonable but nowhere near what was required for the cumulative work needed for my event. The plan mixed long Zone 2 endurance training (1 hr – 4 hrs) with high intensity interval training (VO2 max intervals, Zone 4-5 longer intervals and hill repeats) to build strength and speed.
My insights & learnings from the RCA training:
- The high intensity interval training sessions were tough but over the 12 week period I grew stronger and my overall speed on the endurance rides noticeably increased.
- I preferred the high intensity intervals sessions on the indoor trainer to be consistent and get full value from the workout.
- For my endurance rides, the focus was steady power at Zones 2-3 with constant pedal pressure (which I learned is faster than surging up the hills). I used to attack every hill and coast down them, which would lead to my performance on longer rides decreasing significantly as the ride progressed. This was due to the on/off nature of surging and coasting. So the constant pedal pressure was a real learning and no doubt had a profound impact for the event.
- I learned how to better feed the body. I decreased my time between in ride snacks to every 30 minutes and found my energy levels were much steadier across the long 4 – 5hr rides.
- I learned how to let the body warm-up properly by riding easy for the first 30 minute. No big efforts early!
My results from the training:
- I lost 3 kilograms which really helped on the hill climbs.
- My FTP improved from 290 watts to 303 watts.
- My endurance rides were at a higher average speed, and the climbing was easier with greater power and less fatigue.
- I gained the confidence in my ability to ride and climb consistently over a 7-day event.
I had seven very good days of riding. The first day was very cold (2 degrees Celsius at the start of the ride) and the last day warm (28 degrees Celsius).
I divided each ride into three sections, each about 50 km: with a mid-morning break (10 minutes), a lunch stop (45 minutes), and the heading for home final stretch. My wife (Sue) provided great support with hydration and food at the breaks. Each day had different challenges with strong winds on 4 out of the 7 days. No rain was a bonus and only one puncture.
Here are the ride statistics broken down: You can see all the ride details by clicking on the Strava Links.
|Day 1 #7daysinmay
|Day 2 #7daysinmay
|Day 3 #7daysinmay tour of Simcoe hamlets
|Day 4 #7daysinmay
|Day 5 #7daysinmay
|Day 6 #7daysinmay
|Day 7 #7daysinmay
What worked for me
- Having a clear plan with week-to-week goals.
- Feedback from RCA Coach Ryan Thomas, refocussing my training as needed.
- The right blend of base training with high intensity interval workouts built my base and increase my hill climbing ability.
- Focussing on steady, Zone 2-3 riding, with peaks into Zone 4 on the hills, kept my effort and speed steady across the whole event. My average speed was more dictated by the amount of climbing each day. I didn’t focus on PR’s or KOM’s but the training shined through, as I achieved a number of Strava segments with new best times. At the end of each I day I felt strong and recovered well overnight for next day ride.
With the generosity of family and friends I raised $ 14,955.64 for Pancreatic Cancer research!
Thanks Road Cycling Academy. I will be back to get ready for this event next year.