Our journey to cycle the Blue Ridge Parkway begins in less than a week. We depart Asheville Tuesday afternoon, September 6 for the drive to northern Virginia. We will arrive on the morning of the 7th which will provide time for a short shakedown outing before commencing our ride, Thursday, September 8. My preparation for this ride has been somewhat different than prepping for our ride across America. Based on input from one of the many individuals we encountered last year on our ride across America, I connected with a highly respected cycling coach who works for Carmichael Training Systems, a leader in the endurance coaching industry. She has added high-intensity interval training sessions to my weekly schedule. Interval training is when you alternate between short bursts of hard exercise followed by easier efforts. For example, last week following a warm-up session, I rode four sets of six minutes at a hard pace, followed by four minutes at a far easier pace, ending with an eight-minute cooldown. Additionally, I try and do one easy-pace ride, and one longer, high-intensity ride per week. Both rides are usually in the 35 – 50 mile range.
Interspersed throughout the week, she schedules four short but intense strength training sessions. Rather than follow the traditional protocol of doing multiple sets with multiple reps, often training to failure, the most recent strength training research argues that to maximize strength gains and positively affect bone density (important for us seniors) do shorter (30 minutes or less) but more frequent strength training sessions. Each session has a specific focus and the number of training sets and reps is limited. These short sessions fit well following a ride and despite being tired, they seem to revive me.
I found the benefits of working with a professional coach to be worth the expense. Besides having a more structured training program, intangibles such as diet and nutritional counseling have been eye-opening. I am anxious to see how I perform on our upcoming journey across the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina.