What does it take to ride 80km (50 miles) in under two hours?
I sat down with Nick Tarmey from VC Venta to have a chat on how he was progressing towards the 12hour National TT championships in August 2021 as well as gain some insights after his “End of lockdown 50 mile TT” completed on Saturday 27th March 2021 in 01:58:47 at a breath-taking average speed of 40.7km/h.
1. Nick, that was quite a ride to complete 80.5km in under 2 hours. What motivated you to set this as an early season challenge?
I always feel much more motivated to train when I have an event on the horizon. With the unpredictable Covid situation this year, I decided in the middle of winter that I needed a definite spring event I could train for. I chose a 50 mile personal TT in the New Forest because it’s a decent challenge, relevant to my goals in the summer, and on my favourite roads. Being a relatively slow and hilly course, I knew I’d have to prepare well to get round in under 2 hours.
2. How have you managed to adjust your training over the winter whilst still working in a very challenging environment on an ICU ward with Covid patients?
Within the constraints I had this winter - a busy job in the ICU and limited opportunity to ride my TT bike outside, I was really happy with how well I had prepared. I’ve been trying some different approaches to pre-race and on-bike nutrition, which I will tweak slightly for next time but, otherwise it all went well.
3. Have you spent much time on off the bike training or any training specifically on your bike position?
With my focus this year being 50 mile, 100 mile and 12 hour TTs, I have been trying to build aerobic endurance with core strength and conditioning for the TT position. Practically, this meant getting in weekly long rides outside on my winter bike, along with sustained intervals on the TT bike indoors. To work on my conditioning, I’ve been doing twice-weekly off-bike strength sessions and riding the rollers in the TT position. A lot of these are sessions I wouldn’t naturally feel motivated to do, so being countable to Toby as my coach this winter has been a big help.
4. Do you have a favourite training session that you look forward to?
Although indoor training gets the job done, I always prefer an outside ride. Over the winter, I always looked forward to a good, solid 4 hour endurance ride to the Forest. Now it’s great to meet up with club mates again for our weekly chaingang.
5. How are you changing your training leading into the 25mile and 50mile TT’s?
I’m pretty happy with my aerobic base for now, so the next step is trying to get in a bit more intensity ahead of the shorter TTs. Our hilly chain gangs have been great for maxing out the heart rate, but I’ll also be doing some 2-5 minute above-threshold intervals on the TT bike.
6. What 2 pieces of advice would you give other riders looking to improve their TT times?
Firstly, I’d say forget about times and try competing for placings on the day. This means you can ride all sorts of interesting courses, rather than searching for the perfect dual carriageway and weather conditions. For those new to TT, I’d recommend adding in some sustained interval sessions 1-2 times per week. You don’t really need a power meter - just try holding the best effort you can for anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes.
Nick, thanks for your time and for answering my questions. It has ben great to see how some simple technique work and indoor sessions focussing on body adaption over the winter are leading to some really improved speed gains on the road. Best of luck for the Bar round of time trials.
The Endurance Habit