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I've done long rides in the past, the longest of which was 259 km less than 2 years ago, but I've fallen very much out of shape.

I am currently overweight, but I know how to solve this part and by the time I want to do the ride in question, I should weigh around 85 kg. I'm 184 cm tall as a frame of reference.

I would like to do a 280 km ride in May next year, with elevation gain probably exceeding 3000 m - hard to find flat routes where I live. Currently, most rides I do are around 25 km long - I think I could manage a 60 km ride now, but it wouldn't be fun in my current shape. What are the steps I can take, apart from losing weight and just cycling, to ensure I'm ready to do this come next May?

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You have more than enough time, so use it.

Start at 25km, increase distance by 10% per week. This would mean just six months to 280km. Key thing is start slowly, don't over do it, because of your time frame, do less not more, if you take time off (more than a couple of weeks), drop back a bit. Plot a line on a calendar - from now at 25km to May next year at 280km, this is the easiest to sustained buildup. Plot another line, From November at 25km to May. Think to yourself this is the line you must no drop under. For most people, due to 'life' getting in the way of training the reality will be in between these lines.

Better to do 3 rides a week than one big one. Every few weeks have an easy week where you do maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of you previous week.

The biggest obstacles will be being short of time during the week, in which case maximise you training effort, but make sure you get at least one long ride a month in. Failing to get out over winter (depending where you live) can be a problem, indoor trainer, or cross training at gym and pool will get you though winter in good shape. Still try to get out on the bike if you can.

  • Thanks a lot for your answer, I especially like the idea of the two plots, feel like that could really be motivating for me. Winter is not much of an issue here in Sydney, apart from short days interfering with my rides on work days. I'll wait to see if anyone else has anything to add and then accept. – user622505 Mar 31 '18 at 0:59
  • OK, Sydney huh, swap winter for summer. Biking if 45C is not fun :) ..... – mattnz Mar 31 '18 at 1:20
  • I guess I'll just ride at night - in the winter because of work, in the summer because of heat ;) it's fortunate that May is winter though - that definitely makes the long ride easier. – user622505 Mar 31 '18 at 1:24
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    Why start slow/short? Bicycling is one of the few sports where you can really do tens of hours per week without significant risk of injury. Just make sure your bike fit is good and you don’t overtrain (usually not an issue for people who work full-time). Since the goal is long-distance riding there is really no way around relatively long (2h – 5h) training sessions at relatively low intensity. – Michael Mar 31 '18 at 9:30
  • Over training is entirely possible. You may not suffer 'injury' as most people define it, but you can certainly suffer excessively long recovery times, a very sore butt with saddle sores and the demoralizing effect of always being sore and tired and not being able to sit down. Better to start slow and loose a week or two building up than start fast and loose months because you loose motivation. – mattnz Mar 31 '18 at 21:25

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