Are 3 group rides a week sufficient to train for a multi-day stage race?

Are 3 group rides a week sufficient to train for a multi-day stage race?

Today's question on RIDE with CoachParry comes from our athletes in our member's forum - When training for a multi-day stage race; are the three clubs rides per week sufficient to get you prepared for these types of events? Coach Devlin and Brad discuss whether these are enough or if cyclists should be doing something different in their programs to maximise their preparations. Coach Devlin explains the benefit of structuring your programs to suit your race.


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Welcome to this edition of RIDE with Coach Parry. My name is Brad Brown. I've got our cycling coach Devlin Eyden with us once again, Dev, welcome back. Good to touch base once again.

Thanks a lot.


Are three group rides a week sufficient training for a stage race?


Dev, today's question popped up in our forums and one thing I love about cycling is there's so much variety, I mean, you can be doing a short little one day race or you can be doing a multi day stage race. There's so many different options, particularly here in South Africa. We are seriously spoiled for choice. But someone was asking, they have entered a multi day stage race. They belong to a cycling club, but they want to know if the sort of three group rides that they do with the club during the week is sufficient to train for a multi day stage race. Is it enough? Or should they be doing something differently? How should they approach their training?

Look, being part of a club, first, is always going to be beneficial in the sense of running safety wise you got mates with you, a bit of camaraderie as well as motivation tends to help out quite a lot as well and forces you to get up knowing someone's waiting for you. The the flip side, firstly, what is your goal for the race? So if your goal is if it's your first stage race, and you're looking at just finishing it and getting through it, you're probably going to be alright with doing the club rides and your group rides three times a week, I'd still recommend maybe getting one more ride in somewhere along the line in the week.

The sort of catch though that I tend to find with club rides and group rides is you're always trying to stick with the group. So whether your group of mates are either too slow for you, or too quick for you, you're generally sitting outside of what you should be doing from a more structured training point of view. So while it is good, I'd maybe, if possible, try and reduce it to maybe one or two rides a week, and then actually follow a little bit more of a structured programme with regards to prepping for the kind of intervals and hills and those sort of things that you might encounter when you do get to the stage races.

Most of the stage races that we deal with all sort of either down in Natal, down in the cape, Eastern Cape. So we're dealing with a lot more elevation and climbing and technical kind of riding that we typically used to riding up here in Gauteng, for instance. So I think just from that point of view, a little bit more structure. And when I say structure, not just the high intensity and the quality training, but also your recovery type of work and the long, slower distance type of work that needs to be done on the bike. Because more often than not, we're riding with clubs, there's a little bit of competition that always peers in, Strava is a tool at the moment that everyone likes to chase Strava sections.

So before you know it you're actually hurting yourself a little bit more than you actually should be on a lot of these rides, and never getting the proper recovery in. So I just think group riding is brilliant, but just think about a little bit more structure in the week itself. Maybe tone it down to maybe one maybe even two rides. But then think of a little bit more quality and recovery kind of work as well.


Follow a more structured programme


You make such an important point there and I've experienced this, obviously I'm involved in a couple of different sports, I run, I do triathlon and I cycle, and cycling to me and I may be way off, maybe it's just the sort of people that I hang out with, but cycling particularly maybe not the top into the field, but that the sort of weekend warrior type of guys, in my mind aren't following structured training programmes that's just what I found. They're almost winging it and just going we're riding because everyone else is riding, there's no real thought to what they're doing.

And you mentioned that structured training programme. I mean, if you as a cyclist go into a structured training programme, I mean, you don't even have to change or do much more, you probably won't be doing more than what you're currently doing. But just having that structure in your training will improve your performance, like massively, just having that to start with.

Yeah, hundred percent. I mean, I tend to find quite a lot in the cycling fraternity though as well is we always tend to know someone who's been cycling for years, and well they know it, they've done it, they've been through it, to stick with them and you should be fine. But we're all individual beings, for a lot of people just starting out, yes, those regular sort of club rides and group rides are going to help you definitely, but they're also going to help you to a certain point. And now you're either in the same group and maybe stagnating. So maybe it's time to start looking for group rides of slightly stronger if you are stagnating slightly and in saying that, sometimes you need to be looking for a group that might be a little bit slower and a little bit easier, because you might be killing yourself every time that you're riding there.

Whereas following a little bit more structure, whether it's doing a little bit of stuff on your own, in a gym, on a watt bike, for instance, those type of things are vital. And it's just that that sort of takes the next step in your training rather than, like you said, just winging it and getting out and riding the bike. I'm not saying don't do it. I mean, the more time you can spend on your bike, fantastic, but you just got to think the programmes are there for a reason rather than sort of just out winging it. Yeah.

Absolutely. And if you want to get better, there's nothing better than a good structured training programme because you're going to see results over time. And this is going to fire you up even more. If you want to check out the Coach Parry online training platform, we've got a whole bunch of cycling programmes in there, you get access to Devlin and the rest of our cycling coaches as well. All you need to do is head over to this URL, Go check it out. We'd love to have you in there. We've got a very, very active online community with the forums at this video training this podcast and a whole lot more. And you can get in there right now. Dev, as always great to catch up. I look forward to touching base with you next week. Thanks for the chat.

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