To help Jess prepare for the 60-km Ride Don’t Hide group bike ride, our cycling experts at MEC have created an 8-week training program geared to get her across the finish line. Over the course of 8 weeks, this plan will increase her fitness, build her endurance, and have her focus on riding technique.
If you’re biking in Ride Don’t Hide – or if you want to build up your fitness for another cycling event – jump in and follow along with this plan. Today is day 1 of week 2 for the June 23 event, so there’s plenty of training left to do. At the end of the schedule, you’ll be riding strong and ready for the challenge.
After the link to the weekly schedule, we explain how hard or easy you should be riding (known as level of exertion), and what you should be aiming for with each ride format on the schedule: fast ride, easy ride, or long ride.
Level of exertion
Each ride format description has numbered ratings for level of exertion. These give you an idea of how hard you should be riding at different stages of a ride – training doesn’t mean riding full out, all the time.
Levels go from 1 to 10, with 1 being the easiest pace you can maintain without the bike falling over, and 10 being the hardest you can ride, sustainable for only a few seconds.
A few numbers are used repeatedly:
- 3: Easy recovery pace with a similar level of exertion to walking. Breathing is natural enough to conduct a regular conversation.
- 5: Warm-up pace, brisk but easy to maintain over long distances. Breathing is rhythmic but conversation is still easy.
- 7: Endurance riding pace you can consistently maintain with some focus. You’re starting to push yourself at this point and your breathing and heart rate start to climb.
- 8: Fast riding pace you can maintain for short bursts of a few minutes. You’re breathing hard and conversation becomes difficult.
Fast rides, long rides, easy rides
Meant to: Build fitness through a series of relatively short, brisk sessions. Ultimately, these will give you the extra pace and fitness required to climb big hills, fight stiff headwinds, or join a fast group on the day of your ride.
Focus on: Smooth technique and maintaining a consistent cadence of 80–90 pedal revolutions per minute (rpm) regardless of your level of exertion. This rpm is the optimum cadence for most people.
- Start with a 10-minute warm-up of easy spinning (smooth, low-exertion, high cadence pedaling on a relatively easy gear). Your level of exertion starts at 5 for the warm-up.
- At the end of the warm-up, switch to a hard gear. Your level of exertion increases to 8 – a challenging pace you can maintain for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, drop down to an easy gear and an exertion level of 3. This recovery period allows your body to prepare for the next fast interval.
- After 5 minutes, get back into the hard gear and bring your level back to 8. Continue to alternate fast intervals and recovery periods for the duration of the ride, finishing with a 10-minute recovery/cool down in which you drop back down to 3 and easy spinning.
Meant to: Build your endurance and get you used to spending more time in the saddle, so you can face the race-day distance confidently. Also allows you to explore different positions on the bike.
Focus on: Smooth technique and maintaining a consistent cadence.
- Start with a 10-minute warm-up and then build to a steady pace with a slightly lower intensity than your fast rides.
- Level of exertion should be a 7, or a pace that you can maintain (with focus) for the duration of the ride.
- Finish with a 10-minute cool-down.
Meant to: Complement the other ride formats, acting as recovery rides between more intense sessions. These will have you feeling loose and rested for your next long ride. Easy rides also begin to take the place of other rides as the date of the big ride approaches, ensuring you have fresh legs on the day of your ride.
Focus on: Keeping yourself from going too hard. Also focus on smooth technique and maintaining your 80–90rpm cadence.
- Start off at a relaxed pace and maintain it.
- Resist any temptation to jump into a hard gear: Your level of exertion should be 3 (roughly equivalent to your output when walking).
- You should be on relatively easy gears for the duration of the ride. Think of it as taking your bike for a walk.
In the next few weeks, Jess will be also talking to seasoned cycling pros and bike maintenance gurus for advice and tips on prepping for her first big group bike ride.