Saturday morning turned out fine, quite warm and sunny at the 9.30 start. Much better than the forecast of rain and high winds for Sunday. This ride had a specific purpose – a bit of tempo training. Let me explain.
Some of our Anerley ladies have booked up a cycling adventure for next April, in Mallorca. For those who know what cyclists go there for, the jewel in the crown is Sa Calobra – The Serpent.
But the above is just part of this serpentine monster climb. First you have go down to the little bay at the bottom of the hill, and then climb back up from sea level. It is then all up for 10.3 k (6 miles). Although the statistics say the average gradient is “only” 6.5%, the numbers appear to tell a different story. As you can see from the profile below, there are sections where the the gradient increases to 10 and 11%. And if that is not enough, there is one short section where it hits 20%!
But there is no backing out now – flights, hotel and bike hire are already booked!
So getting back to this day’s bike ride. The purpose of which, was to do a recce for some tempo paced hill training sessions during the coming winter months. Of course we do not have long hills in and around our area. But this problem is easily overcome by doing hill repeats. For example, Box Hill, Toys Hill from Brasted to the top, and Beddlestead Lane are all approx 2 mile climbs. So 3 repeats gives us the target climb of 10k/6 miles, with of course Beddlestead being the easiest to start with.
So how do we go about putting this training into practise?
You might think that the answer is to do shorter efforts at higher intensities, but all that means, is that you will be able to go out harder, before faltering on those longer climbs. The key is not training to go faster, but to train not to slow down.
This is best achieved by some extended training at tempo pace. The ultimate aim of which, is to be able to sustain a tempo paced intensity on the climbs, for an hour or more.
To do this, the training sessions will start off conservatively, with say two or three 10 minute tempo pace intervals with five minutes of gently paced recovery in between the efforts. Then over the weeks, progressively work our way up to 3 or 4 x 12 to 15 minute intervals. This will get us up to an accumulated total of an hours climbing, but using our shorter. local hills.
Climbing a hill at tempo pace teaches your muscles to recruit more fibres. This results in more power and better fuel economy. Working at a moderate intensity, makes it an easier and more fun way of doing a workout. You don’t need to hammer. Just get the pace up to where you are breathing a little harder, whilst still being able to keep talking in shorter sentences with your friends.
On our way out to our tea stop at Chiddingstone, our recce ride took us up Beddlestead, Ide Hill and several other shorter climbs. We did all of these at an approximate tempo pace. So, much more time climbing than we will be doing at the start of our progressive training sessions. These will start at the beginning of November.
At our well earned tea stop, it was for me, a most unexpected case of tempus fugit – time flies by – as I was presented with an 80th birthday card and much more from all you wonderful members of Anerley B.C. Thank you all, I really am touched by your thoughtfulness.
But soon we had to get back to tempo fugit, but with tired legs it was a bit less fugit! Especially the climb from Four Elms, up past Chartwell and finally up from Westerham to Botley Hill Farm and home. A total ride distance for me of just over 47 miles, and I don’t mind admitting that I was knackered!
Of course these training ideas are not mine, but just from a little bit of exercising my fingers on the P.C. The sources are a number of highly regarded cycling coaches. For example this well known coach, who wrote an article about getting the most out of limited time during the winter months. Just what we needed! See https://fascatcoaching.com/tips/tempo-training/
I have now, just had an update from Jo who has sent me her stats for our Saturday Ride. Snowdon is 3,560 ft so we did well!
Thanks Jo and to all the others in my supporting team.