Participants enjoy a relaxing day at Gavin Lake following last year’s Tour de Cariboo.

Participants enjoy a relaxing day at Gavin Lake following last year’s Tour de Cariboo.

Get settled in to a training program for Tour de Cariboo

The details of a training program can be multifaceted and complicated.

The details of a training program can be multifaceted and complicated.

While it’s critical a training program is appropriately planned for a competitive cyclist, this can be overwhelming and intimidating for beginners when it doesn’t have to be.

For those who are relatively new to cycling or just starting out, the important thing is that you are out there on a regular basis getting physical activity.  Many health benefits can be achieved through regular moderate intensity physical activity including: decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, improved mental health, improved sleep and energy and it’s a great way to achieve your weight loss goals.  Keeping this in mind, today’s article is going to touch on some basic training tips that will help you prepare for the 21st Annual Tour de Cariboo on Sept. 7, 2013.

The first important piece of a training program is to be consistent!

Aim for three to four days per week on the bike. Start slow and gradually build up to longer rides as your fitness allows.  Shorter rides are usually easier to fit in during the week, while you can plan longer rides on the weekends. As a general rule — if you increase your weekly mileage or time spent on the bike by 10 per cent per week you are progressing at a good rate.

Also, schedule in one “recovery week” every month where you cut back on the longer rides to allow your body to adapt to the new stresses placed on it and prevent injury.

For comfort while riding, try and change positions frequently and occasionally stand out of your saddle.

You may even want to stretch your neck and roll your shoulders if they get stiff. To be most efficient and to assist with developing a good pedaling style, aim for a cadence (revolutions per minute, RPM) of between 80 to 100 RPM.

If you have a heart rate monitor you will want to keep your heart rate between 65 to 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate during the first several weeks of your training.

An easy way to calculate your estimated maximum heart rate is by using the following equation: 220 minus age equals maximum heart rate in beats per minute. Then multiply by .65 to get the lower range and by .80 to get the upper range.  For example, I am 30 years of age.

So to calculate my estimated maximum heart rate is as follows: 220 – 30 = 190 / 190 x .65 = 123.5 (round up to 124) and 190 x .80 = 152.

Therefore, my target heart rate range would be between 124-152 beats per minute. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, or you are not all that keen about math — don’t worry, you can also use the talk test — which is an easy and convenient way to ensure you are working at the right intensity.

If you are riding with a partner just make sure you are able to maintain a conversation (1-2 sentences at a time) without needing to pause or gasp for air.

Once you have established a reasonable base — approximately 4 weeks of consistent riding, it will be a good idea to include some higher intensity work by doing some hill training as there are a few challenging hills to conquer during the ride. Sitting is the most effective and efficient way to climb a hill.  It’s important to change gears as needed at the bottom of the hill, transfer your weight forward on the saddle and lower your trunk over the handlebars.  Attempt to keep your revolutions between 60-80 RPM up the hill.

If the hill is too steep or you need to change up the muscles you are working, change to one gear harder and stand out of the saddle and your cadence may drop slightly which is okay.

Remember — the most important thing is that you have chosen to participate in the 21st Annual Tour de Cariboo — whether it is for fun, health, fitness or all of the above, so congratulations!

If you still have not registered, don’t wait any longer, contact Williams Lake Big Brothers and Big Sisters by phone at 250-398-8391 or on-line at to register today.

Brittany Klingmann, MPT, BSc Kin, CAFCI, is a registered physiotherapist at Pro Physioworks in Williams Lake.

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