How does the elite cyclist pass the winter hours? Three months separate the Tour of Beijing from the Tour Down Under, but few will be enjoying a 12-week holiday.
A glance at the Strava accounts of three professionals with different goals for winter and the early part of 2015 is revealing. Movistar’s Alex Dowsett has a date with destiny in February, while Laurens ten Dam is unlikely to be required to show his best form until July. Katie Archibald is balancing the need to perform on the track for Great Britain with the long miles required by road team Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International.
Alex Dowsett has more reason that most to be recording significant distances this winter. The Movistar pro will attempt the Hour Record on February 27, 2015, and is determined to leave nothing to chance in his preparation for a “perfect hour”.
Dowsett has more reason than most to train hard in the off-season. The Movistar pro will tackle the Hour Record on February 27, 2015.
Dowsett has completed 25 training rides in the last four weeks, racking up around 92 hours in the saddle. His average weekly distance is a cool 657km: further additions to an annual total that, at the time of writing, stands at nearly 27,000km.
Saturday saw him rack up an impressive 205.5km of motor pacing, completed at an average of 283w, on a ride with a frankly-terrifying top speed of 81.4km/h. Today he hits the track for the first time on the machine he will use for his Hour Record attempt. Sunday was spent with a comparatively brief 128.5km.
Dowsett is known for his love of home roads and Essex has been the setting for most of his preparation, although today he has ventured down the A12 to the London Olympic Velodrome for the first of his sessions on the boards where he will make his record attempt and stats of a different kind will command his attention.
Laurens ten Dam
Laurens ten Dam has no plans for the Hour Record - or at least, none that he has announced. While his totals for the last month are lower than Dowsett’s, the Dutchman hardly has his feet up at home in Maastricht, the location from which most of his rides in the last week have begun (close inspection of a Christmas tree-shaped loop on the South Pacific island of Jarvis reveals that LTD’s explorations were aided by virtual reality trainer Zwift).
The South Pacific island of Jarvis is a long way from Maastricht. Ten Dam has his Strava account linked to the online virtual reality trainer, Zwift.
Ten Dam is the poster boy for Strava’s Prove It campaign, one referenced in a four-hour ride completed a week ago, posted as “Cold. Rain. Alone”. His 200w average speaks volumes about ten Dam’s training phase: Strava calculates his intensity score at 50 per cent.
The previous week found ten Dam, along with most of the WorldTour, in southern Spain, racking up nearly 28 hours in the saddle on the Costa Blanca, mostly on the vertiginous hinterland behind Alicante, Benidorm and Calpe. Again, his rides are characterised by distance rather than intensity. A ride posted, with some accuracy, beneath the title “Another Long One”, and completed with team-mate Steven Kruijsiwijk, saw LTD spend more than six hours in the saddle in an out-and-back from the small Valencian town of El Campello, with a total ascent of 3140m.
Rising star Katie Archibald is another who has travelled to Spain to record the winter miles, although the Scot decamped to Tenerife with her Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International team-mates, including Joanna Rowsell, with whom she completed a 106km ride containing 2712m of ascent. Some 100km into the ride, the pair found themselves at an altitude of 2355m after 5hr30 in the saddle.
Katie Archibald must strike a difficult balance between track work with Team GB and ascents of Mount Teide with Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International
Archibald, like Rowsell, is of course, a member of Team GB’s all-conquering women’s team pursuit squad. In the final week of November, with the second round of the Track World Cup then only a week away, Archibald’s focus was far from long miles. A 59.4km out-and-back from Stockport, posted to her Strava account as “Keeping track legs in check” was rattled off at a brisk 26.6km/h average, enough for an intensity score of 69 per cent.
An earlier ride in the same week - nearly an hour-and-a-half to log just over 35km, at a 119 watt average - tells another story of event preparation. Archibald has posted the ride under the title ‘Piddling about’, an amusing appraisal of a ride that might be described with equal accuracy as a leg-turner or even tapering. The previous day saw no recorded activity (at a track session, perhaps?) and followed a day on the TT bike - a mechanical change of scenery necessitated by Di2 problems on her road bike.