So you think that all there is to life is road ride, road ride, and road ride. Not so. There is a whole world of ultra events just waiting for you to enter.
Early in my younger years, when I first started me athletic career, I was a xc runner. I ran to work and I ran home from work. I found myself running longer and longer distances until the goal became the famous Western States 100. I found myself in love with the simplicity of running just about anywhere I wanted. Little did I realize I was setting the training base for an adventurous ultra career in road and mountain bike racing.
I switched to ultra cycling from the ultra running before I ever went on to race in the Western States 100. Little did anyone know that this ultra running race was the very reason I went on to set my sites on the 1990 Race Across America.
I have found that since competing in the Race Across America in 1990, I use several of the same training techniques today to transfer those very skills into mountain bike races like the Vail Ultra 100 and the 24-hour mountain bike race, Montezuma’s Revenge.
As ultra races in all disciplines become more and more popular there are many ultra road cyclists wondering how to get ready for their first 100 mile road or mountain bike race, 24 hour adventure race or even an ultra triathlon. I want you to realize that your mental and physical ultra road skills are very valuable and will help you set a goal in another sport that you may not have realized you could accomplish.
If you have been a bicycle tourist, training and setting your sights on longer and longer multiple day tours, try something new. Going from multiple day tours across the country will give you the skills to try and be successful in a randonneur or two.
You can start by adding 10-25 % more distance to the longest one day ride you have already done. When you find you are very comfortable with adding 25% more distance to your longest ride jump up to 50%. If you have been riding 80-100 miles very comfortable, you will soon find you can finish many local and regional randonneurs very comfortably.
Soon you will be turning out centuries, double centuries and all day riding/racing events. This is a perfect way to get into a 24 hour event and with good lighting equipment and a little bit of practice you will enjoy the night riding and be on your way to longer and longer events.
If you can remember running or swimming as a child, try a triathlon as a new challenge. You will find with a little coaching that many of your childhood skills will come back to you. Remember you will want to work up slowly and methodically to the longer distances in the running and swimming to avoid any knee, shoulder or joint injuries.
The challenges of preparing for triathlon will keep you motivated with the two new activities. You will find that you will still enjoy your riding but will have running and swimming added to the mix to keep you from getting bored with so many miles on the bike.
As more ultra mountain biking events and races become popular, there are more ultra road cyclists entering mountain bike events. Many ultra road cyclists find a switch to mountain biking a very challenging way to continue riding but keep the ultra distance their main focus.
You will find that once you become comfortable on your mountain bike, you already have many of the skills needed to enter an ultra 100 mile race or even a 24 hour race. Your eating habits, lighting equipment and clothing will transfer over to the mountain bike world.
Another event in the ultra world is the Adventure Race; extreme challenges of added multiple athletic disciplines. These events will require more training and skill level but are a fantastic way to bring several different endurance skills together.
The ability to change from ultra sport to ultra sport is no coincidence. These ultra tours, events, races and multiple extreme challenges are all used to teach the body to learn pace, coordinated movement, and mental skill.
Your ultra road riding and racing has taught the body to flush lactic acid through the system while getting better and better at the endurance events. We develop the tolerances of high intensity while maintaining control and the ability to handle the bike efficiently and effectively over long periods of time.
So this winter look on the calendars of ultra events and pick a new challenge. Transfer what you have learned on your road bike and try something new.