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We all can handle an hour of cycling, just as much as we can handle a busy week at work. But what if the challenge becomes 615 kilometers in 3 days or a lifetime career of 45 years?

From my experience,
I believe that resilience is key.
.

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from an effort or difficulties.
Here are some personal insights that apply both to endurance sport as to our career at EY.

Keep a healthy work-life and train-rest balance.
This sounds obvious and is often repeated, but is not always that easy in practice. We easily get swallowed up by work and are too tired by the time we are closing down the lid of our laptop to do anything else that day. What I’ve been doing now for the last couple of months is taking regular lunch-sport breaks. This not only breaks the day in two but also gives me energy for the afternoon and puts my mind at ease as I already had my hour of sports. Also, our coaches for the cycling event have stressed the importance of sufficient rest. We need to schedule at least one day off per week, and one easy training week after three intense weeks.

Be socially connected.
Resilience means building strong and positive relationships with people and not being afraid to ask for help, even when under pressure. In our cycling mission, we are encouraged to train with others as well. This helps to stay motivated and to wrestle through those 5-hour training on the weekend.

Develop a growth mindset.
Without being ambitious and being open to new experiences, opportunities, and training, you won’t get far both in your career and in your ultimate sports challenge. Know that you will have setbacks and spend some time anticipating what could go wrong and how you will cope. I love going faster and further and was already able to increase my VO2 max (maximum amount of oxygen your body can use) from 54 to 58 mL/kg/min. After the EY Cycling challenge, I want to go even further and complete August the full ironman of Vichy!

Thijs.

Last week the weather was against us: rain and wind every day, a lot of wind with peaks up to 90 km/h. In certain moments, I was almost not able to continue riding on my bike or I almost flew into the stream. So weather conditions for the real ‘Flandriens’. We are not real ‘Flandriens’ at all, but when we ride our bikes through all weathers, we do feel a bit like a ‘Flandrien’, even when I am standing on the side of the road with a flat tire without any support vehicle behind me. Fortunately, I found a bicycle repairer nearby who could help me to continue my training.

.

After a conversation
with our coach
it turned out that the hard work
of the past weeks has not
missed their goal.

We will never achieve the wattages that kick the ‘Big 3’ (Wout, Matthieu, and Julien), but every one of our group has noticed that the training sessions of the past 7 weeks do not miss their effect. The duration of the training sessions on the weekend is gradually increasing to 4 hours a day and more, as well as the average speed. After 7 weeks it was also time to do a status check at Pulso-Preventielap where we were subjected to a new body scan and exercise test on the bike. With healthy tension, we headed for Zwevegem and after a conversation with our coach it turned out that the hard work of the past weeks has not missed their goal. However, we are only halfway through and the toughest training sessions with the necessary altimeters are still ahead of us. All this with only 1 goal: to reach the finish of the EY Cycling Tour together with the entire group as one team.

This weekend is again all about cycling: cycling the necessary kilometers myself and of course, watching Milan-Sanremo on Saturday to see the ‘Big 3’ and outsiders at work.

Greetings,  Steve Gilis.

During the first week of March, we could enjoy early spring weather, motivating many cyclists to go out and train some volume. So did I!

My training scheme was set at 9 hours that week, however, I ended up plus 15 hours on the bike, including my first 5 hours ride of this season. The question then arises whether this is now a good thing or not, as it could potentially lead to being over-trained and not allowing to recuperate sufficiently. That’s where the numbers come in!

The total number of hours
or kilometers does not say anything.

.

The total number of hours or kilometers does not say anything. You could use those numbers to brag to your friends over a beer in the pub, but as we all know pubs are closed for ages already. The number of kilometers is typically also the number one parameter people look at when they are screening Strava performances of someone else. All of this is old school and goes back to the days of Briek Schotte and Roger De Vlaeminck.

Nowadays we monitor training effort and progress through parameters such as TSS, FTP, CTL, NP, MLSS, VO2Max… And that’s where consultants and accountants start feeling at ease in a world full of abbreviations, parameters, and formulas.

.

And that’s where
consultants and accountants
start feeling at ease
in a world full of
abbreviations, parameters,
and formulas.

What is TSS? Training Stress Score (TSS) is a composite number that takes into account the duration and intensity of a workout to arrive at a single estimate of the overall training load and physiological stress created by that training session. It is conceptually modeled after the heart rate-based training impulse (TRIMP). By definition, one hour spent at Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is equal to 100 points.

What is FTP? Functional Threshold Power is commonly defined as the highest average power you can sustain for approximately an hour.

What is NP? Normalized power (NP) is the adjusted (normalized) average power output for a ride or segment of a ride. Power output on a ride is variable (due to small changes in external power demands e.g. small changes in elevation, small surges in speed, wind, etc.) so NP represents the physiological cost of the ride or segment of the ride if that power output had been constant.

Now going back to my 15 hours of training last week and knowing my FTP is currently at 234Watt or 168 Hart Frequency, this resulted in 830TSS and 170Watt NP. To stay humble and put things into perspective, Mathieu Van der Poel marked 389WattNP during the almost 5 hours long Strade Bianche with a TSS exceeding 400. If you know that one can only have 100TSS max/hour, this means Van der Poel was against limits during the full race.

So far so good, I have liked cycling, I like long rides resulting in decent NP values, but I also like good food and drinks, resulting in a less favorable weight. I leave it up to you to calculate my current weight, by I’m currently at 2,6Watt/kg. Van der Poel was at +5Watt/kg racing the Strade Bianche.

Ideally, the full EY Cycling team will be somewhere between 2,5 and 3Watt/kg to bring our adventure to a good end.
Most of the team is taking a re-test next week to see what progress they made and how the Watt/kg has evolved after 2 months of intensive training.

So you see, cycling is very simple, it’s just about the Watts and the Kilograms…
But for me, it’s also about the fun, camaraderie, and the beer after!

Andy.

Yes, I have to admit:
I like the training rides a whole lot more when the sun is shining and you can go ride outdoors. Due to the bad and cold weather, I decided to do my January and February training rides indoors via Zwift. But the sun has finally decided to show itself and the last two weeks have been glorious!

Together with the start of some better weather, the end of February means that the Classics are back!

Last weekend
‘Omloop Het Nieuwsblad’ and ‘Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne’
gave us an exciting first taste of the spring one-day races.
.

Whilst Wout Van Aert has been smashing Strava times at the training camp in Spain, Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel were launching some long-range attacks in the Belgian “Opening Weekend’. There was certainly no shortage of excitement nor of gung-ho.

Apart from the entertainment, another exciting aspect of the start of the Classics season is that it encourages me to go the extra mile to get fit for Spring and Summer. We are already in week 6 of our EY Cycling Tour schedule and the intensity and duration are starting to increase. To be well prepared for our three-day event in early April, this weekend for the first time 4 hours of easy endurance training have been scheduled. Besides I’m also very curious about the 5 times 2 minutes “all-out effort” (& yes, also curious about the progress I have made!) during the intensive endurance training on Saturday.

I hope the nice weather and the kickoff of the Classics season inspire and encourage you all to start cycling and moving again!

 

A sunny and active weekend all,

 

Thomas Willekens.