Ainslie MacEachran is the owner and head coach of GeminiTrainingSystems.com and the co-owner of Orchards Athletic Club. If you have a grand fondo coming up and you’d like help preparing, visit www.geminitrainingsystems.com.
Gran Fondos are a great addition to the American cycling scene. They provide great exposure to the sport and an opportunity for both competitive AND recreational athletes to be challenged by the same course. Here are some ideas to help you prepare.
Fits like a glove:
Basic prep for a Gran Fondo starts with trying to make sure your positioning on the bike is dialed in. If you’re back or butt are hurting, you’re going to have a hard time enjoying the event. Your local bike shop or a professional cycling coach can help you with get your bike set up. Correct position will allow you to be more comfortable AND more efficient on the bike.
Creatures of habit:
It’s also in your best interest to spend as much time as possible leading up to the event riding your bike in varied terrain. Don’t fall into the trap of avoiding one type of terrain or another just because its not your favorite. Gran Fondo’s are typically of a great enough distance that you’re likely to encounter a variety of terrain so, you want to be prepared.
Additionally, in training, you should experiment with different nutritional products so that on the day of the event you’ve found something that you like and works for you. There’s nothing worse that detonating sky high during the event and then dragging your sorry butt the rest of the way. Proper fueling is a key element. Don’t neglect your hydration too. Remember the old adage to drink BEFORE you’re thirsty, not WHEN you’re thirsty.
Don’t spend it all in one place!
An issue I see many cyclists struggle with is going out too fast. Remember that it’s most likely a multi-hour event. Going out at a rapid pace will come back to bite you in the later hours and minutes of the event. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement and try to go out with the leaders (unless that’s your goals). Remember to measure your effort so that you’re still feeling reasonable in the last hour. You’re ultimate goal is to complete the event, so if at all possible, try to bear that in mind as you roll out.