Beginning in early April, these Saturday training rides become increasingly difficult to help riders get ready for the Grand Tour. Our pledge: If you ride these trainers faithfully, you should be well prepared for your Grand Tour Double Metric, Double Century, Triple or Quad. Check the ride schedule in early April for the start of the Saturday training rides. Route sheets will be available for download early in the same week of each ride.
Boot camp for new Marines is an intensive 12 week period which historically turns boys into men. (Now that there are women in the Marines, I’m not sure that expression is apt – maybe I should just say it turns youngsters into Marines.) By coincidence, our annual training period for the Grand Tour is also 12 weeks long. During that period it is our hope to turn average cyclists into that most revered of all cyclists – the double rider. Marine training is tough and many wash out. We don’t think our training period is quite so difficult and we think many participants actually enjoy it. We don’t train 7 days a week – only on Saturdays and you aren’t forced to show up every week. We don’t have angry drill instructors yelling at you to “Get up that hill, maggot!” We don’t make you wear a uniform. We don’t punish failure with additional training. But despite these differences between our training and the Marines, it might help if you treated it a little like Marine training.
Yes, we only train one day a week, but you would be well advised to ride additional days on your own. We don’t have drill instructors, but it would be well if you became your own drill instructor. When you feel you just can’t make it up to the top of a climb, you need that inner voice yelling at you to keep on going.
You will probably need that voice in your head on a double, so you might as well develop it during training.
You are not forced to wear a uniform, but let’s face it – we all seem to voluntarily wear the traditional cycling uniform of shorts and jersey. We don’t punish failure, but your inner drill instructor should be telling you to increase your training if you need it.
So, why not treat our 12 week training period as if it’s a double century boot camp. It might just be the right attitude to take to insure your success in June. I have always found that maintaining my drive through the 12 week period is difficult. There is not the coercion of the Marines to make you stick to it, but maybe if you consider it a 12 week boot camp with a graduation at the end, you’ll be able to get through any rough spots along the way without throwing in the towel.
Just remember that riding a double is your goal and it’s only 12 weeks away. You can do it if you stick to it. As I have repeated over and over, no one who had diligently completed all or most of the training rides has ever failed to complete the Grand Tour because they were unprepared. The training rides work. They are here for you to use to achieve your goal.
Theories on training vary. Some feel that long rides are required since you will be riding 200 miles in the Grand Tour. Others favor shorter but difficult rides with significant climbs. The idea is that long climbs result in the same number of pedal strokes under pressure as a longer flat ride and therefore give you the same training in less distance. Our trainers have always been a mix of both concepts with a few centuries mixed in with the other more difficult climbing trainers. This year I think we moved a bit more toward the mileage theory by adding an additional century, but we have kept all the classic trainers with those beautiful and fantastic climbs.