This year’s Ride for Karen sees the addition of the big mileage 200km loop. Yikes that is a big one. What type of training do you need to do to prepare for something like that?
To start things off you will want to determine your heart rate zones. You can read about that in this article that we sent out last year.
Where the endurance system gets a bad rap is that everyone thinks that training there is too easy. But it is only too easy because none of us have taken the time to develop our endurance system to the point where we can produce a decent amount of wattage there. If you look at your heart rate on many of your rides they are probably mainly done at tempo and threshold. Which means hard.
The endurance system is important because it underpins all the work that you do. After you have done a hard effort, for instance a sharp climb, it is the endurance system working as you coast down the descent to clear out all the waste products you just produced. Imagine a ride segment over a series of rolling climbs. The rider with a stronger endurance system will be the one that recovers better between each of the climbs, and in the end will be the one that doesn’t need to slow down as the climbs keep coming.
On a 200km day (or in reality any day) it will be the strength of your endurance system that determines how your ride goes. It isn’t possible to ride for 5 or 6 hours and spend most of it riding at tempo or threshold without slowing down across the course of the day. To develop a stronger endurance system you have to put in the time training there. And heart rate will be the best means by which to manage your workload.
Pacing an endurance ride is the opposite of how most of us ride. The goal is to ride within the heart rate zone, that means not above or below. To accomplish this you will have to ride slowly on the hills, push on the downhills to keep your heart rate up, and ride steady everywhere else. It may feel easy at first, even professionals that we train have said this. But you will get stronger and be able to ride faster while staying in the endurance heart rate zone. Over time you should get strong enough that when you are riding with your local group most of the ride will be at endurance. The rides will then be more manageable, saving more of your energy for the final push towards the finish.