Well, who doesn’t like a challenge? I can distinctly remember the time I was introduced to ‘The Beast’, or at least its’ existence. It was a beautiful morning in the Yorkshire Dales; I’d driven up from home to see my best mate, and go for a ‘leg-stretch’ in the Dales – he and I have cycled together for years, so he’s always wary of phases like ‘leg-stretch’ and ‘undulations’. Notwithstanding, we’d agreed to go for a 60 mile or so potter (‘potter’ is another phase he’s cautious of…) around the Dales, starting from his house in Bedale; it was mid-morning when, in Pately Bridge, there was veritable gaggle of cyclists riding towards us from up the Dale. After a few had passed, I asked one what the event was; “The Beast”, he cheerfully replied, before hastily scurrying off whilst shovelling a Nutrigrain bar or two.
Pately Bridge has a 4G signal. The Beast looked interesting. One of us was intrigued at least.
So, in early November 2019, I filled in the application form and registered for ‘The Beast’ (….entered the Beast just sounds wrong!) Two hundred miles you say? Hilly too? Pah, how difficult can it be? It’s not like there’s madman in a truck chasing me…..oh, wait; there is. 12.5mph average, or you’re out – I’m really hope they wait until I’m over the first climb before applying that, otherwise I could be out by breakfast!!
But race-day strategy aside, I figured there’s a more immediate concern; how on earth do you prepare yourself for such an event?
Early preparations: I re-assured myself – the first psychological step towards victory; I have (had) a background in long-distance and ultra-events, so even if I wasn’t up to the distance right now, I knew I could be, come June. My mind also reminds me I’m 32 and invincible; the mirror in the gym suggests otherwise. Note to self; buy new mirror!
It may sound mad, but ‘this’ isn’t hard – nothing is that hard if you’ve prepared for it. I recall the two hardest days in my preparations to run a 136 mile ultra-marathon; the event was easy (all things being relative), what was had, hideously hard, was running back-to-back 36-milers (at marathon pace) in a 24hr period – work to home, and back the following morning. I swear I nearly cancelled the event there and then!! But it taught me a great lesson – I had the mental strength to do this (running a half-marathon on an athletics track is another story); and I knew my body could recover quickly enough with sufficient miles in the bank. The event itself was all about pacing and efficiency of effort ….. much like The Beast.
- Step One complete – I CAN do this.
- Step Two – convince body.
Winter Training: I figured that aside from telling myself I can do this, the plan should have a little more substance. I’ve not written cycling-specific training plans, but I have coached endurance runners, so the principle is the same right? (I’ll tell you in June). So what do we need? I massive aerobic base to act as the foundations for subsequent, specific training – easy, ‘Winter miles’….. or is it not that simple?
I am very concious that sports and performance coaches abound and there are all sorts of plans that will help; but what I am going to do, is tell you what works for me, or at least how I plan to prepare for the event. And it’s possibly worth stating right now, that I’ll be 50 when I do the event; I’m also 6’3″ and 92kg, but clearly aiming to shed some of that.
In a subsequent Blog, I’ll talk about the bike too – OK, so many people don’t have a choice, they ride the bike they own; I’m fortunate to have a couple of bikes and a few spare sprockets to hand – with up to 15hrs in the saddle, the bike has to be right. And if you’ve ever wondered about elliptical rings, I’ll talk about those too.
January 2020: I’m a month in to what I’ve chosen as my ‘foundation plan’; I’ve opted you use the framework of the Wattbike winter training plan and supplement it with indoor rowing, a ski-erg and core sessions as well as time on the bike. Most of my rides outside are 30m-plus and at the lower intensities, but I had added higher tempo sessions; both high cadence/lower power and high-power/low cadence to the mix. An hour of 1 min ‘on’ followed by 3 mins ‘off’ still makes for a good quality session and the terrain provides its own dynamic challenges. My base programme continues until the end of February and that includes a weeks nordic skiing in Austria; the training will start to become more focused from March and I’ll be sure to provide updates……