Training Schedule Resource
Nothing prepares you for a multi-day bike trip like time in the saddle. Even if you are a strong athlete, you will be using different muscles when riding a bike. Understanding the trip description when it talks about the distances and pace expectations as well as the elevation you will be doing is every riders responsibility. To prepare for a multi-day trip, you must begin training at least 12 weeks before the trip.
Your first 3 weeks will build a base of aerobic endurance, on-bike comfort, efficiency and economy of motion. Using this stepped approach to building aerobic fitness first, then speed, and finally power – the goal will be to successfully ride your first multi day trip at an average of 22km/hr. Remember, you’re building aerobic fitness AND the ability to ride for extended periods of time. The arms, neck, shoulders, core and the “rump” need time to strengthen and adapt in order to support the legs for cycling.
To accomplish this, there will be 4 distinct training periods. Once a good level of endurance has been built up (Weeks 1-3), distances will be dialled back and average speeds will increase. Endurance at the new higher average speed will then be built up (Weeks 4-6). At the end of that period, distance will again be dialled back and average speed increased again (Weeks 7-9). One final slight increase in speed and longer distances with additional weight on your bike during that last period of training will have you ready for your trip (Weeks 10-12). Week 12 is a one week taper period before your trip, so that cyclists can practice active rest in preparation for their great adventure.
Weeks 1-3 Building a base
- Ride three or four days a week.
- It’s not about the distance but time on the saddle!
- Work up to two hours or around 40km for the longest ride by the end of your first 3 weeks.
- Ride at a steady pace, around 18km/hr.
- Don’t shy away from those hills. Keep them small but climb them.
- Add some stretching in for 5-10 minutes daily.
- Cross training is a great way to increase your fitness level. Go for a walk, a hike or a swim, practice yoga or/and do some strengthening exercises on those days that you are not riding.
- Don’t forget to rest! You should plan for one rest day a week.
Weeks 4-6 Building on your base
- During one of your weekly rides incorporate some speed intervals, or “sprints” into your workout. The goal is for you to increase your heart rate at a higher rate than the one you will maintain during the trip.
- Increase your speed.
- Keep climbing more hills, but don’t overdo it.
- One of your weekly rides must be longer than two hours.
- Start cycling back to back days.
- Continue with the stretching and cross training
- Don’t forget your rest day!
Weeks 7-9 Building on your Stamina
- Let’s build some stamina by taking longer rides once or twice a week. By the end of week 10, you should be riding 60 to 80km on these long rides.
- Try new routes with different terrains.
- Increase your average speed again.
- Climb bigger hills.
- Try riding on three consecutive days.
- Carry food and water. You need to understand what fuel your body needs during these longer rides.
- Get used to eating during your riding. That’s what you will be doing.
- Remember to stretch, cross train and REST!
Weeks 10-12 Final steps
- Re-read the details of your trip!
- If you are doing a self supported trip, begin to carry weight on your bike as you ride, especially on your long rides.
- Set up your bags and make sure you know how they fit on your bike.
- Continue the same training schedule as the previous weeks or increase slightly if you are not adding weight to your bike.
- You will be putting your body through more stress than it is used to during this trip so make sure to rest, eat and hydrate properly.
- During the last week, concentrate on keeping your legs loose with a couple of shorter rides.
|Week||Intensity / Pace||Notes|
|1||20-30 km @ 18 km/hr||Cross Train to avoid repetitive injury|
Ride 3 – 4 times per week
|2||25-35 km @ 18 km/hr||Work up to 2 hours or around 40km|
Ride at a steady pace, weather permitting
|3||35-45 km @ 18 km/hr||Climb some gentle hills|
|4||30-40 km @ 20 km/hr||Increase in speed, add some sprints during a ride|
|5||45-50 km @ 20 km/hr||Ride between 3-4 hours once a week|
|6||55-65 km @ 20 km/hr||Try 2 rides back to back|
Climb more hills
|7||40-50 km @ 22 km/hr||Slight increase in speed|
Ride different routes
|8||50-60 km @ 22 km/hr||Try 2-3 rides back to back|
|9||60-75 km @ 22 km/hr||Climb bigger hills,|
Examine your hydration and nutrition
|10||45-55 km @ 23 km/hr||For self-supported rides, add weight to your bike,|
|11||60-75 km @ 23 km/hr||Slight increase in speed, Do 3 ride back to back on week 11|
|12||Taper||Cut back on distance and pace, sleep and eat properly.|
|Enjoy your adventure||and Take pictures|
Canadian Cycling Magazine articles:
6 Golden Rules for Endurance Cycling (Global Cycling Network, GCN)
Bad weather riding
Riding in Rain or Darkness an EBTC Article