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I have not cycled much recently, done a few 30 mile rides in 2012 on mostly flat but nothing since and am out of shape now, not that I was in shape then!

The bike is a hardtail, but on road tyres.

I plan to start riding regularly from now, starting off with an easy 10 mile trip on the red routes, and slowly stepping it up every week to do more miles/inclines.

My goal is to cycle from Milton Keynes to just south of Manchester, total 150 miles, spread over 3 days so about 50 miles a day. It looks to be a good chunk of national routes, and very few inclines all the way, so I think it's a good goal.

Now a 50 mile mostly flat ride is fairly easy I'd say, I could do it pretty soon but it'd be hard and I wouldn't be up for riding again the next day. How long should I plan to wait before undertaking the task? I know it's hard to put a time frame on it as everyone is different, so I guess a better question is at what point should I be before attempting it? I.e. what should I be able to do cycling wise?

  • Will you be carrying panniers? What would the food and sleep plans be? – andy256 Jan 13 '15 at 22:15
  • No panniers, I have a friend in Coventry and another just north of Stafford where I can stay. I'll see them before I do it no doubt so can drop off things like clothes. I'll carry some food/tube/tools in a large clip on tail pack type thing I have, and my bike has 2 drinks holders, but mainly plan to just eat out. – cycle_n00b Jan 13 '15 at 22:21
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    About 30 years ago I went on a week-long "loaded" tour with about 200 other cyclists. I was in fairly decent shape for it and no trouble, but there were a number of folks who had honestly never ridden more than about 25 miles in a day, and most of our days were about 80 miles (one over 100). There were probably a handful who dropped out but I didn't hear of them, and vast majority made it just fine. There were definitely some sore butts after the first couple of days, however. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 14 '15 at 1:16
  • (But note that I'm not recommending this approach, just saying that if you're young and healthy you can survive a lot.) – Daniel R Hicks Jan 14 '15 at 12:43
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Riding 50 miles (80km) in a day is a fairly modest goal. Doing it three days in a row is only slightly more ambitious. As a fit (as you will be when you do it) person to ride 80km, you could expect to take 3 to 3.5 hours if you rode hard, and 4 hours if you took it easy.

The difference is how you will feel the next day. For the actual ride, plan on taking it easy. Ride an hour and stop for a snack, take a few selfies, refill the water bottles, and ride on. So your 4 hours of riding would be spread over 5 to 6 hours.

For a modest and conservative plan, you can expect to be able to extend your rides by 10% per week. That would take you from 10 miles to 20 miles in 7 weeks, and to 40 miles in 14 weeks. If you can ride 40 miles (65 km) in one ride then you will easily cope with the "take it easy" scenario above.

Many people will be able to exceed that 10% per week guideline; experiment a bit to see how you go. But for planning purposes, it's better to be conservative and start early. The best laid plan takes real life into consideration. There will be times when you feel you need a break, when the bike needs work, etc. The worst that will happen if you start early is that you'll be even fitter.

Plan to ride twice a week for the first two weeks, to give your body time to adjust. Your seat will almost certainly complain when you start the second ride, but it should be ok after the next (3rd) ride. After two weeks, step up to 3 rides per week. Plan for one longer ride and two shorter ones. Mix it up a bit from time to time - skip a ride sometimes, ride on successive days sometimes, add an extra ride some weeks. The variety and spontaneity can help with enjoyment and also give insight to what you are able to achieve.

It would be great to get to 50 miles on successive training days, but you'll probably find that quite a challenge. It's enough to be able to ride 40 miles in one ride at your best pace, because on the actual tour you will be more gentle on yourself. Especially on the first day, and even more so in the first hour of the first day!

Sounds like a nice tour. Drive the route (by car or Google Street view) to check it out, and maybe join Strava or MapMyRide to see routes that other people use.

Enjoy :-)

  • selfies? Milton Keynes? +1 for making me laugh! – PeteH Jan 14 '15 at 16:15
  • @Pete Lol. He's starting from Milton Keynes. A selfie in front of the Coventry Cathedral (ruins or not) might be interesting. – andy256 Jan 15 '15 at 2:59
  • Milton Keynes most famous sight - the Concrete cow! – PeteH Jan 15 '15 at 10:05
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    @Pete maybe cycle-n00b is plotting his escape from them. After giving them a new paint job :-) – andy256 Jan 15 '15 at 12:09
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Just start riding and work your way up. Ride 3-5 days per week, starting with 10 miles per ride. Add 5-10 miles per week to your rides until you can do 50 and still be ready to ride again the next day. That should get you in condition for a 150-mile ride (spread over 3 days) within one to two months.

  • Thanks for the answer, I was planning late March/early April which seems in line with your thoughts too :) – cycle_n00b Jan 13 '15 at 23:08
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    Those are pretty ambitious start and increment targets - Normal recommendations are increase mileage no more than 10% per week, and 5x10 miles in the first week could easily lead to injury (depends what out of shape means). – mattnz Jan 14 '15 at 2:32
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    @mattnz They are but I don't think they're overly aggressive considering the starting mileage. But clearly the OP needs to adjust to his condition and what his body tells him. If 5x10 miles the first week is too much, make it 3x10. – Carey Gregory Jan 14 '15 at 14:07
  • I think I want to step up more than 10%, initially at least. The initial 10 mile ride I have planned is just something easy to get back into it while not being too far from the safety net of home. And due to work commitments 2 or 3 a week is the most I can fit in. I expect to be doing a 25 mile return route I have planned within a month anyway as I was doing that with ease not too long ago. – cycle_n00b Jan 14 '15 at 19:18

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