Wednesday, February 16th, 2022
Former pro-cyclist Ronan McLaughlin of Panache Coaching gives us some expert advice on how to get ready for Wicklow 200
It can be very helpful to have some structure and guidance leading towards an event like the Wicklow 200. A training plan takes the guesswork out of your training – you can be assured that you are increasing your workload in a realistic and achievable manner, without fear of getting burnt out.
As important as it is to get some hard training sessions in, it is equally important to have easy rides, keeping your heart rate low and enjoying riding your bike. It is a mistake made all too often that people go out with their group ride on the weekend and go full gas for a few hours! Sometimes, chilling out and stopping for coffee and cake is what the body needs. It can also improve your fitness. Plus, who doesn’t like a coffee stop?!
This may seem counter-productive, but if you are pushing your body hard in training, it will need days to recover as well. You can’t expect yourself to be ready to train hard every single day! You can incorporate yoga, pilates or swimming into your schedule if you don’t want to take complete rest days, but they are an important part of a training plan. In fact, an activity like yoga that includes stretching can actually help you get through your preparation for the event injury-free.
In an endurance event such as the Wicklow 200 or the Wicklow 100 Challenge, you can be on the bike for over 8 hours. It will be important to be able to take on some fuel in that time. Although there will be food stops, it is a useful skill to be able to take a gel or energy bar on the bike. You never know when you might ‘hit the wall’. It is a good idea to try out the gels on training rides in the run up to the event – you don’t want to take something for the first time on the day in case it doesn’t agree with your stomach.
An important part of the Wicklow 200 prep will be getting used to riding in a group. At the start of the event, it can be daunting even to an experienced rider to ride in a group of people. A good way to alleviate that stress on the day is to practice riding in a group before the event. Most local clubs will meet on a Saturday or Sunday for an endurance ride together. If you are finding the endurance rides tough or boring, a group ride can be a great solution – the camaraderie, the coffee stops, the fact that you don’t have to be on the front fighting the elements alone all the time, can make training mikes go by a lot faster!
If you are trying to balance preparing for this event with work and family life, chances are you are pretty caught for time on your weekdays. During the winter and spring months, it might not be possible to get out for a ride midweek, but it is important to try to keep active in some way from Monday to Friday. If you have a turbo trainer at home, you can easily hook up your bike and get some quality training done without being on the bike for hours. If the thought of being stuck indoors on a bike for an hour reduces you to tears, there are computer programs like Zwift to help with that!
If you are going to be spending upwards up of 7 hours on a bike, you need to make sure you are comfortable. Small things like adjusting saddle height, changing your saddle or altering the angle of your handlebars can make a huge difference to how you feel on the bike. You can also get your bike fitted by a professional, in case you’re afraid to make those adjustments yourself. Be sure to keep on top of your bike maintenance too! Little things like washing off your bike after a ride and applying some oil to the chain can make your cycling experience so much more enjoyable