Depending on location, your life will be in various shades of normal due to COVID. If your situation involves no major races or events to focus on, what are ways or ideas for challenging yourself this summer?
Maybe not as Dubai
At long last those of us in the northern hemisphere have reached the long daylight hours of summer. As many countries continue their rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, there remains some caution about mass-start cycling races or events, which may be postponed. However, that does not mean that cyclists need to refrain from competition or that your training serves no purpose.
Quite to the contrary, there are many ways for athletes to push themselves to improve & excel, even without a mass-start race on the summer calendar. In this article, I will list out a few different personal challenges to consider achieving this summer, in no particular order!
A long ride with chums – The time and miles fly by
(Imperial) Century Ride
Starting this list off is something that many cyclists may consider a badge of honor. A century ride, as the name suggests, includes covering a total of either 100 km, or 100 miles (160.9 km) in the case of an imperial century ride.
For those that might find completing a century ride relatively easier, there are some fun twists to challenge any rider. One such example, for the speed demons, is to complete a 100 km ride under 3 hours. This often includes finding a relatively flatter route. Another additional challenge to satisfy the appetite of the crazier endurance riders includes the double (or even triple) century ride.
Or for the gravel grinders amongst us, doing the same distance on bumpy #groad automatically makes for a longer and harder day out.
You could always get a bit of duro in your legs like EF Nippo’s Lachlan Morton
Personally, I have been adding more point-to-point rides into my long summer rides. Although they may require a little more planning, they can provide a nice change of pace for longer weekend rides as well as giving you something new & exciting to prepare for. This also works well for incorporating a big ride into family plans, either meeting them partway or at your destination, or getting dropped off partway home. There’s an extra frisson of excitement with point-to-points, knowing that you can’t simply turn around if you get tired or something goes wrong, and also that you have to get to a certain place by a certain time.
As expected, there are some additional things you may want to consider when planning an A to B ride, including the starting/ending points, surface type (road, gravel, single-track, etc.), weather & wind direction, which becomes increasingly important the longer the planned ride is.
Of course, to increase the challenge and complexity, there’s a multi-day tour. This can be done solo or with friends, credit card or bikepacking, road or gravel. Half the fun of these adventures is in the planning, especially exploring new areas.
A bit of TT never did Wout van Aert any harm
A time trial involves completing a course from start to finish as quickly as possible. It can be a fun, challenging combination of fitness, aerodynamics, & strategy. Although time trials can be performed competitively against other riders, I personally believe that it also appeals to many cyclists because it can be an individual sport – you versus the clock. Riding the same course a few times over the course of your summer can even provide you with objective feedback on whether your training has been effective, or if you need to change things up.
A fun, challenging twist on the time trial is pushing yourself on a personal hour record ride. The goal is simple: ride as far as you can in 1 hour. The ride should be performed such that you finish at (relatively) the same elevation as you started – no cheating on large descents!
A bit of ‘Everesting’ for Alberto Contador
Brilliantly simply, yet extremely challenging test for even the best of climbers. The goal of an Everest attempt is to vertically ascend the height of Mt. Everest – 8,849 meters (29,030 ft) – by riding repeatedly up a single hill in a single ride/activity.
Some things to consider when trying to identify a place for an Everesting attempt include the average slope and horizontal length of the segment, an appropriate pacing strategy, and nutrition strategy – Everesting attempts can easily top 8,000 Calories! For pacing strategy, check out this tool on the Everesting website: https://everesting.cc/app/lap-calculator/
I have set my own personal challenges that I look forward to completing this summer – I hope that you found this list interesting and maybe gave you a few ideas for your own summer challenges. Are there any challenges that I missed? What personal challenges/objectives have you set for yourself this summer? Let me know!