A little cycling background for those that don’t know me. At this point, I had my gravel bike for about a year, been racing predominantly on the road for about 2 years and track for the last 4 years (with COVID closing the track for a year) but was only just starting to dip my toe into this gravel racing thing. Long distances were definitely something that terrified me. Bonking is awful and how does one even stay focused for an 8 hour race?! I had done a single 100 mile ride (on the road) a few years prior, but metric centuries (100km) was where I generally tapped out so 100 miles on GRAVEL was daunting.
On the one hand I hoped Kathryn would simply forget (fat chance, she just kept telling me to do the 200 miles instead. Ha. Funny lady.) but on the other hand thought this was a pretty badass thing to try and do. And did I mention I’m a sucker?
How does one even start to train for an event like this? Well, I got started with the Women’s Unbound camp in September - Sorellas Libby Brown and Karen Richardson also decided this was a great way to get guaranteed entry and kickstart the training/planning for the event. It was great to meet other women taking on this challenge, some who were doing their first attempt and others who were coming back for me! The community, skills and experience from that camp helped get me more excited and less terrified. Next up: actual training!
At this point I’d been doing a heap of racing and ready for a break so I decided to take a month or so off from any kind of structured training and just enjoy riding bikes (and getting suckered in cyclocross…). Early November, however, the training started! I’ve been using TrainerRoad for a while now and it’s worked well for me. I plugged in the Unbound race date, any planned vacations we had and tada! Training plan made. I went with the ‘low volume plan’ which has 3 training sessions a week, between 60 to 90 minutes each. This was important, I wanted to get stronger, but I also didn’t want to burn out and miss just riding bikes with friends.
I supplemented my training with some weightlifting - having weights at home made it really easy to incorporate a 20-30 minute session 2-3 times a week. This, along with a couple of races (including Southern Cross that really kicked my ass!) and the other Unbound training camp made me feel as prepared as I was going to be.