Successfully completing an ultra endurance cycling event depends on understanding the distinctive event characteristics in conjunction with your unique genetic potential and training status. Many cyclists aspire to be Lance Armstrong. But, less than 1% of people in the world have that kind of genetic potential.
For example, my fiber type is 79% type I slow twitch and 21% IIa fast twitch fiber. As you might guess, I have little to no sprinting power. Combined with my limited lung function, I am the equivalent of a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder car. Interestingly, this is what I see in myself every time I go out for a ride. Years ago I rode with two of my graduate students. One student had a very high aerobic capacity but was primarily a runner who cycled. The other student had been cycling for several years and had a similar maximum oxygen uptake value to my own at the time. We went out for a 125 mile ride in the East Tennessee Mountains. Early in the ride every time we came to an extended steep hill, both students left me in the dust. Since we all knew the course, I told them to go on at their own pace. By the time I hit the 90-mile mark, I noticed I was catching up to my students who had been riding several miles ahead of me most of the day. When I caught them, my student runner-cyclist was bonking at the side of the road cramping. The other student said, “he felt fine.” After helping my first student replenishes electrolytes, we began finishing off the hardest miles with two very long steep 6 to 7 mile climbs (3% to 12% grades). My student who was bonking was falling behind even on flats. My other student was now drafting me on the flats. When we hit the first climb, which averaged about 6% to 10% grade, my second student could not keep up at all. So here I was the 4-cylinder engine cyclist suddenly leaving the six and eight cylinder student cyclists in the dust. By the time my ride was over, the second student arrived 30-45 minutes behind. My bonking student did not arrive at all - we had to go back and get him.
So, what does this mean in relationship to my Bicycling for Ovarian Cancer Event success? Everything! I was going to be climbing mountains out west and winds that would make these ride climbs pale in comparison. Training need to get me prepared for these challenges. My unique genetics and training status required that my 3-year plan be designed to strengthen weak areas while not sacrificing my strengths. Few athletes understand this simple principle. Many athletes either spend too much time working on strengths, ignoring weakness. Some athletes spend too much time on the weakness that they weaken their strengths. In my next segment, I will discuss what I did to prepare for my event that allowed me to match the challenges of riding 9,197 miles in 91.5 ride days. I will show you data comparing my lab testing results with one of the top master cyclists in country today I have tested in my lab. As expected our genetic differences are clearly distinct. He is an elite road racing cyclist while I am designed to be an ultra-endurance 4-cylinder cyclist!