The Trans Abla Chronicles: Part 1 “Oh god, what have I done?!”

Yeah, that has been going through my mind A LOT when thinking about the Trans Alba Race I Will be lining up for in about 5 months. 

A little over 1600km around Scotland with over 15000m of climbing. It’s no small task and I want to track and reflect on how I manage the different type of training and preparation for the Trans Alba Race. I’m going into this “green” so over the next few months I’ll be going through a steepness learning curve in preparing for the 01 July start date and whilst preparation has already begun I’ve lazy about documenting it. 

Stats, stats, stats

How I make the jump from riding gran fondo style rides to riding longer distances for several days back to back whilst managing food and sleep on my own has taken up a good amount of my time recently and my strategy for the next five months is thus….

I love my stats! Not to the point where I will sit down and pore over every commute, but in terms of my training I like to see my progress. 

Trainer Road is my platform of choice. The range of workouts and specificity with which I can tailor my programs to suit my time and requirements makes it an easy choice to be able to target the areas I need to work on in the coming months.

So, my base from which I am working and two key metrics will be to work on my FTP whilst working to get my weight down approx 3 more kg.

Starting weight: 87kg

FTP: 357watts (4.1 watts/kg)

Whilst during the race itself I will rely on an endurance/tempo approach, I will be targeting building on my ftp and muscle endurance through sweetspot and threshold training once I finish out my base training in the next month which has largely focussed on endurance and aerobic capabilities. I am also acutely aware of the VO2 max intervals I will be facing from last years training. 🙁 BUT, as much as Trainer Road can hurt, it works. It took me from 2.9 w/kg to just over 4 w/kg and the guys running it practice what they preach so they are constantly developing their approach as well as answering questions via their podcast which is definitely worth a listen and via email as you need it.

Aside from the improvements in my cycling performance, the one major takeaway I have from using TR (That’s what the cool kids call it) is the mental resilience you can build up from prolonged periods on the bike with nothing for company but a blue line and a target number. Again, as boring as that sounds, I credit that resilience and being able to focus on the immediate task to getting me around the Marmotte course and through some other really tough rides. Being able to compartmentalise any of those dark moments where you feel like quitting and keep on turning the pedals is going to be invaluable come July.

Practice makes perfect

Ultra races don’t happen indoors, not in my house anyway. So in conjunction with some structured training I need to be out riding a mix of some audax rides but mostly getting out there on my lonesome putting in longer rides on the weekend  refining my kit and technique ahead of July all the while balancing that with coaching at my son’s cycling club, work and general family life.

Events wise, I am pencilling in two events woth

The only events I have planned ahead of the Trans Alba Race more due to time constraints and other commitments than anything else are the Velo Asventures Wales 200km gravel ride in March and the Trans Wales Race in May, potentially riding up to the latter race then timing it so I then turnaround at the start line and immediately ride back. I love North Wales and if i get to combine riding through my home country from North to South with some training and kit refinement then all the better. 

Throw in a some more back to back days riding, bivving (Biviing?…bivi-ing?) and general adventuring around Wales and that will be all I have time for ahead of the Trans Alba.

Yeesh. It’s going to be a busy few months and I will no doubt write a lot more about the build up but I am so stoked to be a part of the first Trans Alba Race and to see what I have got in the locker for events like this.

Take away…

I think the one thing I have taken away from this first phase is a deeper appreciation of the level of planning needed for something like this. The phrase getting handed about a lot is “only the essential”. It’s become a bit of a mantra at the moment when looking at training, pre race rides, bike set up etc.

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