So training began in around September for a little ride called the Gibb River Challenge, a 660km , 5 day , team relay event from Derby to El Questro.
We have done the ride previously, the first time as dualists (you can read about it HERE), there were plenty of hiccups along the way for that one . The second time we did it as a team of 4 with our 2 teenage daughters, some interesting series of events (story to come).
The past 2 years has been Gibb-less (boo hoo), the first year we had to pull out due to my husband tearing the hamstring tendon off the bone at work, requiring surgery to re-attach, the second year I had just got back from 4 weeks treating in the sports clinic at the Commonwealth Games.....we are SSSOOOO glad, happy, ecstatic to be back on the dusty peloton again this year.
So super challenge for this year was a team of 2 , SOLO! We now have 3 team members but we are each attempting a solo attempt. My youngest son has volunteered to come up and be our driver and support crew. Solo required some serious thought and dedication in order to train for the months leading up, and remaining injury free.
So how does one train for such a thing?
There has been a lot of time in the lead up allowing us to play around with different components of our training and there are a few tips I would give anyone attempting this Solo, Duo or as a team.
Time spent in the saddle, recovery , food and hydration are ALL key factors to you succeeding or injuring. Im going to break our strategy down for you in 4 equal sections, the first instalment is how to build KM safely on the bike, how to keep variety in your training and continue to improve.
So September 2018 we began our rides : slow : 2 - 3 x 25km rides per week just looping to the port, gantheume and home, getting the legs used to consecutive days on the bike, with rest days in between. At this point, taking a bottle of water out with you was sufficient, and food wise a healthy diet was all that was required. We sat on the 50 - 75km / week rides for around 3 - 4 weeks. Allowing the body to adjust, even on those days we felt we could do more. At that stage we were averaging around 18km/ hr consistently.
October we began to amp things up a little, adding in 1 x 40km ride per week to our 2 x 25km rides, so around 90km a week. The purpose of the 40km ride was to start to shift our training and the rides we did. The first 40km ride highlighted the fact we needed to think a bit more about nutrition and hydration as water on its own was just not cutting it. Food and refuelling is really a personal thing and each person will be different for what works for them, for me I have tried bananas, muesli bars and nuts....what I have found the best for me personally is a teaspoon full of almond butter before I leave the house and winners gels for an instant carbohydrate kick when the legs feel like lead, the gels are designed to quickly replace glycogen stores for the body which fuels the muscle. Our 25km road rides became more about speed building (fluctuating between sprints and slows), the 40km rides were about endurance and consistent speed held. By October our speeds were increasing sitting at around 19 - 19.5km/hr.
November we threw in an extra long ride : 2 x 40km rides, plus 2 x 25km rides so upping KM rode per week to 130km. Occasionally we would out the 2 x 40km and replacing it with a 75km single ride, adding to the endurance challenge. The longer rides would take us out to coconut wells, the roadhouse, or the end of cape Leveque bitumen road, and any combination in between.
25km rides continued being a speed ride - i.e. smashing out the ride as quick as possible to begin building speed in the legs. Now this isn't going as hard as you can the whole time, its a series of quicks and pace / rest in order to build up cardio base and speed in the legs.
40 - 75km rides are generally out to coconut wells and back (added cape leveque bitumen end for longer), with a couple of key speed sections (turn off to t junction off CL rd and coconut wells end to corner) In these sections on a 40 - 50km ride we will test out a sprint / rest session again to begin to build on the speed.
75km rides are more about consistent pace the whole time, trying to maintain the same speed the whole way. Average speed was sitting between 19.8 - 20km/hr
December I was lucky enough to head to Esperance for a week, so plenty of hills down that way, we got to ride some pretty gnarly hills in that week, sitting at about a 35 - 40 degree gradient. December we upped KM to around 150km - 160km a week in total continuing the mix up of short, mid and long rides. With 2 of the other team members shift workers its a tricky management of time, so sometimes you are riding solo, other times there will be 2 of you, other times all 3. Its nice to have the group rides together...and definitely coffee at the end. I swear I can smell the coffee around 5km away! Pace sat around 20.5km/hr
January we increased to 175 - 200km a week, with 2-3 x 40km rides, potentially a 75km ride time permitting and the rest made up with 25 - 30km town rides. Our 75km ride is to coconut wells, the end of cape leveque road and back to town. We have done a couple of roadhouse rides too, clocking up 68 - 70km on those. Its more a case of choosing the day and what the wind is doing as chasing a headwind for 33km is not fun, let me tell you. Speed slowly increasing to 21km/hr.
We are now in Feb, rides generally sit at 200 - 220km a week, some weeks we will throw in a Spin class at Life and Soul, but I have to say I definitely prefer the road. Nothing like fresh air, watching the sun come up as you ride out of town and knowing exactly how far you have to go by sight. The spin classes are good for increasing cardio fitness and a bit of leg loading, and they make an interesting session if work / weather is an issue.
We are currently sitting at an average of 21.5 - 22km/hr even with windy conditions and longer rides.
So you can see we have built slowly, increments of 20 - 40km per month have allowed us to continue to ride week in week out without injury. Now on top of that there are other factors as I said, plenty of time spent on recovery, the right hydration and fuel from food.
We have a couple of big rides planned for Wilare and Eco Beach later in the year in around April just to test the legs on a continuous ride over 100km, but we will build to that.
Next instalment will be on hydration - what you need to put back in the body on top of your H20 needs.
PS we are fundraising as part of the Gibb for RFDS and Cystic Fibrosis WA....want to make a donation?