Newcrest Orange Challenge ambassador Kevin Eddy has provided the following advice for those looking to keep up their training in the lead up to an event, when the weather is working against you.
Recent weather conditions in Australia have been challenging for cyclists to say the least.
The unprecedented scale of the bushfires and accompanying thick smoke has choked huge swathes of the country. Many popular holiday riding areas – such as the Snowy Mountains or the Victorian Alps – have been evacuated, while hazardous air quality has nixed many urban training rides in recent weeks.
At the other end of the spectrum, heavy rain – while very welcome following the bushfires crisis – has also hit the eastern seaboard, keeping many of us off the roads even longer than we anticipated
While this is a ‘first world problem’ compared to the hardships of those directly affected by the bushfires, those who have signed on for events like Peaks Challenge Falls Creek or the Newcrest Orange Challenge are probably looking at your training plans (and post-Christmas bulge) and wondering how to get back on track.
Here are some ideas on how to keep training for your target event, even when the weather’s against you.
Hit the home trainer
The number one bad weather alternative is the trusty home trainer (or rollers). While riding a home trainer used to be an exercise in boredom management as well as a physical effort, the advent of computer-controlled smart trainers and immersive training programs like Zwift, the Sufferfest, TrainerRoad, Fulgaz and more make staying in much more fun than it used to be.
In addition, trainer time can be much more time-efficient than riding outside. With no traffic lights, vehicles or brew stops to distract you, you can put in a hard workout in roughly half the time it would take riding outside. Just make sure you’ve got a powerful fan to keep you cool (and that your air con is set to recycle if it’s smoky outside).
Switch up your schedule
Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to changeable weather conditions. Where possible, adjust the timing of sessions – particularly high-intensity efforts – to take advantage of good weather. If you have hill repeats on a Tuesday and an easy ride on a Wednesday, for example, and Tuesday is smoky, then switch your easy ride to the Tuesday.
Obviously, work and family obligations can limit the amount of switching up that you can do, and some sessions do need to be done in a certain order to get the best training effect. If you’re working with a coach or following a training plan, make sure you follow any guidelines provided before rearranging your entire training week.
Brave the elements
Sometimes, you just need to harden up and deal with the conditions. Races and gran fondos typically run in a wide range of conditions, meaning you may well have to contend with high temperatures, wind, rain, hail, uncertain air quality and more besides.
Training in adverse conditions (within reason, of course) means you’re more likely to be comfortable if the weather turns against you during your target event. Even so, you should always put safety and your health first, and it’s often wise to shorten bad weather training rides to prevent yourself getting ill during the period that you should be training hardest.
Sometimes riding just isn’t possible, for whatever reason. In these situations, it may be worth looking at cross-training alternatives. Yoga and/or strength training is increasingly regarded as the ideal counterpart for cycling, undoing the muscle tightness induced by hours in the saddle as well as strengthening muscles essential for powerful riding. Even 15-20 minutes a day can be enough to make a major difference to those aches and pains.
Other complementary sports include running, swimming and climbing – anything that brings the heart rate up and induces perspiration will help preserve that hard-earned fitness.
Bank some family time
Sometimes, it’s better to just let it go and spend the time with your nearest and dearest. The families of keen cyclists are usually incredibly tolerant of the time we spend out on our bikes (and the time we spend at home arranging training rides via Whatsapp).
So next time there’s a rainy Saturday, why not take them out for brunch or to the movies to say thank you for all those days when you’ve been out putting the miles in.
Something is better than nothing
Last but not least, every little helps. Even if you can snatch half an hour on Zwift, a quick recovery ride in between rain showers or ten minutes of stretching, that’s still better than lying on the couch doing nothing.
Erin Ferg, another Bicycle Network ambassador, shared some further advice for those preparing for an event via Instagram recently:
"Don't marry yourself to your original time goal. For plenty of us, preparation hasn't been ideal... don't put even more pressure on yourself by having a goal that you were aiming for with a perfect lead up. Enjoy the process, and the day, and know that you're contributing to communities that need the support right now."
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