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Due to limited time I've been working on short intervals (generally 1-6 minute repetitions) and the longest ride I've done in 4 months is 90 minutes which, while I've been pushing on the climbs, I still get home with a bit to spare.

Still riding 3-4 times a week, and seeing performance gains at these distances, generally measured in seconds and generally because I can maintain a higher pace for longer at the same rpm, i.e. pushing bigger gears for longer.

How might this training affect e.g. an 8 hour hilly ride, where I'll be pushing on but always within sustainable limits?

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  • I'm guessing you've never done an 8-hour ride? What's the longest ride you've ever done? Jul 12 '20 at 14:24
  • My longest ride has been 135 miles, 8 hours would be about 110 miles depending on the hills. Was just wondering if I would see any benefit on longer, slower paced distances from what I've been doing for the last few months.
    – Wilskt
    Jul 12 '20 at 15:03
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    For endurance, you would be better to putting in one 4-6 hour ride a week rather than 3 or 4 times 90 minute rides. Probably you would be best to put in a few 1x long distance ride weeks, then alternate between a week of short rides with intervals and a week with 1x longer ride. Sneak in a couple of 30minute rides if you can. Personally I would be looking at 1x 45-60 minute max effort (intervals, speed and power work) and 1x long ride per week, (as long as I could fit in) - doing long rides where ever my schedule would allow it and slot the short rides around that.
    – mattnz
    Jul 13 '20 at 2:47
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You can improve metrics like FTP, VO2Max, etc, with shorter workouts, and those improvements will carry through to longer rides. Your body doesn't draw on a completely separate set of capabilities when you go for a long ride.

But at some level, you need to prepare for a long ride by going on long rides. A saddle that is comfortable at 40 miles might be uncomfortable at 80 miles. Likewise for shoes, etc. Small positioning problems get magnified.

Also, your body can generally store enough energy to carry you through about 2½ hours of riding, after which you're at risk of bonking. Going for longer rides gives you practice refueling, figuring out what works and what doesn't. You can also train your body to run on stored fat more efficiently (even if you are very thin, you have enough stored fat to get through days worth of riding).

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    "about 2½ hours of riding, after which you're at risk of bonking" - that statement needs a lot of qualifications, primarily of which is that the time will be highly dependent on how hard you are riding. Jul 13 '20 at 21:06

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