Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How's the Training Going?

Often people ask "So how do you train to ride a bicycle across the United States?" Well, you ride a bike for many miles before you embark on a transcontinental bike ride that's also many miles. Actually, this isn't entirely true. Some people don't train at all while others are very rigorous about the activity. I've known or read about several people embarking on this adventure with little to no training. Of course the problem with this approach is the difficulty in getting fit while in the process of completing the tour. I've participated in century rides (100 miles) with insufficient training, thinking I could succeed with a positive attitude and experience. The outcome has typically been exhaustion, muscle cramps, a rueful attitude and significantly increased experience. Learning from painful experience, I am training now, am already in decent physical condition and by June should be ready to ride 80 miles a day.

Others are very disciplined in their training. They wear a heart monitor. They follow a carefully developed plan. Some use computer programs to plan their training and plot their progress. This approach is excellent, depending on your temperament. I don't think this approach fits my temperament. It's too detailed and, I must confess, too disciplined. I lose the joy when I try to train like this. Even so, I've purchased a heart monitor. Heart monitors are very helpful in training as it's possible to over train. They're also good to wear at least during the first few days of the ride, as it's important to consistently stay below 85% of you maximum heart rate. So, I'm giving the heart monitor a try. Last night I tried to determine my maximum heart rate. The easiest way is to subtract your age from 220. In my case this means my maximum heart rate is 167 beats per minute. I decided to measure it by biking on my resistance trainer as hard as I could. The highest number I achieved was 151. Now I have to decide whether that's my maximum heart rate or that under the circumstances I wasn't able to achieve more than 90%. Tonight I'm going out on the bike path and I'll see whether I get a different result. I've not decided what I think about this yet.

Ultimately, my training style is somewhere in the middle of these other options. All winter I've completed a series of strength training exercises, ridden my resistance trainer and used a Nordic track. Now I'm regularly riding outside. I've completed a couple nice 26 mile rides on the trail beside Red Rock Lake. I'll gradually increase one long ride per week until I'm at least at 70 miles. I hope to figure out the heart monitor so that it can be helpful. If that's not enough, I'll rely on a good attitude and experience!

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