23 September 2009

Training or Practicing?

By now, anybody thinking of doing the Kiwi Brevet will be thinking about preparation. What do you need to do to complete 1200 km of all terrain in less than 8 days?

If you look at long events - ranging from a double century to a Great Divide style race - there are a few common things that can ruin your ride.

1 - Have a reliable bike.
Be prepared to fix multiple punctures, a slashed sidewall, a broken chain, a buckled wheel, wornout brake pads, etc.
Don't start with untested gear, or worn rims or chainrings, etc

2 - Be fit enough to comfortable do a hilly century by yourself, preferably with a good chunk of gravel road included. If you can do something like Round Taupo in less than 6 hours, and have reasonable MTB skills, you are probably physically good to go.

3 - Don't get Sick.
This is a biggy. Avoid dodgy food and water. Try to keep you hands clean. Eat and drink plenty of the stuff you find easy to digest. Take some sort of water purification system.

4 - Don't crash your brains out!
Be familiar with how your loaded bike handles off-road. Ride within yourself, especially when you're feeling fatigued. Use bright clothing and lights when out there in low light conditions.

5 - Be prepared for extreme weather.
You'll need to be ready to fend off both hypothermia and hyperthermia. Temperatures may well range between zero and forty degrees C.

6 - Know where you're going.
Once you've worked how you're going to navigate, practice using your system. Most of the navigation on this course is fairly straight forward and can be done using a 1:250,000 Terrainmap (possibly supplimented by directions from Google Maps). However, the navigation in/out of Blenheim and Neslon might need a street map. And finding your way through the Maungatapu, Porika, Big River and Wharfdale sections will require the directions in Classic NZ MTB Rides and/or a 1:50,000 Topomap. Same goes for the Molesworth, but we'll be going in the opposite direction described in the guidebook. The sections west of Lake Brunner and north of Lees Valley have yet to be described accurately - the 1:50,000 Topomaps for those areas can not be trusted - we'll work out a cue sheet and email it out prior to the start.

If you want to know more about 'serious' training for long distance cycling, check out this site http://www.ultracycling.com/

Personally, I reckon you don't need to do massive miles to enjoy something like this. 15 hours riding in a big week is plenty. Try to get one really long ride done every couple of weeks and the usual 1-3 hour med-fast rides done every couple of days. What is 'really long'? Five hours by the end of October, building up to an 8-10 hour ride (or a tour with your Brevet gear) early in the new year. Then sharpen up with a bit of fast riding or racing, and remember to give yourself heaps of rest and recovery. Enjoy!