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I want to be able to ride 175 miles (281 km) in a day (to do the Ride Across Wisconsin). I used to be able to do about 60 miles (96.5 km), only once hitting 80 miles (128 km), but I'm out of shape now. Wondering how I can systematically train to get to 175 miles at an average of 15 mph (24 km/h) Are there guides out there to help with this? What's some advice?

[update] The RAW will happen each year, so my intention isn't to ride this year, rather what do I need to do to ride it in some future year?

  • I'm sure this question has already been asked in slight variation, however, I couldn't find it yet... – Benedikt Bauer May 13 '15 at 14:55
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    Wow! Good luck to you, that kind of distance exceeds most pro races. To do 175 miles is quite straightforward - just do a 150 and take it from there. Sounds flippant, but what I'm actually saying is that it is something you'll need to build up to. How quickly you can prepare will depend on your body and your will-power. Whichever way you look at it, for that kind of distance you will be in the saddle all day, so learn about nutrition. – PeteH May 13 '15 at 15:16
  • From the page, the ride is at the end of August. That's basically 3 months away. What kind of rides are you currently doing? If you aren't already actively training, it might be hard to get up to that distance in that period of time. Especially if you have to fit training around work and other responsibilities. – Kibbee May 13 '15 at 15:32
  • Yeah, theres a lot of similar questions for this. How much can you ride now? – Batman May 13 '15 at 15:58
  • @Batman, probably a painful 60. – Mike Caron May 13 '15 at 17:21
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I'm in the do it this year camp.

In comments you say you can currently ride probably a painful 60 (miles).

In general, a conservative plan is to extend your ride distances by 10% per week. But it's important to realize that marathon and iron man athletes do not train by running a marathon each week. The aim of their training is to build deep core fitness and endurance, so that on the day they have the resources to push beyond their normal levels.

You have 15 weeks to RAW day. If you start now, with a 30 mile (50 km) ride, and do a 50 mile (80 km) ride at the weekend, you'll be on your way. See this answer to a somewhat different question for the kind of plan to follow. With such a plan, in 7 weeks you could be riding 100 miles (160 km) in one ride on the weekend. Yay! All being well, health and injury wise, you could keep extending the distances, but that would be unwise. I suggest that when you can ride the century, that your long ride should be every other week, and as you extend the long ride, reduce the distance of the rides in the next week, to keep the training load constant. Limit the maximum ride to 8 hours in the saddle. At your pace that would be about 120 miles (close to 200 km). That would be about 16-20 hours training per week in the final weeks before you taper over the last two weeks. Oh, and remember to factor in recovery rides for the day after the long rides, especially when they are longer than about 90 miles (150 km). At that point you would be training 7 to 8 times a fortnight (light weeks and heavy weeks).

The RAW website is still being built, so everything is not clear yet. It seems likely that this will be a supported ride, but as I write this it doesn't say that. If it is supported, then the ride will be much easier. You can stop for refreshment at each station for just a few minutes (not too long, you don't want to cool down). One thing to work out on your long training rides is what food and drink works for you. Since you are not aiming at extreme performance (15 mph, ~25 kph), you don't need to use fancy / exotic food and drink. You must, however, eat and drink small amounts frequently, and right from the start.

Another thing to consider is your bike and other gear. Does it need maintenance? Can it carry two drink bottles? Are you practiced with tire repairs? Do you have a variety of cycling garments, especially a lightweight rain top? The latter is valuable as a windproof top, eg if the morning start is cold.

  • Also, working up to longer distances will quickly let you know if you have a fit issue on your bike. – Stephen Touset May 17 '15 at 6:43
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Since the RAW is long term goal, you are talking about a long term training plan. You must enjoy it, and you must not burn out - in other words you need to incorporate training as part of a sustainable lifestyle.

During the weekdays you will need to some training but probably don't have much time, it is an opportunity to do high intensity training, core training, etc., which offer great benefits without draining all your stored resources. Such training is very satisfying and enjoyable, you will be amazed to feel your strength increase so easily.

On weekends is where you can concentrate on the long distance aspect, which is absolutely required, but only to the extent it does not burn you out. If you feel bonked, in pain, or sick, then call it quits for the day.

To make it more fun, I recommend participating in brevets (Randonneurs USA: http://www.rusa.org/) which have events of various distances 200K, 300K, 400K, 600K, 1000K, and 1200K. These events are basically self supported, with some volunteer assistance, so they are very economical (low entry fees). The cutoff times are always lenient, so you have plenty of room to develop your ability at your own pace. Always a very friendly atmosphere.

There are also centuries and double centuries, which are supported events with higher entry fees.

Good luck!

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If you are out of shape now and the most of have done is 80 miles getting ready for 175 miles ride in 3 months is probably not realistic. You don't just tune up and ride 175 miles. 175 is up there with elite riders. Elite riders start out elite riders and they are in the saddle 20+ hours a week to stay elite. Two 40 miles rides during the week and an 80+ mile ride on the weekend and some light rides in between. 160 mile at 15 mph is about 11 hours. You might scale that back to one 80 and one 40. You body can easily take two hard rids a week. If you have a regular job then just fitting in the training hours might be hard. In WI at least you have lot of daylight hours in the summer.

If you can ride 80 miles at 15 mph take one day off and come back and ride 40 miles at 15 mph then you could probably gut out 175 miles. Start with some 40 miles rides and get your speed to 15 mph. An 80 mile ride at 10 mph is not a good use of training times. Anything over 80 miles is not a good use of training time - that is 5 hours and you can do it without stop. Use 15 mph as your base line and see how many miles you can build up to. 15 mph alone will be more like 17-18 in a pack. If you cannot hold with the pack you are toast.

  • Yeah, I don't plan to ride this year, but in some future year would be sweet. – Mike Caron May 13 '15 at 17:23
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    Training 30 hours a week for a 175mi ride? Absolutely, totally, 100% ridiculous. If you can ride a century, you can ride a double — just take it at a reasonable pace. For instance, last year, I did a double (in 11h on the bike) after less than 30 hours a month of just riding for fun. And I'm not some kind of genetic freak. – Stephen Touset May 13 '15 at 19:52
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    I've never in my life trained for 30 hours a week. Nor have probably 95% of the people who complete supported double centuries. Neither starting in shape nor out of shape necessitate 30 hour training weeks for such an event. That kind of load would only be remotely necessary if you were attempting to finish in an extremely competitive time. OP could easily be ready for this event in time for next year, and could plausibly be ready this year (depending exactly on how out of shape he is) by riding 2 to 3 times a week (maybe 10 hours total), with 80mi+ rides on the weekends. – Stephen Touset May 13 '15 at 20:14
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    There's no need to act like a child just because somebody has (justifiably) criticized your answer. The point stands that virtually none of the thousands of people who ride in supported double centuries each year train at the level you suggest, except the very few who treat them as highly competitive events. Even 20 hours a week is likely more than the vast majority of finishers. Given the long tail of power curves, a 200 mile event does not require substantially more fitness than a 100 mile one. Comfort is a far bigger factor. – Stephen Touset May 13 '15 at 20:37
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    A lot depends on whether Mike just intends to finish the event, or whether he intends to WIN it. :) – Craig Hicks May 13 '15 at 21:40

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