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

As a world class duathlete, Diane Stibbard brings a rare combination of expertise, motivation and knowledge to her Toronto based business Down Under Fitness. She knows that the driving force to reach any goal comes from a deep desire within. As a trainer, she has a unique ability to help individuals embrace this desire to achieve their athletic potential.
Down Under Fitness
provides aerobic testing, training programs for highly competitive athletes and recreational individuals, nutritional counseling, personal training, and athletic injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Diane was born and raised in Australia. Since 1984 she has worked in different parts of the world including Hong Kong, Australia and Canada. A competitive athlete her entire life, Diane has an impressive list of athletic accomplishments, most notably:

Team Member - Canadian Duathlon Team 1992, 1993, 2001, 2002, and 2003
6th place finish at the World Duathlon Championships in Italy 2001 (1st Cnd Overall - Age Group Female)
Top 10 finish in the Open Female Category at the Paris to Ancaster Enduro 60km Bike Race
8th place finish at the World Duathlon Championships in Atlanta in 2002
Canadian Female Age Group Duathlete of the Year 2001 - Voted by Triathlon Canada
Subaru Age Group Duathlon Series Winner - 2001, 2002
Top 10 Canadian Women Finisher at the New York City Marathon 1998
2000 Chicago Marathon and Boston 2001 Marathon Finisher
Diane lives, cycles, runs and works in Toronto where she trains sports enthusiasts of all stripes, including: duathletes, triathletes, runners and recreational cyclists.

cycling touring for women
cycling touring for women

Staying in shape over the winter months is a challenge for many cyclists. This past year I had a number of physical set backs. For months my bike remained perched on the trainer unused. I emerged from our long, dark winter several pounds heavier, with my previously firm cycling legs turned to flab. So, when I talked with Diane in early May, I had many questions about how to stay in good cycling form throughout the winter months, and how to get into top cycling shape in the spring.    -  Laurel-Lea Shannon

Q: I know there is no one-size-fits-all cycling fitness program. A fitness plan depends upon your age, fitness level, and your fitness goals. But is there a rule of thumb that a cyclist can use to know how to train at the start of the season based on her level of fitness?

DS: It depends on what she's been doing in the winter. Has she been doing activities during the winter that are more sports specific towards cycling? Or, has she been doing other activities that keep her fit but not really using the muscles that cycling does? Is she doing activities that are more cycling based? Is she putting in some miles on her trainer? If she's not, what activities is she doing to maintain a good base level of fitness? Cross country skiing is a good winter activity to supplement your time on your trainer. The classic version, not skate skiing. When you skate ski you tend to use more the glut medius, the muscles on the side of the leg. When you classic ski you're in one plane and you work the muscles that you do when you're biking. I know that skate skiing has become a lot more popular. It's faster and it's the cool thing to do, but if you want to become a competent cyclist then a) in the winter you've got to be putting some time on the bike on your trainer, and b) supplementing with some cross country skiing.

Q: How much time on the trainer during the winter?

DS: It depends. For a recreational cyclist I'd say balance it with two days of skiing and then two to three days on the trainer. You've got to also remember when you're on the trainer there is no spin time. So you don't have to spend as much time on the trainer as you would on the road. For example, if you were going to do an hour ride outside, the equivalent on the trainer is forty or forty-five minutes. On a trainer you don't have down time or spin time so you're constantly working against resistance. So, I recommend riding the trainer at least three times a week for forty-five minutes to an hour. Now this is for an average recreational cyclist. There's always room to put in more time on the bike if you're a lot more competitive and a lot more serious.

If you combine three times a week on the trainer with some cross country skiing then I'd say by early spring you can be close to doing the same amount of cycling you would in the middle of the summer. You may be twenty or thirty percent off in terms of how many hours you'd be putting on your bike outside.

If you haven't put that time on the trainer during the winter and supplemented with some skiing then you're only going to be operating at about fifty percent of the time you'd normally spend on your bike in mid summer. So if there's a rule of thumb, I'd say fifty percent if you haven't really done anything specifically geared towards cycling. If you have, then you're in pretty good shape to be doing about seventy percent of the total of what you'd do in the summer time.

Q: I guess I'm at about fifty percent (laughing). It's very challenging to use the trainer. I've got one. I've had my bike set up on it all winter. But it's just so boring using it.

DS: Trainers are very challenging. There are other options. For people who don't have trainers and find that boring, I always suggest taking in some spin classes where you can be in an environment that's more motivating. On the spinners, as you probably know, you have the opportunity to freewheel. So, that's an option but I honestly think that the more time you spend on your own bike the better off you're going to be.

I wouldn't necessarily advocate spending the whole time on a spinner throughout the winter. Although I did that a number of years ago when I didn't have a trainer. I still came out in pretty good shape in the spring, but again, I wasn't on my bike and I wasn't as comfortable on my bike right off the bat.

Q: Do you listen to tapes when you're on your trainer? I don't listen to anything because I find it distracts me.

DS: I have every device known to man. My training partner and I just added an element to our training. We always have music no matter what because we just can't train without it. This past winter we bought several DVD's: the Tour de France from 2004, and Giro d'Italia. We just have the visuals on, no sound, but we've got the music in the background. This way we've got visual distraction and a bit of additional motivation. And you know what, we really liked it! We use everything we can to get us pumped.

Q: If a recreational cyclist wants to ride in an event like the Rideau Lakes Cycling Tour in early June, covering a distance of 354 km over two days, how should she train? Even if a woman has trained as you described and is at seventy percent of her summer fitness, it doesn't sound like that's enough for a ride like this.

DS: Well it's not right off the bat. Because the event is in early June you need to be able to start getting saddle time by, at the latest, the beginning of May. If you're at seventy percent of where you want to be at the beginning of May, then you should be pretty good to go by early June. But if you're not at seventy percent, and you're not out cycling in early May, then it's a no go.    continued on page 2


cycling touring for women