Missing A Ride

BikeHappinessAt 16 years old, I used my entire savings to buy my first road bike. It was a beautiful, hardly ridden, red Trek 1500. I grew up in Ontario so I rode that bike every day from Spring until Fall. I rode it to and from school and to my part time job as a lifeguard. On the weekends, I would explore old farm roads, challenging myself to ride further each week.

When I moved to Whistler I switched up the road bike for a mountain bike but I still rode as much as I could.

Now between the two bikes, the only thing that stops me from riding is work or illness.  Even after this many years of riding I still love my bikes more than any other sport I have tried.

So the question was, “How do you feel when you miss a ride?”

When I was younger and less wise, missing a ride would drop me immediately into a pit of despair. I would feel like the strength and power in my cycling legs was seeping away with every second that I wasn’t on my bike. I would swear to my friends that I must have gained five pounds overnight. If I missed a workout I would feel guilty for days as I obsessed about it, thinking that everyone else must be riding and getting faster when I wasn’t.

But after this many years, I have realized some very valuable lessons that have helped me overcome these thoughts.

The first thing I realized is that riding is my life and a lifestyle. There is no finish line. My training will ebb and flow with whatever else is happening in my life but the bike will always be there. That is reassuring.

The second lesson I learned is to have patience. We all want to be fast in one season but that doesn’t happen on the bike, especially if you want to be an endurance rider, completing a century or fondo. It takes years of training to make riding 160km feel comfortable. Missing one or two days of riding in a season is not going to make or break your training or fitness level.

Sometimes missing a training session can even make you faster. If you haven’t recovered from your last workout yet or you are getting run down or sick, taking a day off will do you more good than beating yourself up on the bike in this state.

The key is not to let missing workouts become a habit but also not to beat yourself up for it. Once you have missed a workout, don’t try to compensate by going harder on the next one. Simply put it behind you and stick to the program.

If you don’t have a program, then you need to get one. A program allows you to schedule your workouts around your other commitments and helps prevent you from putting in a lot of junk miles. Riding every day at the same speed is a great way to build a solid base, which is an important phase of the training program. But once you have moved beyond that, you aren’t going to get faster training this way. A good training program should have variety which includes some hard rides, some easy rides and an endurance ride within each week.

If it is an injury or work that is keeping you off the bike for an extended period of time, I have learned to use this time wisely. The first thing I do is clean up my diet. When you are riding for four to six hours in one weekend, it is necessary to eat high calorie foods to replace the lost glycogen stores. If I’m not on my bike, these foods quickly get eliminated.

The second thing I do is try to focus on what is keeping me off the bike so I can get back on again as soon as possible. If it is an injury I spend my lost cycling time on my rehab exercises. If it is work, I create a deadline so I know when I can get back on my bike again and then I adjust my program or goals accordingly.

Kristina Bangma

Head Coach and Owner of Kits Energy


Are Heart Rate Monitors Good Training Tools?

735999-1003-0003A heart rate monitor is a feedback system. It simply tells us how fast our heart is beating. But contrary to popular believe, your heart rate doesn’t always reflect how hard you are working. And this is where the confusion arises. A heart rate monitor is a great tool which can be used to help guide our training but sometimes the numbers can tell a different story than what is actually happening. You may read a higher or lower number than expected based on many different factors such as: the weather, hydration levels, stress levels, amount of sleep, etc. So what is a heart rate monitor good for? A heart rate monitor is a great tool for: (1) learning how to ride easy enough to build a base or recover from a hard ride (2) learning when you are pushing yourself hard enough and (3) knowing when you are overtraining.

  1. Building a training base requires many hours of riding at a low heart rate. Most of us like to race fellow riders on our easy rides, making the time pass more quickly and enjoying a bit of fun competition. By riding in a heart rate zone higher than your base zone, you risk the chance of not being able to recover fast enough for when the training program calls for a hard workout. This leads to many mediocre workouts which won’t make you faster.
  2. We all have a comfort zone. This zone is hard enough to make us feel like we are working out but not too hard that we feel more than a bit uncomfortable. If you want to get stronger or faster you need to ride out of this comfort zone to progress. A heart rate monitor is one tool that can help give you the confidence to push harder.
  3. Overtraining happens quickly, especially when you are passionate about your sport. If you wake up in the morning with an elevated heart rate or you have difficulty raising your heart rate in a workout even with a huge effort, these are a few signs that you might be overtraining.

After you have been riding with your heart rate monitor for a season or two you should be able to go by feel which zone you are working in and you will also know when the numbers are false. Once you understand the difference between what you feel and what the numbers are telling you, you will notice that you use your heart rate monitor less and less. At this point you may want to look into something more accurate such as a power meter which is a whole other topic to be explored in the next issue.

How to choose the best fondo training program?

If you have signed up for a fondo this year, you will want to follow a training program. The purpose of having a program is to ensure that your training progresses slowly, but consistently enough to allow your body time to adapt to the training stress and grow stronger with each rest period. If your training plan is ride whenever you feel like it for as long and as hard as you can, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

There are many different ways to go about getting a training plan and all of them have various benefits attached to them. All of them will get you to your goal of completing a fondo but one may work better for your lifestyle than the others. Or you may find that a combination of them works best.

Personal Cycling Coach Hiring a personal coach to structure a detailed program is the perfect choice for someone who has specific goals and would like to optimize every hour of training. As the athlete, you can leave all of the thinking to the coach and simply ride. It is their job to analyze your heart rate and power zones, continually changing and adapting your program as you progress.

Cycling Club If lack of motivation is a key factor to the success of your training program, joining a club  might motivate you more than someone emailing you to get out the door. Riding with a club also has the added advantage of teaching you how to ride in a group and you will find that you naturally push yourself to work harder when surrounded by other riders.

Online Training Program If time is a major roadblock to training, you might want to look for a more flexible option such as an online training program. Granfondo Canada has online training programs for each of their events so you plan your rides for whenever they work for you. These plans incorporate rest times and cross training suggestions.

Whatever method you choose; personal coach, club or online, any choice is better than no choice at all.

Once you have made your choice as to which type of training or program you are going to follow you can optimize your success by following these 5 simple rules.

  1. Don’t do more training than what is in the program.  You can’t ride hard every time you go out. If you still have energy left over at the end of the ride or the end of the week it probably means that you didn’t push yourself hard enough in the intensity sessions or maybe is just means that being in pain wasn’t the intention of the workout. Instead of doing more distance or more training, enjoy the rest and push yourself to work harder the next week.
  2. Don’t skip rest weeks.  This is your chance to recover and adapt to the training stress from the previous weeks. If you skip these rest periods you are simply beating your body up by training more. Eventually you will stop seeing any gains and will burn out or get injured. Remember the motto, “It is better to race under-trained and with energy than to race over-trained and tired.”
  3. Trust, listen and follow your coach or program.  There is no sense in choosing a program or a coach if you don’t follow them, however, there is a lot of science and expertise so trust it.
  4. Log your training.  By creating a log you can monitor your progress. If you are improving you will be motivated and have the confidence to continue. If you aren’t improving you can go back and decide what you should change going forward. You can use this log to develop your own personal training program or give it to your coach to assess and make changes for the next season.
  5. Be consistent.  You can’t get fast in one week, month or even a year. It takes several years to build a strong cycling base so enjoy the journey.


Kristina Bangma is the head coach and owner of Kits Energy Training Inc.  Email questions to Kristina@kitsenergy.com.