There are many challenges to choose from as cyclists. A first 100-mile event, a specific sportive, perhaps even building up to a multi-day ride over the Alps. These challenges all focus the mind on effort
Late last year, Liz Dimmock decided to set herself an especially grand challenge: to ride around the world in five months to raise £1m for the charity War Child. In the process, she would, she hoped, get more women into cycling, and finally to break the women’s world record.
“I’ve only been road cycling for six years,” says Dimmock. “I took it up to join many friends who were riding. At the time, I had an all-consuming job in the corporate world in London, but saw cycling as my release.
“Last summer, I took part in the Tour de Force, where I rode the route of the Tour de France before the professionals. It was a great challenge and really opened my mind to what can be achieved on the bike. I was the only woman to finish the event.
This achievement, my love of cycling and my drive to use cycling to achieve wider goals led me to think about riding around the world.”
Naturally, there are rules that regulate the round-the-world record. You don’t have to cover all the continents or even follow the same route. You have to cover 18,000 miles and make sure that you ride through a point on the globe that is geographically opposite to where you started.
Long way round
“After setting the goal in September 2012, it was time to start training,” Dimmock continues. “I have been lucky enough to work with Matt Roberts Personal Training to prepare. John Roberts has been training me and he has really been a crucial part in my development.
We started by breaking down the specifics of what the ride would need. To break the current record, I would have to complete the 18,000 miles or 29,000km in less than five months. That means that I have to cover an average of 215km a day, travel days [between riding] included within that average.
Breaking it down to a manageable level mentally was the starting point, then we soon realised that the key for me to achieve those numbers was to make sure that biomechanically I become as efficient as possible. I will be doing millions of pedal revolutions during my attempt, so if anything is not quite perfect, it could cause a ride-stopping injury. Essentially, I have learnt how to pedal again!”
This re-learning has seen Dimmock in the gym at least twice a week. Roberts, her coach, explains: “For Liz to achieve her goals, we needed to go back to basics: spend many hours in the gym making sure that her body moves as efficiently as possible on the bike.
That means she has a lot of core, stability and flexibility work in her programme. She does not need the explosive power that a racer does. Her challenge means that she has to ride at a consistent and maintainable output, efficiently, day-in day out-during the challenge. If Liz’s body is not balanced and working inefficiently, then she risks getting injured – something that we are working hard to prevent.”
It is not all about the gym. Naturally, with the need to ride over 215km a day for five months, Dimmock has also been spending a lot of time in the saddle. “During the winter, I spent a lot time on the rollers,” she explains. “They really help with how you pedal.
I have been doing up to four hours on them at a time – tough, but I can implement my new-found pedalling technique. If you do not pedal smoothly on the rollers, then you do not stay straight. Now that I am getting closer to my October departure date, I have been focusing on riding more.
Recently, I had a training trip to Italy, riding the final few stages the day after a race went through. It was tough with the weather conditions, but was good at preparing me for the challenge. It was also the first time that my support team started to work together with me.
“With the wider aims of my ride, to raise £1m for War Child and also get more women into cycling, I will be documenting my journey as much as possible. There is still a lot of hard work that I need to do before I start in October, both on the bike and in the gym but, as with my riding, the aim is to keep consistent
over the long period rather than panic training!”
Training to lap the planet – How to prepare
“My training is focused on a few different areas. I have an extensive stretching, core and mobility routine that I follow daily. I do two gym sessions a week to work improve my biomechanics, through strength and conditioning.
I ride between 15 to 20 hours a week focused on power and heart rate. The aim is to improve my lactic acid threshold so that I can ride at the required pace for the five months I will be riding.”
- Total distance to cover: 29,000km (18,000 miles).
- Time limit for record: five months.
- Daily average kilometres – 215 (inc. travel days).
- Sporting equivalents – 687 marathons or 8.5 Grand Tours.
- Daily calorie intake – 6,000kcal, which is 900,000kcal in five months.
- You can follow Dimmock’s preparation and ride at www.worldride.cc
This article was first published in the June 20 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!