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Coach Spud is gunning for victory

I’m doing my first 50 mile tt in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to that, especially as i feel confident in my preparation. unfortunately, i’ve already begun o think about a 100. any advice?

I’m 42, weigh 11 stone, am 5’11”. my pb for 10 miles is 23:58 (hardly relevant here, i think.) and 59:54 for 25 miles.

Thanks, Rob c


You’re obviously pretty fit if you’re sub hour for a 25 miler, but now you’re wanting to up the distance. Basically this means you’ll be riding beyond the immeadiate glycogen stores in your muscles, so not only refuelling but also efficient use of other energy sources – ie stored fat – becomes an issue.

To tune your body for this kind of slow burn release, stick in some steady state 2-3 hour rides at “just feel like your legs are working” (70% pulse rate pace). Try and avoid hills but if you come to any drop gears and keep your effort as steady as possible whatever the temptation to just hoik it over the hill quickly.

Don’t be suprised – or disheartened – if you find this surprisingly hard. I’ve had some of my worst “bonk” moments on exactly these steady pace rides, and basically it’s because you’ve not going fast enough to provoke your normal fast burn energy stores into action. Take an energy bar with you and plenty of water, and don’t be afraid to use either if you start to feel a bit peaky. After all your weight is spot on (if not slightly low) for your height so you don’t need to be dieting.

Alongside these very steady, measured rides do some aerobic limit intervals to keep your body used to riding hard and fast, without burning you out before you get to the event.

Hi Coach

I ride regularly, at least twice a week, and have done so for the past year
or so. I was slowly getting fitter and faster for about six months then
everything went pear-shaped about Christmas and the improvement seems to
have stopped.

My week’s “training”, if you can call it that, is;

Wednesday night club ride, usually a mixture of steady spinning at
conversational pace, fast bursts on singletrack climbs and riding round in
circles while we regroup. Usually works out at about 15-20 fairly flat

Weekend riding – usually both days, either 2 rides of 20 miles or so at a
steady all-day pace or riding to and from work on Saturday (20 mins each
way) and a 20-25 miler on Sunday.

Off the bike, I play hockey with people at work once a week (Thursday
lunchtime at the moment, this is usually a fairly active hour as running
about is the best cover for lack of talent!) and I play squash or badminton
for an hour every couple of weeks.

I’d like to squeeze in an hour’s structured training somewhere, probably
before work on Tuesday morning. The things I need to improve on most are
sustained uphill speed and short burst speed for passing people or putting
that little extra kick in on a technical bit of a climb.

Any suggestions as to how I could best use this time?

Cheers, Stuart.

Not much time, want speed fast? Sorry but it’s intervals again.

For that instant “cork out of bottle” technical hillclimb spurt, then you want to train your body’s top end rocket fuel chemical reactions. Alternately mix 8 parts 10 seconds flat out rolling start sprint (up slight incline) with 8 parts 2 mins 50 seconds rest. Your sprint should rise to a fluffy peak without burning and leave you ready to cook again the next day.

Warm up and warm down for 15 minutes either side of the session. Try this for a month and then get back to us for advice on making Pete and the crew suffer on the longer drags. N.B Kicking hard early on is always good for the psychological damage of ‘terrier’ riders like Pete.

I’ve been desperately trying to get fit for the red bull 24hr, as have my friends. I live in Dorset and am still finding it extremely difficult to find any challenging rides in my area that can giver me the sort of stamina I need. It’s all well and good going on tarmac turning the higher gears, but it’s no substitute to riding on rutted grass (as the red bull 24hr last year was). I’m off to the coed-y-brenin at the end of the month and hope that this will be ok, but I’m not looking forward to it.

Have you any ideas that would help in my need to quest, i’m 37 and not getting any younger and my body doesn’t work like it used to…..


Firstly sorry it’s taken so long to get round to this, hope you enjoyed Coed-y-Brenin.

Dan – as your ‘desperation’ shows – your biggest problem is not training but confidence.

If you’re worried that you haven’t practised on grass and you’re going to get beaten up on the grass drags, you’ll be dreading them before you even get to them. You’re whole body will be tense, your head will be thinking “Oh B*lllX here we go, we’re going to die” and that’s exactly what will happen.

You are not the only one who hasn’t been riding off road much, and don’t worry about being 37. Having a few years and no doubt a few painful experiences – including your previous ‘Bulls – under your belt means you’re far better prepared mentally for a long haul event than any shaven teen whippet who might scream past you early on Saturday afternooon. At the end of the day you’re riding for enjoyment so look forward to it don’t fear it. Everyone has bits they dread and bits they love on every course and ride, so just think of the fields as a neccesary evil to link up the bits you enjoy.

The ‘killing fields’ of Red Bull are best ridden with you’re body as relaxed as possible. Let your arms and shoulders droop and “bobble along” with the terrain. Reduce your weight in the saddle by rolling round a slightly bigger gear than normal, standing up to stretch occasionally. Don’t try spinning as you’ll just bounce yourself out of the saddle. Make sure you stretch before and after your rides and on any smooth sections too, as this will reduce the cumulative strain on your body as the event wears on.

Try to practise this technique on any rides you do this week and weekend, and then rest for the back end of next week to make sure you’re fresh for the ‘Bull.

You can interval sprint, technique tweak and carbo load to your hearts content, but at the end of the day the best weapon in this kind of event is a big bombproof grin.

Good luck, be happy, and we’ll see you there.

Next week we’re answering questions on planning for the Newnham and Schwinn marathons, plus mastering the hideously competitive world of masters racing and gettign ready for a return to altitude in Colorado. If you’ve got a question of your own though, write in and the coach will be on your case ASAP.


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