How to prepare for your first BRM – Training, and strategy during the ride
You have been riding for a while and have done a couple of half-century rides and a few century rides and have just heard about BRM rides organized by Audax club and are interested in taking part in one? However, you are confused about how to prepare or strategize for the ride?
Well here is a definitive guide on how to prepare, train and complete your BRM ride in your first attempt.
For those who don’t know what a BRM ride is. BREVETS DE RANDONNEUR MONDIAUX (BRMs) are cycle rides of fixed distances in kilometers that are to be finished within specified time limits. Each ride also has pre-determined time controls points which one needs to pass successfully. BRMs worldwide are approved and governed by Audax Club Parisien (ACP). The body that has the sole authority for conducting and overseeing all Randonneuring and Audax events in India is Audax India Randonneurs (AIR).
BRM’s are not races, however, they are time controlled.
The time limits for completing various BRM rides are
|BRM Ride Distance (KM’s)||Total Allowed time(in hours)|
If you are attempting a BRM for the first time then you would most likely be looking at attempting the BRM 200. Most likely this would be your first 200 km ride.
Before I get into the training part, let me make it very clear, your first BRM 200 would be a very easy ride if you train and plan well.
Read About my first BRM here.
Training for your First BRM
BRM’s are endurance rides and demand that you are physically well prepared for cycling for more than 10-12 hours at a stretch. Speed requirements to cover the distance within the time limits are not a lot and a leisure ride speed should get you across. However, you should check the probable routes and plan accordingly. In case your route has a lot of steep inclines and you are a novice then train for climbs. If your BRM is a night BRM then plan and train to ride in darkness.
Here are a few training tips that you could incorporate to increase your endurance for long distance or improve your ability to climb inclines.
Tip 1: Hill Repeats
There is nothing like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for increasing your endurance. There are various types of HIIT but hill repeats are the easiest to plan and execute and does not require any expensive or additional tools and equipment.
Find a small hill or incline which can be completed in 30 seconds to a minute.
Start with a 15 – 20-minute warm-up ride.
Start the climb with a comfortable gear, one which you would not change for the complete climb or an effort level that you can keep constant while changing gears. Choose an effort level that challenges you and could be maintained for 4-5climbs.
Complete the climb and go down. Repeat this cycle 4-5 times without breaks.
Complete the ride with a 15-20 minute cooldown ride.
Note: Do not try Hill repeats for more than 1-2 times a week.
Tip 2: Work out at home or gym. Strength Training
Every rider needs to spend some time on strength training. Either at the gym or one can also try some basic exercises for leg strengthening and core training at home. You can try these for a minimum of 1 day to 3 days a week.
Exercises for cyclist
- Squats. To target quads, glutes, and core. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.
- Lunges. To target quads, glutes and hamstring muscles. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.
- Calf raises. To target Calf muscles. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.
- Reverse squats. To target hamstring muscles. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions each and slowly increase sets and repetitions as you progress.
- Floor planks. Target core muscles. Planks are a great full body workout targeting multiple muscle groups. Start with as long as you can hold. For starters 30 seconds is good.
- Side planks. Target core muscles. Start with as long as you can hold. For starters 30 seconds is good.
Note: Always start your workout with a warm-up. A 5-minute spot jog is good. Also, do pre and post workout stretches.
Tip 3: Try some endurance rides
Plan for one long ride at least every week to check your progress. Anything more than 50 kms, preferably around 75- 100 km. Look for a route where there is a mix of inclines and straights.
Use these rides to check your timing. Monitor your breaks during these rides. Try to work out a high cadence during these rides running on a smaller gear.
Tip 4: Rest and Recover
One thing that a lot of cyclists ignore is the importance of rest and recovery. Plan for a day of rest in the week. The muscles that you have trained, need to recover to become stronger.
Here is a sample training plan for a week.
|Day of the week||Training Plan|
|Day 1||Hill Repeats|
|Day 2||Strength Training Day|
|Day 3||High Cadence Recovery Ride|
|Day 4||Strength Training Day|
|Day 5||Hill Repeats|
|Day 6||Long Ride|
|Day 7||Rest and Recover|
Preparation for the BRM
Training for your first BRM is very important, however, any long distance endurance rides success is not just dependent on your physical fitness. A lot of other factors also go into making your first attempt at a BRM ride a success. Here are a few tips that came in handy during my first BRM 200 attempt.
Find a Partner
Completing a long endurance ride like a BRM is more of a mental battle than a physical one. Most riders I have spoken to who have either given up at some point or the ones who have completed their first BRM have told me this “It can get lonely and probably having someone to motivate and pace you is what you need.”
Look for a riding partner who is riding a similar bike to you, and is it a speed at which you ride. A partner who is too slow or too fast would be a disaster.
Plan a long training ride with this partner to understand each other and the ride dynamics.
A good ride partner choice can help you complete your first BRM with ease.
Plan your Nutrition and Hydration
It is of prime importance on long rides that you keep consuming food, water, and salts at regular intervals. One might not find shops en route, so please carry some snacks and some water with ORS or Electoral or simply some black rock salt.
For snacks, one could carry, dry fruits, dates, energy bars, chikkis, bananas, sandwiches. These are small and would not add much weight.
Carry enough water and keep hydrating at regular intervals. Remember if the climate is hot and humid or you are riding under the sun, you would be losing water as well as salts.
Pro Tip: I usually carry two water bottles, one is plain water, and the other is mixed with ORS. I keep sipping from these bottles alternatively while riding.
Also, you should plan food breaks and short rest breaks to take off the pressure of your back.
Read my detailed blog on what to eat before and during a long distance endurance ride.
Know your route and plan your pace
One very important thing is to know your route, elevations, and checkpoints. Going too fast or too slow initially might be bad as you might miss out on your checkpoint timelines or tire yourself too soon. Also if you know your elevations and climbs you can plan to take a small break before the climb.
Pro Tip: If you have a big climb or a long climb, then plan to eat something 20-30 minutes before you hit the climb base. Your body needs 20-30 minutes to process the food and send the energy. Also, hydrate at the climb base so that you don’t start the climb with a dry throat.
Set Small Target’s
Set small distance and time targets. This would help you be on time.
Plan small breaks
You might have decent speeds however long breaks can eat into your lead and massively mess your time. Look to limit your breaks to 10-15 minutes. Also, a long break cools down your muscles and it might be difficult to get back on the saddle.
Learn to Fix Punctures
BRM’s are self-supported rides. And during long rides, your bike is susceptible to punctures. First of all, check the tire pressure before starting the ride. Carry a puncture repair kit and a hand pump. Practice fixing a puncture at home before the ride.
Good Light and Reflective Jackets
If your BRM is a night BRM, then please look to carry a decent front light and rear light. Having a replaceable battery light is a better option as you would need lights for 10+ hours. The rechargeable ones last 3-4 hours and unless you carry a good power bank with a frame bag to hold the power bank your ride might end because of poor lighting. Remember Highways do not have street lights.
Rest before the ride day
Plan to take some rest for a day or two before the actual ride. Do not start off tired. Reduce training intensity during the week leading to the BRM ride.
Also, try and get a good 7-8 hours of sleep before the BRM ride.
9. Apparel and Saddle Sores
One very important thing that you must consider for a long ride is your apparel. Having a cycling jersey with the back pockets is extremely helpful. You can keep your phone, some small energy bars nicely tucked in there and can munch while riding.
Also, 200 kms sans a good gel cycling short will definitely give you a sore back. Especially if it is raining. Invest in a good gel padded short and also would be wise to apply vaseline before your ride.
10. Be Prepared to handle Questions
During the ride when you are out on the highway you would meet a lot of people who want to ask you a lot of questions. Firstly be polite in handling such situations so that things stay in control.
Q1: How much does your bike cost?
A: Always reply with 12000. Or you could reply that the event organizers have provided the cycle and you don’t know the cost.
Q2: How many people are there?
A: 40-50 people plus organizers. They are all on the road.
Q3: Too many questions?
A: Answer that you can’t speak much as you are tired and getting out of breath.
All the best for your first BRM ride.