Andy Ward, one of our European contributors who helped with our reporting of the Milton Keynes World Cup last year, is currently training for his first race at the iconic 3 Peaks Cyclocross Race in September. For the last two months, he has been laying out his plan for attack, and admits he is offering a guide for beginners like himself and not advice for those looking to win the race. Today he looks at his training leading up to race day along with his nutrition plan for the event.

by Andy Ward

Andy Ward has already tackled the cyclocross course, but is learning how to contend with 3 Peaks as well. © Simon Askham

Andy Ward has already tackled the cyclocross course, but is learning how to contend with 3 Peaks as well. © Simon Askham

Training with Only Weeks to Go

Only two weeks to go and this is getting serious. Having faffed considerably getting my bike ready for the big day, I’ve turned my focus to finding precious training time. With two jobs,a GP in the ever busy NHS and teaching at the local Medical School, time is not something I have in spades. Add a hectic family life into the mix and I’ve had to be a bit creative in building up my training schedule.

Despite managing to find time for a weekly cross-country ride with some steep slope bike carrying thrown in, I worry it’s not quite enough. Fortunately, working at the Medical School gives me access to the fitness club on campus.

Plodding along on exercise machines does not fill me with joy, so I’ve plumped instead for a couple of weekly classes that happen to fit into my work schedule. First up is Body Pump. A sort of aerobics with weights, it’s tougher than it sounds and builds muscle endurance. It has noticeably improved my core strength – a benefit I hope will reap rewards on the long climbs of the 3 Peaks.

Later in the week comes Spin. Some of my cycling friends are a bit sniffy about spin classes and would rather spend their time in the garage on a turbo trainer. Personally I find them fun, and I enjoy the competitive edge to the sessions and the variety introduced by the instructor. The sessions are certainly tough, with a maximum heart rate of 182 in my last class proving that. And as cyclocross training expert Simon Burney advised me, “anything tough is good” when preparing for the Peaks.

Finally I’ve been paying regular visits to the Arts and Humanities department of the University – sadly not to broaden my mind, but to take advantage of the 170 foot Attenborough Tower. It’s 18 floors of stair-climbing, calf-burning goodness.

Sometimes training can be found in the everyday landscape. © Andy Ward

Sometimes training can be found in the everyday landscape. © Andy Ward

Race Day Nutrition

I have to confess to a cavalier attitude to on-the-bike feeding. Some water, a banana and a café stop normally gets me through the longest of rides.

That’s not a strategy that is going to work in the 3 Peaks. I’m told that getting enough fluid can be something of a challenge. With bottle cages proving a hindrance when carrying the bike up long steep climbs and lacking a team of water carriers, I’m resorting to a Camelbak.

Simon Burney recommends 60g of carbs per hour, so my water and banana will be replaced by an energy drink and gels. My digestion has not coped well with these in the past, so I’m running a few trials on my training rides. So far Clif Bars and their Shot Bloks are suiting me best. If anyone has any more helpful suggestions on how I might survive the race, please get in touch through twitter @awkwardcyclist.

We'll check in to see if this face is still full of smiles halfway through 3 Peaks.. © Andy Ward

We’ll check in to see if this face is still full of smiles halfway through 3 Peaks.. © Andy Ward