Saturday, January 25, 2014

Training for 2750 Tour Divide miles? (ok, lets keep it simple)



 Today was one nice training ride!!!  Also when I got home I had an email saying my TDR vacation request has been approved--woop woop yah!!!!!!
 

About 3 days out of Banff my body was beginning to protest the never ending accumulating hours and miles.  I could tell by how sleepy I would be around 10:00am.  Surrounded by solid forest green drifting up the quite gravel roads my eyelids would begin to droop and the bike would start to slowly drift from one side of the road to the other as I slowly climbed and climbed. Time for a 15 min power nap in the sun……….

So what is the best way to train for around 20 to 25 days of 100+ miles?  Well I see two main aspects.  First attain a solid Fitness Base and second appropriate Acclimatization.

Fitness Base:
Everyone has their own ideas about developing the correct fitness base for the TDR.  My thinking is the long TDR, unlike single day or multi-hour events does not lend itself to a classic fitness peak.  In other words you are wasting your effort in working towards a classic “peak” or putting too fine an edge on your fitness level.

So with this in mind I would contend that if you are currently successfully racing your local mtb, cyclocross or crit races then you probably have a sufficient fitness base for the TDR.  If you belong to this rather select group all you really need to do is put in sufficient time to maintain your base and focus on suitable acclimatization. IE: For training per say just keep doing mostly what you are doing but begin to  focus on the unusual requirements of a 20 day self-supported race.

However if you are like me and are far far away from being fit enough to toe the line at your local races then you simply need to invest the time and effort to get a solid fitness base. 

At my level it really is as simple as:
·         Do my daily core exercises to strengthen my back, abdomen and shoulders.
·         Ride often and long enough to drop 15 more pounds. (ie: ride and eat so as to get to or close to my calculated ideal race weight)

Again, for the TDR you will be spinning your wheels if you try classical interval training to attain a classic fitness peak.  Rather what you need is a large solid base coupled with suitable acclimatization drills.

TDR Acclimatization:
When people talk about training for the TDR I think most of us are wondering about what we can do to deal with the exceptional miles involved.   So if we take a solid fitness base as a given then what do we do to acclimate for the TDR?  

NUMBER 1: Actually participate in some multi-day self-supported races prior to your 1st TDR 

Number 2: Simulate participation in 2 or 3 self-supported, multi-day events

Basically numbers 1 and 2 force you to address most of the physical, mental and equipment issues that arise from long extended miles under self-supported conditions, even if they are not exactly the same or as long as the TDR.  If you have to simulate/practice a multi-day don’t cheat yourself—set your route and goals and then do it in full.  Don’t quit or deviate because it got hard, cold, wet, dark etc etc.
 

Number 3: Starting Now-- always ride/train with a fully loaded TDR bike with most of your real TDR gear.

Number three is how one acclimates the mind and body to moving a heavy, slow mountain bike down the road.  Also better to experience and correct body/bike fit issues now than in Helena.  Number 3 also lets you constantly use/test your real TDR gear.  Play, test, tinker with your gear out on the trail, under real conditions.  Become one with your setup ‘before’ the race and the gear will disappear into the background allowing you to better enjoy the Great Divide route!

Number 4:  Find a way/place to do some real hike-a-bikes as part of your routine training miles.

Number four is best done when tired; it is how one acclimates the mind and body to pushing a heavy awkward mountain bike up a hill.  Better to strengthen the Achilles and experience/correct shoe issues now than destroy oneself on day 2 in the Flathead backcountry.


 
Got in about 1 hour of hike-a-bike today on Gold Camp road......
 
(Marshal’s hike-a-bike tip for the day:  When pushing your bike in snow just relax and don’t get in a hurry.  Easy steps, head up and look around, enjoy the moment, and forget about getting wet feet as your toes will most likely not freeze and fall off.)

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