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Preparation for my first racing season

cannondale6363cannondale6363 Posts: 26
edited November 2011 in Amateur race
I'm 16 and have been cycling now and again alone for the past few years. During the summer I went out on a ride with the local cycling club. By the time I got home I had racked up over 50 miles. After a few months I started attending the slightly harder Sunday runs. I am not able to get a few short rides in during the week because it is dark by the time I get home. My dad has a turbo which I am going to set up with an old Dawes Imperial. I have improved greatly since I started cycling with the club and all the club members are encouraging me to race next year. The races start in April and they are all quite short in distance (the longest would be a 25 mile TT). I am not expecting to go out and win races - I just want to compete and have fun. The racing will add some objective to my cycling. The trouble is that I don't know what sort of training to do, how much and when. I currently go out with the touring group on saturday with an average of 15 or 16mph and a distance of around 50 miles and on Sunday its around 55 miles or more with a speed of 16-17mph. Could anyone advise me on how much training I should do and what type? Any tips or advice on creating a training plan would be of great help. :D

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  • Have a good look through the message board - this sort of question comes up again and again... A fundamental point would be - looking at the average speeds you've cited - you need to get used to riding faster...!

    In terms of advice on how to get better. Some people on the message board may well advise you exactly what you need to do. They are likely wrong - as training is specific to the individual and their development needs. Most cycling forums are littered with people who are trying to work out what training to do to improve (me included).

    You may already know this - but some basic concepts that are worth understanding are:
    Base - this is the foundation of your training. In simple terms - it is riding during the winter doing longer rides/time on the bike - at lower intensities/ effort compared to other training. Eg - your steady rides at the weekends.

    Intervals - this is the idea that you train at a harder level - but in contained bursts - in order to get the most effective workout. So - you ride for 1 hour and incorporate 10 minute efforts at a high intensity - say 20 mph, with a 5 minute recovery period in between each effort - e.g getting your breath back. There are loads of variations to this - both in terms of the intensity of the effort and the recovery time - and whether the recovery time or interval length increases or decreases... E.g. 5 minute effort - 3 minute rest - 5 minute effort - 2 minute rest - 5 minute effort - 1 minute rest, etc....

    A good start would be a book called 'The Cyclists Training Bible' by Joe Friel. This will help to explain some basic concepts - and give you an idea where to start.

    Of course the alternative to all this is to access coaching - and let someone else do all the thinking and give you a plan to follow. This usually costs though - unless you can get it via your club?
    Put me back on my bike...

    t' blog: http://meandthemountain.wordpress.com/
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    I would suggest you try to get out with a group that is a bit quicker than your current weekend runs, especially if you are planning on doing some road racing. Does your club have a midweek run/chaingang? Don't worry about riding in the dark, you just need some decent lights!

    +1 to John's comments. Understanding the principles behind the training will serve you much better in the long run than following training plans, for now do some reading, mix up your training and have fun.
  • At your age join a club with a good racing section and spend time with them learning from them. They will teach you more than any manual can and open up new ideas to you.
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    What kind of races are you planning?

    Training for a TT will be very different to training for a criterium, for example. In a TT you'll need to be able to keep at your maximum average power for the duration of the event so pacing is very important. For a criterium you need to be able to keep up with the surges of the pack which requires large efforts but with some rest periods between these efforts.

    Training with a group is very good for learning about group riding and for getting tips and motivation and, as said above, a good club will be a real bonus to you.

    Whereabouts are you? There are some very good BC 'Go Ride' races all over the country.
  • Thanks for the advice guys. I don't think there is anything similar to go ride in my area. The races will be a mixture of TT one week and the next an Australian Pursuit or a short CPRR ( not sure what this means). All the races are handicapped. There are also one or two hill climbs on a hill we go up almost every weekend. There are midweek runs only in the summer. The other cyclists at my age in the club don't seem to be doing as many miles as me and some of the u16s dont come out on weekends at all. (by the way I'm junior not u16). The season starts with a 5 TT in the beginning of April.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    I'd train with the road races in mind - do the 25m TTs and use them as training and some kind of measure of improvement but don't set too much store by the results. I say this because on a standard road bike you'll be disadvantaged against people with tri bars, TT bikes and all the rest of the kit - that isn't such an issue in road racing.

    In the handicap races/aussie pursuits I imagine you'll be riding in a reasonably small group at first and that might grow as your group gets caught by faster groups setting off behind you. Sounds like these are fairly informal evening races ? You'll benefit from being able to ride in a group and because it's handicapped you'll probably want to contribute to the pace riding through and off or bit and bit - in other words taking turns at the front. The easiest way to learn this is a local chaingang. Some fast group riding to go alongside your steadier weekend outings is really what you need - not necessarily right now but before you start racing.

    Don't be afraid to ask other riders for tips or for their opinion on your riding. You'll pick it up - you can get good advice from guys who have been racing for years and from guys who are relatively new to it and can probably relate better to where you are. Remember road racing is not all about fitness like say running or time trialling - the strongest rider does not always win so always be thinking about how to get smoother, to position yourself well etc etc - but also have confidence to get used to riding on the front of a group and not always hide in the wheels. Have a bit of a who dares wins attitude - not to rider safety but to having a go and attacking - as you say it's supposed to be fun and nobody got into bike racing with the intention of rolling round in the bunch - yet that's what so many of us end up doing.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
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