Training for the Novice on the 1965Ride for Education

So one of the first things I said after riding the 2016 version of the ride was to come up with a training program for novice riders.

Tony said he would hold me to it and I think he was a little worried he may never see it once I climbed on a plane to Guinea but here it is.

Firstly some questions I asked myself constantly in between the expletives, I voiced!!

  1. Why are you riding are you mad, 850KM is a long way on a Bicycle!!
  2. Am I fit enough?
  3. Will I make it?
  4. What do I need?
  5. Will they wait for me, if I am too slow!!
  6. Why???

Here are the answers to these questions:

1.0. Because you become part of something very special, a family and a cause that will make a difference in this strife-torn country of ours. You will contribute towards making a difference to somebody’s life, and albeit a small contribution, it could become a very big one when a talented youngster, who may not have become anything, goes on to achieve something special!!

2.0. Not even close to fit enough hence the program to make your ride a more comfortable experience

3.0. Yes I did on the minimalistic training I did. However it was painful and needn’t have been. I had a wobble on the third day, but from there, you will just get stronger and stronger!!

4.1. A bike (racing, don’t arrive with a mountain bike unless you really want to suffer; or are super fit).

4.2. Get decent kit, you will love those gel pants and yes they are expensive, but worth every cent you pay.

4.3. HAVE WINTER KIT, we went down to freezing conditions on day one and two.

4.4. Have rain kit, the chances are good you will get wet.

4.5. If you have two pairs of cycling shoes bring them.

4.6. Have decent gloves, make sure the cushioning is good I spent about 2 grand on a chiropractor sorting out a pinched nerve in my hand!!

You will receive a complete list, closer to the time but wear your kit in, don’t put the pants on for the first time on the day you start. NB!!! CHAMOIS CREAM, it’s an anti-bacterial, viscous substance that helps eliminate friction between skin and clothing, and therefore the chafing that can occur during a ride. It is a bit cool in the morning, but it was the first thing I did before I got dressed, and it was well worth it.

5.0. You also need a good sense of humour, this is essential and you will lose it on occasions, but with the help of your fellow riders, you will find it and have many, many laughs and funny experiences along the way. Starting every day, with the “day before” report at breakfast!! So bring your journalist notebook to write down any funny experiences, or idiot occurrences, as only the strongest survive this!!

  1. Yes the other cyclists will wait, this is not a race, although there are a “couple”, who don’t understand this. You will always be given a decent rest at all the pitstops.
  2. Because you can!!!

So now I have warned you, this is a huge commitment!! So why not put a little effort in before the ride so it is a comfortable and enjoyable ride. If you are a bit portly, make an effort to shed 10kgs or more, remember when you buy a bag of dog food and how heavy they are to carry from the car to the kitchen, well you are carrying them all the way to Queenstown, so cut down over Christmas don’t have that extra portion, cut sweet stuff to a minimum and improve you general health by ridding yourself of the unwanted Kg’s. You will thank me for this tip.

Your Head

Start training your mind to accept that you will be in the saddle for most of the day and that the road map, may show down to Queenstown, (Tony will also tell you it’s all downhill) but the supposed flat Free State isn’t that flat. There is a gentle up gradient in the road for a large portion of the way or so my head kept telling me. Tony showed me on the road how positive thoughts help. When I was at the back, riding on my own with negative thoughts I wanted to stop, but when he or one of the other members of the team were chatting to me and I was positive, how much easier the ride became. Always think of positive things, how you will feel when you get to the end of the first day and what a great accomplishment that is, how stunning that lady was at the first guest house, how privileged you are to be out in this beautiful country of ours, how proud your family and friends will be!! Break your day up into stops, never get ahead of yourself. I looked up the day on my App on my phone and that can be terrifying, so don’t worry about that. start with how nice it will be to have Jen’s fruit cake at the next stop, how funny it will be to see a “newbie” fall off his bike.(Just make sure you are not that “newbie”) that hot cup of tea, that’s just around the corner. This Hill is tough but slowly, slowly I will conquer it, because I have trained and I am stronger than it, and it will not beat me, and before you know it you will be flying down the other side. There is no better view of new places than the one seen from a bicycle. You see, hear, smell and feel things you will never experience in the seat of a car. So be positive at all times!!! Ian will be waiting for you with that infectious smile and dented head of his. You will become one of his chickens and he will keep an eye on you!!


Current Training Status and Tour Goals

So where are you with your training? If you are a novice like me, start slowly by riding at least 3 times a week, by all means supplement this with spinning, but do not kid yourself that spinning will get you ready for this ride, it will not!! (I speak from experience) There is no supplement for riding your bike on the road. Find yourself a hill that looks daunting and make sure that at least one of your rides includes riding up that hill. Learn how to use your gears, they are a very important part of your ride as Tony showed Setu , Des and me. How do I learn you ask, find a group of riders in your area and ride with them, tell them you are a novice and they will show you the ropes.

So we know that we will be riding 850km and that the first day is 140km, the excitement and adrenalin of the first day and fresh legs, will get you through this fairly easily. The second day is only 60km, but I nearly packed it in, it was pouring with rain and there was snow on the Malutis, so it was freezing and the first day’s ride was catching up with my tired legs!! The third day is 148km, for me day 3 was my Everest, but that was because I was not fit enough and we had two very tough days with rainy freezing conditions and head winds to contend with. I still believe if I had made it to Bethlehem with all the excitement of sirens and police escort I would have made it, but I did not, largely due to my negative mind set and not being fit enough. Your main goal is comfortable (a relative term) completion of the daily distance averaging some 24-30km per hour, that’s riding time, remember you will stop every 25 km or so. Some days will be faster and others slower, depending on the difficulty of the day.  The first three days are the toughest as after that you are more used to being on the bike for long periods of time, the countryside becomes more interesting and your legs are getting stronger. It is by no means cake walks from there so don’t think that once you are through the first three, that it is over – there are still some pretty long rides and mean hills ahead of you, but nothing that you will not be able to handle.


1ST Month (October)

For the first month get out there and ride 3 times a week do 30min -60 min and then on the week-end try and Ride for 60 to 120 mins, building it up slowly. Supplement this with spinning for cardio and weight training, if you are a member of a gym, concentrating on your core (stomach, yes that flabby thing that used to be flat) this will be the most important area and obviously leg strength which will help you up the hills. Remember ride that hill, if you have one nearby, you will thank me if you can handle Hills there are some “nasties” on this ride and if you are well trained for the Ride it will be a piece of cake.

2nd Month (November)

More of the same, the majority of us are working people and your midweek rides will never go much longer that 45-60 minutes mainly due to time constraints, but over the week-end you can build your week-end rides up from 120mins to 180mins

3RD Month (Dec)

So it’s almost Christmas and you will be going on leave, there is a public holiday so you will have a bit more time to train, if you are staying at home for Christmas then you can do more rides as the traffic will be lighter, better yet ride to work and back!! If not keep up the weekly 45-60 minute rides and then on the week-end build on the progress you have been making and go out for longer rides 180-240mins obviously you will want to spend time with the family, but take advantage of the hols and get that stamina going and that butt used to spending longer time in the saddle. Experiment with drinks and food and find out what suits you and more importantly what does not agree with you. Taper off over Christmas and enjoy the festivities, but not too much remember the dog bags!!

4th Month (January)

Right! Make the resolutions to ride at least 4-5 times a week, keep the weekly rides to an hour and over the week-end 180 to 240 min. Increase the longer rides if you are feeling stronger, ride with groups and get the feeling of riding in groups. “Parletones” (or more common definition Peletons, from French, originally meaning ‘platoon’, is a group or pack of riders in a road bicycle ride). Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) near (particularly behind) other riders.) Riding close is the operative word and if you can get this going you will save lots of energy and get your ride over a lot quicker, however you have to concentrate because the last thing you want to be responsible for is causing an accident so practice a little while riding with your mates.


5th Month (February)

Only 28 days to train and they will fly by and it will be March before you know it. Now would be a good time to taper off before the final push so ride three times a week and cut back your weekend rides to 120 -180 mins. Put the time in on your speed, try and ride a little faster than you are used to so if you are in a peleton you can handle it and don’t get blown out of it within the first 5 km. there is nothing worse watching it go away from you and there is no power to get back, or you kill yourself trying!!

6th Month (March)

This is the big month try and ride your bike as often as you possibly can, try to up your daily ride to 75-90 min a day, but critical in this month is to up your tempo and get used to riding fast. This will make the actual tour speed feel relatively easy. Do those big hills, work that body so that you are tired and wondering why you started this ridiculous idea, you will thank yourself, because you are putting miles in your tank for next month and will feel strong even though your legs are not thinking so at the moment!!  On the weekend build a little more every week 4 hour then 5 hours and culminate you training on the 24th of March with a whole day outride, include some hectic hills, get the family involved ride out to a favourite  picnic spot and get them to second you. Find out what it is like to ride for a whole day, okay 5-7 hours. Please make sure that you only stop in safe places, where nobody is likely to be hit and always ensure your safety, when riding out on the open road. Nobody wants you to get injured.

7th and Final month (April)

You have done the hard work now it’s time to keep the training going and taper off towards the start date. Just go out for that spin and keep it to 3 rides max, get excited and motivated. You are well prepared and you are going to have the best two weeks culminating in a braai, and this will be an experience like no other and when you ride onto that Rec, you will tear up and be amazed at what you have achieved. You will be fatter than when you started, as you will never stop eating on the ride. THE COOK-SISTERS WERE TO DIE FOR!! The Crunchies divine, the fruitcake a lifesaver. You will have Highs and you will have a couple of lows, but they will be minimal because you have prepared so well. Good Luck and Enjoy!!


Gavin Whindus 

Veteran of the 2016 1965Ride Cycle Tour for Education  Jozi to Queenstown

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