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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 02-15-10, 01:14 PM   #1
mdohertyjr
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Increasing Miles

Might be a silly question, but... how did everyone up their mileage.

I have been commuting to work daily, about a 16 mile round trip, and the wife and myself have signed up for the Tour de Cure in Philadelphia, and threw caution to the wind and we are going to pedal the 63 miler.

Now, the 16 mile round trip is nice, and yesterday we both rode 26 miles, and we are not hurting, as we took it easy.

But how does one work up from there? Is it 30, then 40 then 50? Or is it, just ride for X amount of hours and see how far you have gone?

I know there are different ways for everyone, but would love to hear how everyone stepped up the mileage for themselves.
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Old 02-15-10, 03:38 PM   #2
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Some people say 10% increases in distance, but I wouldn't overthink it. Just pick someplace that you'd like to go that's a little further from home each time. I think it's more entertaining if you've got a goal destination that you're trying to get to. When my husband started riding with me, our first ride was just downtown for breakfast, then the next time it was to a park we wanted to check out, then the next time was to a reservoir a little bit out of town, etc. Before he knew it, he was doing 50 mile rides without feeling like he was killing himself to do it.
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Old 02-15-10, 03:43 PM   #3
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Just ride as often as you can.
Rest with time off when you need it.
You get stronger the more you ride.

I did a tour last summer NY to LA in 58 days.
10 riders rode everyday for a total of 4200 +miles. They rode every mile everyday. No Rest Days.
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Old 02-15-10, 04:39 PM   #4
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When I hit 30 miles, my next jump was 50 miles. Then I did a metric century (62.5mi). The next jump from there was a full century.
From the full century, I went up to a double metric. (125mi). That was a tough jump for me, and took three attempts before I learned how to eat properly, hydrate right, and most importantly to pace myself. I spent a lot of time burning myself out by 110 - 115 miles and not being able to finish out the last 10 - 15. Urgh; frustrating!
Anyhow, once I learned to pace myself I made the jump from 200k to 200 miles and went right for a double century. It really wasn't that difficult; but I did pick a very easy double... The Seattle to Portland only has about 3000' of total elevation.
The next year, I did a couple of 300 kilometer events (187.5mi) which were around 195mi actual distance, so they're pretty close to being doubles. Plus they had closer to 9500' of elevation. I also did a 400k (250mi) event. It was 253 total miles, had just over 10,000 elevation including a 3 mile section between 10% - 15% grade just before the 200k checkpoint.

This year I'm planning over 15 200k events, 4x 300k events, 2x 400k events and a 600k event. I found that once you get up to the point of being able to ride for 15 hours, anything beyond that is making sure that you stick to your nutrition/hydration plan, and then just learn to deal with sleep deprivation.
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Old 02-15-10, 05:13 PM   #5
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Just go for it. Only when I didn't eat/drink properly, or tried to go 110% from the start have I had trouble finishing. I went from 30 to 50 miles, then to 75, then to 100. You already have an idea based on how you feel finishing rides now, so trust yourself and go for it. I don't believe you need to do the 10% especially at lower mileages. Going from 10, then 11, then 12.1 etc. is probably not necessary for most cyclist. Just make sure you have enough fluids and food, and an alternative plan (cash) if you run out.
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Old 02-15-10, 06:49 PM   #6
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Pretty much what everyone is saying so far is spot-on: just increase a little at a time. Your regular rides during the week might actually be the same distances, but on the weekends, increase the mileage of your "long" ride a little. You might even throw in a mid-week long ride. It might look like this:
  • Mon - Rest day, off the bike
  • Tue - Regular ride
  • Wed - Longer than a regular ride
  • Thu - Recovery ride
  • Fri - Easy & short ride
  • Sat - Longest ride of the week
  • Sun - Recovery ride, spinning fast to help the legs recover

It's also important to ride as close to everyday as possible. Increasing the mileage of your "long" ride is good, but riding everyday is additionally good.

Last, if you can do this, it's important to get in as many "long" rides as possible before your target ride. That way, you'll know how to hydrate & eat for it, how to pace during it, and completing it will actually be fun instead of a challenge that leaves you physically shot for a day or two as your body recovers from the effort.
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Old 02-15-10, 07:09 PM   #7
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A daily commute like that really keeps you in good core shape. It is much better than sitting on your but all winter long, like me. I go on an annual tour so I need to get in shape relatively quickly each year.

I use the training format that is at the end of the GOBA handbook
http://goba.com/pdfs/2008/waytogoba08.pdf

but I start with week 5 since I can start with riding 20 miles at a clip at the beginning of the year.

Good luck on the Tour de Cure, I plan on riding the 50 miler here in Nebraska
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Old 02-16-10, 07:52 AM   #8
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The rule of thumb I've always heard is that to do a certain distance, you need to ride about 2/3 that distance a few times before the ride.

A few years ago I was getting ready to do a 63 mile ride (my longest at the time). Up until that point the longest I had ridden was like 42-43 or so. I had less time to ride then, so I basically focused on doing shorter rides with a higher intensity. Two or three times a week I did 20-25 miles at 17-18 mph, and on the weekends I did longer rides (35-40) at slower speeds.

I did the 63 miles no problem. Yes, I was sore afterwards, but I made it.
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Old 02-16-10, 09:15 AM   #9
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We tend to get stuck on numbers. 60 miles, 100 miles or 200 miles are just numbers and there is no magic distance that is harder than another. I wouldn't over think it. Listen to your body. Your body will tell you if you over do it. If you are reasonably fit you could probably go out tomorrow and ride a century if you really wanted.

Not that it is relevant to you, my personal experience is that I rode my first century with 10,000ft of climbing three months after buying my first ($100) bike and rode my first brevet series (that clifton was talking about above) before the first year was out. Did I have a problem? Yeah, I had an overuse issue with a tendon in my knee but it didn't occur until I got well beyond the 200+/- mark.
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Old 02-16-10, 01:01 PM   #10
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Follow the 10% rule! Sure you can jump from 26 to 50, anybody can, but that would be silly. You want to make the experience enjoyable! Discomfort only discourages riders from continuing to ride.

Since you are increasing mileage, maybe take something along to much on at bout 66% through your ride, Fig Newtons, Clifbar, fruit etc. Makes a difference as a newbie of longer distances as far as ride fuel. DRINK! Hydrate before the ride, don't try to hydrate on the ride. BEFORE and during the ride! IF I am doing a ride that my require me to out do myself, I start hydrating the night BEFORE the ride. You should do this even while training fo the ride since most rides will be increased mileage rides.
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Old 02-16-10, 01:25 PM   #11
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Follow the 10% rule! Sure you can jump from 26 to 50, anybody can, but that would be silly. You want to make the experience enjoyable! Discomfort only discourages riders from continuing to ride.
I think the 10% rule is on the low side. Certainly, you don't want to overdo it when you're first starting out. But if you're comfortable riding 25 miles, limiting your next jump to 27.5 miles before trying a 30 miler is a bit silly. A jump from 10 miles (maybe a 45 minute ride) to 15 miles (a little over an hour) is a 50% increase without a tremendous difference in the time spent on the bike.
IMO, it's when you look at increases from say 50 miles to 75 miles, which will add hours of saddle time, then you need to carefully consider if you're prepared to make that kind of increase.
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Old 02-16-10, 02:15 PM   #12
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I think the 10% rule is on the low side. Certainly, you don't want to overdo it when you're first starting out. But if you're comfortable riding 25 miles, limiting your next jump to 27.5 miles before trying a 30 miler is a bit silly. A jump from 10 miles (maybe a 45 minute ride) to 15 miles (a little over an hour) is a 50% increase without a tremendous difference in the time spent on the bike.
IMO, it's when you look at increases from say 50 miles to 75 miles, which will add hours of saddle time, then you need to carefully consider if you're prepared to make that kind of increase.
Well that's because you are a pro long distance rider. I think the OP at 16 miles is a newb, so does the 10% rule really sound silly if it puts him at a 35'ish mile ride after a 25 mile ride 2 weeks earlier? And the next week, close to a 40 miler? I don't think so but you're the pro!.........Might as well get them started on Perpetuem now!
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Old 02-16-10, 04:48 PM   #13
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Thank you to everyone who has responded, some great advice here, I really appreciate it!
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Old 02-16-10, 05:04 PM   #14
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Well that's because you are a pro long distance rider. I think the OP at 16 miles is a newb, so does the 10% rule really sound silly if it puts him at a 35'ish mile ride after a 25 mile ride 2 weeks earlier? And the next week, close to a 40 miler? I don't think so but you're the pro!.........Might as well get them started on Perpetuem now!
He did say that after a 26 miler they weren't hurting because they took it easy (which is a good rule to follow when increasing distance.) If someone is feeling good, there's no reason to put such a stringent limitation on mileage increases.
I never said "sign up for Death Ride", just that 10% is a lowball increase if your saddle time is already under 60 minutes.
Here's the saga of my mileage increase, which to get from 25 or 30 miles to where I am now (250mi max. day so far) took around 2.5 years. Yep. Years. I didn't just wake up one morning and start riding centuries every weekend.

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When I hit 30 miles, my next jump was 50 miles. Then I did a metric century (62.5mi). The next jump from there was a full century. From the full century, I went up to a double metric. (125mi).
30 to 50 miles was a 66% increase, which took my saddle time from 2 hours without a break, to more like 3.5 hours and needing a break. It was a big jump to make, but like the OP I took it at an easy pace (14-ish mph). It was at that time when I first started paying more attention to nutritional needs during a ride. It's easy to pedal through 2 hours without needing much more than a bottle of Gatorade; but I really noticed it if I didn't bring something to snack on at the 30 mile break and tried to continue on much further.

50 to 62.5 was only a 12.5 mile increase, but it's still 25%. It didn't feel like a huge increase though, because in terms of saddle time, it was going from ~3h 30m to 4h 20m. It wasn't even another whole hour on the bike. There wasn't much of a nutritional change needed for just a small increase. Maybe a couple of extra fig newtons during my snack break, and a second bottle of Accelerade for the second half of the ride. What I noticed the most was that I started needing an electrolye supplement at this point, to keep from cramping up after 50 miles. Just Gatorade or Accelerade wasn't working for me (YMMV), but I started bringing a few Endurolyte caplets to have during my mid-ride break. I sweat a lot, so I get e'lyte imbalanced quickly, especially during the summer.

62.5 to 100 miles was another big jump: 60% again, but that was also a significant increase in saddle time for me; from almost 4.5 hours up to 7.5 hours. If you work the math, that's more than a 60% increase in time for the 60% increase in mileage. While I had the overall endurace to complete the distance, I was not able to maintain the kind of pace I started out with. For quite a while, 100 miles was my maximum distance before my body just gave out on me. I knew all sorts of formulas and theories for fueling on long distance rides, but I hadn't quite figured out yet what worked for me. I'd finish up 100 miles and for a day or two afterwards it would hurt to walk down stairs. I'd finish the ride and be a crumpled heap on the couch for the remainder of the day, while I knew of people who finished well ahead of me and were out at the bar later that same night. Eventually I did enough food experimentation and found out what worked for me, and I too could finish up a century and still go out to dinner that evening... and then I tried a 200k.

Pfft. Only a 25% increase? Why shouldn't that have been simple, like the jump from 50 - 62.5, right? Something about what I was doing on the century just didn't translate past the 110 mile mark. 3 times I attempted a 200k (125mi), and 3 times I made it between 108 and 115 miles before cramping up, bonking hard and mooching a ride home. What I determined was that my starting pace was just too fast. All the time I'd been riding centuries, my time was dropping. When I tried to increase my mileage I didn't try to alter that pace, as I did when I first increased from 62.5 up to 100 miles! That attempt at an additional 90 minutes of effort was just too much, and I had to back off on my pace.

Learning that lesson the hard way, I've been able to make huge increases in mileage over the past 2 years. The increase from 30 to 100 miles was a gradual process over the course of about 7 or 8 months. The jump to 125 miles took me another 3 months; attempting the distance, failing, recovering and waiting for another century ride I could tack an extra 25 miles onto. So the whole process was almost a year, finishing up in the summer of 2008.
When I finally got everything figured out, nutrition/hydration/pace, I realized that I could make very large increases again without worrying about the 10% (or whatever percentage you'd like to use) rule. My next increase after the 125mi was right up to 200 miles... Another 60% jump, and it was a success.
Although I learned that what I found palatable for 8 or 9 hours was simply nauseating after 14 hours, I finished the ride and went to work on another nutrition experiment series. Since that first double century, I've nailed down my nutritional requirements over the course of many, many, many long rides. I've also had to tweak some things with my bicycle fit, because I learned that what is a "meh, I can deal with it" issue for 5 or 6 hours can become an "OMG! Make it stop hurting!" issue after 11 or 12 hours.
I'm far from being a professional; I'm just a big guy who likes to ride his bike a lot. And after all my riding, and seeing century riders in everything from team kit on carbon racing bikes to cargo shorts and a tee-shirt on a fat-tire mountain bike, I'm pretty convinced that regardless of equipment or fancy food replacements, just about anyone who puts themself to the task can build up to riding a century and still have enough energy to hang out at the beer tent after the ride.
Just make sure to tell the fast riders to save you a pint, because you'll be a while.
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Old 02-16-10, 05:39 PM   #15
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Hmmm, I guess you aren't that far off. I know some strong fast riders that went form a hard pace 25 miler to an easier 40, which is 60%. But still they were sore for some time, but it's all about balance and listening to the body.

So I told you, you were a pro!
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Old 02-16-10, 09:56 PM   #16
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I never knew of cycling forums when I started and never asked anyone how to bump up my distance just went for it. First time out was 23km and I hurt something bad the next day. Next time out did a whole whopping 25km and it hurt then I went crazy and did 40km the next time and funny thig it didn't hurt so bad. I was riding by myself for the next month and never got over the 45km mark but I was really enjoying it. I then bought a roadbike and joined a club. First ride with the club I did 110km, I nearly died when I got home but two days later I did another 100k ride, within two months I did my first century. I say go out and do what's right for you 10% is a good increase but don't get to hung up on numbers, even though I track everything sometimes the numbers mean nothing, just have fun!
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Old 02-16-10, 10:05 PM   #17
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Oh and another thing everyone will find a distance where it really starts to hurt. Origionally for me it was 75km, after that it was just a struggle to survive. I can remember thinkiing either my legs were going to fall off or my ass was going to catch fire. Then it was 85k, after awhile it went to 100km. I'm a slow starter to which I think helps me over the long run, it takes me a good 25-40km to really get in the groove, I can keep pace with any rider in my area but I'm hurting to do it. After that the k's just click away un noticed till about 130km and then I really hit my power band so to say, not sure why that is but it seems when everyone else is starting to suffer I'm hitting my peak and feel great. Alas all good things come to an end and around 200km I hit a wall again. Longest ride is 210km and the last 10-15 where rough even though it was a great road and we were going along 30km/h plus I was suffering hard. Anyway like I said have fun and sorry for jacking your thread kinda got on a me roll there!
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Old 02-16-10, 10:16 PM   #18
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After that the k's just click away un noticed till about 130km and then I really hit my power band so to say, not sure why that is but it seems when everyone else is starting to suffer I'm hitting my peak and feel great. Alas all good things come to an end and around 200km I hit a wall again. Longest ride is 210km and the last 10-15 where rough even though it was a great road and we were going along 30km/h plus I was suffering hard. Anyway like I said have fun and sorry for jacking your thread kinda got on a me roll there!
You should start a thread on this (fast or slow starter?)! I'm the same, takes me a few to get started.
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Old 02-17-10, 09:31 AM   #19
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Might be a silly question, but... how did everyone up their mileage.

I have been commuting to work daily, about a 16 mile round trip, and the wife and myself have signed up for the Tour de Cure in Philadelphia, and threw caution to the wind and we are going to pedal the 63 miler.

Now, the 16 mile round trip is nice, and yesterday we both rode 26 miles, and we are not hurting, as we took it easy.

But how does one work up from there? Is it 30, then 40 then 50? Or is it, just ride for X amount of hours and see how far you have gone?

I know there are different ways for everyone, but would love to hear how everyone stepped up the mileage for themselves.
When I started, I followed the 10 per cent rule, but then discarded it as often as I liked. Once you get used to riding regularly, it's not too much of a stretch to add miles.
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Old 02-17-10, 09:36 AM   #20
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The easy way to add miles is to take a longer ride home, but not to work. Ride somewhere to get dinner or pay bills to old fashioned way. Take a longer ride on the weekend and you'll be surprised how easily a metric century will go. Granted the weather is crap in your area right now.
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Old 02-17-10, 10:15 AM   #21
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Hmmm, I guess you aren't that far off. I know some strong fast riders that went form a hard pace 25 miler to an easier 40, which is 60%. But still they were sore for some time, but it's all about balance and listening to the body.
I found that once I could ride 30 miles at a brisk pace (15-16mph avg) that I could ride all day at a slightly reduced pace, especially if I got off the bike to take breaks. Climbs were the one thing where I had to continue training. Once I got to the point where I could do 3000-4000 feet of climbing, I was pretty much good to ride any distance on any course...
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Old 02-17-10, 10:38 AM   #22
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I found that once I could ride 30 miles at a brisk pace (15-16mph avg) that I could ride all day at a slightly reduced pace, especially if I got off the bike to take breaks. Climbs were the one thing where I had to continue training. Once I got to the point where I could do 3000-4000 feet of climbing, I was pretty much good to ride any distance on any course...
Climbing is another thing, don't avoid it! So many riders avoid climbing then get on an organized ride expecting it to be flat as advertised. There is always going to be alteast one good climb, even on flat rides. On a ride like Tour De Palmsprings, it's advertised as flat, but the first 20 is pretty much uphill. Not steep but a long gentle climb really takes a lot out of a rider that hasn't done SOME climbing.

Good point, once you get comfy, throw in some climbing. A big struggle up a hill an really kill the ride for ya! Or even make one suffer on the remainder of the ride (fun rides).
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Old 02-17-10, 11:52 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by mdohertyjr View Post
Might be a silly question, but... how did everyone up their mileage.

I have been commuting to work daily, about a 16 mile round trip, and the wife and myself have signed up for the Tour de Cure in Philadelphia, and threw caution to the wind and we are going to pedal the 63 miler.

Now, the 16 mile round trip is nice, and yesterday we both rode 26 miles, and we are not hurting, as we took it easy.

But how does one work up from there? Is it 30, then 40 then 50? Or is it, just ride for X amount of hours and see how far you have gone?

I know there are different ways for everyone, but would love to hear how everyone stepped up the mileage for themselves.
Climb. Climbing pays off dividends everywhere. Mr. Beanz is 100 per cent correct.

I rode a "flat" century in 2007 - the MS City to Shore - and as important as riding long distances was for that, my ten mile loops climbing the local Chester County switchbacks paid more benefits on the ride.
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Old 02-17-10, 11:53 AM   #24
Breathegood
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I'm in the ride every day and do what's comfortable crowd. Before my first metric all I did was commute 30 miles round trip nearly every work day for four months. No other training or rec rides. The next year my commute distance had increased to 38 miles round trip with a fair climb and I had been riding nearly every work day for the previous 16 months. That year I did the century and actually felt better at the end than the previous year's metric. Stopping every 15-20 miles to stretch and re-fuel is crucial if you aren't used to long distance riding or aren't in it to be the first person to finish. I'm not a particularly fast rider and I'm not interested in competing with anyone, so a tour for me is just that, a tour. I take my time and enjoy the scenery. Most organized rides like the one you have signed up for are generally well supported with logically placed aid stations. They end up being more like several short rides linked together, so you don't need to be overly concerned with carrying much more than a couple bottles of water and maybe some lite snacks. If you were asking about riding an unsupported metric or century, my advise would be different.
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Old 02-21-10, 09:15 PM   #25
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It's not just the distance. It's if you're doing a lot of climbing, are dealing with heat/wind/cold, if you start the ride rested, and how hard you ride. You'll need to be on the bike for a few hours to work out some of the fit/equipment issues. I found that my shoes caused "hotfoot" after 40 miles (bought a new pair) and that if I ride so I'm (mostly) aerobic, a 100K is comfortable. I'm also only good for a certain amount of climbing over the ride duration. BTW The bike route mapping websites underestimate elevation changes according to the guys I ride with that have Garmins that can take more data points.

0 days: < 1 mile, butt hurt!
30 days: 10 miles summer heat, easy hills was exhausting
60 days: 20 miles summer heat, flat was exhausting
90 days: 18 miles summer heat, moderate hills was exhausting
120 days: 20 miles summer heat, harder hills was exhausting
150 days: 28 miles, harder hills was exhausting
180 days: 50 miles, moderate hills was OK
1 year: 50 miles, summer heat, moderate hills was exhausting
1 year 3 months: 62 miles, moderate hills and easy pace was comfortable
1 year 3 months: 40 miles, summer heat, hard pace, harder hills was exhausting
1 year 6 months: 25 miles, harder hills, hard pace was exhausting

Usually when I ride with a group I'm the slowest cyclist so I end up riding a little over my head trying to keep up / be respectable. "Exhausting" means I have to nap the rest of the day and have been riding anaerobically much of the ride. For me, 1400 feet climbing on a 24 mile ride is "hilly" with some 9-11% grade climbs.

Oh yeah, make sure there are some convenience stores and bail-out options on your route. On some summer rides I've run out of fluids and had to call on a friend living nearby to supply another half gallon of fluids/sports drink. Still finished 5# lighter than my start. I've also had to bum some gel from friends when I ran out of energy.

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