001 CYCLING IN THE NETHERLANDS AND THAILAND

If you ever want to become a true cyclist it is important that you have fun in cycling. A real cycling addiction is not necessary but do make cycling a permanent part of your life. The pleasure you get from the fun you have when you complete a long trip with your bike friends. During those trips, there is sufficient time to have a pleasant or serious conversation but also to test each other out during climbs, sprints, or alternately riding in the lead of the group with a head wind.

I’m from the Netherlands and the Netherlands is a country where everyone has a bike and where everybody often rides daily, from young to old. Like the young in Thailand go to school or work with the songtheaw or the motorcycle; in the Netherlands just about anyone goes to school and work on the bike. When I went to high school for five years I cycled daily with a large group of fellow students at least 30 kilometers per day. It was all so normal and nice that I cannot recall one day that I did not like it. Cycling is part of the culture of the Netherlands. In Thailand cycling still emerging but cycling is booming in Thailand. The number of cyclists is increasing rapidly.

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In the Netherlands everybody is cycling.
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To the school and to work.
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Young boys cycling workout.
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To school in Thailand.

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During the long summer holidays we went with four friends on the bike into Europe. Loaded with tent, sleeping bag and other necessary items. We rode to Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Andorra, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. During one of these monster tours we rode nearly 4,000 kilometers in total. The average distance per day was usually 150 to 200 km. Those were wonderful tours of which I have coveted the most beautiful memories.  Besides other sports I continued cycling my entire life with later solitary cycling tours in Brazil, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia. Most beautiful of all is that my three children became also passionate cyclists. Cycling is also for them an important part of their lives.

To really enjoy cycling, you need a good bike. Do not immediately buy a super professional racing bike, which are far too expensive. So first let’s see if you’re a real bike lover. Also important is the physical condition. The better your physical condition is the more you enjoy cycling.  Build up your fitness gradually. So start with long duration training which is cycled at a reasonable pace. This training is known as LSD or LONG SLOW DISTANCE training. That is the way of building up your basic stamina. Start with three or four training sessions per week, from 1.5 to 2 hours at a time. And during the weekends an extra long workout of 3 to 4 hours.

Try to gradually build up the shape in which you can easily handle 100 kilometers. Train with cyclists of equal level. Nothing is more depressing than being the weakest of a group and getting home each time totally destroyed. With a group of similar level, you learn to ride well in a group and you also learn to ride properly in the wheel. In addition, you also learn riding and taking the lead alternately. Make appointments to sprint at fixed points during such training and make an overall classification of the sprints.

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Eddy Merckx

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NO PAIN, NO GAIN

Read some articles on this site about training. The main workouts for fun riders, the endurance training are also treated here. Realize that the condition improves only if the intensity of the effort exceeds a minimum value. So if you ride with an intensity that is lower, fitness does not improve. That is the ‘no pain, no gain’ principle. This means that a workout should hurt a little and sometimes more to be effective. The minimal  heart rate intensity above which    fitness will improve  is 60 to 65% of the HR max = maximum heart rate.

Do not look for the support by expensive trainers with lactate values and difficult training schedules. It is not necessary, it has no use.  Go for a bike ride and try to enjoy as much as possible without constantly have to look at heart rate monitors or wattage meters. And again try now and then to read about the physiology of the cycling training. Then you will learn how to train the best without losing a lot of money.

So no expensive exercise testing or bike fitting. It is overpriced and yields too little. Ask an experienced cyclist to put you well on the bike. There’s really no need for bike fitting. It obviously starts with buying a bike. That is best done with an expert, and then you run the least risk of having a too large or too small frame.

Eat and drink adequately and on time during training. You can make a sports drink yourself. An energy bar or energy drink is often a good solution to deal with an energy shortage.

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Group training recreational cyclists

With a view to the heat in Thailand, ride early in the morning or in the evening. Do wear a helmet and dress thinly. Consider the dangerous traffic and the poor state of the roads in Thailand. A car in front and behind the group provides more safety. But then the group must stay together.

Train as much as possible on quiet roads and don’t train along busy highways. Or find somewhere a quiet and safe course of 10 or 15 kilometers on which can be trained.

Learn to ride well in a closed group. Thai, on a recreational ride  with a large group  away, you will see a long ribbon of individual riders and groups. That must change. That has nothing to do with cycling. Such a thing does not exist in the Netherlands or Belgium.

As a final advice try to lose weight if needed. Besides training, especially weight reduction is a factor that determines an improved cycling performance. That is the main reason that most professional cyclists are so awfully skinny.

SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF TRAINING METHODS FOR FUN RIDERS

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Although the views on the role of lactate have changed, the lactate curve can still be used well in order to explain some of the major principles of training. As the intensity of exercise increases so do the lactate levels; but also heart rate, and the number of Watts. In other words, you cycle or run faster.

RECOVERY TRAINING

The gray area is the so-called recovery zone. Recovery training will take place the day after a hard race or training. Training at this intensity does not improve condition.

ENDURANCE TRAINING

The green zone plus the orange zone is the aerobic zone. This is a very important area because here the basic fitness or stamina is formed. That is the foundation of training. Without a good basic fitness or stamina you can never build up a good body condition. Endurance or aerobic power increases with training in this zone. In the aerobic zone lactate is formed, but the formation of lactate and breakdown are in equilibrium with each other so that there is no accumulation of lactate.

The endurance training sessions can be divided into easy endurance training and intensive endurance training in the green zone and tempo endurance training in the orange zone. These are therefore three different aerobic training zones with an increasing intensity.

In the orange zone lactate formation is increasing. At a certain point, the body is no longer able to neutralize all of the lactate that is formed. The lactate production then increases very strongly. This point is the so called deflection point or the anaerobic threshold. Effort above the level of the anaerobic threshold is accompanied by accumulation of lactic acid. That is the reason that this kind of exercise cannot sustained long.

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Young taught done old.     Workout inside the house.            Holiday on the bike

During training for recreational cyclists the intensity lies mainly in the green region and to a lesser degree in the orange area. During short sprints and climbs where you can challenge and try to beat each other the intensity is also short time in the red area.

Efforts on or around the deflection point are associated with an increased respiratory rate so that the expression of whole sentences becomes impossible.

The deflection point is about 15 to 20 beats below the maximum heart rate. Endurance workouts should be in the entire green zone and orange zone. In this way, stamina is increasing most. Endurance training can be trained in a small group where is alternately riding in the lead.  The one in the lead is riding in the orange zone and the followers, in the wheel, riding in the green. Make the lead turns not too short. As much as 4-5-6-minute ride in the lead, before switching.