My approach to training has always been keep it as simple as possible, so I started with three goals (1) build strength, (2) maintain weight and (3) increase endurance.
One of the lasting benefits from the Olympics being in Vancouver is the handful of venues that have been transformed into community recreation centres. The Hillcrest Recreation Centre served as the curling rink during the 2010 Winter Games and has recently been transformed into an aquatic facility, ice rink and community gym. With the city providing a more reasonable membership rate than private gyms, it has become my own little training facility in the months leading up to Black to Black.
Not much of a muscle head or protein packer, I’ve always fumbled my way around a weight room unsure of what to do exactly. I decided to get some help for this trip and have used the book Training Plans for Cyclists by Gale Bernhardt to develop a weight lifting and riding routine. I spend about two to three hours in the gym four days a week working on leg presses, squats, chest presses, lateral rows, bicep and tricep curls, push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, dips and more to strengthen my body before the trip.
Bernhardt’s book has taught me the importance of having a well-balanced nutritional diet during training more than anything. With all the strength training, I have to make sure my muscles get their nutrients and don’t break down on me crying and whining. An unexpected and much welcomed side-effect of preparing for this trip is that I have honed my cooking skills over the last few months working on cooking meals from unprocessed whole foods that include healthy helpings of carbohydrates, fats and of course protein. My favorite discovery: a spicy chipotle lasagna with European cottage cheese, zucchini and organic beef and Italian sausage.
With muscles honed and food in the belly, the only other thing to do has been ride, ride and ride some more. Let’s just say I know the bicycle paths in the Lower Mainland very, very well by this point. I have even left the province to travel down to Bellingham in Washington state one weekend to get an extra long ride of 100 km. I have fun with the rides working on pedaling as fast as I can in low gears, powering hard in the high gears, sprinting for one minute bursts, increasing my heart rate for three minute bursts, riding as far as I can for as long as I can and more. Rather than bore you with words, let me share some photos from my rides!