If you’re looking for a cycling challenge for 2014, the C2C should be high on your wishlist. Having cycled it recently, I can see why it’s one of the most popular – if not, the most popular – multi-day cycling routes in the UK. The route, from the west to the east coast of England, packs in a lot of rewards, including fantastic scenery, perfect stopping and overnight places, a mixture of flat and hills and the chance to dip your bike wheels in both the Irish and North seas. Read more about cycling the C2C.
Plan ahead for the C2C tour
But this route does require a bit of forethought, which is why I am suggesting you add it high up on your list of cycling must-dos in 2014. If you start with some training now you’ll be in great shape for cycling the C2C come the spring. Alternatively, wait for the better weather of spring 2014 and aim to complete the route later in the summer. What I am recommending is that you take some time to train, so you can fully enjoy the route. There are hills – and lots of them. Some of the hills are long and slow, while others are short and steep. There is also a fair amount of flat cycling at the start and finish of the complete route but it’s the hills and undulating landscape in the middle that requires some focused training. I hope I’ve not put you off! What you gain for the hill training is the chance to cycle one of the most beautiful routes I have had the pleasure of cycling.
Training plans to suit the C2C
Your training requirements will depend on your starting fitness levels and the number of days that you plan to take to cycle the route. I recommend a two-day trip for fit cyclists and a three to five-day trip for riders who aren’t so fit or who would prefer to have less hours in the saddle and more hours to visit attractions and potter around villages and towns along the way.
Up your cycling mileage
Wherever you are starting from, whether it’s as a complete cycling novice or a keen commuting cyclist, you need to be able to comfortably pedal for the number of miles that you’ll be cycling each day on the C2C. So if you choose to cycle the route over two days, it’s important that you can comfortably ride for 70 miles in one day. If you choose to cycle the C2C over three days, make sure your can manage around 50 miles in one day. The four day option requires around 35 miles of cycling each day and would be perfect for less experienced riders. How long you take to cycle is not important, so long as you can keep going between your overnight accommodations. If you want to ride at a more leisurely pace consider spreading the tour over more days. At the start of your training be realistic. There is no point in setting out to cycle 50 miles when you have never done this before. You’ll only end up sore and tired. Start, for example, with a 10-mile bike ride on a weekend. Add a couple of shorter cycles in on weekdays. You could cycle to work. Then, gently build up this mileage over the weeks. Don’t add more than 10 to 20% extra each week. Keep the training steady and build up carefully so you become fit and strong, without injury.
Add in some hill reps
Hill reps (repetitions) are important for the C2C. Make sure your longer bike rides in training include some hills. Seek out a range of hills, from long and gentle to short and steep. Once a week you could add in some shorter reps on hills. Find a hill that is not too steep and allows you to ride uphill for five to 10 minutes. Cycle uphill and then freewheel downhill. Do this several times building up the reps over the weeks. Cycling gently to and from a hill will offer adequate warming up and cooling down sessions.
By completing hill reps you will build the strength in your legs for tackling the hills in the C2C. On a few occasions you should head to the longest and toughest hill that you can find in your local area. The C2C includes a couple of very long hill climbs and it’s a good idea to give yourself some practice time on these kinds of hills.
Cycle training in winter
If you are planning to cycle the C2C in the spring, this will require some over-winter training. Make good use of a turbo trainer (this is a gadget that converts your ordinary bike to a stationary bike indoors). Check out on-line turbo training plans such as Sufferfest. Spin classes are also a good winter option for cyclists. Every time you see a window of good weather make sure you get out and cycle some miles on the roads. There is no replacement for actually riding your bike if you want to become bike fit.
But it’s all about the fun of cycling
Cycling should be fun and the C2C route made me smile a lot. If you put in the training you will love this route. Our team of specialists are here to help you plan your next adventure, contact us for advice & inspiration.