Back in February, the day after setting up my yearly events on TrainingPeaks, a notification simmered into view on the home page of my training calendar: “16 WEEKS TO EVENT,” the text yelled out at me, in bold font. Yikes. Only sixteen weeks until Dirty Kanza, an event I’d never done before, in a genre I’d never even tried, at a distance fully 60 miles longer than any bike ride I’d ever done? What had I gotten myself into? How would this go? Disaster, surely. I don’t think I actually believed that I’d even make it to the start line, let alone finish the darn thing or possibly end up with a better result than I could have hoped for. But here I am today, writing about an 11-hour, 50-minute finish and 22nd place overall - only four minutes and two spots back from my more seasoned teammate, James Walsh.
How did we get here? Well, not by riding as much as you may think! Although Kanza is daunting, it’s certainly within reach for anybody who wants to do it, and I think it’s possible for anyone to do well there, too, given solid preparation and some old fashioned luck. I certainly had the latter at Kanza, breezing through the 202 miles without a single mechanical mishap (thanks Viathon Bicycles and IRC Tire). So what did my form look like in the 16 weeks between February 1 and June 1?
You Don’t Need to Ride as Much as You Think
Looking back at my TrainingPeaks account over that time period, I averaged 11 hours, 23 minutes and 191 miles of riding each week. Nothing incredibly special! Early in the season I focused on getting in as many miles as possible, given a fairly normal, which is to say, super-busy small business owner’s life. I added in one sweet spot style workout once per week, and one higher intensity ride once per week. My focus, though, was on hitting at least 200 miles per week on the bike, so I wasn’t really structuring my training with any real rigidity: get on the bike and ride. Once or twice per week in the early season, you should be doing some traditional interval work, I would say, getting in a total of 60-80 minutes per week of higher intensities. When I say higher intensities, I’m talking about getting up above threshold power, but not by much — probably in the realm of 103-106% of Functional Threshold Power (FTP), and not true VO2 max-style intervals, which are probably about 10% higher. Over this period, I rode 11:15 per week, averaged 195 miles, and my time in zones looked like this: