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Ditchling Beacon Hill – I Will Do This, Part 1

Ditchling Beacon Hill – I Will Do This, Part 1
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Starting Torrey Pines Hill, Southern CA.

Guest post from Gary Hawkins, Founder of Ride Fit™ and Tilda Loftin, Ride Fit™ Coaching Advisor and Co-Owner of Vital Effort Fitness.

While the Ride Fit™ (http://www.ride-fit.com) team members spend much of their riding time perched on a turbo trainer testing our virtual indoor cycle training videos, occasionally we do venture out on the road.  It was during one such outdoor adventure, as we climbed Scripps Poway Parkway (a well ridden Strava segment in Southern California) that the group conversation turned away from things local and several of us reminisced about our riding days back in England.  One of the group mentioned the upcoming London to Brighton ride and his trepidation before his first attempt at climbing the notorious Ditchling Beacon Hill, the only really difficult climb on the ride.  Perhaps, as you read this you’re in the same position.  It’s four weeks to go, your entry is confirmed, you’re a half decent rider and you’ve been training but the thought of that hill still fills you with dread.

While the hill is just shy of a mile in length, with an average grade of 9% it represents a real challenge.  A profile of the climb can be found on Strava, http://www.strava.com/segments/ditchling-beacon-770191.  Assuming you don’t walk up, and many will, this 440ft climb is going to take between 7 to 14 minutes depending on your ability.  Elite athletes will be aiming for around 5 to 7 minutes.

In Part 1 of this article we address strength training and a four-week training plan targeted at final preparation for the London to Brighton ride and a successful ascent of Ditchling Beacon Hill.

Strength Training

Strength training will not only benefit your general health but it will also increase your cycling performance.  Strength training will increase your muscle mass and more muscle mass will generate more power and get you up that feared hill faster. Another good reason to do some strength training is that cycling is a non-weight bearing sport and strength training has been shown to prevent osteoporosis in later life.

We recommend you do weight training 2 – 3 times a week for 20 – 30 min.  Do 8 – 15 repetitions in 2 – 3 sets all year around. Target fewer repetitions and heavier weight if you need to build primarily strength and the more repetitions and less weight if you want to build primarily endurance.

The main focus should be on your lower body and core but a few upper body exercises for general fitness can also be added.  Our favorite exercises include:

  • Lower body exercises – Squats, lunges, heel raises, hip adduction/abduction;
  • Core exercises – Plank, side plank, crunches, back extensions, hip raises;
  • Upper body exercises – Seated row, lat pull-down, chest press, biceps/triceps.

Four Week Training Program

The program below is a four week program developed for your lead in to the London to Brighton ride.  The program requires that you have a good base already, can ride about 3 hours and have done some form of speed work and hill repeats.

The program includes a long ride, hill repeats, speed work and a steady ride. The workouts can be done on any day but make sure you are well rested before the speed workout and the hill repeats. If you can, avoid doing the hill workout and the speed workout on consecutive days.

Week 4 is a taper week in which the intensity and distances are lowered to prepare you for ride day.

Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3 Workout 4
Week 1 Speed workout10 x 90sec, Effort 8-9

30sec rest between segments

Hill Workout4 x 3min seated, Effort 8-9

2 min rest

Steady Ride45min, Effort 7 Long Ride3 hours Easy, Effort 6

2 x 5min Hill, Effort 8

Week 2 Speed workout8 x 2min, Effort 8-9

60sec rest between segments

Hill Workout3 x 3min seated, Effort 8-9

3 x 3min standing, Effort 8-9

2 min rest between segments

Steady Ride60min, Effort 7 Long Ride3hours Easy, Effort 6

3 x 5min Hill, Effort 8

Week 3 Speed workout8 x 2min, Effort 8-9

60sec rest between segments

Hill Workout3 x 4min seated, Effort 8-9

2 x 3min standing, Effort 8-9

2 min rest between segments

Steady Ride60min, Effort 7 Long Ride3hours Easy, Effort 6

2 x 5min Hill, Effort 8

Week 4 Speed workout8 x 90sec, Effort 8-9

30sec rest between segments

Hill Workout2 x 2min seat, Effort 8-9

2 x 2min standing, Effort 8-9

3 min rest between segments

East Steady Ride60min, Effort 5 RIDE DAY

Below are further details regarding each workout.

Effort Levels:
  • 5 – nice and easy;
  • 6 – working but very comfortable.  Easy to hold a conversation;
  • 7 – Effort you could sustain for about one hour or more. Also, commonly known as Functional Threshold Power (FTP) – the maximum power you can maintain through an hour’s effort. You can comfortably hold a conversation;
  • 8 – Pushing Hard, difficult to hold a conversation;
  • 9 – You’re really working hard, extremely difficult to hold a conversation.
Speed Workout:
  • Warm up 20 min and cool down for at least 20 min;
  • This is a hard workout and your legs will scream.  Listen to your body’s signals and stop if you experience any joint pain;
  • Make sure you actively recover between the intervals;
  • Best done on a flat road or on your turbo trainer.
Hill Workout:
  • Warm up 20 min and cool down for at least 20 min;
  • Best done on moderately steep hill outside – get the feeling of being on the road;
  • Make sure you keep good form (see above);
  • Actively rest between the repetitions;
  • Pick a gear that allows you to keep 65-85 rpm.
Steady Ride:
  • Warm up 10 min and cool down at least 10 min;
  • Keep a good steady pace;
  • Best done inside on a turbo trainer.  Perhaps, use a suitably timed Ride Fit workout like Hola Madrid, Spin Around Madrid, Alpine Challenge or Un Paseo En Bicicleta Perfecta to provide a variety and make your workout time go faster.
Long Ride
  • Keep an easy, yet steady pace;
  • Make sure you hydrate and eat similar to race day;
  • Multiple loops around a lakeside (flat) bike path are excellent.  Simulate the hill climb by selecting significantly higher gearing, maintain your cadence and sprinting;
  • Do a full body stretch after the ride.

Look out for the second part of this article, where we will present a few tips that might help you further with the hill climbing challenge that awaits you, perhaps even remove the dread and put a smile on your face.

 About Ride Fit™

Making exercise enjoyable, entertaining and goal-oriented is essential to keep people coming back for more. Ride Fit™ (http://www.ride-fit.com), an exciting series of virtual indoor cycle and elliptical training videos, provides just such an environment for two of the best types of cardio workouts available – indoor cycling and elliptical exercise. To provide the most realistic virtual workout experience possible, Ride Fit™ videos are shot from the first person perspective using bike-mounted video cameras. Users will experience, as closely as can be achieved in an indoor environment, actually being there on the road.

Georgina Spenceley
Georgina Spenceley

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