The Training Plan …

An athlete should do the least amount of the most specific training that brings continual improvement.

Joe Friel.

In other words specificity and efficiency. What you can do this week depends in the main on what you did last week and the week before. If the objective is an endurance event and you aren’t confident on the basis of what you did last week then you need to do more this week. If it entails a great deal of hill climbing then you’d better climb some hills.

The other side of the coin is the more you do the more fatigue you accumulate. So I need to increase the training load but allow sufficient time for rest and recovery.

A training plan seems a good idea. Bicycle Network are the organisers of the Peaks Challenge and they offer three training programs devised by Dr Stephen Lane. It’s suggested you make your choice based on how much time you have available in your regular week. The least, perhaps the most efficient, calls for 10 hours a week, the biggest for 16.5 hours a week. I downloaded the intermediate one aiming for 12 hours a week.

They all give you a 16 week lead up to the event. Each starts with a measurement of your Functional Threshold power (FTP). Workloads are specified with reference to your FTP. They call for six days training followed by one day off. Hard days alternate with easy days and the fourth week of each block is an easier week. Long rides are prescribed for the weekends. Finally they wind up with a taper. Dr Lane has more advice and encouragement in video form all of which can be found <HERE>.

At the core of all three programs the quality work is much the same. Extra time in the more time consuming programs is largely more long slow distance. Up hill interval training figures prominently.

The programs have been designed to suit working people. They stay in sync with the calendar and don’t bite too deeply into weekdays.

The guru of my running days was Dr Ken Cooper. In his view exercising 5 times a week was the optimum. The additional benefit from a sixth session wasn’t great and came at the cost of possible injury and increased fatigue. In those dim distant Marathon running days there was never a time when I arrived at the starting line with as much training behind me as I would have liked but I never withdrew from a race (nor did I ever win one!)

Given the entrenched belief that six days in a row is too much and the fact that I’m not a slave to the calendar I have opted for working in 5 day blocks – Hard day/easy day/easy day/ hard day/day off. The second easy day includes a weights session.

The base that I’m coming off has been fairly consistent over the four months August through November with an average weekly volume of 365 km and 2,040 meters of climbing. Time invested has been 16 hours a week. In December I made a serious effort to increase the climbing, time stayed about the same but I climbed 3,120 meters a week, distance was slightly down.

I have no mountains on my doorstep so 15 minute intervals up hill pose a problem. The best hill in the neighbourhood offers about 5 minutes of climbing. I’ll cover the solution to that problem in a future post.

I also have a few treats lined up for myself to spice up the training.

Really … ?

I have seen the Peaks Challenge describes as the hardest one day mass bike ride in Australia. My mother would have suggested I was trying to run before I could walk. The prize for those that complete the 235 km and 4000 meters within the 13 hours allowed is a cycling jersey.

Preparing for any endurance event requires the outlay of emotion, time and money. There is a gulf between romantic notion and reality. To arrive at Falls Creek in the sag wagon would be to drop right into the gulf … public humiliation and no jersey. What makes me take the gamble?

It’s not entirely a leap in the dark.

Experiment number one. 200 km ride.

This on a fairly flat course.

Nutrition – 2 bananas 1 litre of water.

Results – Average speed 24 kph, sore bum, sun burn.

Lessons learned – sunscreen, more water.

Experiments 2, 3 & 4. Ride up and down Mt Hotham, Falls Creek and Tawonga Gap.

These are the three major hills on the route. Each is a worthy challenge in itself but I made it to the top of them. Falls Creek from WTF corner to Mt Cope is the toughest and that’s the one that comes last!

I’d ridden most of the course in segments before shelling out the entry fee and booking accommodation. Can I put all the segments together in the allotted time?

The hardest ride that I’ve done so far is Omeo – Falls – Omeo, 150 km, 2,400 meters of climb. Lets call that experiment 5. It took 7hrs 30min at about 20 kph. If I could hold that pace the ride would take 11hrs 45min. That doesn’t account for all of the 4,000 meters. Let’s assume that meters climbed are far more influential than kilometers on the flat and divide the time by 2,400 and multiply the result by 4,000 we have a prediction of 12hrs 30min.

It might be possible. The job in hand is to make it probable. Climbing is the key. There are 74 days.

Peaks Challenge …

Is this madness?

I just submitted my entry for the 2021 Peaks Challenge at Falls Creek. It’s run by Bicycle Network and this is how they describe it …

Peaks Challenge Falls Creek is a 235km ride with 4,000+ metres of climbing, set among the backdrop of the beautiful Victorian Alps.

You’ll tackle the ascents of Tawonga Gap, Mount Hotham and finally, ‘The Beast’ that is the back of Falls. The back of Falls will hit you like a tonne of bricks. With 200km in your legs, you’ll quickly learn why the first pinch is called WTF Corner. It’s a steep and relentless climb with little reprieve.

D Day is Sunday March 7th.

The challenge must be completed within 13 hours or they will cart you off the course in the sag wagon. It is further than I have ever ridden before and entails ascending up half an Everest. So you see I have set myself up for a very public humiliation.

Success depends on loading the legs and I’d better get cracking with that soon! I’ll share my preparation. If you are inclined to join up here’s the link BicycleNetwork.