For me the key to successfully completing TCR lies in proper preparation and has three principal components; training, route planning and equipment choice. From the moment I signed up for TCR I became fairly obsessed with all three, mainly spurred on by the fact that I was cacking myself about what I had taken on.
I think that all of the above factors are highly subjective and when it comes to such extreme events you will only know what what works for you based on personal experience. The approach also depends on your objective; are you going for a time or just aiming to finish. So the starting point is to be clear about your objective, having decided that you then need to ensure that your preparation lines up with your goal.
In terms of objectives I had no competitive ambitions whatsoever, however I decided at the outset that I wanted to finish in time for the Finishers Party. This seemed like a natural time limit and was reinforced by the fact that lack of annual leave meant that I had to get back to work anyway! My only other objective was to try to make the experience as pleasurable as possible. Having endured a torrid 1400km ride in 2013 (LEL) I was determined not to have a repeat of that.
I’ve used the Training Peaks software package for a couple of years to plan and monitor my training. In conjunction with a power meter its possible to accurately measure workload. My plan was to gradually increase workload throughout the year aiming to peak three weeks before tapering for the start. To achieve this meant cycling progressively longer distances as the event drew nearer. Most of the higher intensity training I did was in the early season. Personally I found that once I started doing longer rides, 300km+ I was too fatigued during the week to do anything useful in terms of interval training. The great thing about power training is that you can’t cheat. You may think that you’re doing a hard interval session but the numbers will tell you otherwise!
The blue line on the graph below shows that I managed to keep my training load increasing at a fairly steady rate right up to the final peak which was a 3 day, 1000km solo ride 3 weeks before the event.
I used long Audax rides as the staple of my training, these included:
- 3 Down – 300 km from Chalfont to the New Forest
- Brevet Cymru – 400km from Chepstow
- Bryan Chapman Memorial – 600km from Chepstow
- Mr Pickwick goes in search of dragons and legends .. another very tough 600km ride in Wales with 9000m+ of climbing
In between these events I rode similar distances on my own which was good practice to build mental strength.
Bike – Trek Domane
Trek Domane 600 frame built up with an Ultegra groupset and Bontrager carbon bars. The saddle is a Fizik Antares VSX. Gearing was 50/34 with an 11/32 cassette and at times I was really glad of the lowest gear combination.
The wheels were made by DCR Wheels in Lewes.
- H Plus Son Archetype 28h rims
- Son Delux front hub
- Chris King R45 rear hub
- Sapim CX- Ray spokes
- Continental 28mm 4 Seasons tyres
The aim was to achieve comfort as well as being reasonably light whilst being strong and reliable enough to stand up to the rigours of the journey.
I suppose the fact that I was able to finish in a reasonable time without any significant soreness and no major mechanicals means that I achieved this objective. The Domane is a great long distance bike and if the geometry suits you I would unhesitatingly recommend it.
Obviously the other key element is a proper bike fit. After suffering fairly major knee issues on last years LEL I was determined not to have a repeat and invested in a bike fit at Wyndy Milla in Seale. Money definitely well spent.
Saddlebag – Revelate Designs Viscacha
Top Tube Bag – Revelate Designs Gas Tank
Frame Bag – Alpkit Possum