Stephen Roche’s training tips
Stephen Roche clocked up a staggering 58 wins during his professional cycling career and became only the second cyclist ever to win the Triple Crown of Victories in the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the world road race championship in a single year in 1987.
Roche now runs cycling training camps and holidays in Mallorca, offering cyclists of all abilities the chance to benefit from his extensive expertise. In 2014 he took on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and passed on his key dos and don'ts in training for the challenge.
Time in the saddle
“It’s important to keep active and build up the miles by riding at least three times a week, if you’re a beginner, and more if you are an intermediate or advanced cyclist. By now you should be cycling regularly, with two shorter rides mid-week and a longer spin on a Sunday. On Monday you can either rest or do a short recovery ride, and Tuesday do two hours of cycling. You need to push yourself harder in some sessions than others – and not just go out and ride in order to improve – so do these harder sessions towards the end of the week.
Respect the distance
“100 miles is a long way and it will take it out on your body if you don’t respect the distance and prepare properly. Around six weeks before the event, you should be riding 80 to 100 miles once a week. You’ve got to build this foundation and to neglect the training means you won’t just struggle – it’s dangerous for yourself and other riders.”
“We all over estimate ourselves and underestimate the challenge – one of the lessons I’ve learned is that you get out what you put in. The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 is a long, long ride and to make it to the end you need to be realistic about your capabilities as a cyclist. At the start, let faster cyclists pass – pushing hard to keep up can cause physical damage to your body and even put you at risk of not finishing. Pace yourself and save any final push for nearer the end.”
“What you eat depends on the event and your experience, but eating a balanced diet and fuelling properly ahead of long rides will help. Make use of the fuel stations along the route and test out what you are going to eat on training rides. Hydration is the most important thing to remember, as it is hard to comeback from dehydration in an event. Drink plenty during your long rides and don’t be afraid to use energy drinks and protein drinks, which also help recovery.”
Get the gear
“Whether you are a new cyclist or more experienced in the sport, comfort is important. Pay attention to the kit you wear and test out the shoes and shorts you plan to wear on training rides.”
Your bike position
“Get your position on the bike checked out by someone who specialises in bike fitting – most good cycle stores will offer this service. Have your saddle and handlebar position checked out as riding with the saddle too low – or too high – over a long distance could cause muscle, ligament and tendon or back problems.”
Learn the basics
“The mechanical side of cycling is very important and neglecting to complete a regular bike check could be dangerous. You should check your tyres, chain and cleats and if you don’t already know, learn how the basics, like how to repair a puncture and keep your bike well maintained.”
Cycling for all
“Mass-participation cycling events are great for fans of the sport. If I was a football fan I couldn’t go and play at Wembley, but as a cyclist I can go and ride the same route as the pro riders – either in training or during events like Prudential RideLondon. I think people can relate to cycling because of this. There’s something motivating about going and training on locations such as Box Hill knowing that the pros are out there doing it too.”