Father’s Day gifts were all about cycling this year. My daughter presented me with this handsome gift, thereby doubling my library’s collection of cycling books. It is chock-full of handy information for cyclists who want to ride far. And I mean really far. These guys are off the charts extreme, with entire chapters and discussions devoted to rides over 200 miles or 24 hours in length.
It’s really crazy stuff, especially for someone like myself who wonders if an upgrade of my flat pedals is in order (of course it is, but I’m still putting it off). To read about the dedication and techniques required to achieve these superhuman feats is intriguing. But despite this wackiness, there are still plenty of sections that are quite useful to a humble beginner such as Yours Truly. I’ve already decided to put some of the authors’ advice into my routines, including:
Heart Rate Training. There’s a good discussion of aerobic vs. anaerobic fitness training and the application of the four “heart zones.” Basically, extreme heart rates push you into anaerobic training, which can be helpful if you want to build muscle mass but not so good if you want to burn fat and improve endurance. At the moment, I am all about burning fat! The trick is to know what heart zone you are in. My brand-new heart rate monitor helpfully details what my heart zones are based on age and weight and also prints out detailed heart rate analyses that I had no use for before reading this book.
Eating and Drinking. There is a good discussion of hydration strategies and when your body requires calories during a ride. One particularly-interesting tip was not to spend a great deal of time in rest breaks and not to eat all your food at one time. Any break over 10 minutes allows lactic acid to build up for no good reason and eating all at once forces your stomach into a competition with your muscles over blood flow. Your stomach will lose this battle, meaning whatever you eat will sit in your gut like a brick. The trick is to eat a little bit every 15 minutes after breaking the 2-hour point in the ride. A small, steady, supply of calories is the way to go.
There are discussions on just about every aspect of riding a bike: equipment, injury prevention, riding in the rain, climbing hills, and just about anything else you can think of. There is even a section about dogs. These guys didn’t skip anything! It looks like a handy reference and something to dig into more deeply on rainy days.