When the going gets tough …

Eddie Barkla and Kevin Hall tackle the Alpine Classic

Eddie Barkla and Kevin Hall tackle the Alpine Classic

Head winds, heat, hills and long distance is not the combination that any rider would deliberately set out to face unless they are well prepared with a mental capacity that stares at these four challenges shouting loudly “bring it on”.

Most riders have a reasonably capacity of mental preparation and can get their mind around a 200 km ride but add one or two of the additional challenges this capacity may well wane somewhat.  There is an increasing call it seems of the mountains and extreme distances as a challenge for the recreational rider.

The medium distance of 200 km – 250 km rides such as the round the bay in a day can be achieved with the right planning and preparation.  Such distances of the Murray to Moyne that is 520 km in 24 hour time limit requires a differing approach to preparation and planning to be able to maintain optimum performance.  Or at the other end of the scale taking on the Alpine Classic 200klm of Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo with up and back over Tawonga Gap as a light break in between both mountains.

Weather conditions can change and be at either end of the scale hot or cold and because of the time required for longer challenges all may well be encountered.  Think of the ride in these terms to cover 520 km in 24 hours an average of 21.7 km per hour is required which does not seem all that much.

What it does mean however is you can’t get off the bike if this was the best average you could achieve or have any rest breaks or sleep.  Every stop increases the required average speed, e.g. take 4 hours off the bike over the distance an average of 26 km becomes the new target.  At the other side of the coin is the mountain ride where you may be able to climb comfortably at 10 km per hour that equates for two hours plus to get up Mount Buffalo and an hour and a half approximately to handle either side of Tawonga Gap. From Mount Beauty to the top of Falls Creek is 30 km (granted it’s not all climbing).

When the heat and wind are against you coping with these types of challenges can play on the mind and body.  Pains will come at inopportune times such as the knees, lower back, shoulders, neck, hands, feet and calves will come against you and will needed to be overcome.

Time in the saddle is the best preparation as the bottom and feet could be the very parts of the body that may shout the loudest.  Develop unrelenting repetitive techniques that are sustainable and don’t regress back to old debilitating cycling habits when tiredness creeps in.  Knowing how to conserve energy yet maintain a reasonable pace how to rest the body and stretch on the bike are all aspects that can assist in preparation and planning.

One of the greatest challenges is how much food to consume that allows the body to hydrate.  Taking on the wrong foods can reduce the effectiveness of the intake of water.  Leaving it too long to intake of food can make you hunger flat.  Food preparation is what was eaten the days prior forms the basis of what you have as reserves. If this is done poorly then performance will be reflected. When faced with heat and wind having a contingency in your thinking is required.  Lower speed more hydration more time in the saddle more energy required.

Have been re-reading a book by Ernie Old “By Bread Alone” a local who grew up at Dingee, Ernie shared this insight. “The heart and lungs require action to keep them in good order just as the other muscles.” Where ever Ernie went whether walking or cycling he ensured that he increased his heart lung capacity with short burst of speed repetitiously and as fitness improved increased the distance of the efforts. Between the ages of 71 -76 Ernie had ridden to every Capital City in Australia and return with an average distance per day over 120 miles. Ernie’s base fitness came from regular exercise with a purpose keeping the whole body in fine tune.

See you on the road soon God willing.


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