Q&A: Who needs hills? - Road Cycling UK

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Q&A: Who needs hills?

A Reader asks…

I am in the process of training for next years Etape and was wondering if you could kindly assist me with a training programme. I have in the past only trained for events of +- 120km. Etape poses some what of a different challenge. Due to time constraints I do most of my training alone. I have 3 mountain passes in close proximity of my home. i.e Du Toits Kloof 12km climb, Bains Kloof 8km climb and Franshoek Pass also around 8km. I would also like guidance in training for specifically mountain climbing and gym exercises for strengthening muscles associated with climbing. I also train with with a heart rate monitor. I am 40 years of age current tipping the scales at 100kg and reducing to a goal weight of 87 kg.
Your assistance in this regard will be greatly appreciated.
David F Silkstone

David, you have given us plenty of challenges with this one! I will try and answer most of your questions. Firstly, often training alone can be of great benefit rather than a hindrance as you are able to keep the pace that is appropriate to yourself rather than slipping into the trap of racing or riding too slowly when the conversation gets going. However, you must do some group rides so you are confident when there are other riders around you (I hope you are doing the Argus, as this will give you a great start).

Secondly you ask for advice about improving mountain climbing. Well initially I would comment that you are incredibly lucky living in the Cape with those climbs close to you, as many riders in the UK have never seen climbs of that length or severity. However, at this time of the year, I would not be concerned with the ability to climb. My feeling is that you need to do as much riding as possible at a base level to improve your cardiovascular fitness. These rides normally only need to take about 2 hours (4 or 5 times per week) to get good physiological improvements, but need to be at a very targeted heart rate zone. The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) in Cape Town, or Sportstest in the UK will be able to help you identify this zone.

Finally, with regard to weight reduction, I am not too sure how you have selected the target of 87 kg, ideally this needs to be done accurately by determination of current body fat stores, looking at ideal body mass, and the time to reach that target (13 kg would take about 32 weeks to achieve sensibly). Once you have a sensible goal you need to target you dietary requirements, by reducing fat intake to a healthy minimum whilst still maintaining adequate carbohydrate intake to recover from training. Again SSISA or Sportstest can do this for you accurately.
I hope this helps you towards your goals and wish you all the best.


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