We are planning to do the Rapha 100 this year, so we thought it was timely to share tips for training for a long bike ride. We are huge fans of setting goals and committing to an organized event because it provides you with an incentive to get out of bed early in the morning and get on your bike, and train for glory.
Training for a long bike ride is essential because most of us are not capable of riding long distances without getting some miles in our legs first. By long bike ride, I’m thinking of 15 miles to 100 km or more.
Of course, this is all relative so this advice applies to whatever the definition of a long ride is for you.
Get Some ‘miles’ In Your Legs
There is no substitute for riding enough miles to prepare you for a cycling event or a long endurance ride with friends. And while it’s impossible to say just how many ‘Ms’ you need in your legs before a particular ride, you can’t go wrong if you ride very regularly.
By that, we don’t mean you need to ride every day or even every second day, but you need to be consistent.
Utilize Training Plans And Adapt
A lot of organized rides and cycling events will publish some training tips and even a full-blown training plan on their website to help riders prepare. Here’s a great cycling training plan for prepping for a 100 km road cycling event.
Strava & Garmin help you keep an electronic diary and then track your progress using the data from your bike computer or watch.
Swim Bike Run Fun Coaches created this easy to follow (right click to save to your phone) endurance riding cycling training plan that is easy to follow, includes strength training, can be done in the gym (spin classes are fun!) and will get you ready in short time for some epic outdoor endurance riding.
Build Up Over Time
When you start a training plan from a low base make sure you build up over time. Don’t head out and ride the full event distance on your first weekend, particularly if you’ve never ridden that distance before now.
For example, if your event ride is in six week’s time and it’s 100 km, then start out riding 50 km in the first week, 60 km, 70 km, 80 km, 90 km and so on.
Replicate The Terrain And Format
In your training program, make sure you incorporate similar terrain to the ride you will be undertaking.
There’s no point in doing all your training rides on flat terrain because it’s easier, if the event ride is very hilly and vice versa.
In most cases an event ride will be a mix of flat, undulating and hilly terrain so make sure you cover it all in your training rides.
Make sure you also prepare for the format of the ride. For example, if it’s a three-day ride then make sure you ride three consecutive days in your training, building up the distance as the event approaches.
Most experts say you don’t need to ride the full distance of the event in training, as long as you get close.
Find Training Buddies
Ideally, when you sign up for a long ride you’ll have recruited a few ride buddies and they will also make excellent training partners.
But I’ve found in the past that you’ll find willing training partners even if they aren’t joining you for the event. It will make those long training rides so much more enjoyable and safer, if you have a few friends by your side.
For those cold and wet days in your training program, it’s a great idea to have an indoor trainer as an alternative to getting out on the bike.
It will never replace training on the road completely but it will help you get those ‘Ks’ in your legs when you can’t get outside.
But don't avoid poor weather altogether because you may experience bad weather during your event ride.
Eat, Sleep and Rest
During your training period make sure you take care of yourself and eat well, get enough sleep and rest when you need to.
If you’re feeling very fatigued from your training sessions it’s a sure sign that you’re overdoing it.
But don’t give up altogether, back it off a little, then reset.
Training rides are also an excellent way to test out eating and drinking during your rides. Try different energy bars and gels, plus energy drinks as well.
When I ride 100 km, I take two drink bottles on my bike – one with water, and the other with an energy drink. I also put gel blocks and muesli bars in my back pocket.
Make Sure Your Equipment Is Up To It
Training rides are also excellent for making sure your bike and equipment are up to the task. Get your bike serviced at your local bike shop a few weeks before the big event, not just a couple of days before.
And make sure your other essentials are working well. Is your saddle comfortable? Are your cycling shorts doing their job? Do your helmet and shoes fit correctly? And always carry essential repair equipment with you for training and event rides.
A week or two before the event you should actually back off your training a little so that you give your body a chance to taper. If you’ve done enough training in the weeks leading up, you should be ready and rested before the big day.
Reprint: This blog was orginally written by Female Cyclist Nicola and originally published on https://womenwhocycle.com/ April 30, 2021