Way back in January 2017, this group of ladies embarked on a new training routine, with an end goal in mind: to complete the 100km Women V Cancer ‘Ride The Night’ cycling event on 27th May.
Lesley (2nd from right) had been attending Wattbike classes at MSF twice a week for around a 6 months. She organised for the group to start training together for a private session on a Thursday evening at 8.30pm. Dark winter nights would normally make training difficult but the friends would motivate each other to keep it going.
They attended their first session on 12th January. Following an introduction to the Wattbike, they completed a simple interval session with efforts going from 2 minutes down to 60 seconds. With a variety of fitness levels within the group, this allowed them to experiment with cadence and resistance levels. It also built confidence through being able to work at their own level of ability.
This session was opened up to a few other ‘beginners’ as well as Lesley and Lisa’s husbands. So this made for a nice little group. The sessions maintained an interval based focus for the following few weeks. With the intervals getting progressively longer, we were able to focus on efficient pedalling technique and cadence. By week 5, they were comfortably completing 6 minute intervals.
On week 6, we picked up the pace with some higher cadence/high intensity work. This involved 1 minute intervals across 2 sets. This pushed them on and for some, pushed them right out of their comfort zone. Again, this was a great confidence builder, proving that they were capable of much more than they thought they were!
By week 8, we were now able to follow the structured sessions that are available in all of our classes. The group were definitely not beginners anymore! Over the following weeks, we worked on conditioning (longer intervals), high cadence/high intensity (aimed at improving base leg speed and cardio fitness) and accelerating intervals (digging deep when we need to).
We also went on to complete a ‘fitness test’. This wasn’t a standard fitness test – it didn’t involve any kind of data. We didn’t measure power output or heart rate. We worked on the simple RPE scale (Rate of Perceived Effort) and measured how far we were able to travel in 30 minutes. We focused on maintaining the same leg speed, altering the resistance if we had to. This again, was a huge confidence builder for the ladies as they were the ones that had the stamina, fitness and motivation to keep pedalling the bike!
The sessions continued with the same pattern and over the weeks, it was brilliant to see not only the progression in their fitness levels but also, the huge improvement in base cadence. Where some had a base cadence of 75rpm, they were now much more comfortable (and efficient) at 85/90rpm.
The final session before their big day was a leg-loosener. We completed 4 x 8 minute intervals at an intensity where they could speak a short sentence. During the session, we discussed nutrition leading up to and during the event as well as the all important hydration. We also discussed safety in terms of eating and drinking on the bike – unless confident in doing this, it’s much safer to just stop for a minute or two rather than risk falling off trying to peel that banana like a pro! We also had the all important ‘fun’ as we played ‘name that tune’ throughout the session!
Their big night came. And apart from a mechanical within the group, all ladies completed the ride and had a great time in doing so. They’ve enjoyed the experience and improvements in their fitness so much that they are going to keep their training sessions going, and are now confident enough to book into any one of our bike classes.