Bikepacking With Indoor Training and Big FTP Gains With Rob Belsom – Successful Athletes 019

Hear from Rob Belsom on how he made big fitness gains through consistent structured training on TrainerRoad, how he fits in his training around family and a busy work schedule, how he tackles massive bike packing events with low volume training and more in Episode 019 of The Successful Athletes Podcast.


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I’d love to hear a little bike discussion talk, Rob. I spend lots of time dreaming about bike packing but have only gone out a few times. I’m also curious if you consider taking your kid on some milder trips? I’m realizing that the best way (for now) to fit in bike packing is to make it a family affair, but maybe sneak in some extra miles after setting up camp or before breaking down camp in the morning.

Thanks for having me on the podcast. I really enjoyed doing it and hopefully people will get something out of what I had to say! I am no expert when it comes to bike packing but hopefully people will see that you can give anything a try. I am just disappointed that I didn’t get to put my gains into practice due to event cancellations this year but I have already started training for next year.

@SlowInAllSports I have a Trek Roscoe - I didn’t buy it with bike packing in mind but it works pretty well. It is stock apart from a brake upgrade. I found my brakes were overheating on longer descents and the additional weight of the bike luggage added to this so I upgraded to Shimano Zee 4 Pot Brakes with a 203mm front rotor and a 180 back rotor (up from 180 and 160 respectively). It runs on plus sized tyres which I get on with well although I know quite a few people aren’t fans. Another thing that was harder was not being able to use the dropper as I had a seat mounted pack. In the US you can get a good rear rack for the Roscoe but I haven’t been able to source one in the UK. If you had the rear rack it would really help with the descents to get weight over the back end.

I have considered taking my son on a little adventure as I think he would love it however the way things went over the summer here with coronavirus meant that the areas that I would take him (fairly close to civilisation) were way to busy so I decided it was best to wait until next year for our first adventure. I have brought a one man tent but there is plenty of space for me plus the little guy in it.

If I planned it right my wife could always meet us at the overnight stop over with some bacon, rolls and a grill and then take the little guy home where I could ride home.

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Hey Rob fellow bike packer here. I am just getting back into it after almost 2 years off the bike. I have a big A ride scheduled for this time next year. It’s 430 miles with a mix of gravel roads, single track, and some pavement. Around 60,000’ of climbing. It will be a totally self supported ITT. My goal is to do it in 7 days or less. I will most likely do a couple 100-200 milers as B rides leading up to it. I’m trying to figure out how to use plan builder to set my training plan. How would you set up for an event like this so far out?

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Hi @liers99. That is a big event.

You can put it into your calendar as your A event as a multi-day stage race (I think it is at the bottom of where you select your event). Depending on the type of terrain you will be riding in terms of how steep and technical you can then choose it to be either a rolling road race or a climbing road race. Rolling road race gives a good focus on long power durations but with some short sharp efforts thrown in (General Build Phase) whereas climbing road race focuses on sustained power (Sustained Power Build Phase) so it is down to which is best suited to your type of terrain. From your descriptions it sounds like sustained power may be more suited.

You can add your B rides also as multi day stage races again choosing between the two types listed above. Plan builder will then account for these as well.

If you then add in your experience, training time per week etc then plan builder should give you a plan all the way up to the event.

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I’ve got the HT550 in May 2021 as my Plan Builder goal with a couple of ‘B’ events leading up to it - one’s scheduled for next weekend as it happens. Doing pretty much what @robbo1234biking states, Plan Builder gave me: Sweet Spot Base (both parts); Sustained Power Build; Cross Country Marathon all repeated several times. I can’t remember now what my inputs were regarding experience, etc.

Those type of events can have a bit of everything from long draggy climbs to short steep, almost unrideable ones, so try and stay as general as possible. Outside TR’s plans try and do a couple of multi-day rides to get all your other systems (bivvying, sleep, etc) sorted as it can make or break things.

Good luck!

John’s comment about eating carbs on the bike feeling like cheating and thinking your FTP is wrong is exactly my experience at the moment.

@robbo1234biking any tips for bikepack here in the UK? I kinda went ott on bags in the Jan sales and now look like I could race the Great Divide but lockdown stopped my plans so just reading/watching and listening to get 2nd hand adventures.

I also want to try some of the gravel multi day races, how did you find them and know when to try?

@firemunki we are pretty lucky in the UK as there are a lot of places to go.


These two sites are both good resources for UK events and routes but the best advice is give it a try. Whereabouts in the UK are you? You can likely ride 20 miles from home depending where you live find somewhere quiet to spend the night and try out your kit and then ride back the next morning.

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Right down South in Plymouth, so when it’s nice again next year will be able to hit up Dartmoor.

Will have a hunt for events for nex tyear when the country is allowed out to play.

This is down your neck of the woods, but I haven’t personally done it. Also not sure if anything will run next year at this stage!

Wow brilliant, thanks dude.

Nice Podcast. Can I just say that the photo on the blog post where you take the wheel off and use that at the other end of the tarp is the cleverest bike/tarp combo I’ve seen. Usually just see the bike upside down in the middle

Here’s how I do mine: bike on side with a line from the top of the handlebars to a lifter in the middle of the tarp. You can just see the line if you look carefully. The tarp is a Trekkertent DCF tarp, 2.5m x 1.5m, carbon fibre pole from Stu at BearBones (link as per Rob’s post)

The right-hand shelter is an SMD Gatewood Cape.

Agree with Rob - just get out locally and try it. If you keep close to home (if possible) then if all goes wrong you can retreat back to your bed! General tips: arrive late, leave early, leave no trace. The countryside is dark at night, very dark, and unusual lights are pretty obvious. I go by the thought that if I can’t see any house lights then no-one can see me :wink: , no fires and keep lights pointing down will go a long way to avoid being spotted. It’s surprising just how “open” you can be, this bivy in mid-Wales was within 20 metres of a road (I was about midway between hammock and road when taking the shot) and even the farmer on his morning round didn’t spot us.

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The nights are drawing in now which makes it harder but the summer is a great time to get a bivvy from home in. You can even do one after work - ride until it gets dark, get the bivvy up, have some food and whisky and get some sleep and then up at dawn and head home to start your working day! Even better if you work from home!

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I wish I could get away with just a tarp. Too many bugs and crawling things here.

My feeling of safety would probably change depending on how dangerous the bugs and crawly things are, but I’ve been really happy with a tarp and a bug net. I have this one and it’s sufficient for my needs (mosquitoes), and for less than $10 it’s a no brainer.

I use a bivy bag with bug net as well so it isn’t quite that bad - there’s no way I’d sleep out in Scotland in summer without some protection :flushed:

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Here was my second attempt at a wild camp. First was in my parents back garden as a test ride

image

We were just off the road in the middle of nowhere along the Scottish-English border.

My friend has the hooped bivvi bag, mine is the blue one. It was great and I was warm enough until it rained so I ended up with a wet face. After that, I researched tarps and found the BearBones website.

Positive from not having a tarp was that the rain and clouds cleared and I had a wonderful view of the night sky - never seen so many stars.

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