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London Bike Show: Training Questions

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Knowledge level: Beginner

Sportive

Article posted: 24/01/2013

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London Bike Show

The London Bike Show saw the launch of British Cycling’s Insight Zone, a unique and valuable resource for all cyclists. British Cycling Members were able to book personal consultations with Insight Zone Experts and Coaches one of whom, Nikalas Cook, gives some pointers on the most commonly covered topics for those of you who weren’t able to attend.

“It was a brilliant four days and it was great to see so many Members who were enthusiastic and passionate about getting the most out of their cycling. Probably the most covered topic was how to maximise available training time.

"There were a few riders who were just doing too much or always riding too hard. This is a really common mistake but, adopting a more is always better philosophy, is a recipe for diminishing gains, injury and burnout."

Following a structured training plan, such as the British Cycling Sportive Training Plan, is a perfect place to start and a key part of that plan is measuring and quantifying your effort on the bike. Buying and knowing how to use a heart rate monitor is an affordable and effective way for most cyclists to do this. Using a heart rate monitor and accurately assigned heart rate zones means that every minute you spend on your bike is focussed and giving you the maximum gains possible. Find out everything you need to now about heart rate training here

The first step to using a heart rate monitor is to find out your accurate and personal training zones. Too many people make the mistake of relying on outdated, inaccurate and generic formulas based on age. To get accurate and worthwhile zones you need to perform a threshold test. The figure you get from this test equates to your cycling red-line and, by entering this number into a zone calculator, you can find your training zones. These zones are then used throughout the British Cycling Sportive Training Plan and guarantee you’re getting the best bang for your buck out of your riding.

There were also many Members who were interested in maximising time they spent commuting on the bike and again my advice would be to make use of a heart rate monitor and accurate training zones. For morning commutes, riding fasted for 45-60 minutes can be an excellent way to develop economy, the body’s ability to utilise fat as a fuel and can help with weight management. However, it’s crucial to keep riding pace easy and stick to heart rate zones 1 and 2 or you won’t get the benefits and risk coming to a standstill. For the ride home, 5-20 minute efforts in the so called Sweet-Spot are ideal. Found at mid Zone 3 to mid Zone 4, riding in this zone will give excellent training gains but doesn’t require the long recovery of training at higher intensities.

Another common question was how to get stronger on hills. The simple answer is to just ride more of them but some great technical tips can be found here and video tutorials are also available for climbing in and out of the saddle. Also, heart rate plays a key role in pacing hills and again emphasises the value and importance of this tool for all cyclists.

Nutrition, both on and off the bike, was brought up a lot and the main take home lesson I was giving was to ensure you eat early and regularly. On a long sportive or training ride, take a small amount of fuel, such as a gel or half a bar, on every 30-minutes right from the beginning of the ride. You’re not eating for that moment but 10-20 miles down the road. On Insight Zone we’re fortunate to have the input of Nigel Mitchell, Head of Nutrition for Team Sky and two of his articles tell you how to plan your nutrition around a working day with commutes and around a long training day or sportive.

It was great to see a number of young cyclists and the main advice was to get involved with a club and to try to experience as many forms of cycling as possible. Mountain biking and cyclocross are especially beneficial for young riders, as the bike handling skills these disciplines teach are invaluable. This equally applies to older riders who are late newcomers to cycling and off-road riding is encouraged in the British Cycling Sportive Training Plan. Find out why a bit of the rough stuff will benefit your cycling here. Back to the kids and, if you’ve got a budding Bradley Wiggins or Laura Trott at home, don’t push them into structured training too fast. Let them enjoy simply cycling and give them the opportunity to develop skills and confidence on the bike. Fitness can be built later on when they’re older but a solid skills foundation is laid down when young.

There were a few riders who were just doing too much or always riding too hard. This is a really common mistake but, adopting a more is always better philosophy, is a recipe for diminishing gains, injury and burnout. Following a structured plan and monitoring intensity will help to prevent this but it’s also vital to incorporate optimal recovery. It’s during recovery that your body adapts to the training and becomes stronger. No recovery, no gains, too many riders forget this. Look out for the classic signs of overtraining and optimise your recovery post-training.

Meeting British Cycling Members and answering their questions was an inspiring experience and showed us the benefits of the Insight Zone and how much enthusiasm there was for it and its contents. We’re in a unique position to be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of the best cycling minds in the world and deliver that information to you. We want to keep the content as up to date and relevant as we can, so let us know your questions, areas you want covering and who you want featured. Contact us at insightzone@britishcycling.org.uk

I look forward to seeing you regularly in the Insight Zone.”

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