All those years of my racing career, it never even occurred to me to think about this topic, until one of my friends asked me: how do you choose your training route? And actually, it’s not a silly question at all. So, what should we consider before we decide on the right place to go?
No one likes to get wet, I guess. So, every cyclist becomes an amateur meteorologist sooner or later. Every morning we look out of the window, checking the weather. Then we check one of those applications on our smartphone for the actual weather situation, especially the rainfall radar animation. Yes, because sometimes we can avoid the rain just by picking the right direction of our ride.
I always prefer coming back home with a tailwind. Especially in places, where wind is the key player, like the Netherlands, Lanzarote, Spanish midlands or some flat parts of my home country, the Czech Republic. I don’t mind starting my training ride against a headwind or to face gusts of wind in the middle of my ride but I definitely don’t want to fight the wind on my way back home. So I’m always planning my ride like that. Unfortunately, I remember some occasions, when the wind changed during my ride and I was suffering all day long. Actually, it’s a good training for a long breakaway or a time trial. But no pleasure to ride at all.
According to my training plan, the racing program or how I’m actually feeling at the moment, I choose the profile of my training ride. I live in a place with a good variety of training routes with different profiles. So it’s not a problem for me to ride 200 km on flat or to suffer during a hilly ride with decent elevation. Of course, sometimes we don’t have a good choice of the training course but even then we can regulate the difficulty of the ride by modifying the tempo or the gearing. I mean, we can have a hard one on flat or a recovery ride in the mountains.
My whole racing career I didn’t mind to ride on the same course again and again. Sometimes, you just cannot avoid it. I remember some training camps where I spent three weeks riding on one or two training courses. But when I can choose I’m changing my rides very often just to freshen up my cycling passion. Sometimes is good just to do your favourite loop the opposite way.
Points of interest
Even on a sophisticated training ride before the most important race of the season, you can combine your cycling with visiting a friend, saying hi to your mum, or with meeting your sponsor. I try to give every ride some extra background. And if there’s no special need, I try to plan the route just to see some nice places. Scenic road by the see, panoramic road with an amazing view or – and that’s very often – a good café with an excellent espresso and tasty cake.
Traffic is getting worse everywhere. That’s why I always choose smaller roads or the roads with dedicated cycling lanes when possible. You know, better be safe than sorry. I try to remember all those dangerous spots on my favourite courses around the world and always try to avoid them. Busy traffic, badly visible crossings or poorly surfaced downhills. More and more often I use cycling paths, especially when leaving big cities. The key rule is as always: safety first! So, be safe, enjoy cycling and leave us tips how do you pick your rides!