17

I'm taking part in charity bike ride which involves riding 60 miles (100 km) a day for 8 days at an average of 14 mph (22.5 km/h).

I can do 69 miles but unsure of exactly how to ramp up the training to prepare the accumulative effects of doing it for 8 consecutive days.

Any ideas would be gratefully received.

7
  • 7
    When is the charity ride? Also, do you mean your current longest ride is 69 miles?
    – Weiwen Ng
    Feb 28 at 0:31
  • 3
    Hi Dave. Can you clarify a few things so we can write a better answer? When is event, how hilly is it, how often do you currently ride, what is your normal average speed, any other relevant info. Maybe even a link to the event page.
    – Andy P
    Feb 28 at 9:01
  • 4
    What does "I can add do 69 I'll es…" mean, please? Feb 28 at 21:54
  • 1
    You don't say where you are starting from. In my college days I jumped on a borrowed bike and rode 200mi in a day (much more than was fun) and did several 100mi days which were fun. Later, three of us rode 80-100mi each day four days in a row without any special training. Now in my 60s I ride regularly and have done 100km rides, but that many days in a row would wear me down badly. I would have to be quite motivated to do them all. Mar 1 at 5:34
  • 1
    @RobbieGoodwin it's an easy autocorrect typo for "I can already do 69 miles". I'm tempted to fix it myself but there are other interpretations and I hoped the OP would come back and answer some of the other comments
    – Chris H
    Mar 1 at 10:12

7 Answers 7

16

Preparation

  • One thing to consider is how hilly the ride is compared to what you're used to. If that average pace includes a lot of climbing, it's fairly quick, but if that's a flat pace it's gentle.

  • Another is how much you have to carry. Many of these rides are supported and you only have to carry day kit (and sometimes not even much of that).

  • If you do need to carry more stuff than on your usual day rides, get some training rides in with the weight and luggage you expect to need. They should be of a decent length.

  • Unless the ride gets much hillier towards the end, if your legs can do 3 days, they can do 8. The same isn't true of your contact points, so you really need to ensure your saddle+shorts, gloves, and shoes (in roughly that order of importance) work well for you. That's as important as the training and can be done at the same time.

Training

I don't propose a detailed training plan, just some suggestions you should adapt to fit into your life. You might find you can skip over them more quickly than I say, especially if you regularly commute by bike. Try to stretch, and don't completely drop non-cycling exercise even if you need to dial it back to make time.

  • As a first step: Do a 100km or slightly longer ride on a Saturday. Ride on the Sunday. It doesn't have to be long, but more than a recovery ride. Get a couple of evening rides in during the week, but take it easy on the Monday and the Friday. Repeat over a few weeks (it doesn't have to be every weekend).
  • Build up the Sunday distance.
  • As you do so, test your nutrition and kit - what's good enough for one day isn't always good enough for 3.
  • Try to add in something on the Monday. Extending a commute is a good way to do this.
  • By a few weeks before the ride, you should be able to do back-to-back 100s Saturday and Sunday, and get on the bike comfortably on the Monday.
  • It's good if many of your training rides are solo or with just one buddy. That way, if you form a bunch on the event, it gets easier than what you trained for. You get plenty of benefit even from a fairly loose bunch; it doesn't have to look like a race peloton.

The key thing though is to get used to riding a proper ride the day after a long ride.

On the ride

  • Day 3 and probably day 4 will be hard whatever you do, then it often gets easier.

  • Make use of drop bags, kit transport etc. so that you can have clean dry shorts (ideally jerseys as well but they can be worn damp and/or smelly). You won't be on the bike for ages each day, so getting stuff rinsed out and dried should be possible (a good start is to wash/rinse it, wrap it in a towel then tread on the bundle, if you're in a hotel).

  • Be sure to eat and drink plenty in the evenings. You need to reload your on-board carb stores (glycogen) and get some protein. If you find it hard to eat a lot after riding (I sometimes do), try nibbling something light and salty with a sugary drink, recovery drink, or protein shake and plenty of water immediately after the ride, then eat more later. If you don't have access to sports products, or don't like them, flavoured milk, milkshakes (preferably the thin sort), and hot chocolate are all good recovery drink options.*

  • You may or may not have much choice in your stops, but try to make them as pleasant and interesting as possible. If stopping for the night in a small town, a stroll to/from dinner can be both physically and mentally more relaxing than eating in a hotel room next to your bike. Meeting friends or even a little sightseeing can be fitted in if your riding doesn't occupy all your waking hours.

  • Especially if it's hot and you're sweating a lot, you may want to use electrolyte tablets in some of your drinks, either on the ride or afterwards.

* I go for instant hot chocolate with chocolate flavour or vanilla protein powder added, if I'm making up my own (mix with a little cold water before adding hot)

7
  • 6
    “If you find it hard to eat a lot after riding” definitely don’t force it if you don’t feel hungry. In my experience it’s a great way to get diarrhea. I usually need 1 or 2 hours after long&hard rides until I can really eat. You can try to get a few carbs in immediately after the ride.
    – Michael
    Feb 28 at 10:01
  • 3
    @Michael exactly, though for me it's nausea, once even vomiting (followed by immediate hunger). I think the key is to wait until your digestive system turns back on. That's also affected by when you last went tot he toilet. I only managed half my (not massive) dinner on Saturday after we got back a little closer to dinnertime than planned. In winter I would ideally go for a hot chocolate as soon as I get in, then make dinner after an unhurried shower etc.
    – Chris H
    Feb 28 at 10:43
  • I assumed that you've got at least a few weeks to prepare, BTW
    – Chris H
    Feb 28 at 10:44
  • I would add: think about the non-cycling parts, and make any plans that will help you enjoy the trip as much as possible. Are there things you want to see or or do in the places you visit? Do you have any friends along the route that you can catch up with? Are there good places to stop for coffee en route? It's easy for this kind of trip to turn into an unenjoyable slog if you only focus on covering the miles.
    – avid
    Mar 2 at 7:34
  • @avid They're good points, and ones that I neglected on a trip of a similar distance last year (in favour of pushing myself too hard). We don't know how much control the OP has over the itinerary in this case
    – Chris H
    Mar 2 at 9:18
8

Not sure if this is the best advice, but it is what I did in preparation for a cycling vacation of 10+ days, with similar distances planned.

  • coming from cycling once in the weekend if the weather was good and I was in the mood, 6 months before the start of the vacation I started cycling daily. I decided to stop commuting by car and switched to cycling the 26 km per day. I opted for the commute because it would have forced me to do it, while for a dedicated training or going to gym to do spinning I could have always find an excuse to skip (finished work late, too tired, bla bla bla..)
  • tried to lose some weight. I managed to drop about 10 kg before the vacation, and oh boy if that didn't make a difference!
  • worked on the cadence, trying to improve my average velocity. When I started the commute, it took me 45 to 50 minutes one way. Now I do it in 35 to 40.
  • went for a longer ride whenever possible.
1
  • I reckon (and I'm perhaps prejudiced here) that for distance riding, real distance always beats indoor training. That's not to say that there's no merit in spin classes or trainer sessions but they're better for short fast efforts than for endurance, even when the endurance is spread over several days
    – Chris H
    Feb 28 at 13:16
2

I'll post from the perspective of an older, fit, but very irregular and unmotivated cyclist who has done this several times.

In my case it consisted of doing several trips of 4-5 days @ 100km per day, solo, on sometimes hilly terrain, in British Columbia and Washington state. I was staying in motels, not camping, but still carrying about 10 kg of gear and clothing.

You need to go in fit, and there is some very good advice in the other answers. However, you also need to keep in mind that you will get fitter as the ride progresses. Day 1 may feel like hell, but day 5 should see a much fitter you, as long as you don't build up injuries or pain.

For example, I started out day on the Olympic Peninsula struggling to get 65km in (I had not trained because of wildfire smoke in the preceding weeks). By day 5 I decided to do 160km to get back to my car rather than cutting my day in half by staying overnight in a peculiarly uninspiring city on the circuit.

  • Try out your bike. Make sure you have a good saddle and good padded shorts. One of my trips involved extreme saddle discomfort and it didn't really get better, though some topical painkiller did improve things.

  • Watch your nutrition. Ideally consume tons of pasta or other slow carbs for breakfast. Pancakes are OK-ish. Find what works for you. These 100km rides are not really a big deal, especially if it's an easy pace. But it's easy to be finishing them very slowly because you are out of energy. When that really hits, energy bars and sports drinks don't help as much you'd think.

  • Watch your drink intake as well, I noticed my urine was all yellow on one trip and realized I was underdrinking. That's going to lower your performance.

  • Plan your bicycle tires. I have a hybrid commuter bike with quite thin tires but with some extra kevlar lining. They're a bit heavier than really good road tires but I very rarely get flats with them, riding on shoulders.

2

Couple of things:

  1. First and foremost, do a 15-20 mile ride. This is to ensure that your bike fit is correct. On longer rides, you don't want sore shoulder, numb hands.
  2. If there is no limit on when you finish your ride every day then take take quick 10-15 minutes breaks every 10 mile or so. Stop for a quick sip, smell the roses :-).

Coming to prepping up for rides:

  1. Training rides 3 days a week
    • Tue/Thurs/Sat(long but slow rides) - 15/15/25 (Keep adding 10 miles every alternate week on long ride)
      • Week 1 - 15(Flat)/15(hills)/25
      • Week 2 - 15(Speed)/15(Flat)/25
      • Week 3 - 15(Hill)/15(Speed)/30
      • Week 4 - 15(Flat)/15(Speed)/35
      • Week 5 - 15(Hill)/15(Speed)/40
      • Week 6 - 15(Speed)/15(Flat)/45
      • Week 7 - 15(Hill)/15(Flats)/55
    • Where
      • Flat: Comfortable regular cadence ride
      • Hill: Route with lots of hills
      • Saturday: Long slow rides to build stamina, train your sit bones
  2. On Non training days
    • Mon: Stretch/yoga,
    • Wednesday: Strength/core training,
    • Friday: Rest
  3. Ride a little bit every day even on non-training days
    • Quick runs to grocery/coffee shops.
  4. Dress appropriately
  5. Drink fluids. Carry 3 Oz per 5 miles. Drink before you are thirsty.
  6. Carry carbs(Good carbs)
    • Nuts/Bananas/Bars. If racing then gels (1 pack every 10 miles).
  7. Stretch post ride.
8
  • 4
    22 km/h is a fairly casual pace for a solo road bike on the flat, and if OP is riding in a group it will barely be turning over the pedals. This is more of an an endurance ride, not a race.
    – Criggie
    Feb 28 at 1:41
  • For water use, see How much hydration is enough hydration during long rides?. Carry 3 Oz per 5 miles. Drink before you are thirsty. is thoroughly unhelpful when you don't know the rider, the temperature, or how often they can fill up/stop for drinks. It's not a bad middle ground for consumption, but I can range from not much more than half that in winter to double that on a hot summer day (on rides of 200km, less on a 100 as you will use water drunk before the ride)
    – Chris H
    Feb 28 at 9:01
  • 2
    Also, a 15-20 mile test ride won't test a bike for endurance fit. It will only pick up really major issues. The OP would probably have noticed those given that 15-20 miles is far less than on previous rides.
    – Chris H
    Feb 28 at 9:21
  • 88ml every 8km, for the rest of the world. IMHO this should be time-dependent and not distance-dependent and as Chris has pointed out depends on a lot of other factors. On the high end you can need 1l per hour, on the lower end you can ride 4h without any water at all.
    – Michael
    Feb 28 at 9:24
  • 1
    Have you tried running on gels for a whole day? Multiple days? Don't bank on your digestion being able to handle that. I tolerate them better than many friends and have done a 100km gel-fuelled dash (then rode back again more slowly after lunch) but relying on them for more than a few hours untested would be a really bad idea. I carry a few, but mainly rely on food. If you don't have drop bags, cereal bars can be restocked from normal shops (supermarkets etc.)
    – Chris H
    Feb 28 at 9:24
1

I have done almost exactly what you mention, coming from about 20km MTB ride on Sundays to a multi stage, 100km aprox per day road ride, It was a 7 day supported ride, which meant the big suitcase was put in a bus and carried for us while we cycled. This ride totaled almost 600 km over the week. The first 3 stages where mostly flat with little/short climbs, starting at sea level, 4th - 6th stages had biggest climbs and where mostly ascents.

I did not train for this ride, just tackled the challenge.I took part on this ride four times, happening once per year. The first time I was able to ride the 100 km in about 4 hours. The biggest problem I had was wrist pain and saddle soreness. The body part that hurt most where my wrists. Muscle tiredness was nothing compared to wrist and hand pain/soreness. Saddle pain was mostly tolerable.

I was wearing padded shorts and using a bike that fits me "perfectly" for 3-4 hour MTB rides, but I was not accustomed to be seating for so long. Funny enough, I could do 8+ hour MTB rides no problem, but in MTB you do a lot of weight shifting, so you unload the saddle very frequently, and also, (rear) suspension helps a bit. In contrast, on this ride I used a hardtail bike with straight handlebars.

In about one hour after finishing each stage and having a meal I felt energized again. We also had the whole second half of the day for "recovery". so I felt almost as fresh as day one on the beginning of all stages. I can not say for sure how additionally tired I was after 4th - 6th stages, as they were significantly harder than the first ones.

On following years, besides having the experience of what it takes, I made a few changes:

  • Used a handlebar that allowed more hand positions
  • Tweaked bike fit a little to put less weight on my hands without being too upright.
  • Fit the bike with 3 bottle cages and a small rear rack. 2 Bottles for water and one with a sports drink or sweetened drink. The rack for tools and cereal bars. The aim was to have all extra weight on the bike, so my body was free of any of it.
  • Developed a "schedule" for drinking and eating during the ride which kept me feeling energized for the whole ride.

This last point I think made the greatest difference. What worked for me was: drink every 15 minutes, and have a bite of food every 30 minutes. The "food" was my own recipe of "granola bars" (About 10cm x 2.5 cm x 1 cm, so, kind of similar to commercial sizes. Ingredients where nothing fancy, just wanted to avoid extra sugar) By the end of the each ride I had consumed near 2 litres of water+juice, and about 3 granola bars.

The idea was to keep hydration and sugar levels fairly constant though the ride by sipping a little of sugary drink between along with water, and eat "slow carbs" that is, carbs that take a while to get into the bloodstream and remain there a little longer than plain sugar.

Another key factor for me during the ride is pace. It's kind of difficult to compare or convey how I distributed my effort, but I could say that my cycling is the analogous of really fast waking or slow, long distance running, as opposed to a 100 meter sprint. I was in the non-competitive group, completing the distance in 4 hours, approximately, where the elite competitors where finishing in about 2 hours to 1:45. Another way of saying it is that at almost any point in the ride, I could always have been a little bit faster, but I was "holding" somewhat. My only goal was "to get there" on time for lunch and keep the ride fun.

Related to that, was the use of an odometer or distance trip meter. Knowing the traveled and remaining distance made a positive difference in my mindset. When you don know how much on an effort is remaining, the mind plays a trick and makes you feel more tired than you really are (I think is an instinct to preserve resources). In contrast, when you are familiarized with a route you feel more energetic the whole time. In that regard having the cycle computer meant that even if I was not so familiar with "riding" the route, seeing the number kept me aware of my progress and felt more relaxed even when pushing harder than the first time.

0

The most important thing to do in terms of preparing for a multi day cycling event is to find and address the problems that can stop you - or make the ride agony - but that only become critical after spending multiple days back-to-back in the saddle.

To do this, at a bare minimum, several weeks before the event I would want to plan in at least one two-day, back-to-back, full-distance, full-dress rehearsal test ride session with a tentative plan for a couple of much shorter test rides afterwards. I'd go for:

  • Two days back-to-back because it is the minimum necessary to highlight problems with bike fit, maintenance plans, nutrition, clothing, fitness etc that are missable with single-day rides (and the recovery periods between them) but can be deal breakers on multi-day rides.

  • Several weeks before the event with shorter rides afterward - to allow going into the event with fresh legs. And to provide a time window to address any problems and test the fixes. For instance, if find shoes to too hot/cold, or uncomfortable it may take time to procur replacements and those do not want to be used untested/unworn-in.

That's as a bare minimum.

If the time and motivation is available then a safer plan would be do two or more of these full-dress rehearsal test ride sessions over the course of the month prior to the event. With maybe making the last of these a three day back-to-back session for good measure.

Even for experienced riders it's never 100%; if it was too easy where would the challenge be. However, the trick in training for one-off-events, is to get close enough that at the time of the event as many of the avoidable problems are avoided and the excitement of the event carries the rest.

0

I think if you are already comfortable biking 60 miles, you should be fine for the trip.

Focus on just being able to stay in the saddle for as long as it takes and on staying comfortable while you ride. Padded shorts and gloves are key. I found clipless pedals really helped my knee comfort. I find drop bars also essential. Being able to use the different grips and positions that the drop bars offer is a big help.

Plan to eat more than usual, with lots of snack breaks.

From my experience, and what others have shared as well, by the end of your trip you will be crushing those 60 miles and will have a greater range than before. On a two month trip I started riding 50 miles a day, and finished around 70 miles per day without ever really pushing myself. A few years later, on a 10 day trip, I started out riding 60 miles per day, and was riding around 100 miles per day by the end.

That last trip was in very hilly conditions too - it was a grind at first, but I just took my time. It was helpful that the trip happened in early summer, so we had long days of sunlight for riding.

My emphasis is on comfort, because if you can stay in the saddle and keep moving, you can go a long way, even if you're not going very fast. If your hands, shoulders, butt, knees, etc. are getting sore though, it's going to be a rough go.

Also, this is from the perspective of someone in their early 40s, with no major health issues. Obviously one size does not fit all.

6
  • 4
    you should be fine for the trip There's a huge difference between being "comfortable" riding 60 miles once and doing it for 8 straight days. That's almost 500 miles in a week, which is quite a bit more than most cyclists do in an entire month. I think I've gone over 300 miles in a week a few times and maybe even hit 400, and that was when I was in the kind of shape where I'd do a century for fun. The impact of 60 miles/day for 8 straight days is nothing to underestimate. Mar 1 at 20:27
  • I totally agree with Andrew. There's a huge difference between being able to do a long ride once, and being able to get back on the bike the following morning and doing it again. (And again...) When I was planning to do a ride that required back-to-back long days, even if I could ride a longer distance than the daily distance, I made sure to do Saturday-Sunday back-to-back rides well in advance of the date to test my recovery.
    – DavidW
    Mar 1 at 21:25
  • Just my experience. On the occasions I did long rides, I found my range increased pretty steadily over the duration. (Eg. 110 km to 170 km over 10 days.)
    – Adam Brown
    Mar 2 at 23:01
  • I'm with @Andrew as well. My recent experience is of longer days in the saddle, but my earlier experience and that of my friends over this sort of distance is why I mentioned concentrate on preparing for back-to-back stuff. I regularly ride 200-300km days, and have done hilly 200s on 2 consecutive days more than once. Last summer I set off to do 4 consecutive days at that pace before slowing down. By nightfall on day 3 I was 100km behind and had changed my plans to have a great trip but without reaching the far point.
    – Chris H
    Mar 3 at 8:39
  • And clipless pedals are indeed good - but only if they're set up right, so they're something you should address on full-length training rides. Set up badly they can make things worse. Saddle position similarly needs long tests: when I tried to copy my old saddle position to a new saddle, it felt fine for 300km, but by 370 clearly wasn't. I ended up adjusting it significantly at the roadside 20km into the next day. The saddle and cleat positions aren't independent
    – Chris H
    Mar 3 at 8:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.