Progress

It’s about three months since I learned I had a place in the Transcontinental Race and it’s a little under two months until the race starts. It’s become a pretty all encompassing thing in my life since then. When I’m not working I’m riding my bike, planning or recovering and not much else gets a look in. Which probably isn’t good for my social life but is what’s necessary to get ready for this endeavour. With that in mind I thought I’d give a bit of a progress report on getting ready.

Training

Physical readiness for a ride like the TCR is a bit of a leap into the unknown. I’ve never done anything like it before and there are so many unknowns I can’t control. It’s also not like most other training where you get regular feedback on progress – are you stronger in this week’s race? Has your TT time improved – I have one shot and it will either go well or it won’t. That said you can build a training plan based on what needs to be done and if it goes to plan that should put you in a good position for the event.

I’ve been working with Dig Deep Coaching to figure out what that means in practice. A few parameters and their consequences…

  • My aim in the race will be a steady, sustainable pace where I don’t go into the red and can stay fuelled all day long. The challenge is to raise the pace I can hold sustainably so I go a bit faster. That means I can cover more distance in the same time or ride slightly shorter days and sleep and recover more.
  • I don’t need to sprint or attack so there is no need to work on acceleration or powering up short hills. Again this plays into sustained power not peaks.
  • Recovery and efficiency are important. I need to be able to repeat the effort day-after-day for nearly two weeks and anything I can do to decrease each day’s toil will  help.

So what does that mean? Surprisingly perhaps it doesn’t mean long rides as those don’t boost my speed (though there are a few to test the body and mind). Instead I started with a phase focussed on building volume (so I can sustain more training) and efficiency with lots of cadence drills to try and up my natural rhythm (spinning causes less muscle damage because you aren’t pushing as hard with each stroke meaning recovery is easier). I’m now into a block of intensity with longish, hard rides (5-6 hours) to build volume with intense sessions like 2x20s in between to raise my FTP, basically making me stronger. That will continue until a few weeks out when I will start tapering to make sure I start fresh rather than tired.

Route

I wrote about route finding a while back and I’m now getting into the unknown part of my route. I’ve got my route fairly dialled in as far as the Hungarian-Croatian border. I need to do some double-checking, locating of likely spots for food and sleep and keep fingers-crossed none of the roads are on the banned list when it comes out. The remainder is posing me some questions. The bit to checkpoint 4 should work itself out but after that I’m not sure. The straight line through Montenegro and Albania will be far from flat and who knows what good roads look like in that part of the world? But to avoid hills requires a major dogleg into Serbia and down through FYROM which adds considerable distance. Something that might be worthwhile based on previous calculations.

Kit

My bike is fitted with the aid of Lee and James at Velo Atelier – everything felt pretty good in the 23 hours of non-stop cycling to complete TINAT which was the confirmation I needed. I just need to figure out my electrical set up (dynamo and charging or batteries and lights?) and then confirm my wheel choice and the hardware side of things will be done.

In terms of software I think I’ve decided most of my clothing choices but I just need to assemble it. Tools and electronics are almost there with a few purchases leaving the main area being toiletries. I know most of what I’ll take but just need to decide how much of each I pack. Ideally I’ll get to the end with none left over.

So overall I’m getting there and feel in a good place. There’s still work to do and no doubt I’ve forgotten something…

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