There's no way to avoid it. Succeeding in an event such as a
transcontinental ride requires training. A
LOT of training. The tour
I am joining is much more challenging than most since the pace is
high, the distances each day are significant, and there are no rest
days. Most transcontinental tours take 7-10 weeks and have at least
one day off from cycling every week.
I decided to sign up for this tour around Thanksgiving and
immediately went to work figuring out how to make sure I was ready.
I signed up for a training program with a personal coach through
Carmichael Training Systems.
Chris Carmichael has been Lance Armstrong's personal coach since
before his first Tour de France win, and has leveraged Lance's
success into one of the most successful personal athletic coaching
companies in the US. CTS assigned a coach to me who has developed a
personalized training program for me which is adjusted every couple
weeks based on my progress, schedule, etc.
A structured training program is critical to achieve the rapid
progress in fitness necessary for this kind of event. Last summer,
my average miles per week was about 200 and my peak was 350. This
summer, I'll be riding 900 miles per week for almost a month
straight. Getting to the point where I can accomplish this (and feel
good while doing it) while minimizing the risk of injury is what a
good training program is all about.
On this page, I will chronicle my training program with a summary of
each month (most recent first).
I've really slowed down my training for this month. Based on folks
I've talked to that have done a PAC Tour, the consensus is that it's
best to be well rested and perhaps a little below peak at the start
of the tour. So I've averaged about 200 miles per week for the two
weeks preceding the tour.
I headed out to Washington DC over July 4th weekend to attend my
wife's family reunion. I brought my coupled bike with me and did a
couple rides with
Josh Simonds, a three time PAC tour veteran. He gave me some
good advice and I got a sense of what it will be like riding in the
eastern summer humidity (not a problem as long as you keep moving).
Since February, I've been a coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society Team in Training cycling program in my area. Our big event
was the first weekend in June - "America's Most Beautiful Bike
Ride", a ride around Lake Tahoe with a side trip to Truckee to
extend the mileage to a full century. I flew down a day early so I
could ride the century route twice. We all had a wonderful time and
the team all felt that they were very well prepared for the event.
The 1800 Team in Training riders from all over the country raised a
total of $6.5 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
On my return, I headed up north to the North Cascades Highway to
ride over the two major passes (Rainy Pass and Washington Pass) with
Karl and Anne Marie and a few other riders. The scenery was
spectacular and the weather was fairly decent considering a forecast
of rain all day. The next day, we headed back in the other direction
for the 75 mile ride back to our cars.
During the third week, I rode a total of 500 miles including a 150
mile ride and an 80 mile ride with close to 8000 feet of climbing.
On each of these rides, I felt strong even at the end and had no
problem getting back on my bike the next day. I think I'm now ready
for the cross country tour.
This coming Saturday is the "Flying Wheels" century - one of the
more challenging supported rides in our area. The ride organizers
claim that the 100 mile course is a good test for the one-day 206
mile Seattle-to-Portland ride. I'm planning to do Flying Wheels at a
fast pace and hope to finish it in less than 5 1/2 hours...
Well, I did manage to finish Flying Wheels in exactly 5 hours and 30
minutes, with 5:05 riding time. This is the fastest century I've
done so far. I was actually averaging 20.3 mph with 15 miles to go,
but I was starting to get a little tired toward the end and hit
several traffic lights that really slowed me down.
I reduced the number of days riding each week (4 days/week for most
weeks) and focused on doing long rides (80-130 miles) with at least
one ride/week at a fast pace (18-20mph average). Early in the month,
I did a glorious supported century ride down in California north of
Sacramento. This ride, called the Le Billig Gourmet Century,
wasn't particularly difficult, but the scenery was beautiful, the
weather was great, and the food was spectacular. The ride was put on
by a local high-end restaurant called the Le Billig French Cafe, so
you'd expect this to be the case.
We had many rainy days in the northwest this month, a big change
from April, so I did a few soggy rides, but tried to schedule most
of my training rides on the nicer days.
I finally got a chance to meet and ride with two local riders, Karl
and Anne Marie, that will be doing the transcontinental ride with
me. We're planning to do a two day ride over the Cascade mountains
in early June to get a feel for what these roads are going to be
I finished off the month with the Eleven Hills of Kirkland ride.
This is an 80 mile course up as many hills as the ride organizers
could find. I ran into a number of cycling friends I haven't seen in
a while, and it was a very enjoyable ride.
I got off to a slow start this month because I still had some aches
and pains from my crash at the end of March. I've tried to get in
one or two long rides (80-120 miles) each weekend and several
mid-week rides focused on improving my speed and strength. These
mid-week rides include hill intervals, intense power intervals, and
This month, I've started ramping up the miles even more. My goal is
to condition my body to handle even longer rides and back to back
long days, while also working on building muscle strength. I started
the month with a week in Death Valley and rode about 250 miles
including a supported century ride of 108 miles. I felt a bit tired
over the last 30 miles, but still finished among the first dozen
riders out of 300.
I continued to ramp my miles this month to 275 and 300 miles during
the second and third weeks, then tapered for the fourth week.
At the end of the
month, I attended a one week training camp in southern
Arizona, run by PAC Tour, the same company that is supporting
the ride this summer. I got to ride with many elite riders
RAAM racers and professional Ironman triathletes. I rode a
total of 460 miles for the week, but did have my first crash
(crossed wheels with the rider in front of me while looking
over my shoulder to check for traffic) - fortunately no
I've picked up the pace a bit this month, trying to keep my heart
rate between 145 and 155. The goal is to further increase my aerobic
ability and continue to build strength in my muscles. I took a
couple weeks off in the middle of the month to go on a trip with my
wife, but rode every day after getting back. February culminated
with the "Chilly Hilly" ride, a supported ride around Bainbridge
Island. It was certainly hilly, but the weather was actually quite
nice - mostly sunny and 50 degrees.
I decided to cut back to five days a week on the bike because I was
running out of time to get other things done. January is one of the
wettest months in the northwest and this was no exception, but we
had colder weather than normal which made riding outside treacherous
at times. So I did a fair amount of riding on an indoor trainer
while watching DVD reruns of the Tour de France.
An important part of training is recovery since this is when you're
actually building up muscles. So at the beginning of the month, I
again started out a little slow (8 hrs/week) and slowly built back
up to about 13 hrs/week. I added in some other drills during my
rides including more fast cadence, and what CTS calls Tempo and
Stomps. Tempo is riding at lower cadence while maintaining heart
rate around 150. This strengthens leg muscles and improves the
body's aerobic efficiency. Stomps is where you start out at around
10mph and try to accelerated as hard as you can in top gear while
staying in the saddle. This helps muscular power while in the
I had a few minor problems with sore muscles and knee joints, but
overall the training is still going well. I did a couple fast 50
mile rides and felt great.
This month's training focused on "building a base" which is the
start of any endurance training program. In this phase of training,
the goal is to get your body used to being on the bike for prolonged
periods of time and to build your cardiovascular system. For most of
the month, I road six days a week (Monday was my rest day), ramping
from 8 hrs/week to 13 hrs/week on the bike. I tried to keep my heart
rate between 135-150, well below my lactate threshold. Mixed in with
the foundation miles, I did one-legged drills and fast cadence
drills to improve my pedaling efficiency. I also added a couple
days/week of strength training using a weight machine and dumbbells.
At the end of the month, we took a short trip to Hawaii and I rode
the Ironman bike course (110 miles). The ride took me about 6 1/2
hours to complete (including stops). By the time I do the
transcontinental ride, I'd like to get my century time down around 5