Mileage Challenge

Multisport put out a Distance Challenge for the months of July, August and September (see ‘Results > 2020’ from the Main Menu to see the badges TOETTees earned) and it gave me an idea… why not post the distance challenge that I’ve set for myself as a goal so that my athletes see that coach practices what he preaches… he talks… does he ever talk, but does he walk the walk (especially since its his own)? I have simple computers that do not connect to Strava or upload to TrainingPeaks — I maintain an Excel spreadsheet for my training log — so I thought to myself, perhaps it would be worth sharing what volume I’m setting for myself with the hopes that it encourages y’all to put in a couple more miles yourself.

My goal… 70km a day on the bike all summer long (actually my goal is riding daily 3hrs but 70k works as well)

In May, I put in 2000+ km

In June, I put in 2300+ km

In July, I put in 2465 km which brings the 3 month total of summer biking to 6,794 km

Let’s see if it can be a 10,000 km summer of riding!

Click to enlarge

I cannot tell you how much fun its getting to be to be putting in these miles day after day. I’m finishing rides and nothing is sore, sure I need to shake out a wrist or hand while out on the ride, but day after day, I’m able to start out on my bike without anything being sore, and then finish without anything being numb, sore or painful… its awesome, and its amazingly fun. How is this possible? All winter long I worked on my core strength & endurance, and it did take a bit of time to translate all of that dryland into sport specific capacity but now that it has…. woo-hoo! And now with this mileage in me… do you think that attempting any race distance is at all intimidating? Nope. Isn’t that the point? Train so that you can do whatever you want to do when you want to do it!  That’s the difference between training to cope (if you can even call that training) and training to win… I want to win in whatever I do, so I train in a manner that sets me up to win. You can too.

What inspired this goal of riding daily 3hrs (i.e. 70k +/- depending on the bike)?

Inspiration #1

It was this video to the right that did it.  I watched it earlier in the year and believed that I could attempt to put in the off season/base training that a UCI Worldtour level cyclist does (mind you this is after putting in a few years of mileage and having already put in 3hr rides, but never consecutively).  If team Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan who is a sprinter – not a GC contendor – is putting in afternoon 3hr steady state rides after his morning ‘tear your legs off’ training sessions, I decided that this is how I would take my training to the next level (and not with the morning session as most do… if you want to see that video, a link can be found below and to the right).

Why start with the steady state and not the “tear your legs off” session… my thinking is this: if you cannot do the mileage then whats the point of trying to go hard? How will you ever be able to do a full challenging session properly if you cannot do the volume easily? And if Caleb Ewan is ‘recovering’ in the afternoon with a 3hr ride and he’s a sprinter… well, there is clearly value to volume and especially since it isn’t impairing his ability to generate amazing power.

Inspiration #2

In his autobiography retired UCI WorldTour level cyclist Jens Voigt shares that his cycling career (which spanned from his start at the age of 14, til his retirement at the age of 43) included 12 stage race victories including 5x at the Criterium International, plus 2 stage wins in the Tour de France, and 1 stage win in the Giro d’Italia. In addition Voigt set the World Hour Record in Sept 2014 riding 51.110km. In total, Jens Voigt rode in the Tour de France 17x and in the Giro 3x.

But what served as inspiration was what he estimated his total cycling mileage to be for his career…. approximately 900,000 km!

Think on that for just a moment…. 900,000 km…. most cars will never last that many miles, yet Jens Voigt rode it on a bike.

And this got me thinking… athletes & coaches obsess over the latest workouts that pro athletes do, the workouts pros do to prepare themselves for a major Tour or other major cycling event but does anyone consider the base of training that the pro athlete has done in order to be able to even consider doing one peak power session? Does anyone consider the volume of riding a pro athlete puts in day after day in between the ‘tear your legs off’ sessions? The focus seems to be that these peak power sessions are the key to an athlete’s success, I disagree… I believe its the unspoken day in day out mileage spent simply riding for the joy of riding that builds an athlete into a pro capable of a career that spans 29 years, riding for multiple WorldTour teams, and includes wins in numerous single day/classic events as well as stage races. Which led me to asking myself… what kind of mileage I can put in consistently?

Funny thing though…. even if I do put in a 10,000 km summer of riding… that amounts to just over 1% of Jens Voigts total career cycling mileage!  Even if I maintained this rate of riding, its nowhere close to the daily volume a pro rider like Voigt puts in, yet where do you ever read that?

Inspiration #3

UCI WorldTour level cyclist Michael Kwiatkowski was a double European junior champion, the Polish Road Race Champion in 2013 & 2018, and the Polish Time Trial Champion in 2014 & 2017 and the World Road Race Champion in 2014. Add onto that a handful of stage race and single day/classic wins plus a stage win in the Vuelta a Espana and you get a glimpse into why Kwiatkowski has been a top rider on WorldTour teams such as Team Radioshack, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Team Sky and now Team Ineos.

During the 2019 Tour de France, Kwiatkowski posted his cycling data from Stages 3 and 4… and that was the inspiration to develop my steady state riding capacity.

Kwiatkowski posted that he held 40+ kph during both stages, with each being 200+km in length, and around 5hrs of total ride time. Most importantly he completed these stages with an average HR of 128 bpm and 111 bpm respectively. Thats some impressive riding especially when you consider that Kwiatkowski still had another 17 days of racing which would cover another 2,700km with the mountain stages still to come in the final 2 weeks of competition.

Inspiration #4

Norwegian National Triathlon Team member Kristian Blummenfelt is a world class pro triathlete who is rarely out of the top 5 at ITU Triathlon events.

He and his coach posted this video titled “What it takes to be a winner” and in the video identify the volume that Blummenfelt does in a year in each sport:

  • he swims 2,400 km a year
  • he rides 16,000 km a year, and
  • he runs 5,000 km a year

No, he didn’t fall out of bed one day and just decide to do this volume of training, it takes time, it took time for him to build up to this level of training, and now he can do this volume and do it at an intensity that allows him to compete against the best, and often end up the best of the best in competition.

Training doesn’t start at the back end with working on peak power; instead, healthy training starts at the beginning: by building up to the volume that the best of the best hold day in, day out, year in, year out. Once you can ride the distance and ride it easily, then you can start to work on adding elevation, power & speed.