The 160km course in the Southern Highlands is a cracking ride through some of the most scenic and testing terrain in all of NSW. The profile of the course mimics some of the great European monuments with no distinct mountain to tackle, but rather, a number of rises and pinches to test rider endurance and strength.
McGee said his tip is to find a rhythm and pace yourself throughout the ride. In cycling terms, tempo riding is usually the pace a bunch will ride at on event day. It is a power zone or heart rate zone that lies between 75% and 84% of a rider’s functional threshold. Functional threshold is the maximum power output or heart rate that can be sustained for one hour. You should be able to pace yourself based on your perceived effort and ride within your own tempo zone for a number of hours.
This will reduce the risk of hunger flats and cramps that come about after over-exertion.
Set your goals at an achievable level, you should be able to ride the entire course without having any breaks off the bike, though stopping during the ride is encouraged of course. Feed zones give everyone the opportunity to fill up empty bidons and grab a snack. But during your training you should learn how to ride without breaks. McGee says take two bidons and pack your pockets full of food for the Bowral Classic. A good balance of fuel should be taken into account. A mix of real foods like muesli bars and fruit release energy slowly whilst sports gels and high-carb bars can be used for that extra energy kick.
Research suggests riders should consume 1 gram of carbohydrates per kilo of total body weight per hour. With this in mind it is good to stay in front of the hunger and eat before you feel you need to, because when you become hungry and begin to hit the wall it’s already too late. This is where training helps to recognise the signs of hunger and helps create an understanding of what your body needs for a distance like the 160km Maxi.
Along with being physically fit and well fed, being mentally prepared is just as important.
The final kick in the tail comes as the 140km climb of Kangaloon Hill where the KOM and QOM takes place. A tip that McGee has for everyone is to envisage yourself on the climb before you get there. This will help prepare you to push your limits and drive over the top.
The final few kilometers leads riders along Range Road that undulates and climbs but McGee says that won’t be a problem as the adrenaline felt on the way to through the superbly scenic landscape will take away any of your worries.
Also included in the latest Bicycling Australia Magazine is a Masterclass on Gran Fondo training with Michael Hanslip in a three part series that tells you absolutely everything you need to know about the Bowral Classic, as well as a six month training program to get you in top shape for the 160km Gran Fondo! Get the latest issue in digital form here and subscribe to the magazine for the next two installments. Otherwise, head to your local newsagents for a physical copy.
So get out there and start training to conquer the 160km Maxi! Watch the entire chat with Brad McGee here in Episode 2 of our Bowral Classic video series.