Let’s face it – there’s a lot that goes into getting ready for a hard training day on the bike. Most people focus on the body however, getting the right amount of food, water and espresso before your ride is important. As is getting a lot of that stuff OUT of your body. This isn’t a nutrition post though. How have you prepared your equipment and logistics to support your ride and training goals today? We ride with a lot of stuff, go lots of different places and have a lot of data available to us during the ride. So what’s the best way to prepare your “stuff” for success?
No one really likes logistics so let’s get these out of the way first. Assuming you’re riding outside, where are you going? Route planning can be important and a somewhat tedious task. I recently moved, so I need to plan out almost every route because I don’t know where I’m going. There are many online mapping services – Strava, Ridewithgps, mapmyride, etc. I prefer ridewithgps, it has easy exporting capability to my Garmin for turn-by-turn directions. Strava does as well and will let you know where and when any segments are on the ride.
These routes get uploaded into my Garmin which directs me turn by turn. It’s an awesome feature that I love, but before the turn-by-turn, I used a cue sheet. A sticky note either taped to my stem of folded and tucked up a short leg. It includes any turns/road names I’m not sure I’ll remember and the mileage when they occur. For short rides, it’s simple, for longer rides I found myself printing these out.
Ok, you can follow your route, but how to create it? Firstly, how long? I don’t like training by miles, so I don’t plan workouts by miles. I plan by time and intensity (think about the difference between a 1 mile effort on flat terrain vs a 1 mile 5 % - the latter will be much longer and much more work). So knowing my typical speeds I plan for a ride length accordingly (e.g. a 2 hour ride where I’ll average ~20 mph is a 40 mile route). Be sure to watch elevation and know the weather to plan for impacts (wind will slow you down, as will bulky/heavy unaero winter clothes). Next, will you need anything on the ride? Typically I drink about one bottle per hour which is about 20 miles. So any ride over that, I like to plan a stop to refill. This may be easy or hard depending on your location, but important nonetheless.
The bike and supplies
This section is easier. What do you leave home with? Clothes suitable for the current and future weather. Wind jackets, arm warmers and gloves are easy to don or doff mid ride and make good choices to adapt as the weather changes. I always bring some calories (e.g. cliff bar) even if I don’t plan to eat it, just in case. Any ride over 1.5-2 hours, I generally eat something. Bring what you think you’ll need, plus a little extra. Be ready for on the road mishaps – multi-tool, tubes, CO2/pump, tire levers, patch kit, cell phone, etc are all nice to have in the event of a flat or something worse. Lastly, is everything on your bike safe? Quick-releases secure, bolts tight, brakes working, tires pumped? At minimum for each ride I check tire pressure (a squeeze on the sides of the tire make it easier to gauge pressure by feel), brake alignment and that the drive train spins freely. More detailed checks come on a weekly schedule.
We’ve all got fancy computers now, tracking our HR, Power, GPS, etc so let’s set them up to get the most out of the data. Here are the screens I find most useful for training purposes:
3 sec avg power (or just HR) – where am I, right now. A little smoothing helps when watching power
Lap avg power (or HR) – I’m 4 min through an 8 min interval – am I on track? It’s important to hit the “lap” button at the start and stop of each interval to make this field useful. When not doing intervals or during a race, I set this field to auto lap every 5 miles. This gives me a good snapshot of what my power (or HR) has been doing recently.
Lap Time – straightforward, gives me a timer for my current interval
Avg Power (or HR) – for long rides, it’s nice to see your whole ride average. 3 hours into a Z2 ride, you can compare your lap to avg power/HR to see if you’re still holding steady
Some other “nice to have” fields I use:
Speed – don’t really need it, but just for reference
Total Time – helps know where you are in your ride, especially long ones
Cadence – Helpful if you’re trying to maintain a certain cadence, otherwise just a reference point
TSS – Most of the time my workouts have a TSS target. I like to see if I’m on track to hit it. Additionally, during a race, it will let me know how much work I’ve done so far to help make decisions on attacking/bridging/sitting in.
Lap distance – gives context to my lap average since I auto-lap every 5 miles when not doing intervals
The above go on the front screen of my Garmin 800 (It allows up to 10 fields per screen). On second screen I keep some other info, which isn’t critical for my training goals but is sometimes nice to know:
Avg HR, Avg speed, Time of day, distance to finish (if using turn-by-turn), Normalized power, avg cadence, temperature, etc.
Just three simple steps – eat, upload your data so your coach can review, and nap!