Newsletter - 2011 Archive

BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo

BC Randonneurs
Cycling Club
BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo


Training for the Rocky Mountain 1200 km
(Phase I - The Set Up)
by Steve Lonergan

It has been over four years since I last completed a 300 km brevet. Work, personal and family health issues and a general lack of motivation to do more than walk my dog have contributed to this malaise. But having recently retired, gotten rid of both kids (not in terms of financial subsidies; just in getting them out of the house) and the purchase of a new bicycle have inspired me to do some longer rides and it feels great. At least for the first 10 km. So I decided my goal this year is to train for next summer’s Rocky Mountain 1200 km ride. Note that I said I would train for the ride, not, necessarily, start it (let alone complete it). In 2006, I completed a 400 km and 600 km brevet and found them to be utterly miserable experiences. I rarely saw other riders (and if I did, they were usually going in the opposite direction) and spent the long hours in the saddle either singing to myself or cursing everybody from the ride organizers to the builders of my bike to the salesman who sold me the bike in the first place. It seemed crazy to have a goal of completing something I had already achieved, so forgetting my past miseries, I decided my goal would be to train for the Rocky Mountain 1200 km. Apparently, the ride is quite beautiful and the riders I have seen in pictures all seem to be smiling. Admittedly, the pictures of the riders were all taken at the start…

Having substantial experience in a variety of sports – including long distance running/cycling and triathlons, I thought it might be interesting to readers if I shared some of my training secrets as I prepare for next summer’s event (to be held July 22 – 26, 2012; for more information go to:

My training schedule has been designed around four phases:

I. The Set Up: Spending time at Tim Horton’s to prepare for getting brevet cards signed.

II. Early Season Training in California: Vacillating between lying in the sun and reading a book or getting my sore butt back on the bike.

III. Brevet Season: Vacillating between watching TV or riding my bike in the cold and rain.

IV. Final Preparations and Tapering: Vacillating between…well, just vacillating.

I thought I would post one article every two or three months to help others who might also be training for next year’s ride or who just love to hear about other people’s misery.

Phase I: The Set Up

The initial activity in the Set Up phase, even before trundling off to Tim Horton’s, is convincing your spouse, partner, family and/or friends that this is something they should support rather than simply have you committed to an institution. This step takes careful planning and cunning and is the foundation for all subsequent training. Rather than simply telling you what to do, I will demonstrate by writing down the recent discussion I had with my wife, Arlene.

Me: Honey, I think I would like to ride some brevets this year like I did in 2006 and 2007. I miss going riding with those guys you like so much, like Ken Bonner and Graham Fishlock.

Arlene: That’s nice dear.

Me: It would help me get back in shape and you know how much I love riding my bike.

Arlene: That’s fine dear; whatever you want.

Me: I thought I would train for the Rocky Mountain 1200 km ride next July, you know, if that’s ok with you.

Arlene: WHAT!!!???? Are you out of your friggin’ mind? I thought you got that stuff out of your system a few years ago!

Me: Yes, well, I didn’t say that I would actually do the ride, but I would like to train for it and just see how things go. I always like to have a goal.

Arlene: And what do I get out of this?

Me: Do you mean more than seeing your husband happy, healthy and out of the house?

Arlene: Yes, more than that. Much more than that.

Me: Well, if you want, we could go on holiday to Southern California or Arizona for a month this winter; I know how much you love the sun. Maybe even each winter for the next couple of years.

Arlene: What do you mean the next couple of years?

Me: Uhhh, I just thought that maybe we could make this an annual holiday.

Arlene: Do you mean you are going to do this cycling more than just this year? You can’t be serious.

Me: Yes, well, I’m not getting any younger, so I thought I would keep riding for three or four more years and then taper off into the sunset.

Arlene: Three or four MORE YEARS??? You are nuts. I’m calling up Kevin (our older son) to talk some sense into you.

Me: No, I just meant that if I get in good shape, then I should continue riding for four more years or so. You know, at least until I’m 65 years old.

Arlene: What happens in four years?

Me: Uhhh, nothing. I’ll be 65.

Arlene: Going to California each winter just isn’t enough. My guess is you will be bringing your bike along.

Me: I might as well bring the bike, I mean, since we are going anyway… What if,… what if we also plan a trip to Europe? We haven’t been there in years.

Arlene: Hmmm…that sounds nice. Where would we go?

Me: How about Paris? You’ve always wanted to go back.

Arlene: When would we go? Next year?

Me: No, no, that would be too soon. I don’t think we could afford it. We need to save some money and that won’t be easy, since I have stopped working. What about three or four years from now? Maybe August of 2015?

Arlene: Why August? Don’t all the French take holidays in August? There won’t be anyone in Paris!

Me (calmly): That’s the good thing about going in August. Paris will be empty. And you always told me you hated the Parisians anyway.

Arlene: I don’t know…this sounds fishy. But as long as we can go elsewhere in France as well; maybe to Avignon or Arles, where Van Gogh painted.

Me: No, it’s usually too hot there. I think we should go to Brittainy; we have never been there and it’s much cooler in the summer.

Arlene: But we don’t have to go in the summer.

Me: It’s really the Brest, uhhh, I mean the BEST time of year to go.

Arlene: What does this have to do with cycling?

Me: Nothing dear. Nothing at all. I just wanted to treat you to a special holiday for being so understanding and supporting me as I try to recapture some of that muscle tone and fitness that you used to love. No need to tell the kids about this; we’ll just keep it between us and then they’ll be surprised to see the old man out riding the long distances again.

Arlene: Ok, I guess so. That’s really sweet that you want to take me to France.

Me: Of course; what are husbands for?

Arlene: You know, maybe I will train for riding long distances as well.

Me: What?

Arlene: I think I might like to try a brevet; maybe the 200km.

Me: No, no. I don’t think you would like it. The rides take forever and they can be very boring.

Arlene: Maybe if I had a nice carbon fiber bike like you do, I could go faster.

Me: What do you need a… I mean, carbon ain’t all what it’s cracked up to be. But if you want to some longer rides, uhhh, I guess that’s fine with me.

That’s the set-up. It doesn’t have anything to do with getting fit, lifting weights, stretching or even riding. It is all about orchestrating a supportive (or at least non-antagonistic) home environment to allow for training. As my former academic colleagues would say, it is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to completing the Rocky Mountain 1200.

Whew. So far, so good. Although I’m not sure where Arlene was going with her interest in riding a 200km. It makes me a little uncomfortable. On the other hand, what’s good for the gander is good for the goose, I suppose. At least now I can focus on riding longer; maybe 11 km or even 12 km at a stretch. I have also asked the organizers of the Rocky Mountain 1200 if they could allow me a few more days to finish the ride. Six days should be manageable. No response yet, but I will keep you informed and provide you with more training tips as the year (the cycling year, that is) progresses. I hope you can use some of these ideas in your own training. And keep me posted on your progress. Arlene said she is setting up a website for me at, but it might be best to just e-mail me directly at

Happy trails, Steve L.


November 12, 2011