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What a super day at the races. While I had ambitious to be in the lead pack and going for the win again this year it was ambitious to think my preparations were sufficient and that my first race back after many months away from racing would be my best but 10th with some decent power output for the 2 hour event and solid technical riding were enough for me this year.
The Course was quite dry, which *may* have been a factor that kept me out of making the break (or re-catching the break) … This made for a generally fast moving day despite the pre-vailing headwind and longer course this year as we neared 70km on the day.
Molly and I were down for the weekend with a Sponsor Ride on Friday and a Women’s Talk on the Saturday, and a children’s skills clinic on the Saturday. Photo credit to my Dad on the above shot of Molly and I !
Mike Garrigan, National CX Champ and multi-time Paris to Ancaster Champ and Sean Kelly, Provincial Coach and Road racing legend, and I went for what was basically a full pre-ride on Saturday afternoon. Likely not the wisest use of time and energy given the dry course but so much fun to get out exploring with 2 good friends who I don’t get to ride with enough and who love a good gravel road (or mtb trail) on road bikes as much as I do .
To top it all off, I was able to see many friends and family who live in Ancaster while at the event. It was a busy 1st weekend back at the races.
With Ontario’s Perennial spring classic, Paris to Ancaster, only a few days away the excitement is extremely high.
Twitter and Facebook groups are busy with questions and answers and training rides are being done in hopes of mimicking the demands of the race.
5 of the most common suggestions I make to help clients avoid the common mistakes with Paris to Ancaster are below. I hope they help your last prep rides this weekend and your race next weekend.
1) Stop thinking about the Distance : Match the Terrain & Skill Demands
The race is won on a pot holed start, a loose gravel uphill (often with running), 4-5 x 5-10min hard efforts (often through Forest trail as on left above) and accelerations out of forest/paths. If you can get through all that then you have the infamous Mud Shoots and the final ‘Martin Rd’ Climb (video) (strava) to deal with. The endurance is important but your technical skills, ability to stand up, choose a line and ability to shift are going to be much more helpful then riding exactly 70km this weekend. Focus on the terrain.
2) Remember to Enjoy your training and Race Day – Smile – Recruit Friends
It is cliche but RELAX and ENJOY. You will survive and you will have a smile at the end and some great stories. The reason to race is to push yourself to new limits and situations AND MOST IMPORTANT to make great friends to share the journey with. I always look forward to chatting with old friends and making new friends at races. The shared experiences are something we will chat (and exaggerate about) for years.
3) Intensity – Experience the race before you get there.
Matt F. is in full race mode on Martin Rd. at the end of a great Paris to Ancaster effort. You can see he is standing and emptying all his energy at the end of the race. This took much practice on his race bike being ridden on similar hilly, gravel terrain. Find a big hill and ride up it, maybe find a few and put one or two at the end of your ride this weekend. Push to that ‘race pace’ where you are noticing your breathing and ride there for a while (5+min) … remind yourself that it is ok to be in a bit of discomfort and try to relax while pedaling hard/going quickly. Experience the race before you get there.
4) Prepare your Race bike for the race NOW – and ride it on similar terrain this weekend. No changes next week
I always shudder when changes are made to the race schedule or bikes in the weeks before a race. Set up your race bike as if the race was this weekend and use all your gear, fueling, preparation in that key workout/ride. This is so big for confidence and also greatly reduces the chance of something small and silly ruining your first race. Worn pedals, loose bolts, leaking tires, seized cranks, slipping bars/posts, loosening cranks, broken chains and faulty tools are among most common ‘silly’ little things that stop us from JUST PEDALING on race day.
5) Dismounts and Mounts – Keep Moving Forward.
I am pretty (really) crazy about mounts–bike carry-remount for all my athletes. While the importance in many races is minimal if any, there seems to always be those few critical moments after a crash, or small mistake/’dab’ where our ability to keep moving forward off-bike or transition between on/off bike becomes critical to finishing well or at all. For many P2A athletes that first right hand turn off the rail trail will require a run-up … how fast you get off your bike, grab that top-tube and then at the top remount can make the difference between making a group that will carry you to a personal best finish or fighting in no-man’s land all day. Some of the forest trails are hectic and brief un-clipping or mount/remounts are required to keep moving forward. For some of us that final climb on Martin Rd. will be too much and so these ‘off-bike’ skills are important to maximizing our efficiency. ( check out these videos to learn about mount and dismount )
Thanks for Reading
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On long weekends we often want to make the most of our weekend. With a break from work or school, why not ride as long and hard as we possibly can ? But should we always ride as much as we can on a long weekend? I am not so sure everyone should.
I see 3 ways we can use a long weekend to get faster:
1) STICK TO YOUR PLAN – Go Hard, Recover Harder
Use hills and friends to push your limits – then recover like a pro
Stick to your normal training plan/routine and enjoy the extra recovery and family time. Spend more time preparing and recovering from your workouts and make sure you do the best job you can on them. Focus on the quality or intensity of your workouts and absorbing as much as you can. You might find you can squeeze an extra repetition or an extra watt out of your legs on a weekend like this.
2) ADD VOLUME
Practicing my aero-tuck before Leadville 2011
Plan for mini endurance block to boost your endurance, add some training stress and/or game-play for an upcoming long race. The key word is plan. I like to use these weekends for the Leadville and Stage Race Clients I work with. We do 1-4 big rides and include a bit of focused interval time (i.e. 6 x 10 min at 80-85%MHR ) and often some ascent (meters climbed) goals. We will definitely be overloading but in a way that fits in the progression of our plan and does not exceed our current ability to recover. Biggest mistake I see is clients trying to go from 8 hours a week to 8 hours a day just because they can. We can’t cram training in and multiple short quality rides will almost always create better results then a huge ride, with much less risk for injury/illness.
3) RECOVERY BLOCK
go for a hike with a friend, you will likely find something cool worth watching
This is the least used option for long weekends and for many of us would actually be the best use of our time. Take the long weekend off or mostly off. Spend your 2-3 days walking with family and spending time. Don’t just sit all weekend and binge-watch T.V. but rather, prepare some great food and recharge your physical and mental reserves so you can restart training and work/school with huge motivation.
3 ideas for your long weekend. Enjoy and let me know if you need help planning your summer.