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  1. #1
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    Need a plan for my first 50K in about 40 days w 2154' of incline!!

    Well I signed up for a Charity ride in about 40 days since it starts 2 blocks from home. I have picked up a few sponsors who will donate on my behalf so I have the commitment and motivation. Now all I need is a plan!!

    I have only been riding about 6-7 months and I typically ride once or twice a week for fun. I usually just ride about 60-90 minutes and have only been riding around 12-17 miles at most. I think my longest ride was 20 miles and only around 500' of elevation. I enjoy riding fast so I usually jump on peddle like a mad man and cruise for 15-20 minutes during the end of the ride and I'm done. I know if I'm going to do this ride I really need to pace myself as the first part of the ride is pretty much all hills (see below chart)



    Can anyone suggest a ridding plan to prepare for the route? I've never done anything that long and really need some advice on how often to ride and how far I should be looking at riding a week to prepare. Should I just ride the first have of the route over and over to build up my leg strength on the hills or should I try and ride the full route on a weekend when I have time? The good thing about the ride is it's basically in my back yard so I can ride the entire route or portions of it pretty much at will. The only problem is by the time I start riding during the week it's after work and 6:00pm so I only get about an hour or so of sun and have never ridden at night. If I need to ride more often I'll have to find some good lights and just get used to night ridding.

    Any and all tips are greatly appreciated!!
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  2. #2
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    If you can tackle the first 16 miles, the rest is all down hill. Ergo, find a route near you that you can ride that has approximately 100' per mile of hills and get to training! Ride the first half if it's that close to you and report back. That should tell you where you are with respect to the whole ride.

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    Route is not bad at all. your enemy could be saddle soreness but since it's just downhill after half point mark, you can just cruise for the last 16 miles. Climb doesn't look like a steep wall either. Since you said the start point is near your house, I'd just try to train on that climb. Any time you feel tired, just turn back and take the downhill home.

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    Have you thought about adding a couple of extra rides during the week? If you could work in two 30 - 45 minute interval training sessions that would help with cardio and leg strength. Or you could spend that time working on hardest hill around your house you can ride within a reasonable time. You don't need to spend a lot of time if your doing intervals or hills.

    I'd also suggest getting at least one long ride in each weekend and increasing your distance by 15% each week - you could try riding further and further on the actual route each weekend. A training approach with modest and achievable goals should get your ready to go.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    If you can tackle the first 16 miles, the rest is all down hill. Ergo, find a route near you that you can ride that has approximately 100' per mile of hills and get to training! Ride the first half if it's that close to you and report back. That should tell you where you are with respect to the whole ride.
    I rode the first 7 miles of the actual course yesterday before I had to turn back toward home. It took me about 45 minutes and was a struggle majority of the time on the hills. I basically put it in the lowest gear and just pushed forward trying to keep my heart rate down to 150. I got a little recovery in after mile 5 and pushed as far as I could go, but only made it to mile 7 with a hill on the horizon just before mile 8 that I couldn't get over. I actually don't feel as sore or bad as I did last time I tried the same course so I guess it's an improvement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RocTurk View Post
    Route is not bad at all. your enemy could be saddle soreness but since it's just downhill after half point mark, you can just cruise for the last 16 miles. Climb doesn't look like a steep wall either. Since you said the start point is near your house, I'd just try to train on that climb. Any time you feel tired, just turn back and take the downhill home.
    Sounds like what I was thinking, but should I also get in some flat rides or just hill, rest, repeat? Also what do you suggest as far as rest days between the hill rides?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff556 View Post
    Have you thought about adding a couple of extra rides during the week? If you could work in two 30 - 45 minute interval training sessions that would help with cardio and leg strength. Or you could spend that time working on hardest hill around your house you can ride within a reasonable time. You don't need to spend a lot of time if your doing intervals or hills.

    I'd also suggest getting at least one long ride in each weekend and increasing your distance by 15% each week - you could try riding further and further on the actual route each weekend. A training approach with modest and achievable goals should get your ready to go.

    Good luck!
    Weekdays after work is wide open, but I'm limited to about an hour of sun currently. I just picked up a cygolight metro to add to my other small light and taillight so I can probably get longer rides in now. So I should do 2 hill rides during the week and try and get in 1 long flat ride on weekends?? The biggest problem for me is riding on weekends. I think I should be able to get a ride in Saturday though. If I can get a long ride in should it be flat and just ride for distance? I think the longest time I've spent in a saddle was an hour and a half, but I felt I could have done more if I pushed it even though it wasn't much elevation.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Whatever you do within three weeks of the event will not benefit you on the day of the event but may hurt you. Said differently it takes about three weeks for your body to realize the full benefit from any given workout. With that in mind your 40 days just became 25 or roughly 4 weeks. You say you can already ride 20 miles, well 50 K is only about 30% farther which is not too terrible of a difference. Here is what I would do:
    • ride at least 5 days a week
    • ride at least 50 miles a week by the 3rd week and each week after until the ride.
    • once a week go on a long ride, see below...
    • once a week go on a 40 minute ride where you just turn the pedals in as slow of a gear as to not get your heart rate above 105 BPM but your cadence is maxed
    • one day a week just ride tempo, where you could carry on a conversation
    • the other two days interval training start short later go long see below


    Long ride list by week:
    1. 20 miles
    2. 25 miles
    3. 27 miles
    4. 30 miles
    5. 30 miles
    6. 25 miles
    7. event


    Intervals by week hard ones for strength:
    1. 4x5 minutes with 5 min recovery between each 80% of max HR
    2. 3x7 minutes with 5 minutes recovery between each 85 % max hr
    3. 2x10 @ 80% plus 1x20 min at 90+%
    4. 2x20 min with 5 min between @ 90%+
    5. 2x15 min with 5 min between @ 90 %


    Interval session #2 by week more for speed but helps with overall fitness:
    1. 10x1 minutes hard with 1 minute recovery between each
    2. 12x1 minutes with 1 minute recovery
    3. 15x1 minute with 1 min recovery
    4. 90-60-30, where you spend 90 seconds at 80%, 60 seconds at 90 % and the last 30 seconds at 95%+ two minute rest, as many as you can do until you notice your speed slows way down or an hour of this either on the road or a trainer.
    5. 15x1 with 1 minute recovery
    6. short hill sprints, 30 seconds or less each 20 +/- reps


    In the final week before your event hydrate, pay attention to your nutrition, get lots of sleep, no hard long efforts. One short interval workout only to keep the muscles loose.

    If you find hills hard now it is likely because frankly 2 rides a week is not enough to build much cycling fitness and hills will let you know how fit you are. Embrace the hills. Have the courage to ride hard sometimes. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and take easy and rest days between hard efforts. Rest is at least as important as training but you need both. The quickest way to fitness is interval work. Add to that 5+ hours a week on the bike and you should be in good enough shape for a half century that you will walk away without exhaustion regardless of the hills.


    Mark

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    I'd keep it simple. The route isn't too savage, and it starts close to home. So on the principle that your training should be specific to the demands of the event you've entered, I'd spend as much time as you can between now and then just riding the first half of the route. You may not make it to the top at the moment, but five weeks will make a big difference to your fitness and certainly enough to get you to the start line confident in your ability to complete the ride.

    If you take this advice, bear in mind what @Black wallnut said about the importance of rest and recovery. Climbing is quite demanding, especially when you aren't used to it, and your body needs time to recover and adapt. So I'd recommend you ride every other day, with a rest day in between. Maybe four rides a week, three of them one hour and one of them at least two hours. Concentrate on getting into a comfortable rhythm on the climb, finding a gear and a cadence that you can sustain. You'll be breathing hard but you don't want to be gasping for breath, you won't make it. Practice getting out of the saddle occasionally, it's useful for giving one set of muscles a break from time to time and for keeping you comfortable.

    And bear in mind that when you do the full 50k, the second half is virtually all downhil!
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  10. #10
    Senior Member msujmccorm's Avatar
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    The first 8 miles look to be the worst. I would ride the first 8 miles every other day alternating pushing it hard and just cruising. I would also add a long ride in once a week.

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    It all depends on what kind of pace you wanna ride. 32 mile ride, if you want to finish in 2 hours, you should probably take rest after every 3-4 days of ride, but if you're planning to finish in 3 hrs, you probably do not need to take a rest day at all.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    What kind of bike do you have and what are it's sprockets (cassette) and chain ring sizes ?? Bottom line make sure you have enough low gear to handle the climbs, and keep in mind the nightmare scenario of a strong head wind AND the climb :-). Make sure you have enough water on board to stay hydrated..when I started out riding 50k took two full 20oz water bottles in hot weather. My bike will fit two 24 oz bottles and I have them now :-).....I do not always use BOTH of them, or even one, but they are here for some situations.

    IMHO from my perspective I would not spend a LOT of time off the bike, get off,stretch a little, go pee, refill water bottles, eat a LITTLE if you want (you should not need much really)...and get back on and keep riding.


    Bill

  13. #13
    Senior Member Fangowolf's Avatar
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    The 7-8 mile and 15-16 mile stretch look to be the roughest. Where are the rest stops going to be? Its not a race, get off the bike at (wonder if I'm gonna make that 8 mile mark) and drink and rest till you feel better and finish those bad spots. Don't keep going till (I'm not going to make that 8 mile mark) to rest.

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    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Early this year I rode the Tour de Scranton for 34 miles, and the longest ride I had done before that (this year) was 17 miles. For whatever it is worth, the following is my input.

    Learn to pace yourself, and you will do fine. Riding and trying to keep your heart rate below 150 (or any other rate) is good for training, but you really need to get your bum used to the time in the saddle more than anything else, so take it easy. Do some long slow rides to get used to time in the saddle. 3 hours in the saddle is roughly the same on your sit bone area whether you ride 5 mph or 20 mph. Don't spend all your rides seeing how long you can ride fast, but spend some seeing how long you can ride at a more casual pace.

    Figure your expected average speed to determine how long you will need to be in the saddle, and spend at least a couple of times before then sitting on your saddle for that period of time.

    Your ride looks like it will be down hill for the second half, so just take your time on the way up, and satisfy your inner speed demon on the way down...

    Don't set a target time for your first long ride, just try to do your best and enjoy yourself, and if you are inclined, strive to beat your personal best on your future rides.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  15. #15
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    I'd keep it simple. The route isn't too savage, and it starts close to home. So on the principle that your training should be specific to the demands of the event you've entered, I'd spend as much time as you can between now and then just riding the first half of the route. You may not make it to the top at the moment, but five weeks will make a big difference to your fitness and certainly enough to get you to the start line confident in your ability to complete the ride.

    If you take this advice, bear in mind what @Black wallnut said about the importance of rest and recovery. Climbing is quite demanding, especially when you aren't used to it, and your body needs time to recover and adapt. So I'd recommend you ride every other day, with a rest day in between. Maybe four rides a week, three of them one hour and one of them at least two hours. Concentrate on getting into a comfortable rhythm on the climb, finding a gear and a cadence that you can sustain. You'll be breathing hard but you don't want to be gasping for breath, you won't make it. Practice getting out of the saddle occasionally, it's useful for giving one set of muscles a break from time to time and for keeping you comfortable.

    And bear in mind that when you do the full 50k, the second half is virtually all downhil!
    Maybe for the recovery days.................drive to the high point and ride the descent portion ?? It will be FUN :-)....and it will give you saddle time, and you will know in advance the reward that awaits after the climb :-). Learning that road on the descent will be good too...it is easier to stand in the pedals over rough patches when you know they are coming :-).

    The deal about the 3 weeks prior to the event not being able to build strength and endurance is probably quite accurate, but IMHO from my own experience you can increase your comfort level on the bike, how long you can ride without getting off maybe.

    Bill

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    All thanks for the tips now I have a plan I need to focus and get it done.

    @Black wallnut I really love your schedule this is exactly what I need. To make sure I'm reading it correctly I do the numbered interval with the corresponding long ride list above or do I do those exercises during the week? Also If I do a long 20 mile ride on Saturday I do the other 30 miles over the 4 previous days? On a side note is it ok to do 3 rides on my bike on the road and the other 2 exercises on a stationary bike? I figured if I can get up 1 hour early twice a week I can head over to the sport gym in my complex and get some rides in on the stationary bike and then put in 3 rides on the actual bike after work and early every Saturday morning.

    As far as the ride it's a charity event not a race so there is no huge demand to do it as fast as possible. As far as riding since I didn't make it past the 8 mile tonight I'm going to try it again and this time I'm going to get off the bike for 5 minutes rest lower my heart rate and attack it again. Even if I can't get over the 8th mile I'm gonna push until I drop trying. Then just enjoy the ride back down.
    @Willbird my front is a 53/39 and the back is a 12/25?? I got the bike used for a few hundred and haven't made any changes to it yet. I will add a 2nd bottle holder also since I have no idea if they have rest stops with water or not.

    @chasm54 & @Little Darwin thanks for the tips. I've been practicing on the hill and not pushing to the hills helped a LOT when I tried to get over the hills and my pace and HR monitoring seems to really helped a lot. I figure if I can get to at least mile 16 in a month I should be ok. However I'm going to add in 2 rest stops before mile 16 to see how it goes...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
    Maybe for the recovery days.................drive to the high point and ride the descent portion ?? It will be FUN :-)....and it will give you saddle time, and you will know in advance the reward that awaits after the climb :-). Learning that road on the descent will be good too...it is easier to stand in the pedals over rough patches when you know they are coming :-).

    The deal about the 3 weeks prior to the event not being able to build strength and endurance is probably quite accurate, but IMHO from my own experience you can increase your comfort level on the bike, how long you can ride without getting off maybe.

    Bill
    Ahhh that's a great tip I never thought about that. The only problem is if I drive to the top and ride down I'll have to make sure my wife is driving, because if it's a rest day there is no way I'm going to make it back up to get my truck!!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LGHT View Post
    All thanks for the tips now I have a plan I need to focus and get it done.



    As far as the ride it's a charity event not a race so there is no huge demand to do it as fast as possible. As far as riding since I didn't make it past the 8 mile tonight I'm going to try it again and this time I'm going to get off the bike for 5 minutes rest lower my heart rate and attack it again. Even if I can't get over the 8th mile I'm gonna push until I drop trying. Then just enjoy the ride back down.
    @Willbird my front is a 53/39 and the back is a 12/25?? I got the bike used for a few hundred and haven't made any changes to it yet. I will add a 2nd bottle holder also since I have no idea if they have rest stops with water or not.
    Ouch on the gearing :-). The reason I asked was I was afraid you had some setup that even a very strong rider would have a tough time with, especially if it gets windy that day.

    My first and only century 20 years ago was very flat...but the return side of it was right into a decent wind, and I ground my through through it desperately trying to maintain a decent cadence. Just throwing this out there (not sure how many speeds you have) but you COULD have the LBS swap on a long cage derailleur, and get a new chain, and go something like 11-34 on the back, I have an 11-34 mega range 8 speed cassette sitting here you can HAVE if your setup is 8 speed....I swapped in a 12-26 on my hybrid but it is really flat here :-).

    Bill

  19. #19
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    @LGHT assuming Saturday is your event day and also the day of the week you are able to ride far your first week would look like this:

    Saturday 20 miles
    Sunday off
    Monday hard interval
    Tuesday 40 min easy spin
    Wednesday tempo ride
    Thursday speed interval
    Friday rest or active recovery, cross training ect. Just don't spend all your time on the couch.
    Saturday a long ride and so it continues. You could mix it up and do the speed work on Monday and hard on Thursday, maybe even Wednesday. What I think is key is have a rest or easy day between hard efforts. I do not really subscribe to total rest days unless the rider is already active, working on their feet all day. If you have a spin bike available that is almost perfect for intervals, a few Sufferfest downloads and you would be set although they are harder than what I am advising. The first three weeks is going to be hard and feel hard. Your muscles will be sore, you will need as much sleep as you can get. In the 4th week you will start to feel stronger. By your event you will be in much better shape and have more strength to climb the hills. Use it wisely and drop to an easy gear and just spin at a steady pace you will be fine on the hills. If you try to attack the hills you will suffer greatly. Be like a diesel, gear down to a speed you can go all day and just motor up the hills.


    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
    @LGHT assuming Saturday is your event day and also the day of the week you are able to ride far your first week would look like this:

    Saturday 20 miles
    Sunday off
    Monday hard interval
    Tuesday 40 min easy spin
    Wednesday tempo ride
    Thursday speed interval
    Friday rest or active recovery, cross training ect. Just don't spend all your time on the couch.
    Saturday a long ride and so it continues. You could mix it up and do the speed work on Monday and hard on Thursday, maybe even Wednesday. What I think is key is have a rest or easy day between hard efforts. I do not really subscribe to total rest days unless the rider is already active, working on their feet all day. If you have a spin bike available that is almost perfect for intervals, a few Sufferfest downloads and you would be set although they are harder than what I am advising. The first three weeks is going to be hard and feel hard. Your muscles will be sore, you will need as much sleep as you can get. In the 4th week you will start to feel stronger. By your event you will be in much better shape and have more strength to climb the hills. Use it wisely and drop to an easy gear and just spin at a steady pace you will be fine on the hills. If you try to attack the hills you will suffer greatly. Be like a diesel, gear down to a speed you can go all day and just motor up the hills.
    Ok great I get it now. The event is on a Sunday so I'm going to do the first 8 miles again today skip tomorrow and do a LONG flat ride on Sunday and proceed with the above afterward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
    Just throwing this out there (not sure how many speeds you have) but you COULD have the LBS swap on a long cage derailleur, and get a new chain, and go something like 11-34 on the back, I have an 11-34 mega range 8 speed cassette sitting here you can HAVE if your setup is 8 speed....I swapped in a 12-26 on my hybrid but it is really flat here :-).

    Bill
    What would a new long cage derailleur cost me? I have my first child on the way in about 2 months (why I'm getting into shape) so I really don't want to put a lot of money into the bike just for 1 ride. To be honest the entire bike costs around $300 and I picked up some fulcrum 7 wheels for $120 that had only been used a few hundred miles. I have a 10 speed sram cassette on it now and it works great (outside of hills). Would it be possible to just put a new front sprocket on it or would that also require additional parts to be purchased?

  22. #22
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    I'm not sure on the cost there , and you will need a longer chain usually if you go to a bigger big/big combination, not sure on the chainring cost or options either. I just know when it gets windy I use the third chain ring of my triple and I am 28/38/48 up front and 12-26 across the back. If you intend to keep the bike a "climbing " cassette and chain might be something you use again :-).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
    I'm not sure on the cost there , and you will need a longer chain usually if you go to a bigger big/big combination, not sure on the chainring cost or options either. I just know when it gets windy I use the third chain ring of my triple and I am 28/38/48 up front and 12-26 across the back. If you intend to keep the bike a "climbing " cassette and chain might be something you use again :-).
    Ok it makes since to set up something specific hills, but what would I have to change?? Just a cassette and chain and keep the front 53/39 or do I have to get a new derailleur if I do change the cassette and chain? Or better yet keep the derailleur cassette and chain and just get new gears in the front? Sorry I don't know much about gearing and what I can and can't do, but I do know even in the lowest gear on the setup I have now I still struggle getting up the hills. I figured it was just because I'm a new rider, but if you guys think it's because of the setup then I'm gonna try and get something different as long as it doesn't costs an arm and a leg.

    I think I the bike shop quoted me $400 for a new derailleur when I asked if I could put my old wheels on it.. I couldn't believe it!! The better solution was to just go out and get new wheels with a compatible cassette for $120 lol.

  24. #24
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Which rear derailleur do you have now?

    To keep it cheap, but get some advantage in climbing, I would swap the cassette for a wider range, with the largest cog determined by whatever your RD will handle. This would be the cost of a cassette and chain (possibly under $50 total, depending on the level of components you buy) and if you have a chain whip, cassette lock ring tool and chain breaker, you can do the work yourself, or a shop should be able to do it fairly cheaply. You may be best to replace the shifter cable at the same time, but that would only be a few extra dollars.

    $400 for a derailleur is very steep unless you are running electronic shifting (Di-2)... Otherwise you should be able to get very high level derailleur installed for less than $400...
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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  25. #25
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
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    You should be able to find a bike co-op somewhere near you. You may be able to trade out your crankset for a compact double. Used or recycled parts and it would not cost much. Same with a derailleur and rear cassette. However a chain, cassette, and derailleur is going to cost a fair amount plus depending on the condition of your chain now and current chainrings you may also need new chainrings anyway. New chainrings can get spendy as well. However if you deal witha shop that buys direct from Shimano the prices can be quite competitive. 39-25 is a fairly tall gear but if it is all you have you may be ok if it is just a steady climb. You might be able to #cross-train as @IBOHUNT calls it the steep parts. (get off and walk)


    Mark

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