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A Pro's Granfondo Training Guide

Published on January 2017
Team Garneau
Team Garneau

Passionate about all things cycling. #LiveYourDream

How do you prepare for the Granfondo Garneau-Quebecor?

So here we are, you’ve decided or are hesitating to sign up for the Granfondo Garneau-Quebecor? Riding 118 km represents quite an accomplishment but if you’re well prepared, you’ll enjoy every minute of it. To help you dispel the jitters that follows registration, we’ve called upon professional cyclist Bruno Langlois, 2016 Canadian Road Cycling Champion and owner of the cycling training center BL Coaching. Bruno specializes in the physical preparation of cyclists of all levels. Today, he answers several questions that new participants of Granfondo often ask him.

Bruno Langlois, 2016 Canadian Road Cycling Champion and owner of the cycling training center BL Coaching, offers training and cycling tips to prepare for a Granfondo.

How can I make sure I’ll have the endurance needed to complete the 118 km?

If you living in a region where winter brings in a lot a snow, you can’t ride outside for many months. From the moment you set your goals, you’ll inevitably need to get on a stationary bike or trainer to reach them. It’s difficult to work on your endurance during the cold season to prepare for a 118-km ride.

The good news is that there are other ways to be ready in time. Scientific research and my personal experience confirm that training in divided efforts, more commonly referred to as intervals, also increases your endurance. For example, you can recreate a large 10-minute continuous effort by first training to do ten times 1 minute at the same intensity, but with rest periods between each effort. As you progress, you can reduce the resting periods and do five times 2 minutes, then two times 5 minutes, and soon, you’ll do 10 minutes at once at the same intensity.

To get off to a good start, the important thing is to do a maximal aerobic capacity test in a center like BL Coaching to determine what is you 100% in terms of watts produced on the stationary bike. From this data, you can progressively work on your power in the months leading up to your goal. With higher power, and thus stronger legs, it will be easier to keep up with the pace of your peloton. Less strain will therefore be put on your endurance capacity and you’ll be able to complete the 118 km.

What should I eat/drink during training and during the Granfondo?

At the start of the Granfondo, I suggest having two large bottles filled with a mix of water and LG1 electrolyte sports drink. That will be enough to get you to the first refreshment point and there will be LG1 drinks there. All that’s left is to fill your bottles and ride to the finish line.

For training, the 30 g LG1 portable packets are super practical. They take very little space in your pockets and you just need to mix them with some water when you stop to fill your bottles during your ride.

As to food, I suggest eating 3 hours before the race or training session. Once under way, eat an energy bar one hour before the start and a bar every hour during the ride. When you’re getting closer to the finish line, take an LG1 energy gel of the flavor of your choice every 30-45 minutes.

I am overweight. How much can I lose until the Granfondo?

You should aim for good eating habits instead of a weight loss in numbers (ex. I want to lose 10 pounds). I suggest a progressive and controlled diet. The first step is to substitute all the fast sugars by lean proteins such as fish, poultry or lean red meats. Integrate fruits and vegetables in your snacks. You should also favor good fats and oils and eat to repletion.

A diet that’s too severe will lead to a decline of the metabolism and immune system. This will affect your power and your recovery rate and put you at greater risk of relapse and of regaining all the weight lost, and even of gaining more. The important thing is to put in the efforts, eat well but not to spend hours enduring hunger in order to lose weight.

I just got clipless pedals, and I’m told to pull on the pedals. What is the right technique?

Clipless pedals allow you to better use all the muscles involved in the pedal stroke. When sitting on your bike, when the pedal is at its lowest point, imagine that you are wiping your foot on a rug. When the pedal is coming up, concentrate on pointing your heel towards your behind as much as possible. Take time during warmup or cool-down to practice, and even exaggerate these movements. By paying attention to these to steps of the pedal stroke, you will pull on your pedals and thus fully take advantage of your power.

Ready to tackle the Granfondo Garneau-Québecor?

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What’s the difference between the speed at which I ride on my own and the speed at which I can ride in a peloton?

There’s a big difference between riding alone and in a peloton. On a generally flat course like that of the Granfondo Garneau-Quebecor, we’re talking about 5 to 10 km/h faster. To maximize your speed for the same effort, it’s important to always check where the wind is coming from to then hide behind other stronger riders who will block the wind for you. If you’re unable to tell where the wind is coming from, it’s because you are already well hidden from it.

I want to climb the Gagnon hill on my bike; how can I achieve this?

Once again, being able to pull on the pedals really helps to fully take advantage of each pedal stroke. In a climb like the Gagnon hill, it’s important to start the climb in a conservative manner. Often, beginners and medium-level riders take on hills too fast. It should be fairly easy for the first half of the hill. You should start climbing slower than what you are capable of to get to the top short of breath, but still on the bike.

The 2016 edition of the Granfondo Garneau-Québecor was a success.  

It’s January, the holidays are over, I’m motivated to train but I don’t know where to start. What should I do?

Come see us at BL Coaching! And if you’re not in the Quebec area, there are many places in every region when you can meet with specialists and get the advice you need to prepare for the Granfondo.

The important thing is to be well supervised. When you’re training alone, blindly, we often make mistakes. We’ve established a lit of 10 commandments that will prevent you from doing too much, or not enough:

BL Coaching’s 10 commandments

  1. With a good evaluation, you shall begin.
  2. You shall agree that not all plans agree with you.
  3. Your technique, you shall perfect.
  4. Power data, you shall consume.
  5. In a group, you shall push yourself.
  6. Quality to quantity, you shall prefer.
  7. Be strong in your head and strong in your legs, you shall be.
  8. Useless workouts, you shall ban.
  9. To suffer in order to win, you shall learn.
  10. Your rest, you shall respect.
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