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I've just got into road bikes and want to prepare for a sportive race which is coming up in 2 months and is 150 km. My goal is just to complete the total distance within the 12 hour time limit given.

As of now I ride (16 km in 45 min)/day for 5-6 days a week and have decent fitness level but not too great . Apart from this I don't really play any sport but I jog (8 km in 45 min)/day everyday.

The terrain for the race and where I am going to practice is completely flat. I can devote 1-1.5 hours a day on the weekdays and much more on the weekends for training.

Is it practical for me to be able to take part and complete the race. Also can anyone suggest a training plan for me.

  • Not enough an advice to write an answer, just a note to be aware of: on a long tour it is not your fitness level that gets you, it's the saddle time, especially if you are not used to it. When your bottom and lower back hurt and arms have pins and needles, a 5-10 minute break to stretch and massage helps a lot. 12 hour cut-off is not pressing on you, a flat ride at not too high an altitude is a piece of cake. You have plenty of time to allow yourself not no endure the pain once it starts, otherwise it becomes a torture. Drink, eat and stretch, and you'll make it. – kkm Jul 7 '18 at 14:52
  • Noone's mentioned Tapering - which means only short casual rides in the last day or three before your event. – Criggie Jul 7 '18 at 21:59
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The OP needs to cover 150km on flat surface within 12 hours. It's the average speed of 12.5 km/h.
Even if we are more realistic and allow for one hour break every 2h15', we end up with four stages of less than 38km each to be ridden at the average of less than 17km/h.
If we put some challenge into the event and, let's say, set on the average speed (excluding stops) at 20km/h, we are talking about riding for 7.5 hours effectively with the total of 4.5 hours of breaks. And 20km/h on a modern road bike on even surface is "walking pace".

For someone that does 45 mins jogging every day it's totally doable, however certain conditions apply.

First of all make sure that your road bike is properly fitted, i.e. the handlebars are not too far from the saddle. On the weekend have a 50km ride within 2 hours. Check how you feel (muscle pain and lower back pain). The very next day have another ride for 50km in 2 hours. Do you experience muscle pain? Work on your nutrition. Lower back pain? Bike fitting needs to be improved (most likely your stem is too long forcing you to stretch too much). Any other pain? Work on your position. Repeat every weekend until no sufferings on the second day occur. You have 7 iterations, that's a lot.

Make sure the gear you have is 100% in order so you don't loose time on technical stops. If no on-the-spot technical assistance is provided during the event, provide yourself with one. What I'm using is:

  • spare tube
  • bicycle pump
  • tyre patch set (check if the tyre rubber solution is not expired)
  • dog bone wrench
  • basic mutlitool with chain break device
  • spare master link for the chain (I discourage you from using power link as it needs pliers for disassembly), should your chain break in the middle
  • latex gloves in case you need to perform dirty fix and you don't want to ruin your handlebar wrap
  • ductape (1 meter strip wrapped around some object, even bike frame)

Except for the pump and ductape you can easily fit the rest under the saddle in a saddle bag.

Use proper clothing, i.e. padded shorts and cycling jersey (large pockets on your back), helmet, gloves and sunglasses. Don't forget sunblocker, you don't want sunburns ruin your day. Ride "naked" - the underwear will make your sitting parts sore very quickly.

On the day of the event take good care of proper nutrition. Slow carbohydrates for the breakfast will give you strong foundation for the whole day. For the race take some power bars or ginger bread snacks and a lot of hydration (e.g. isotonic drink in tabs that you will dissolve in water topped up as you go). Eat regularly, even if you don't feel like. The same for drinking. And don't check the current results too often. The more frequent you check your distance the slower you go, perceived.

Why I'm writing this? Last weekend I've ridden Eroica for 160km. I'm not an athlete (my BMI is around 27, fat percentage around 18%). For the past 5 years I was jogging 2 times a week on the average, distances between 5 and 12 km. The longest bicycle trip in one day was less than 100 km.

My preparation for the event (except the technical details I've described above) during 2 months prior to the event was: - ride between 50 and 60 km once a week in less than 2h30' - do running exercise for 45mins once a week

One week before the event I did 2 consecutive days riding which went well.

I rode the route in less than 8 hours of effective cycling and in 11 hours total (scheduled stops on the route and technical difficulties) with the average of 19.9km/h. Eroica consisted also of unpaved roads and 1567 m elevation gain (measured by strawa was more than 1800).
And I could easily ride 20km family ride the following day.


TL; DR;

You training schedule is ok, have couple of test rides of 50km and good luck!

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    Good advice. One thing, though: there's no point bringing a chain tool (or, indeed, any tool) without knowing how to use it. There are lots of videos on YouTube that explain. – David Richerby Jul 6 '18 at 13:29
  • @DavidRicherby, thanks for pointing that out. I thought it was obvious. Videos are one thing, trying it out for yourself is completely other. Hence, it is strongly advisable to practise the use of the tools before the event. – Mike Jul 6 '18 at 13:46
  • I agree that practising before is useful. On the other hand, I'm always wary of messing around with a perfectly good chain and turning it into a perfectly not-good one! – David Richerby Jul 6 '18 at 14:02
  • True, and for the same reason you would not punch a perfectly air-tight tube just to practise patching it. You practise on scraps/leftovers. Again, I had two off-the-shelve bicycles in my life and both of them I got around three decades ago. Since then I had built/restored projects where fitting a chain was quite obvious for me. – Mike Jul 6 '18 at 14:20
  • I haven’t had any chain failures over tens of thousands of kilometers and I don’t know anyone who’s ever broken a properly closed chain. All the failures I know of were caused by somebody doing dangerous stuff like re-using a normal pin or using the chain far beyond 1% lengthening. With a modern bicycle a 4mm and 5mm hex key, spare tube, pump and tire levers should be enough. Add a spare shift cable if you want to be extra cautious (or replace it regularly). – Michael Jul 6 '18 at 15:51
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2 months is not a lot of time to prepare, but with a goal of finishing within the time limit that should be easily possible.

The main thing you can do is to build up your endurance with some longer weekend rides. For example:

  • Week 1: 30km
  • Week 2: 40km
  • Week 3: 50km
  • Week 4: 60km (Take an extra rest day midweek this week)
  • Week 5: 75km
  • Week 6: 90km
  • Week 7: 75km
  • Week 8: Event! (Take an extra rest day midweek this week)

Add to this by doing 2 (or 3 if you feel fresh) shorter rides midweek - starting out at 1hr and building up to 90mins. With all the rides, try not to come home exhausted, ride at a comfortable pace so you are fresh and enthusiastic for the weekend ride.

For your longer weekend rides think about how you are going to fuel yourself on event day and practice - you don't want to try out something new on the day and discover it disagrees with you. Some people like energy drink, others water and energy bars, and others real food. Generally 500-750ml/hr of fluid and ~60g of carbohydrate per hour. The longer rides will also expose any problems you may have with your contact points (Saddle, handlebars etc), and give you time to correct any problems in advance.

For the event itself, take your time and don't feel tempted to chase faster riders at the start. If you ride within your limits, take a break when you need it, and fuel well you should not only complete the event, but enjoy the experience too.

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  • I know nothing about training but is it wise to go into a 150km ride having never done anything longer than 90? – David Richerby Jul 6 '18 at 12:53
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    General rules of thumb are for long ride distance to only increase by 10%/wk, and longest training ride of 65-75% of target distance is adequate. Given another 4 weeks to work with i'd absolutely have recommended doing a 120km before the event. There is of course scope for a longer ride week7, but its more common to make it shorter to make sure you arrive fresh for event. – Andy P Jul 6 '18 at 13:06
  • @AndyP nice answer. – Max Jul 6 '18 at 13:10
  • @DavidRicherby - with a healthy mindset it is more likely that your gear will fail than you withdraw before the end. And with wrong attitude every physical activity is unwise as you might get injured. – Mike Jul 6 '18 at 13:13
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    @Mike Honestly, that's just a platitude and it's completely predicated on the plan and goal being reasonable. That's precisely why I was asking whether the plan was reasonable. – David Richerby Jul 6 '18 at 13:25
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One thing I will add to the other answers is that it's now time to get a decent pair of shorts, and maybe some chamois cream.

Up to about 3 hours you can get away with anything, but for an event that might take 8--12 hours, it's worth getting some gel-padded shorts, as foam padding compresses over that sort of time. You don't have to spend a fortune, I've got some cheap ones from ebay that will do all but my toughest rides.

Try them out on your longer/later training rides just to get used to them.

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  • Agree. If not used to long times in the saddle, you might be stopped by intense discomfort, not lack of fitness, or running out of energy. – user7389 Jul 6 '18 at 21:24
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    Its usually best to buy 2 sets of shorts, a cheap pair for daily training, and a more expensive pair (I generally look for ~£100rrp shorts on a 50% discount) for 4+hr rides. – Andy P Jul 8 '18 at 1:22
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It is good to make the training race-specific (in sport, intensity, duration, other aspects). I recommend concentrating on these points:

  • Bike more and run less, but still keep some other sports for change and for fun. Don't forget to relax and sleep.
  • Make one (or two) of your bike rides longer each week, say add 15 km each Sunday up to say 100 km week before race. It does help your body, but it also helps you MIND to get used to the longer duration efforts (both in fatigue and boredom toleration).
  • Think about your nutrition during the race and try everything during your training (ideally exact brands you will take or get on race day), eating while riding (if you will do this), etc. Nutrition is BIG part of the race for races longer than two hours.
  • Think about equipment, but not too much. Get the right equipment for the race (bike, clothes, spare tube pocket multi-tool, etc.), but don't spend your last penny on it, since you as an engine are the most important anyway.
  • Get anti-chaffing cream or body vaseline. While not exactly necessary, it may be quite useful for longer rides.

The main point is that you will find out how most of the tips apply to you during those longer rides. For example, you may get no chaffing in 50 km, but may get unpleasant burning after 80 km.

Try everything before race in training and do not do anything new in the race. So no new shoes, shorts, food, etc. Sometimes you may be lucky and get away with it, other times it may get ugly.

I can bear almost anything for two hours, but I make everything possible to make myself comfortable (relatively) during 10 or 12-hour race.

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I've just got into road bikes and want to prepare for a sportive race which is coming up in 2 months and is 150 km. My goal is just to complete the total distance within the 12 hour time limit given.

The average speed (12.5 km/h without breaks or 15 km/h with 2 hours of breaks) is doable. In varying terrain having some uphills as well, my average speed is usually 17 - 20 km/h depending on the calculation method (if I count the time standing at stoplights, 17 km/h and if not, 20 km/h).

However, the distance is quite long. You have to be in good shape and have to have excellent bike fit to be able to do that.

50 kilometers is doable without drinking or eating, but if the outdoors temperature is high, you'll want to drink something after riding 50 kilometers. No need to carry the extra weight of a full water bottle.

100 kilometers requires stopping for drinking, or alternatively carrying a water bottle. A credit card is lighter than a full water bottle, but then again credit is convertible to drinking water only in grocery stores.

150 kilometers probably requires stopping for eating as well.

As of now I ride (16 km in 45 min)/day for 5-6 days a week and have decent fitness level but not too great . Apart from this I don't really play any sport but I jog (8 km in 45 min)/day everyday.

You need to start increasing your daily amounts. Sixteen kilometers is not much. I had a long break from cycling, was in really bad shape and since starting riding, it took two weeks to reach 45 kilometers in a day. That was without any electric assist (today I have an electric bike as well). Getting to 50 kilometers per day is easy. Getting to 100 kilometers per day is hard as you'll be exhausted. Getting to 150 kilometers per day is very, very hard indeed (I have never ridden 150 kilometers in a single day, bit over 100 kilometers has been my maximum). The problems in your bicycle fit won't be noticeable if you keep your daily amounts below 50 kilometers.

The terrain for the race and where I am going to practice is completely flat. I can devote 1-1.5 hours a day on the weekdays and much more on the weekends for training.

The problem is that 1 - 1.5 hours won't "train" you enough for a long ride. Prefer to do the preparations on weekends when you have more time. Anyone in adequate shape can ride 1 - 1.5 hours, and repeating the exercise ten or hundred times won't change much.

However, if the terrain is completely flat, you can very easily adjust the level of effort by varying your speed. On flat terrain, the power need is proportional to velocity cubed due to peculiar properties of air resistance. So, 20% reduction in velocity is equal to 48.8% reduction in effort. Thus, you can very easily halve your effort by reducing the velocity slightly. This means flatlands riding can be as easy as you want to make it.

On uphills the situation is different. The power need is proportional to velocity. A 20% reduction in velocity is equal to 20% reduction in effort. To halve your effort, you need to halve your velocity, which may be too large drop -- for example, it might be hard to stay upright if you halve the uphill climbing velocity.

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    This dangerously underestimates the drinking and food needs of most people. I am easily out of two water bottles after 80 km in central-european summer. One should periodically replenish some sugar every hour otherwise there is a big risk of bonking. – Vladimir F Sep 6 at 13:56
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My wife and i just blasted out a 150 km ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls on entry level aluminum/carbon bikes. I’ve been commuting 20 km per day on a bike for the last four months, but she did it without having ridden a road bike for over 5 years. If she can do it without training so can you. Just bring power bars and gatorade, along with something to change a tube.

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    Welcome to Stack Exchange! While the OP's time limit was very long, this answer proposes that the OP doesn't need to worry about training. If you do this, you rely solely on your existing athletic background. The OP indicated a reasonable amount of prior endurance training, so this may not be a crazy suggestion. I nonetheless leave this comment as a caution to anyone else who reads it. A humorous anecdote: Zeppelin Zeerip (real name) did a DIY Ironman-distance event without any specific prior training: runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a23460129/… – Weiwen Ng Sep 6 at 12:41
  • Does your wife do other exercises? Going from zero to 150 km in one ride is quite astonishing, and perhaps she should be considering how far she could take this cycling adventure. – Criggie Sep 6 at 12:41
  • More in the vein of no specific training: if you Google the term "couch to Kanza", there are at least two stories of people with general cycling backgrounds who completed DK, a 200 mile gravel race, with no specific training for that event. However, that event is much more arduous than the OP's proposed event, as is the DIY Ironman described in my earlier comment. No specific training is not something anyone can sensibly recommend for a very strenuous event, even anecdotes show that it's possible. – Weiwen Ng Sep 6 at 12:46
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Training-wise at your level the most important thing is to cycle as much (i.e. as many kilometers) as possible. If you don’t overdo it you should be able to ride every day or at least every other day (but also don’t use this as excuse to take it too easy or too short).

Other sports like running might be good for losing weight and building some endurance but in the end nothing beats bicycling if you want to be good at bicycling.

Make sure your bike fits you properly and that you wear specific road cycling clothes.

For rides longer than about one hour carbohydrates become important. During the ride you’ll need lots of easy to digest carbs. Soda, bananas, gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit (if you can digest it) etc.

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    "Ride as much as possible" is bad advice that will lead to exhaustion. Soda is fizzy and dehydrating, which are both bad; chocolate melts unless you carry it off your body (and will still melt even in a saddlebag on any kind of hot day). – David Richerby Jul 6 '18 at 18:30
  • @DavidRicherby: Of course “as much as possible” includes adequate rest. Soda can be shaken to remove the fizziness. I agree that a disadvantage of chocolate is that it melts in warm/hot weather. It’s also pretty high in fat. However, I find it very tasty and rewarding. – Michael Jul 6 '18 at 18:40
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    The problem is that beginners generally don't know how hard they should be pushing themselves and "as much as possible" is likely to be interpreted as "cycle until just before you drop." But I certainly agree that chocolate is tasty and rewarding! – David Richerby Jul 6 '18 at 18:45
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    I'm upvoting this answer. I agree that "ride as much as possible" lacks structure. However, people do have an innate sense of how much they can push their bodies, much like we have an innate sense of when to drink and eat (NB: high exertion in demanding weather conditions can throw off this sense, but the OP is not likely to be in extreme exertion). I would choose to interpret this along the lines of "you don't necessarily need to worry about a specific training structure, as long as you have some long rides in." – Weiwen Ng Sep 6 at 12:49

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