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  1. #1
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    Training between brevets?

    So, this is my first year of doing a super-randonneur series, and while I've found the individual brevets to be amazing, revelatory experiences, I'm afraid that I'm starting to suffer from training burnout.

    Just as a bit of background -- for the last couple of years, I've been averaging about 2500 miles per year on my bike. Much of that is a bi-daily year-round work commute that's roughly 25 miles round trip, but I would also do occasional long weekend tours, charity centuries and 40-60 miles rides during the summer and fall. When I decided that I would do a brevet series this year, (first 200 was in the beginning of May), I continued commuting through January and February and began adding in longer weekend rides in March. I was doing centuries by April, and I've been doing centuries on almost every available weekend since then. I have also increased my commuting frequency to almost daily (I drive in on Monday as a rest day if I do my long steady distance ride on Sunday)

    I've taken a few weekends off for travel and relaxation, but in general, I've spent three weekends in each of the last three months doing centuries or brevets; and the time investment is starting to wear on me. While I regret not being able to do B-M-B this year, and I'm still trying to scheme to rearrange my schedule to make it possiblel; there is a small part of my psyche that is happy to ramp down my rides to 40 mile mornings, and get weekends back to do other projects.

    So, my question is: am I overdoing it, or should we really be riding centuries in between brevets in order to maintain our fitness level for the season? The ultracycling site recommends crosstraining with yoga, jogging or swimming, but those activities seem more like substitutes for the short weekday training events. Is there an equivalent crosstraining activity for a century that isn't, say, running a marathon or doing a sprint triathalon? What's worked for you? How have folks filled the days between finishing their brevet series in May or June and doing a 1200 in August?

  2. #2
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    I've been wondering about the same things.

    I've kept up my riding during the weeks between. It's been tough sometimes - schedule, work, all that. My plan was to try to do intensity during the week, and longer rides on the weekend.

    What I found is that I don't feel right unless I cover about 50 miles - so my weekly rides tend to be 40-50 miles, often with plenty of climbing. I'll try to hammer (as best I can) some of the hills to work in some intenity. I have managed to do 1 short ride each week where I only focus on going as hard as I can.

    That all said, my plan is to get through the 600k, make a decision on BMB, and then start focussing on enjoying a fall fast tour, or maybe some long day rides (Brevet style, without the time and group pressure). I'm already planning for next season. I need to work on intensity and climbing - and I need to drop another 15 pounds (for climbing). (I'm a muscular 175-180 now, and it hurts going up!). I've found that focusing on those 2 items is hard to do while the nagging idea of a 600 or 1200 is on the calnedar - so I'm trying to maintain where I'm at, eat well, not worry about my weight (within reason) while I'm between Brevet's.

    This first year out was an experiment to see how far I could go. Now I've got some great experience - so I'll use that for building next year.

  3. #3
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    Sounds like you could be doing a bit too much, to me at least. I tend to hold 'long-distance conditioning' with a long ride once a fortnight, possibly stretching to once a month if I have short fast rides in-between.

    Really, a brevet consists of a series of 60-80 km rides between checkpoints. It doesn't sound like you'd be too concerned about riding 60-80 km.

    I did my first PBP (<70 hr) on commuting 110 km round trip up to twice a week, some brevets and usually a 40 km Sunday morning ride. My second (<82 hr but more sleep and chatting) was virtually no mid-week riding and riding most weekends, from 20 km trundles to a fair few brevets.

    In general, provided you are comfortable on the bike (no aches) and confident that you will finish even if conditions are not perfect, rides don't get much harder as they get longer (400s aren't too much easier than 1000s). Americans seem to 'race' brevets more than most. I think that approach would grind me down on repeated longer rides.

    Only you know how you feel though.

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Here's basically how my "training" schedule looks.

    From September to March, I do one century a month, unless I feel an overwhelming desire to do more. For example, say I've done my October century on the first weekend in October ..... then if another weekend in October is gorgeous out, and a friend and I decide to go for a long casual ride in the country to look at the fall foliage and it happens to end up being a century, then I might do two that month. If, however, it snows by October 15th and the weather isn't really conducive to riding long distances, then I won't do another century that month.

    The rest of my riding between September and March consists of shorter, usually more intense, rides -- inside on the trainer and outside as much as possible. I also cross train - weightlifting, running, walking, skiing, snowshoeing, yoga, etc. During September and March, I also work on other projects around the house, take classes, get together with friends, and do other non-cycling activities.

    During March I do try to ramp up my distances a little bit, and in April I will try to do a century early in the month, and then my first 200K late in the month ... keeping the shorter, more intense rides going in between those.

    Then May hits. May is brevet month!! Actually, from the last weekend in April to the second weekend in June, I usually have a brevet every weekend or just about every weekend ... a couple 200Ks, a 300K or two, a couple 400Ks (fleche and a 400K), and my 600K. There's also a 3-day, 100K per day tour I could do in there. That's just the way the brevet schedule goes up here. It's all packed into a few weeks in the late spring.

    I don't do much riding during the week between the last weekend in April and the second weekend in June. The week is for resting and recovering so I can tackle the next brevet, and the most I'll ride are maybe a couple relaxed 15 km spins. I also try not to plan anything for that time - no projects, no classes, no get-togethers, no other non-cycling activities. It's just rest/brevet/rest/brevet ...

    Now here's the problem I run into every year ... all the brevets wrap up by mid-June ... but my 1200Ks have, with one exception, occurrred in August, September, or October. So I've got a minimum of two months with no brevets, no organized centuries, nothing ..... and then all of a sudden I have to ride a 1200K!!

    It's during that two months (or more) where I have to create my own centuries, 200Ks, back-to-back centuries (a century on Saturday and another one on Sunday) and double centuries. I try to do a long ride (century or longer) every other week, and on the weeks in between I aim to do a metric century (100 kms/60 miles). So far that sort of schedule seems to have worked fairly well for me. A long ride, somewhere between a century and a double century, is enough to maintain my endurance, and the metrics are long enough to make me feel like I've accomplished something out there, but short enough to leave me most of the day to do whatever else I want.

    During the week, I vary the distances I ride quite a bit. My shortest ride is about 15 kms and my long ride during the week might be 50 kms, but nothing more than that.



    And ... even with that fairly relaxed schedule ....there are a number of Randonneurs out there who think I ride too much!! There are lots who do much less than I do and still complete 1200Ks quite comfortably!

    So if you are feeling a bit tired and frustrated and are starting to experience thoughts like, "Oh no ... I've got to do another century this weekend" ... do a shorter ride that weekend instead!! Or maybe pack up a large towel and a book into your Carradice, cycle out to the local beach, splash around a while, read, etc. .... or get some tourist info and find out what museums and attractions are located in the towns around yours and casually cycle out to take a look. Maybe you'll get a century in accidentally, maybe you won't, but you'll probably feel more refreshed than if you try to bang off another century on a day when you really don't feel like doing one.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I try to do a long ride (century or longer) every other week, and on the weeks in between I aim to do a metric century (100 kms/60 miles). So far that sort of schedule seems to have worked fairly well for me. A long ride, somewhere between a century and a double century, is enough to maintain my endurance, and the metrics are long enough to make me feel like I've accomplished something out there, but short enough to leave me most of the day to do whatever else I want.

    During the week, I vary the distances I ride quite a bit. My shortest ride is about 15 kms and my long ride during the week might be 50 kms, but nothing more than that.

    And ... even with that fairly relaxed schedule ....there are a number of Randonneurs out there who think I ride too much!! There are lots who do much less than I do and still complete 1200Ks quite comfortably!
    oh, it's a relief to hear that. I haven't been accustomed to being this ... fit, you know? And part of me is afraid of losing my conditioning with any measure of slacking off. So it's good to hear that doing shorter rides shouldn't impact my overall endurance. That makes training for an August 1200 a little more manageable.

    thanks guys!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    In general, provided you are comfortable on the bike (no aches) and confident that you will finish even if conditions are not perfect, rides don't get much harder as they get longer (400s aren't too much easier than 1000s). Americans seem to 'race' brevets more than most. I think that approach would grind me down on repeated longer rides.
    well, I don't try to race through a brevet, but I feel generally self-conscious about riding at a slower pace than most randonneurs. I have consistently finished each of my brevets about three hours ahead of cut-off, and while the time in whch I complete my first 200K seems pretty steady, my average in the later segments 60-80km segments that you mention seems to get lower and lower. So, I'm afraid that in a full 1200, I'd get so slow that I won't be able to finish in time (especially if one includes possibility for mechanical problems) ... thus I've been focusing on endurance, and trying to increase the speed on my long steady rides -- which I plot out as Imperial centuries since that also seems closest to simulating riding within brevet conditions.

    But, if folks are saying that one can get similar results without riding a century every weekend, then that is certainly heartening.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    I have consistently finished each of my brevets about three hours ahead of cut-off, and while the time in whch I complete my first 200K seems pretty steady, my average in the later segments 60-80km segments that you mention seems to get lower and lower. So, I'm afraid that in a full 1200, I'd get so slow that I won't be able to finish in time (especially if one includes possibility for mechanical problems) ... thus I've been focusing on endurance, and trying to increase the speed on my long steady rides -- which I plot out as Imperial centuries since that also seems closest to simulating riding within brevet conditions.
    I'd be inclined to improve your overall speed with a short fast ride (with others) perhaps once a week. Having a higher cruising average allows you to get back inside time after rain, wind, mechanicals or a combination of all three.

    On a 1200, my riding average (not including time spent in checkpoints) drops from perhaps 27 kph (for a 'silly fast' first leg) to perhaps 25 kph for the second and eventually settles into 22-23 kph (in poor conditions a little slower). This seems to give plenty of time for chatting, eating and sleeping at checkpoints.

    There are others who ride considerably faster than me. I see them for the first couple of checkpoints... There are plenty who ride slower than me too. They seem to get round just fine, being more efficient at checkpoints I guess.

  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    well, I don't try to race through a brevet, but I feel generally self-conscious about riding at a slower pace than most randonneurs. I have consistently finished each of my brevets about three hours ahead of cut-off, and while the time in whch I complete my first 200K seems pretty steady, my average in the later segments 60-80km segments that you mention seems to get lower and lower. So, I'm afraid that in a full 1200, I'd get so slow that I won't be able to finish in time (especially if one includes possibility for mechanical problems) ... thus I've been focusing on endurance, and trying to increase the speed on my long steady rides -- which I plot out as Imperial centuries since that also seems closest to simulating riding within brevet conditions.

    But, if folks are saying that one can get similar results without riding a century every weekend, then that is certainly heartening.

    spokenword ..... YOU feel generally self-conscious about riding at a slower pace than most randonneurs?????? Ride with me some time .... you'll blow me away!! Or maybe we'd ride about the same pace for some events.

    Here are my times:

    200K: shortest time: 9:54 - that was a great ride, flat with a favorable wind; longest time: 13:00 - that was a horrible ride, very windy, snowy, cold miserable. I usually end up somewhere between 10 and 11 hours for a 200K.

    300K: shortest time: 15:06 - had an extremely strong tailwind for the first 100K, and then reasonable conditions the rest of the way; longest time: 17:15 - rather windy ride. I usually end up somewhere between about 16 and 17 hours for a 300K.

    400K: shortest time: 20:30 - good conditions all the way around; longest time: 23:25 - very, very hilly, especially during the night. I can usually cover 400K in about 21-22 hours.

    600K: shortest time: 34:00 - decent conditions all the way around, plus I rode solo most of the way so I didn't take long breaks anywhere; longest time: 38:00 - rain, wind, sleet. I have also DNF'd two 600Ks - that's not my favorite distance, and my times seem to vary widely. I finished my most recent one (another solo ride) in 37:35, and was very pleased with that.

    So, I'm right there with you ... finishing with just a bit of time before the final cut off. But I'll tell you this. I've done one 1000K and four 1200Ks and have made it in time on all of them.

    1000K: 68:10 - that was a FAST ride for me!! I actually really like the 1000K distance and want to do more of them.

    And the 1200Ks times were:
    RM1200 - 88:30
    PBP - 89:07
    GSR - 88:58
    LC - 89:25

    The way I look at 1200Ks is that they are really twelve 100K rides. In my training, I try to ride 100K as fast as I can, and get so that 100K is a very, very comfortable distance for me which I can pop off anytime. That way, when I'm out there, I mentally break the ride down into 100K segments and I just tell myself that 100K is a piece of cake because I've done any number of them already throughout the year, and all I have to do is ride 100K ... easy! Then when that 100K is over, I just ride another 100K, which should be no problem because I'm used to riding 100K .......... I do a lot of talking myself through those rides that way.

    I do like to do longer rides on alternate weekends, and find the back-to-back century rides (when I have the time to do them) to be particularly helpful for me. For that one, you ride a century on Saturday, then have to get up again on Sunday and ride another century ... in a very small way you face a bit of the mental struggle you will feel on a 600K, 1000K, or 1200K where you take a nap, and then have to get up and keep riding.

    The other thing with doing longer rides once in a while is that they make those 100K rides seem even easier. If you feel fairly comfortable with a century (160 kms), or a 200 kms ride, then 100 kms should be a walk in the park.



    Now I will add this ........ I am afraid of missing the cut-off time on the BMB this year. Hills still aren't my thing, even though I've been practicing on them for the past 18 months or so, and I'm worried that I'll end up walking a lot, and start missing controls. But .... I'm already trying to focus on the 100K thing. I just need to do twelve 100Ks, and concentrate on each 100K as it comes.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    spokenword ..... YOU feel generally self-conscious about riding at a slower pace than most randonneurs?????? Ride with me some time .... you'll blow me away!! Or maybe we'd ride about the same pace for some events.
    Well, you know, I can see the riders who leave me behind, but I rarely ever see the ones who are behind me. that's what makes me feel self-conscious, I guess. I never know how close I am to the middle or end of the pack until I see the times posted afterwards.

    So, I'm right there with you ... finishing with just a bit of time before the final cut off.
    yeah, actually all of our times for the 200, 300 and 400 are pretty comparable.

    Now I will add this ........ I am afraid of missing the cut-off time on the BMB this year. Hills still aren't my thing, even though I've been practicing on them for the past 18 months or so, and I'm worried that I'll end up walking a lot, and start missing controls. But .... I'm already trying to focus on the 100K thing. I just need to do twelve 100Ks, and concentrate on each 100K as it comes.
    the thing that I learned on the 400; which involved a 1000 ft climb out of the Pioneer Valley -- at night, you never see how big the hill really is

    so, I guess here's where I get to return the favor with tips. For me hill climbing has always been a test of strength and patience. In the Northeast you can't go very far without hitting some hills, so it's been a constant staple of century training. Learn to take some hits and just slow down on the climbs. Gear down to something that you can spin in comfortably and don't worry if your speed drops down to 8 kph. You're still going faster than a walk and you're spending less energy than if you tried to hammer up to the top. That's also the point where good nutrition makes a significant difference; as you'll depend on glycogen for that reserve of power that you can call on for pulling yourself up one last climb.

    so, yeah, keep on eating and don't be afraid to take it slow. That's what kept me going.

    hopefully I can give you more useful advice after we finish the 600 next week (as that supposedly covers a good chunk of the B-M-B route)

  10. #10
    randonneur from Ukraine serhiypopoff's Avatar
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    Karpaty-Podillia* 1200k

    Dear All! Preparatiion to brevet Karpaty-Podillia* 1200k just started. In training month December 2008 1622 km by road bikes for 30 training days was done. I'm drive Cannondale, TatuBike and Merida road bikes. In details I have 64:18:34,84 ride hours, 25,2 km/h Avg Speed, 76.0 km/h Max Speed, 59665 cal, 123 bpm Avg Heart Rate, 89 rpm Avg Cadence, 16639 m Total Ascent (Data loaded from Garmin Edge 705).

    *Karpaty - Carpathians

    Key words:
    Europe, Ukraine, Carpathians, Uzhhorod, long distance road cycling
    "Some people are born to design cars, .... Ernesto Colnago came into the world with the vocation for making bicycles" Rino Negri.
    [SIGPIC]www.alexanor.uzhgorod.ua[/SIGPIC]
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