In normal life, an average week of exercise for me would mostly consist of commuting to and from work as incidental exercise, with a track session or a few runs dotted in to round things out nicely.
When COVID19 hit Melbourne in March, my primary source of exercise was cut to nearly zero as I started working from home, and as a result, I was pretty sedentary four months. I was cultivating some mass and generally having pretty low energy levels as a result of this inactivity.
With the extra weight, lack of exercise and the constant stream of information about the pandemic coming through, I wasn’t in the most motivated mindset to do anything other than binge watch TV once I finished work.
So late last month, with additional COVID restrictions coming into place in Victoria, limiting us to riding within 5km of home for a maximum of one hour; I took home a smart trainer from the office to try and tackle my first organised event in over three years.
Here’s a quick overview of what I learnt and how I used FulGaz.
Get organised the night before.
I like to exercise in the morning to start my day, so for the first day of the USA Challenge, stage one- the Miller road race circuit- I left it to the last minute to dust off the cycling shoes, download the ride and get a water bottle. This was definitely a mistake as I spent about 30 minutes getting my various bits and pieces organised and ended up only finishing just before my first meeting of the day.
Get ready the night before by laying out your knicks, headphones, fill up your bidons, get your shoes and lay out your towel. Being properly prepared meant that I could start riding within five minutes of getting up, rather than wasting the morning messing about.
Hydrate – it’s thirsty work
This might seem like an obvious one to many, but make sure you drink enough water before, during and after riding. I found that I needed about two bottles of water for a 1h20m ride. This kept me comfortable and meant I didn’t need to get off halfway through and fill up my bottles. Make sure you keep topping up throughout the day after your ride also as when you’re not on the bike it’s easy to forget drinking.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love coffee. I drink a pot of coffee before lunch most days, so I made sure to have a brew ready to go as I warmed up. Caffeine normally takes about 40mins to reach its peak in your body, so this really helped with my energy levels in the back half of the ride. This late burst of caffeine meant that on the tougher stages I had some extra ompf- especially up the Gibraltar road climb!
Having only ever used rollers inside, I found a good microfibre towel to be SUPER important. Keep it close by and use a fresh one each ride. It also means that the floor won’t get as dirty/sweaty. It’s winter in Melbourne at the moment, so I rode with the window open to get me some extra airflow.
Find a setup that suits you
I trialled and used a few different combos to see what works for me. I have terrible eyesight, so I used a stand up desk, and tucked my bike handlebars in underneath. This ensured I could get close to the iPad, keep it on the charge and reach without getting off the bike if I needed to adjust anything.
One of the things about having a five ride event was that it motivated me to get up, ride and finish the series. I have never been a person who can just ride, which is a shortcoming that I hate, but having a goal in mind, and the support/tips of the FulGaz riders group, meant that I was more driven to actually have a go. I didn’t set any record times or even crack the top 30 on any stage, but for me this was about finishing the event.
How’d I go?
Well, I finished the event, that was my goal all along and ended up finishing 80th overall which I am stoked with. I spaced out the rides so I rode every second day, but had weekends off.
My first instinct was to just sit and tap away on the pedals, but by the second stage, I decided to make the most of this time on the bike and put in the effort, making the mental choice that if I ‘was doing a session on the trainer, I was doing a session on the trainer.’
About my setup
I found that pairing the Direto trainer to be pretty simple, but it is a very noisy trainer due to its step motor, so might not be conducive for those who need a quiet ride on the indoor trainer. For me it worked really well and was super reliable through the event and meant I didn’t need to worry about it.
Next up, I am going to focus on tackling the FulGaz French Tour as part of a team. It’s a three week ride all up, but I think that having a goal will help me stay motivated over the next few months.
I recently joined the FulGaz team after working in the not-for-profit cycling space for the last 6 years. I am passionate about good food and drink, bikes and having a laugh.
I am not a very talented rider, but I always have crack!