Plan Your Training

By Andre Wolff and Michael Cooney

To start with, we’re not cycling coaches and can’t claim to know more than any of you when it comes to cycling training. The intention here is to share thoughts on ways to plan your riding year for that purpose. Recent past (very recent) taught us that fate can throw a wrench at our wheels at any time, but we can help you plan to keep on track, or at least not derail everything?

For several years, we’ve been setting goals for our next riding season starting around October. We like that time of year because there are still opportunities for outdoor riding, although we realize the season is coming to an end. Fitness is already winding down, and we shift our minds to the upcoming holidays and vacation. In our minds, however we start thinking of what goals would be exciting enough to get us on the trainer or even excited about a long ride outside when temperatures are around the low thirties (if we’re lucky enough).

We should make a point very clear here: Goals, and the thrills they bring, are VERY personal. Nobody but you can fully understand how a goal brings excitement to an individual. If you share your goal with 100 riders, for example, around 2 of them may connect with it, but the larger majority would either think it is dull or that you have too much time on your hands. So, if your goal is to complete that 20 mile route without having to stop, or keep up with your ride mates through a hilly ride, or ride across the country, it’s all good. It just needs to make sense – and motivate – YOU.

Once you have set your goals in the most specific way possible (you can try to make them SMART if you will) it’s time to lay the plan for the year out. One good way to go about it is to look at your previous year’s record. How many hours did you ride? How many miles have you traveled? How did you feel? Consider what you achieved last year, and how realistic your new goal is. Then, refine your plan to make up for the skills or fitness you need to build. Start by setting a date by which you want to attempt to get to your goal. The completion time is a direct function of the size of the gap you need to overcome. If for example you haven’t ridden over a 30 mile-ride in a year, you may need to build mileage prior to attempting your first Century ride. This may require a full year cycle to get you in good enough shape. On the contrary, if you have been riding 500 miles a month for years, it just may be a matter of focus to go for a PR on that flat century route (yes, we are talking about CRW’s Cranberry Harvest Ride).

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of having a (riding) goal for the year are the social opportunities. Look around you and identify people who can be up for a similar challenge as yours. Share your thoughts and explain your draft plan in as much detail as you have. Be open to the input others provide, welcome their suggestions and refine your plan accordingly.

Sharing your goals could result in an improved plan and also good company to help motivate you when the going gets tough!

CRW can be a great resource to support your plan and goals for the year. The club offers a variety of aids from webinars, nutrition articles and tips, a database of amazing routes, and – when public health allows – group rides to put you in contact with other like-minded riders. We even have a Development group – CRW Devo – that is concerned with supporting riders to improve their performance. Make full use of the club to back up your plan.

2021 will be a “Bridge Year”, considering the effects of COVID will still be around. Set your goals, build ways to get into shape and be ready for an exciting riding year, no matter what obstacles are thrown at your wheels.