Everyone has a different motivation to join Peaks Challenge, but here’s 12 things you should know when you’re signing up.
1. Get your bike (or bike fit) sorted – you’re going to spend a lot of time together
As your riding will increase, pre-existing injuries or bike-fit issues will start to raise their ugly heads. If you’re not happy with the sizing or fit of your bike, it’s best to take the time to get that sorted before your training progresses to far, to allow your body time to habituate to any changes. And whatever you do, don’t leave your final bike servicing too late, just in case major issues present themselves.
2. You really need to get your nearest and dearest on board
Sit down with your partner or family and have a realistic conversation about the amount of time you might need to spend on the bike. If you’re going to be disappearing for half of every weekend for the next three months, it’s important to flag that early for the sake of your closest personal relationships. Make an effort to spend quality time with significant others to make up for it.
3. It really helps having a training buddy
All those long hours on a bike can get lonely, and it helps to have someone that can help you pass the time. Having someone else going through the journey with you also helps keep you accountable.
The best training relationships are those where you’re fairly closely matched, and where you are aiming to achieve similar goals. It can be quite a journey, and your training buddy will turn into a training friend by the end of it.
4. There will be guilt
At times, you may feel the self-imposed weight of the event hovering over you like a black cloud. Prepare for some guilt if you miss your training targets for a week or two; you may also start keeping a closer eye on what you’re eating and drinking (which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, as long as it’s within healthy limits).
5. You will sometimes really resent riding
It’s hard to maintain enthusiasm for anything if you’re doing it all the time. If you’re taking your training seriously or are coming off a lower base of fitness, you’ll be spending a lot of time riding, and it might at times feel like it’s taking over your life. Try to build some variety into the training to keep it from feeling routine.
6. So. Much. Food.
You’ll bonk once, and quickly learn that you need to constantly be shoveling food down.
This will also give you a heightened understanding of the subtle differences between the different energy products on the market, and weirdly fierce loyalties to them (massive shout-out to Winners’ Raspberry Chews!)
7. Indoors is the new outdoors
Indoor training is the time-poor cyclist’s friend. Whilst it’s always more fun to get out on real roads with friends, when you’ve only got an hour or two to spare it’s not a bad idea to get onto the ergo. Pasta optional.
8. Your body will go through some changes
There’s a quiet satisfaction in taking in the comely curves of your calves and thighs. As you’re gaining tone in some areas, you’ll most likely lose some weight as well. On the downside, you might pick up some ridiculous-looking tanlines (your partner and/or friends will probably find helmet strap tanlines the most comical). Another downer is the increased likelihood of saddle-sores; as icky as it is to use, you’ll come to really appreciate chamois cream.
9. New roads!
If you’re out training for many hours a week, chances are you’ll get a bit bored of the same roads or training loops. If your options for climbing are few, introduce some challenge into your regular climbs by trying for quicker times. If you’ve got an abundance of interesting roads about, go exploring. It’ll keep you engaged and you might well find some new favourites.
10. Don’t take it too seriously – listen to your body
It’s easy to get tunnel-vision and become overly serious about your preparation for a big event, but ultimately you’re out there for enjoyment rather than work. It won’t kill you to have an easier day or turn back if you’re knackered. Listen to your body and don’t flog yourself to hit a self-imposed target.
11. Sleep is your friend.
As your training volume increases, it stands to reason that you’ll get a bit worn out at times. Sleep and recovery are just as important to your preparation as time in the saddle, so make a point of catching an early night once in a while.
12. The joy, pride and satisfaction of crossing that finishing line?
The best. Seriously. All the sacrifice and struggle of the preceding weeks and months is instantly worth it.