Key Tips for Training for Your Multi-Day Cycling Adventure

By Shelley Marenka | 06/11/12
Key Tips for Training for Your Multi-Day Cycling Adventure

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The following tip was authored by Shelley Marenka, USA Elite Cycling Coach and owner of CycleFit Biking Adventures, Coaching Camps and Tours.

Key Tips for Training For Your Multi-Day Cycling Adventure

Training for a multi-day cycling experience can be very exciting and also somewhat daunting. How do you know when you are fit enough to tackle riding 50-60+ miles per day? Then throw in 5-10 days ofriding that includes 3000 – 5000+ feet of climbing daily and 5-9 hours on the bike?

Your true test of fitness will of course, be the ride itself, but before you pack your bike and bags for your adventure, you'll want to adopt a few of these key training tips early in your training program for your greatest success on the bike.

Create a training program that allows you to build your base foundation for a minimum of 6 – 12 weeks. Add 10% to your weekly mileage and include one long endurance ride per week. You'll want to take plenty of long rides, keep consistent with your training program and include special focus on key areas.

Once your base is established, you will add specific skills, drills and interval work 2 -3 times per week to improve your speed, endurance, strength and power on the bike.

To be a good hill and mountain climber, you'll want to climb hills and mountains. As implied as this may sound, some individuals are under the impression that if they have a high level of fitness that they will be able to climb well, without a problem. However, the pain and suffering from untrained legs will eventually cause muscle fatigue, sometimes cramping, and will cause you to stop and hang up the bike.

To avoid this, be sure that hill training is part of your training program 1 -2 times per week so you can learn to climb skillfully and efficiently. This type of training can be done indoors on a trainer, but if you can avoid that, get outside and climb. If you'll be doing your event at altitude, it's important to get some rides in at high altitude so you will be prepared for the real thing. Although riding at altitude for one day won't acclimate you, you will gain the experience of riding with less oxygen and you can discover how your body will adapt or change at altitude. Ride at high altitude as often as you can; the more often you do, the better your body will respond, ultimately making you more comfortable riding in the mountains.

Include rest days. Everyone needs rest days where you are completely off the bike. You will not lose fitness by taking a day or two off the bike. Rest and recovery play an active role in your performance on the bike and must not be overlooked. Use this day for focusing on your hydration, nutrition, and flexibility. If your bike needs some attention, this is a good day to do it.

Have a nutrition and hydration plan that you've tuned up specific to your individual needs. There is

but instead finely tune your body. This can be accomplished with short interval workouts maintaining intensity but shorten duration of workouts. Aerobic sessions can be mixed in with the higher intensity sessions or completed on a different training day. Decrease your overall weekly mileage and duration to allow your body to fully rest and recover. Your overall training can be reduced anywhere from 10 -60 percent in the 2 weeks prior to your event.

Training Schedule Workouts

Long Endurance Rides: Ride for 2-5 hours on flat to rolling terrain. Effort is easy to moderate pace (Endurance zone) with a cadence of 85-110. Endurance rides boost muscular endurance, aerobic fitness and the fat burning capacity. These rides also give you plenty of time in the saddle to get used to being on your bike for long hours day after day. In the final six to eight weeks before your event, begin to ride back to back days with high mileage (gear mileage based on 60 -65% of the average daily mileage ofyour ride) and do this for 2-3 days in a row, followed by a recovery ride, then a day off the bike.

Endurance Miles with Hills: Choose a course with long hills (4-7 miles) Find a steady grade with about 45-60 minutes of climbing. Push the pedals; stay in aerobic zone; ride steady with a cadence of 50-70 while climbing. Builds aerobic and muscular endurance. In the final 6 weeks you want to include several rides of approximately 60% of your event climbing mileage (or a minimum of 3 rides). During the last six weeks, 3 weeks of your training should include approximately 125% of the maximum day of climbing in your event. So, if you have a day where you will be climbing 10,000 feet, you'll want to include 12.500 feet of climbing spread out thru 3 weeks of your training.

Climbing Repeats: Warm up: 10-15 minutes followed by 2 -4 x 8 – 15 minute Climbing Repeats. 1:1- 1:5 work to recovery ratio. Terrain should be a gradual climb. Effort is just above lactate threshold (or Perceived Exertion of 8) Cadence of 75 – 85 rpms. Improves muscular endurance and overall strength.

Forced Reps: WU: 20 minutes - on flat road. Use the big chain ring and a gear that allows only about 50- 60 rpms. While seated in the saddle push the pedals down as hard as possible for 15-20 revolutions. Do 6-10 of these starting a new one every 3-5 minutes. Heart rate is not observed. WD: Easy spin –Drill Improves strength, muscular endurance and training stress.

Steady State: Ride on flat or rolling hills. Effort at a moderate intensity with a cadence of 85 – 95 rpms. Ride 8 – 20 minutes with sustained, continuous effort. 1:1 work to recovery ratio.

How to Fit Your Training Rides in Your Week: Ride one 1 two long rides per week with recovery ride day after. The long rides are good for weekends when you have more time to ride. Interval workouts should be 2 x's per week separated by 24 -48 hours in between of easy riding. These are good mid-week ridesbecause of shorter duration.


One Final Thought: Be sure to address your gearing on your bike if you are going to be doing a lot of climbing and high altitude riding. The most expensive, lightest bike can't make up for gearing that you should have but don't. No one ever complains that they have too many gears when it comes to riding and climbing at altitude. And guys, it's really not a "gender" thing…it's a very smart thing to do!

Shelley Marenka, Certified USA Cycling Elite Coach

She owns Get On Your MARK and CycleFit Biking Adventures
Offering Coaching, Cycling Camps & Retreats

For training tips and current articles visit her blog at

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