Training for Our Bicycle Rides

Training for Your Body

Bicycle Rides Northwest offers a fun-filled vacation that is also physically challenging. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or new to cycling, training and preparing for the ride will help you have a more enjoyable time in the saddle on one of our rides.

So, what are you training for when you decide to join us on a ride?

Total Distance 450+ miles
Total Days 7
Daily Distance 70 miles
Daily Climbing 1000 – 6000 feet per day
Daily Ride Time 3-8 hours per day

Start in the Winter

Don’t let winter delay your training. Now is the time to start! If you can get outside and ride, do so when you can. Be sure to dress appropriately by wearing layers of wool or synthetic cycling wear. Insulated tights, toe booties or winter cycling shoes, a wind vest, ear warmers and good gloves are all good things to have on hand for winter riding. Sometimes even a short ride on a brisk day can feel really good.

If outdoor riding isn’t for you in the winter, indoor training is a great option. You can set up a wind trainer in your house, garage or basement and use your own bike. Or try some spin classes at your local gym or recreation center. Whatever it is, just get on the bike and spin the legs whenever possible.

Ride, Ride, Ride!

Generally speaking, the more time you can get in the saddle, the better, but don’t think that you have to ride 70-mile rides every day. In the beginning (early spring) you can start with shorter rides but the key is to try to be consistent and get on the bike. By late spring/early summer, aim for 100 miles a week, and if you can, try to ride 60-70 miles on back-to-back days a few times. This will help you simulate day after day of riding, and will help develop muscle memory and get your body in shape for sitting on the bike. Riding with friends is a great motivator and might push you to train a bit harder at times—and it’s a good excuse to have a post-ride coffee or beer!

Master the Hills

Some of our rides are quite hilly and if you can improve your climbing early on, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the hills on the big ride. You can start work on your climbing by choosing shorter hills and doing repeats with a rest in between, then work up to longer hills without rest. Try to keep good form when climbing by relaxing your upper body, and keeping your cadence between 60 and 80 rpm.

Stretching

Regular stretching is essential to keeping those joints loose and lubed and for speeding up recovery. Particularly for us cyclists — hips, quads, calves, back, shoulders and neck can really tighten up when putting in lots of miles. Stretching or gentle yoga after every workout is a good idea.

Rest

Adequate rest helps your body repair, recover and build fitness and strength. You must rest to avoid injury, decreased performance and burnout! Burnout on a 450+ mile week-long ride is not something you want to experience. At the bare minimum, take one day off a week. Your body will thank you and you won’t risk burnout or fatigue during the ride you planned so hard for.

Fuel

Your body needs calories to function, even at rest. When you up your activity or train for a long ride, you need even more calories. There is a lot of information out there about nutrition and training, but the basics remain the same. Eat a balanced diet of whole foods — mostly carbohydrates, some lean protein and some healthy fats. On rides — particularly long rides — you’ll want simple carbs to keep you from bonking. Sports drinks, candies, sports bars and gels are all good options. Refuel appropriately after every ride so you can adequately recover.

Hydration

Water is the absolute best hydration that you can give your body and is important before, during and after every workout. When you wake up in the morning, start your day by drinking 16 to 24 oz of water, and then drink throughout the day. During a ride, carry at least two bottles of water or sports drink and drink every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Training Comments from an Oregon Bicycle Ride Veteran

Many cyclists that plan to participate in the Oregon Bicycle Ride (OBR) for the first time will probably wonder whether they are fit enough to make it to the finish. When I first started participating in this ride, I wondered how fit a person needed to be to ride 450+ miles in one week. Now, I recognize that the fitness required to complete this ride is far less that the fitness required to thoroughly enjoy this ride.

With a bit of determination, it appears that a wide range of fitness levels can complete the distance. However, those with consistent cycle training leading into the ride will definitely increase the likelihood of enjoying the experience (e.g., decreased risk of injury, illness, and severe fatigue). Additionally, those that have prepared themselves for OBR will find that their energy level will bounce back quicker.

It is important for each rider to consider health and safety issues. Get a good physical by your doctor before you start your training program. The basic idea is to gradually refine your exercise program so you become specifically prepared for OBR.

What should you do to get ready?

How to train for this ride depends on your age and your goals. Let’s assume you are around forty, in reasonable shape, and that you want to have a comfortable ride. You could use the following recommendations to guide your training:

  • As an absolute minimum, start 8 weeks before the ride and spend about 6 hours per week in the saddle; work up to 20 or more hours two weeks before the ride.
  • Drop your mileage and intensity the week before the ride.
  • Try to work in two 60-70 mile rides on two consecutive days in the last three weeks prior to the ride.

I have found that it can be difficult to follow a progressively increasing mileage chart. So work around what you can do, even 10 miles per day is a great help. Enjoy your training and we will see you at OBR!

Submitted by: Bill Martin, OBR Participant
Reviewed by: Dave Martin, Australian Institute of Sport