Whether you’re riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle, some other multi-day distance event, or just want to improve your cycling, its a good idea to form and stick to a plan. If you’re starting to plan now for your June ALC ride, you’re smart and can be ready to ride every mile or every mile that you can. As you begin, here is a list of things to think about as you progress through the training season.
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- Time Commitment. A commitment of three sessions per week, increasing in time and duration, will go a long way to the fitness levels you need to ride all 7 days (and most or all of the 545 miles) of the ALC. It will not be enough to attend one ALC training ride per week. As the season progresses, you’ll need to up your weekly mileage. (Read about an 8-week program at humankinetics.com.)
- The Right Bike. Getting just the right bike can take some planning. Questions to ask your bike shop are: What is the correct size for me? Which components are best for my price range or commitment level? Will I be able to upgrade the pedals or swap out handle bars to get a correct fit? You might want to try out several bikes and get advice from a professional bike fitter before buying.
- Bike Fit. If you just bought a bike or if you’re riding more on an existing bike, you may still find little aches and pains popping up. If that’s the case, you will need to see a professional bike fitter. With minor adjustments based on your proportions and riding style, the professional bike fitter will make your ride more enjoyable and help you to ride longer.
- Nutrition and Hydration. You’ll need to have water and electrolytes with you on every single ride. That means two water bottles, minimum. Also, as your fitness levels increase, so will your nutrition needs. You will want to make sure you’re getting enough calories, and that those calories have the right balance of macro and micro nutrients.
- Hills. To be properly prepared for a ride like the ALC, you’ll want to make sure you get in significant hill training. Its not enough to ride comfortably on the flats. Nearly every day of the ALC (even the “easy” 40 mile day) has some climbs which challenge even the veterans. (Do you really have to train? Yes. doitforcharity.com.)
- Weather. The staff of ALC guarantees that the weather will be mild and sunny, with tailwinds the whole way. And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It will be windy. It will be cold. It will be hot. It may even rain. Find the joy in these things, but also prepare yourself for them. This is probably the single most important reason to start training now: its hot and will be cold. If you wait until March, you may miss that experience.
- Recovery. With every plan, you need to make sure you build in sufficient recovery time. That is where you build muscle and absorb the lessons you’ll learn from training. (Got this idea from Year-long training plan from bycling.com.)
- Goals. Unless you know where you’re going, its hard to get there. Set achievable goals for speed or distance, and let me help you to achieve them! (Got this idea from Racing cycling plan from cyclingtips.com.au.)
- Group and Solo Rides. For fun and safety, make sure you’re getting in both group rides and solo rides (even on group rides you may end up spending some time alone, its necessary to be self-reliant. (Tip of the helmet to cycling-inform.com.)
- Safety. Learn and know the safety rules for your every day rides and for the AIDS/LifeCycle. Once you absorb them, you’ll scoff at those who ignore them. (Learn more at aidslifecycle.com.)