Saturday, January 31, 2009

Calendaring the season

It all begins with goals. As we all know, much of the success in endurance cycling resides in one’s head. Visualizing the entire season early in the year is a critical first step. This is followed by securing the dates of important events on the calendar, carefully planning second tier events and mapping out appropriate training. As a father of two young children (9 and 12) who works a full-time job with a wife who owns her own business, it is impossible for me to be successful without careful and deliberate planning.

In the late fall, when I'm pretty exhausted and ready for some rest, RUSA and UMCA publish their event calendars and I begin to build a structure for the season ahead. First, I add the dates of all of the events that are remotely possible for me to ride into my personal Google calendar. If you do not use this free web-based calendar system yet to organize your rides, you should check it out. After creating an account, you can add individual events or upload existing calendars to your profile. The software allows users to create and overlay multiple calendars simultaneously so I have one for brevets, one for training, one for family events, one for work commitments, etc. Using this function, it is easy to spot conflicts and made adjustments.

After entering all possible events, which in my case involves brevets and races within a 2-5 hour radius, I subtract those in conflict with birthdays and other family and work commitments and begin to look for patterns to optimize my training. As an ultracyclist, I will ride centuries and 200K permanents all throughout the year, but need to start working rides of longer distance and greater intensity into the plan starting in March.

For a successful riding season, a randonneur should:

1 Identify the main events and negotiate to get them onto the family calendar as early in the season as possible. What events do you want to build your season around?

2. Train in a progressively more challenging manner. What other events do you want (or need) to use to prepare for your main events?

3. Develop a careful training plan based on the principles of periodization. What training will you need to do on a regular basis to be in top physical and emotional condition for your big events?

For me this year is built around the London-Edinburgh-London (L-E-L) 1400K randonnee. Getting this onto the calendar was no simple matter. The cost and the time away from home was something that my (incredulous) wife and I needed to think through carefully. After she graciously gave me the green light, I registered and began identifying the other events and training volume that would allow me to be in peak form in late July.

Luckily for me, unlike for P-B-P, there is no formal qualification needed for L-E-L so while I will ride more than the equivalent of a full SR series, the particular events are mine to choose, so they will include sanctioned brevets, permanents, solo training rides and ultra races. Other important events in my calendar include the Connecticut River Double Century (April), the Saratoga 12-hour race (July), and two laps of the Adirondack 540 course (275 miles) in September in addition to various brevets and permanents along the way. I will repeat some this year, like the Westfield 600K and ride others for the first time (perhaps a brevet or two with Eastern PA Randonneurs). Living where I do in the Mid-Hudson Valley, we are blessed with several great options within a 1-3 hour drive.

I am also very excited to ride the new 600K brevet Doug and I are designing to follow Henry Hudson’s 1608 route from the Battery in Lower Manhattan to Waterford, NY just north of Albany and back sometime this spring. Sadly, I will be unable to join the Fleche-tones on the New England Fleche in May due to family obligations.

In all, I hope this will be my best year yet. I will ride longer and harder than ever before and I hope to achieve more than seems possible as I type this post in my warm January bed.


  1. Hey George, keep me clued in about the 600k from Manhattan! My apartment could be used for something if necessary although it's nowhere near the start (i live up by the GWB)


  2. Will do, Sean. Hope to get it completed by mid-March to have it approved by RUSA to ride in May. Make sure your RUSA membership is current. We'd love to have you join us.