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cycling touring for women
Interview with Diane Stibbard
(part one)
cycling touring for women
Page 2

Q: The Rideau Lakes Cycling Tour is a fairly hard ride. About 140 km of it is very hilly and challenging.

DS: Yes, and that's the other thing. Being on your trainer is good and it maintains your base level of fitness but there are so many more factors that come into play when you're on the bike versus being inside on a trainer. You have to get used to the wind, the hills, and the road. So, depending upon where you live, you should be riding outside by the middle of April. But the absolute minimum is to be at seventy percent by early spring and out on your bike by the beginning of May. Then put some solid miles on the bike right through to the time of the event.

Q: If a woman has less than one hour a day during the work week to train for cycling, what should her daily workout consist of? Can she make up for this on the weekends?

DS: Well, the daily workout could consist of a number of things. It depends on the woman, whether she's a competitive cyclist, or a recreational cyclist. Either way, if you only have an hour, the general rule of thumb is to save the weekend rides for endurance type riding. Then use the forty-five minutes to an hour time frame to work more on intensity.

Q: So interval training?

DS: You wouldn't start right away doing intervals. There's a way to work toward intervals. You'd go for a ride and you'd start throwing in segments of increased pace. Perhaps building up to doing hill repeats on your bike. Use the shorter time through the week to focus more on intensity. But again, there's going to be a gradual building process with that. Then when you've got more time on the weekend, use your time to develop more of your cardiovascular endurance.

It also depends on your goals. Do you just want to be fit? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to race? So, a woman's goals determine how to best use that hour a day through the week. If she just wants to be fit, then I would say, just put miles on the bike. That will stimulate your cardiovascular system. But if she wants to lift her level of fitness and perhaps look at doing some competitive cycling, then I'd say it's important to start increasing intensity through the week rides.


Q: What about women who want to do longer cycling tours? For example, spending part of your summer vacation on a week long cycling tour averaging 100 km a day?

DS: If that's the case, then intensity isn't necessarily as important. What's important is putting mileage on your body, and on your legs. And putting time in the saddle to get used to being on the bike as much as possible. So intensity doesn't really play a big part if that's the goal. Intensity is more of an issue if the goal is to get a little more competitive. Otherwise you just really need to develop a good cardiovascular base to put in 100 km rides.

Q: What about heart monitors? Are they important to have?

DS: Again, it all depends on the individual, and the age of the individual. If a woman wants to do recreational tours, then a heart rate monitor isn't really necessary. Heart rate monitors are more important for competitive cyclists. Now, having said that, the more senior woman cyclist might want to use a heart monitor for health reasons. To keep a check on her heart rate, but for someone who's just doing something recreational, I don't see tracking heart rate as really essential.

Q: What about for the older cyclist for health reasons?

DS: Well, it depends. You hear and read stories about fit, healthy individuals, and not always older individuals, doing a recreational marathon or a ride and they . . .

. . . Keel over dead?

DS: Yes, I don't like to sound fatalistic, but yeah! Every single marathon I've run in, I've seen someone who has passed away.

Q: So you mean sometimes a heart monitor is useful just to make sure that your heart isn't overworking?

DS: Yes. And once again, for the recreational cyclist they're not going to be really pushing themselves up into those heart rate levels anyways. So that's why I say it's not something that's really necessary. Now, if one of my clients was interested in using one, I'd help them determine their zones. Different zones address different levels and parts of your fitness. If someone really wanted to incorporate it, it's definitely doable. But I don't think it's really that necessary for the recreational cyclist.

Q: I read a book on cardiovascular health. The cardiologist who wrote the book recommends exercising fairly vigorously for at least thirty minutes a day to maintain a healthy heart. He has a formula that can be used to work out what your heart rate should be. If I wanted to cycle with this goal in mind, then I guess it would be a good idea to get a heart monitor?

DS: Yes, in that case it would be good to incorporate a heart monitor. But remember, if you're doing 100 km a day tours, you're going to be exercising enough to exercise your heart. If someone only has two to three hours a week to ride, then perhaps she would need to monitor herself to make sure she's stimulating her heart. But a woman who is doing longer training rides will be stimulating her heart just through the types of terrain she's riding through. When she's climbing up a hill she's going to be pushing her heart rate up. So, she's going to address areas of heart rate that maybe the two-to-three-hour-a-week rider wouldn't.

cycling touring for women
cycling touring for women

Come back next month for part two of this interview when Diane tells us:
how to boost recovery time by seventy percent

how to warm up before long rides to avoid injuries

how to properly hydrate before, during and after your rides

what to eat to keep your body fueled for those long summer rides

Do you have a question about cycling you'd like answered? Send us an email.

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cycling touring for women