Completing a weeklong bicycle tour can be so satisfying for both for your body and your brain! Our rides typically require riding between 60-80 miles a day for seven days straight, with up to 7,000 feet of total elevation gain. With adequate training and preparation, you can have the absolute best time in the saddle—for every day on the ride. Below are a few general tips to keep you on the right training track.
Try to saddle up just about every day, even if it’s for only 20 minutes at a time. You don’t have to simulate your tour exactly (i.e. you don’t need to ride 70 miles a day for seven days straight) to train for a weeklong tour. What is important is that you try to get in the saddle every day and put some miles in and you get accustomed to sitting on a bike for a few days in a row.
Now is the time! 16 weeks before your ride, get in the saddle, whether is it on an indoor trainer, spin class or outside. Start small if you feel like you have had a long winter. Take 20-30 minutes a day and spin. Each week, build consistently both with mileage and intensity. If you can ride three days a week, great. If you can ride four days a week, even better.
If you have hills to ride nearby, get on them! Our rides have hills—that is the beauty of riding in the Northwest! But, we don’t all have 3,000 foot climbs out our back door. This means you’ll need to simulate hills through higher intensity training throughout your training plan. If you have a short hill you can ride, do repeats. Or try riding into the wind to get your heart rate up. Higher intensity training mixed in with longer, slower rides is important.
In conjunction with intensity training, you’ll also need to learn how to pace yourself. The first day of a weeklong bicycle tour can be exciting and many cyclists will start off with a bang. Remember that you have six more days of riding! So, take some time to incorporate long rides at an all-day pace, preferably once a week.
Practice staying fueled up by taking in calories not just during your rides, but also before and after. It is common for riders training for a long ride to not eat enough, as they are often pursuing weight-loss goals in addition to long-ride training. Food is your friend. Really.
Cycling is a wonderful low-impact activity, but it can also create imbalances and tightness in the muscles and soft tissue. As most of us already know, stretching those hip flexors and quads is a great place to start! Also remember that your neck, back, even upper and lower arms can get tight while sitting on a bike for several hours at time. Taking 15 minutes or better yet, try some bicycling specific yoga poses.
Listen To Your Body
Training can be hard, especially when you are juggling work, family and other things in life. Pay attention to your body with regards to fatigue, soreness and injury. The last thing you want to happen is to have an injury or full body burn out. If you find yourself totally exhausted, take a break for a few days, then regroup and get back on it.
There’s a reason we call our rides “Adult Summer Camp”—they are fun and rewarding! Make your training fun. Mix up your routes a lot, ride with friends or take those long solo rides as time for yourself. Remember—riding bikes is fun stuff.