Tour de Rena

Tour de Rena. What is this – a new stage race that you’ve never heard of?? No, sorry – it’s just a “codename” for my most recent training camp. After racing Valdresrittet last Saturday with less than stellar form and outcome, I continued my plan on ramping up volume and sweetspot work to improve my fitness and lactate threshold.

Last Sunday I equipped my Ninety Six Team with slick tyres and a large 40t chainring in front. The chain stays on the full carbon frame are ideal for at least 42t chain rings and that makes it a very flexible bike not only for terrain rides, but also for easier road rides on tarmac.

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I eventually ended up doing a large endurance loop at 150 km, Nordmarka rundt. Perhaps I put a little too much effort into it, but it’s hard to hold back when you feel fresh. After the ride I let the Ninety Six rest for a while and packed my Scultura in the team car and drove north heading for Rena and my good friend Kjell that lives up there. To come was a week of combined holiday and training camp.

Day 1: Sweetspot intervals

Focus this period is increasing functional threshold power (FTP) and to make that happen it’s time devoted in power zone 4 (90-105%) that has the best effect. With the race from Saturday and the long endurance ride Sunday still fresh in my legs, made sweetspot around 90-95% the way to go today.

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Day 2: Endurance

Fourth day in a row with a decent training load. Yesterday was hard and today it was time to go long again. We gathered a group of three riders and went together around Storsjøen. When we got to the halfway point, we went up the climb to Renåfjellet (rv217) to inspect the conditions and get to know it. Plan was to drive up here later to do some hill work. After a good coffee break and some fast carbs we got some tail / side wind on the way home we. I got in front and started my diesel and made the ride back home quick and comfy for the guys in back. Now it was about time to recover those legs and refuel some energy stores!!

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Day 3: First rest day

Some athletes like to take days off their bike. I normally don’t. I would rather have a short and super easy ride in flat terrain to keep the legs going. Worst case I could even find my rollers, but sitting on the couch all day is less than productive in my mind. We put our computers in our pockets and just went for a small ring ride on the most flat road we could find in the area. When you can do the entire ride breathing through your nose and close your mouth you normally go slow enough to call it a recovery ride. We didn’t put any force in the pedals and got pay off for that the day after.

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Day 4: Another sweetspot interval

Today we woke up a little earlier, loaded up with our oatmeal and coffee shots, put our  bikes in the car and drove further north to Åkrestrømmen. Here we had the longest / best climb in the area with 5,6 km and 6% avg gradient. False flat the first part combined with steep sections at 8-12 % incline. A brutal climb for big heavy riders. I had a plan to start at sweetspot and increase gradually, but with all the recent volume I soon found out that sweetspot was more than enough.

To trick my mind I started with the longest one at 20 mins and then reduced duration for each consecutive interval… 16-14-12-8. A total of 70 mins in the threshold zone made jelly out of the legs. That’s the perfect time to work on fat burn capacity and general endurance. So while my friend took the car back home, I took the long road by bike after a refuel of chocolate milk and coffee. I found the hammock quite comfortable when I finally got home…

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Day 5: The longest one

My buddy Kjell has a bucket list of things to accomplish like all of us. One wish on that list was to ride more than 7 hrs and 200 kms in one training ride and also do the trip around Trysil that he’d never done before. The weather forecast was perfect and we scrambled a group of four riders to make this an epic trip to remember. When riding in a social group and on smooth roads with almost no traffic the time really flies, and before we even had the opportunity to look at the ride time we were in Trysil (75 km).

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A quick coffee break and refuel of bottles before we continued on riding south towards the Swedish border. Turned right just before we became smugglers and headed towards Elverum. The reason for this detour was to stay off rv25 as long as possible to avoid it’s notorious holiday traffic and also get some more km’s in the ride. But eventually we had to get back to rv25 and face the cyclist hating traffic there.

Even if we rode in single file we had some close encounters both from Tesla’s that obviously owned the road, timber trucks, caravans and others. It was a really unpleasant experience and one of the worst traffic experiences I’ve ever had. No compassion for sharing the road and some even tried to drive by as close as possible it seemed. We took a short detour and stop at Søre Osen to refuel again before we headed back on the crazy road.

In the next rolling descent, hitting about 45 km/h, my front tire suddenly exploded without any warning. It was just pure luck, handling skills and cat like manoeuvring that made me stay on the bike and not fall or crash. I didn’t understand what caused it. Inspected the tire and rim, but nothing obvious. Put on a new tube and continued.. Suddenly *BANG* again!! Same thing. I was lucky for the second time today, but now I felt I had spent my luck for one day.

Hard to face it, but I had to abandon the others in the road side and let them finish their epic ride without me 🙁 One of the riders called his wife from Rena and made her come pick me up. Thank you a million times! After they had gone, I decided to try hitch hiking to get closer to her and meet her half way (Elverum). The SECOND car I tried stopped! Perhaps I look too innocent? Or maybe it was the green Merida clothes? 🙂

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I really feel like I owe you a BIG thanks. Marius Sidney at Hedskog.no – you saved my day. It would have been a very long wait in a dangerous high traffic area if it wasn’t for you being so kind and pick me up. Thanks a million!!

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The other guys managed to complete the ride and not only that, but to top it off my buddy even wanted to go for another hour when he got back. I convinced him not to. The grand finale was still to come and that would demand some freshness…

Day 6: Resting

The second to last day. It was a long day today and tomorrow was going to be the final nail in the coffin. So a rest day was in place and we did exactly as last time. Computers in the pocket and a nose breather of a recovery spin. Suuuuper easy and flat with no wind either. Eating and drinking well, combined with enough rest, staying off the legs, stretching and refuelling are some keys to successful and effective recovery. We did our best and prepared for the beat to come.

Day 7: Le Grand finale

Threshold session with progression was the name of the game today. We both started of with some increased efforts to wake our legs up from recovery mode and prepare the body for the fight to come. After that we hit today’s uphill and started with a 9 min KOM effort at threshold to get things going. Not ideal wind conditions, but I felt surprisingly good and managed to ride strong.

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With some tired legs after a lot of accumulated torture I decided to make the intervals shorter to be able to maintain the intensity I wanted. The plan was 8 min intervals, but I ended up with a pyramid mix of 4-6 min efforts. After a total of 50 mins of intervals in zone 4 and 5 we headed home for a short refuel before continuing south from Rena towards Elverum.

Just before the town of Elverum I introduced a sprint and that’s something I normally don’t train for. It’s not exactly a main skill to develop for a marathon rider either, but it wouldn’t hurt to do it once in a while to get some speed and peak power in those slow legs. I gave it my best, but opened the sprint a bit too early. Kjell overtook me and beat me to the finish line. But after all – he is a sprinter 😉 Timing is a big thing here as well I discovered.

We made a small extra loop around town before heading back north again. Halfway back we both felt the accumulated fatigue from all the rides and energy levels starting to get a bit low. That’s where I decide to go for a 15 min tempo effort. Kjell on my wheel and we both go semi hard to squeeze out some more juice of the lemon. When we hit the final uphill to Rena 14 min into the tempo effort I do a leadout of Kjell and he goes flat out up the hill and over the top. We were done. Completely! What a week and what a way to finish it off. Great power numbers on the final day was both pleasant and surprising. Now it’s time for a well deserved recovery week after three hard ones.

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