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Training For Taupo - Part 2
30 Sep, 2008

Training for Taupo – Part 2


Can you believe it, Taupo is not far away now!  Thankfully the weather has been kind and the sun is motivating many to hit the road, almost clogging Auckland’s waterfront with cyclists before work!  With not much time left what do you need to be doing?  First of all you need to decide on your goal for Taupo.  Then once you have, apply the 7 golden rules:



1. You need to be able to complete at least three quarters of the distance between now and Taupo.  So if you are doing 160kms, then 120kms is a good achievement to aim for.  Likewise if you are doing the 80km then 60kms is a good target to achieve.  You do not need to bang out the full event distance many times between now and then.  That will just make you overtrained, and grumpy at work on Mondays.  Focusing on a quality three quarter distance will help you achieve your goal.


2. You need to do specific aerobic training.  What on earth is this?  This is training at a pace at makes you sweat, but doesn’t burn your legs, which is typically 75-80% of maximum heart rate.  It is often called tempo in training literature.  Why do you need to do this?  Because it improves your endurance, and your ability to maintain good speeds, or simply: become an aerobic demon!  Be sure to do this at high cadences (95+rpm), as this keeps it aerobic in nature.  As an example training at this pace at 70rpm will be a very different training effect to training at 95rpm.  95rpm and higher will help you recover quicker day to day, improve your aerobic capacity, and make accelerating easier.  Each week try to include more tempo training between now and Taupo.


3. Look up, then climb up.  Might I remind you that there are 1650m of climbing around Taupo!  In between now and then aim to achieve at least 1200m of climbing in training so you get to feel what that feels like.  When you are climbing focus on keeping your cadence high at 85+rpm.  If this is impossible check at your bike shop to make sure you have adequate gears for spinning up climbs. Punching away at 60rpm will fatigue your muscles, and make you slow!


4. How fast do you want to ride around Taupo?  This will determine your speed training.  To ride fast, you need to train fast!  We can’t train at 25kph, and then magically ride around Taupo in 4.5hrs.  That would be a miracle!  Instead 3 key things need to be taken into account to maximise your speed between now and Taupo:


a)      Your speed is ultimately limited by your posture on the bike. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”  So to ride fast, or excel to the utmost of your ability at Taupo, you need to make what you repeatedly do quality, or a habit.  Training slowly means that you will race slowly.  Training to the best of your ability is essential because when you are under pressure in an event or race you will fall back to your habits.  If your habits are good, your performance will be equally good when under pressure.  Bad posture limits your speed.

b)      Your speed is also limited by your skill and technique.  Skill includes your ability to ride tightly in a bunch and feel comfortable riding 30cm from another riders wheel.  This saves a lot of energy and enables you to go much faster for less effort.  Technique includes your ability to pedal at high cadences, and climbing effectively in and out of the seat.

c)      The final way to improve your speed between now and Taupo to achieve your goal is to do speed training.  Speed training typically involves riding at high cadences on the drops if you have a road bike, at or above your threshold.  For most people this is 85-90% of maximum heart rate.  Each week try to include a speed session between now and Taupo, increasing the amount of speed work you do between now and then.


5. Bunch rides are essential between now and Taupo.  These push you each weekend, and help you get used to riding closely next to people.  They also allow you to ride farther and improve your fitness very quickly.


6. One of the primary reasons riders drop off the pace in an event is a change of pace.  Someone accelerates up a hill or on the flat for just long enough that you can’t handle it.  This is why it is important to practise this in training on the flat roads, and on the hills.  Include accelerations of anywhere from 10-seconds to 1-minute in your training, with multiple reps.  This can be done once a week or every fortnight.  The more this is a weakness, the more you should concentrate on this.


7. The final golden rule is to try some practice events.  These not only allow your body to get used to the variability noted in rule number 6, but allow you to make the mistakes you don’t want to make on the day!  When doing an event it is easy to get caught up in it, and common sense can go out the window, such as forgetting to warm up, or eating something you wouldn’t normally eat for breakfast and getting a sore stomach!  Events such as the Pukekohe Express on the 19th of October, or K1 in November are ideal for pre-event practise to get of the nerves that seem to make us do silly things!


Now get off the internet and get training!


Amy Taylor is the New Zealand cycling coach of the year.  She is the author of the “Lake Taupo cycle challenge guide” due out end of October/early November through Awapress, and is a full time cycling coach with Kinetic Edge ( training beginner to elite cyclists.  She can be contacted on 09 3687819 or


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