I know how difficult it is to travel and train for bike racing. I do it all the time and many of the athletes I coach are facing this challenge as well. There are several factors to consider:
• Illness and fatigue from the actual travel itself
• Time off the bike
• Stress it puts on your time with family and work before/after the trip
• Diet while travelling (this is really tough for myself heading to a complete different culture)
I’ll be headed to China in a few days. I am lucky, in that I can plan my travel and therefore plan my training accordingly. Some folks I have coached don’t even get that luxury. In my case, I obviously plan a rest week. I push pretty hard up to the travel date and then don’t stress too much when I can’t get on the bike. It actually becomes a good thing in a way. Too often cyclists don’t take recovery seriously and 5-7 days off the bike can be a good way to come back mentally and physically ready to go.
For the athletes that have to go at a moments notice, I create a serious of workouts that can be done travelling and the day before. Most of the time, these folks are gone for a few days and training can be sufficiently worked around it.
One of the biggest points to consider is the mental strain of travel. If a racer doesn’t trust that the plan will work with the travel and that he is going to loose major fitness, the mental anguish for a competitive cyclist is huge. I have had many a case of overtraining in racers because they return from the trip and try to make up for lost time. I have yet to see this actually work. The best situation is to plan for it. If that isn’t possible, trust that you won’t loose that much fitness in 1-2 weeks.
In later posts, I will include some alternative workouts for travelers that keep you in shape and also work on many of the weaknesses that cyclists have due to too much time ON the bike.