Whether this is your first event, or one of many, it is always helpful to review your ride strategy. Create a plan for how you want to complete the ride. No matter how many times you have ridden the same event, every year will be different, with unique challenges.
Unless you have planned to ride with friends, the riders around you won’t help you – unless you help yourself.
So how do you do that?
Unlike your commute to work, most riders in a fondo are happy to have you pull them. They will remain glued to your back wheel until you get tired and start to lose speed. Once you begin to show signs of blowing up, they will just as happily leave you behind, looking for someone new to follow.
Your first instinct is to get angry at this mooch who stole your energy. But they aren’t bad people. They are just riding smart. So instead of getting angry – ride smarter.
7 Tips to Riding a Smarter Fondo
#1. If you are riding in an organized paceline (which does happen when riding with experienced riders), take your turn at the front. But don’t pull any harder than the average pace/power and stay in front for only a few minutes. Stop pulling before you get tired, not after.
#2. When you pull out of the line, pull FAR away from the other riders, so they don’t follow you. Most riders will pretend they didn’t see your signal or don’t understand, which may be true. Either way, get away from them and quickly move further back into the line where you are protected again.
#3. If you are afraid that the faster riders will pull away while you are stuck at the back, then signal after about 5, 6, or 20 riders (depending on how big the pack is) and move back into the line, closer to the front. But remember this means you will be pulling again soon. The more often you pull, the more exhausted you will become.
#4. At some moments, you may be riding three or four people abreast, with riders in front and behind you. The group will move more like a school of fish and not an organized line. If you aren’t paying attention, you may quickly find yourself at the front and doing more work than you would like. Try to avoid this by paying attention to the speed and where people are moving. If you stay glued to the wheel in front of you, you should stay protected, i.e., always behind someone else.
#5. As the event progresses, the group will break apart as people drop off and faster riders sprint away. If you are hoping to stay with the faster riders of your group, try to assess who these riders are and keep in close contact with them. Stay close without doing all the work for them. Be ready to make a move when they do.
#6. Fatigue accumulates over time. Even if you feel strong at the start, eventually, the effort will build up, and fatigue will set in. Even if you are a faster rider than your group, pulling too much, too hard, or too often will ultimately fatigue you faster than the riders you are pulling. If you are doing all the work, they will continue to ride fresh. As you near the finish line, they will have more energy than you. They will thank you for the pull and leave you to finish in their dust without any of the glory you deserve.
#7. It should feel easier drafting, so don’t get fooled into thinking you can ride faster than the pack. Unless you started in the wrong group or had a flat, it is best to stay with a group than to venture out on your own, at least until the last 10km or so.
Thank you to the organizers, volunteers, fundraisers, those who donated, and the participants, for making this year’s Triple Crown for Heart event a huge success! Also, thank you to CBC for covering the event. Rare genetic heart diseases don’t receive the same media exposure or funding for research as other ailments, so the attention is always appreciated.
Check out the CBC coverage, by clicking here, and scrolling forward to 12:44.
Overall, the charity raised $45,127 which will go towards sending children with genetic heart disease to camp . The remaining funds will go towards projects within BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Children’s Heart Network.
Among the 210 riders, 25 of them were from Kits Energy, riding either one, two, or all three mountains.
Congratulations to Lynda McCue, who won the lion, finishing 1st overall female (again) and Grant Bullington and Paul Towgood, who were among the top 5 finishers (again).
If you missed the ride this year, please add it to your calendar for next year, July 20th 2024.
Before you can think about climbing faster, you need to make sure that you have first built your aerobic foundation. As the saying goes, “you can’t run before you learn to walk”. To read more about building an aerobic base please go back to the newsletter titled, Building an Aerobic Base.
So once you have set your aerobic base, how do you get faster on hills?
1. Ride lots. Ride lots of hills.
2. When climbing think of form: efficient pedal strokes and relaxed upper body.
3. Learn to pace yourself for the entire length of the climb. Learning what your pace should be will come after riding lots of hills 🙂
4. Give the appropriate amount of effort for the type of hill /ride/workout you are doing that day. Example: In a Spanish Banks workout of 5 hill repeats, you will likely be putting out maximum effort on each – that’s the goal of the workout. But for a long training ride, where Spanish Banks is just one of many on the ride, slow down your pace and take it easy or ride at a pace you can handle, as you still have a long ways to go.
In this newsletter, I’m going to focus on point number 4, which relates to effort.
During training it is important to give the appropriate amount of effort, appropriate for the workout.
In the Kits Energy workouts, your coach will tell you how much effort you should be exerting. If you want to get faster, and get the most benefit from the workout, it is important to follow the instructions. To improve, you need to work beyond your comfort zones into new territory, which should feel uncomfortable. Through proper and adequate (24-48hrs) rest and recovery, your body will adapt to the stress and grow stronger. It is through this process, repeated over and over, that you will gain increased strength and endurance.
BUT….. here is the caveat.
But, if you try adding intensity without a solid base, other rides to support your intensity ride, or you try to progress too quickly, you run the risk of breaking down the body, instead of building it up.
You may get away with it for a month of two but eventually, if you try to increase intensity without a solid base and other rides to support it, it will catch up with you. Your speed and strength will become stagnant and/or you may notice that you are actually slowing down!
When this happens, the tendency is to do more training, with exacerbates the problem.
You may also notice several nagging symptoms that don’t seem to go away. These symptoms are usually a combination of: loss of strength/endurance, chronic fatigue, chronic muscle pain, insomnia, depression, irritation, weight gain, and frequent illness such as colds and flus. If are feeling any of these symptoms, back off on your training for a few weeks until they subside.
When you return to training, build up slowly and create that base again. Always listen to what your body is telling you. If it is too much – back off again. Use the weekly workouts as endurance training instead of a interval training. I know it’s hard on the ego – but your body will thank you in the long run.
Remember, cycling is a lifestyle choice and one that you want to do for as long as your body will let you. Think long term.
Every event is tough when you are pushing yourself to achieve a personal best. But when the weather turns sour and never lets up, it adds one more element of pain to the day. These are the days that build resiliency and character as an athlete. These are the days that you will never forget. Saturday July 16th 2022 was one of those days. I am so proud of all the riders, and especially the Kits Energy riders, who remained positive and smiling despite how cold they were. They rode 75km and climbed 2300m up into the wet and cold clouds. We had a large group of Kits Energy riders in the Triple Crown for Heart event and we were also among some of the fastest riders!! No matter what time you finished in, everyone should be proud of themselves for completing such a big event, on a mentally and physically challenging day.
A huge thank you to Dominik Szopa, Marie Campbell, Fiezel Babul, and all of the other board members and volunteers who helped put this event together. The emergency blankets at the end were a very smart idea! In total, the event raised $30,000 for BC Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Cardiac Care.
Congratulations to Paul Towgood and Grant Bullington (who is also our KE sponsor from StretchLabs) who both finished first, along with two other riders, in a time of 3:09!!!! That’s crazy fast!
Lynda McCue finished in the second fastest group, in a total time of 3:53 and won the prize of a stuffed lion for first female finisher. Another crazy fast time.
Riding in a fondo or an organized event is much different than a weekend long ride.
If your goal is to make the most of the perks, like closed roads, fantastic food stops, and beautiful scenery, then your ride time will likely be slower and you will be out in the elements longer as you soak it all in.
If your goal is to use the event as an opportunity to push yourself to achieve a Personal Best (PB), then you will need to prepare for that type of intensity.
Pacing yourself is essential to having a successful day, whichever way you decide to ride..
#1. Learn the route
You need to know the route before planning your overall pacing strategy. Can you use up all your matches, knowing that the last 40km is a downhill coast, or do you need to save some? Are you drafting or riding alone? Where are the rest stops? How many will you use and when?
#2. Draft – or not
Watch your speed when riding in the middle of the back of the pack. If it feels comfortable and you are riding way faster than you ever have – enjoy the ride! Don’t get fooled into thinking you can ride faster and waste energy pulling at the front. Take the opportunity to cruise and recover. If you are faster (than the group you are in), wait for a smaller group to break away at the front and go with them, or wait for a faster group to catch up.
#3. Know yourself
Knowing and listening to your body is more complicated than it sounds. The body can fool even the most experienced riders; therefore, you need to plan the following ahead of time:
1. What, how much, and how often will you eat and drink?
2. How often can you push into Zone 4/5 without blowing up?
3. How many breaks do you need and for how long?
4. If you “feel” like the pace is relaxed or see that your power output is low – is it really too slow? Refer back to #1 and 2.
#4. Patience, Practice, and Perseverance
Learning how to pace is not easy, and the more gadgets you have, the more complicated it gets. Executing the perfect pacing strategy takes time, practice, and patience.
If you want to learn more about pacing, how to use a power meter (or heart rate monitor) and other training tips, I suggest the following books:
The Power Meter Handbook by Joe Friel
Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan