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View Poll Results: What's a long ride for YOUR legs?
Under 15 miles 5 5.15%
16-25 miles 3 3.09%
25-50 miles 19 19.59%
50-75 miles 34 35.05%
75-100 miles 23 23.71%
100-150 miles 9 9.28%
150+ miles 4 4.12%
Voters: 97. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-20-11, 06:32 AM   #1
teresamichele
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What's a long ride for you?

I'm curious because I'm new and to ME a long ride for my legs is 10 miles. Then I see people who do 150 miles and live to tell the tale! I know I'll get there - it'll just take time.

So I'm curious, when you're riding, what is a long ride FOR YOU? Not what you think should be considered a long ride (I know 10 miles isn't long for most people), but more when your body start going, "AAAAAAH!" and not in a good way.

I'm interested to see where everyone falls on this!
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Old 06-20-11, 06:51 AM   #2
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Long ride is anywhere north of 80% of your longest ride for the season. To me riding 50 miles every weekend is not as impressive as jumping say from 10 to 20.

If you want to break it down:

1~25 - short
26~75 - medium
76~125 - long
125+ - ultra

I'm into long runs. Can't afford the time for more
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Old 06-20-11, 06:57 AM   #3
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Here's my website: http://www.machka.net/

I've done four 1200 km randonnees ... that's 1200 km in less than 90 hours including all breaks. Those are long rides ... the longest I've done so far.
-- Rocky Mountain 1200 (Canada): http://www.machka.net/rm1200/charlene.htm
-- Paris-Brest-Paris 1200 (France): http://www.machka.net/pbp/pbp.htm
-- Great Southern Randonnee 1200 (Australia): http://www.machka.net/australia/oct26.htm
-- Last Chance Randonnee 1200 (US): http://www.machka.net/usa/24h_lcride.htm

However if we're talking a day, a 24-hour time period, the greatest distance I've covered was 462.4 km (287.3 miles) on the UMCA 24-hour Time Trial.
http://www.machka.net/24hour/2006_UMCA24hour.htm

All up I've ridden 154 rides of 100 miles or longer, so far.
-- CENTURY -- 87
-- 200K ------ 27
-- 300K ------ 16
-- 400K ------ 12
-- 600K ------- 7
-- 1000K ------ 1
-- 1200K ------ 4


Somewhat more recently, however, I lost my fitness completely when I developed DVT on a flight to Australia in 2009, and spent 2 weeks in hospital and then a year on Warfarin. It has been a slow process to rebuild my fitness levels. Since then, 300K (just about a double century) is the longest I've managed. We (my husband and I ride together), have attempted two 400Ks in the past 2 years, but have not been successful. We've ended them at about 300K. So, we're building up again slowly. This year, we're aiming to do a CAM challenge (CAM = Century-A-Month. At least one 100 mile ride in each month of the year), and so far we've completed 6.

I guess then, in answer to your question, a 300K would be a long ride for me right now.

But it does kind of depend on the type of ride. We did a very challenging 100 km ride on the weekend that ended up being like 100 km of intervals, and I was feeling pretty wiped out by the end of that! I slept very, very well last night!!




Having said all that ... I started cycling "seriously" in 1990. My first ride was 2 miles and I had to take a break after the first mile. So it is possible to build up to long distances.

Last edited by Machka; 06-20-11 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 06-20-11, 07:25 AM   #4
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It takes time to build up to distances and not everyone can do it. My longest ride in a single day was 150 miles and that was many years ago. Current fitness levels keep me in the 50-75 mile range and the upper end of that would be a long, hard day for me. As I have aged I have become less fixated on the total miles and more on what I can see and do along the route, to the point that some days I only ride 5 miles and consider it a good day.

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Old 06-20-11, 07:49 AM   #5
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I would think a lot depends on the type of bike and the the type of roads. Since I ride a mountain bike on hilly gravel roads, my long rides are currently in the 25-50 mile range (last year was the 16-25 range) I hope by the end of the summer, my long rides will be in the 50-75 mile range.

If I were riding a road bike in a less hilly place, I would probably double those numbers.
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Old 06-20-11, 08:07 AM   #6
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To me riding 50 miles every weekend is not as impressive as jumping say from 10 to 20.
Why is that? I just experienced this myself, and I am a little surprised. I basically picked up biking again in mid-may. 3 weeks ago I struggled to even complete 30 miles and that was a monumental effort. I set up a plan so that I would hit a 35 this month, 40 in July, 45 in August, and finally hit 50 in September.

But then I went biking yesterday and just decided "to hell with it" and did 57. Today, besides the sunburns, I barely feel like I made any monumental exercising effort yesterday. I just feel... normal. I expected to feel dead, but amazingly I feel far better than I did even after the 30 mile trip 3 weeks ago. I'm feeling so good I'm planning another 50+ next weekend!!
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Old 06-20-11, 10:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by teresamichele View Post
when your body start going, "AAAAAAH!" and not in a good way.
There doesn't seem to be a consistent distance where I physically start going "AAAAAAH!", that all depends on how much I've been riding in the days prior, or what sort of terrain/weather/knuckleheads I've been dealing with on that ride, or just how I felt when I woke up that morning. Sometimes I can do a century and never feel any physical discomfort, sometimes 20 miles into my ride my knees or calves or ass starts going "AAAAAAH!"

However, I do find that after ~85 miles my concentration starts to falter, and I have to very conciously pay attention or else my brain starts going "AAAAAAH!" ...and not in a good way! This 85 mile threshold is pretty consistent too, regardless of whether it's been physically a Good or a Bad ride. Fortunately, because it's so consistent I can usually pre-empt it by just being aware of the symptoms. But it's almost funny how I always start getting less tolerant of idiots in the paceline right around the 85 mile point.
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Old 06-24-11, 01:46 PM   #8
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I have not been riding much this year. Kept my legs in with a few 20 milers and take in a few hills but last Sunday I did a 65 mile ride. No problems and no problems after. The others I did the ride with though are new to cycling. 27 miles in and they were done. Even the "Fitter" ones were finished. So who had the harder ride? Wasn't me so depends on your current level of fitness and previous experience. And I have to hand it to the others- they did finish the ride.

But type of ride will also come into effect. Longest road ride on a road bike has been a double metric. (200 kms) Left me bushed but as the longest I had done before that was 100 miles it was what I expected. BUT- How about a 12 hour ride offroad. 100 miles with 10,000ft of climbing and that always does me in. Attempted it 11 times now and only failed twice. That is a hard ride.
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Old 06-24-11, 01:50 PM   #9
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I'm mostly a crit racer so most of my training is focused on threshold and super-threshold intervals. Anything over 75 miles is a really long day in the saddle for me.
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Old 06-24-11, 01:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by teresamichele View Post
So I'm curious, when you're riding, what is a long ride FOR YOU? Not what you think should be considered a long ride (I know 10 miles isn't long for most people), but more when your body start going, "AAAAAAH!" and not in a good way.
I think I've passed the critical point. As long as I take it relatively easy, my body heals fast enough that I can just keep going.

Still, anything over 10 miles for me is intimidatingly long, more for matters of time; I need to be able to retreat back to base, and if I feel isolated from my apartment I'm not happy. The further and more difficult it becomes to get back, the more insecure I become.
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Old 06-24-11, 02:05 PM   #11
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Today, besides the sunburns, I barely feel like I made any monumental exercising effort yesterday. I just feel... normal. I expected to feel dead, but amazingly I feel far better than I did even after the 30 mile trip 3 weeks ago.
I've fallen down stairs and dropped full weight on my left ankle twice. The first time I was down for 2 weeks. The second I was walking on it 10 minutes later, and it made a really loud CRACK when I landed: my dad heard it from the next room and came to see if I broke it.

Don't discount what your body can do. Endurance increases with muscle capacity and with the ability to heal from fatigue. I can't go full-force for any good length of time; but on flat ground around 12-15mph, I can just go forever. With hills, I can rag along after the hills have drawn me out, and then--while biking, albeit at 6-9mph on level ground--recover and begin working again. I am weak, but my body has learned that biking is an essential skill like walking--running will wear me out, but walking is a thing that can be done until sleep is needed.

Also, re sunburns, have you learned to disable the pain reaction yet? I tend to completely ignore sunburn, because I hardly notice, because it's been marginalized and so my brain automatically shuts the pain off by reflex.
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Old 06-24-11, 06:02 PM   #12
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Around 10 miles now that I'm hauling a baby in a Burley.

Used to be ~15-20 MTB miles up in the Rockies.
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Old 06-24-11, 06:20 PM   #13
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Hmm, I've done 35 centuries. But after so many it gets to the point where it's just another ride so I test myself on a century with 10,000-12,000 ft. Riding a century is a walk in the park once you get to that level. I just got tired of wasting 6 hours of my day to do them. The year I did 23, it seemed like more riding than home life.

I did include my wife into my rides after that year which makes it nice. We hold the distance down to 40-55 for her pleasure. Her furthest is 84 a few times. To her 60 is the point of WHY?? and for me, 70 miles. But keeping in mind, once I hit 70, I eat something then I'm just as good at 80 as I am at 30 with proper fuel and hydration. So even the 70 I know isn't much of a barrier from past century experiences. It's a normal thing to get tired at that point, then recover. I've done 126 max and even that didn't feel much different from 70.

I plan to do double centuries sometime in the future but riding with the wife, she's not going to want to do 7 hour training rides every weekend. So I'll wait till she fills the need to back off from riding. But she's been riding for 12 years and "very" consistent over the last 5 and getting better so it may be a while.
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Old 06-24-11, 06:45 PM   #14
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60 kms is a shortish ride for me. 80-90 kms is a good ride, 100+ kms is a long ride. The longest to date is 117 kms couple of years ago, but then I did a charity ride two weeks ago and did 116 kms the first day, and 111kms the second. Felt totally fine the next day and wished I could ride another 100.

We usually tour, so there's only as much ground you can cover if you're sightseeing at the same time. We aim for 60-80 kms days when we tour.
It all depends what kind of riding you do, as long as you're enjoying yourself, the distance really doesn't matter.
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Old 06-27-11, 03:46 AM   #15
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It gets easier as you go...the body acclimates, or adapts, or whatever...or maybe you just get more fit. But what scrunches my drawers are the 'rodin ears'...my spelling for a french word I can't even pronounce, much less spell. These 'brevet' guys [and be sure not to pronounce the final 't'...like the river Thames should be spelled 'tims'... and you'll look like an idiot tourist the first time you pronounce it as it is 'written']...well, I equate them to the 'ultra marathoners'...who used to "run" 50 miles or more and were crazy as hell and were the real Forest Gumps of the 80's.

Seems this sport [bicycling] is a very relative thing. There is a graduation day from level to level, though I haven't seen any diplomas yet...but memories kept for the first 10 miler on your Walmart special; then graduating to the cheapo special at your local LBS and 'official entry into the sport', where upon, you get to do 15 milers on a regular basis, and feel like you are doing something. But then, you look around and see all them young sleek racer types whisking by you on Saturday afternoons and hear tell, that 15miles is baby steps at best...so you up your mileage and back pain, whereupon, you 'trek' back to the LBS for an upgrade to a 'real' performance bike [that you never knew existed in the old WalMart special days]. It means you have to even try those bedevilish looking 'clipless' pedals [and why do they call them clipless when obviously, you 'clip' in...]...and before you know it, you are 'graduating' again, and do your first 30 miler, a back breaking adventure that you cannot imagine how those younger racer types do it.

You even write home to Momma like you've really accomplished something...see...all 'relative'. Soon, you push the envelope, 35 miles, 40 miles...oh...those enevelopes and their paper cuts, like PR's you can never reach. Somewhere you read about centuries, like astronauts visiting the moon, simply out of your 'realm' and you chalk it up to things you cannot understand. But then some magical day arrives, and you do a 50 miler...another milestone. OH hell...sure you suffer, but something is changing in your mental landscape. Limitations are vanishing as a mindset...and if you can do 50, hell, the Moon ain't that far off after all. About then, you join the local bike club and learn the word peloton and start doing regular 25 milers on the weekends and wondering how you are ever going to find the proper time to train...

Train? For what? Ah...a century...that's what. Just seems natural and all...if you can do 50 miles, sure...doing a 100 miles surely is something you can 'really' write home to Momma about. And so...you officially TRAIN...and keep records and suscribed to magazines...and now you are an official enthusiast of the sport.

So, after months of training, you do your first century [me? I'm only to the metric stage myself]...but then you meet the first 'rodin ear' and your jaw drops...500, 400, 300...kilometers....in a single day? NO way. You learn people ride across the whole country in a week's time, or around the world, through mountains, snow, ice...you name it...you even hear rumors and myths of some guys even growing roots on their saddles [sic] they are on their bikes so long.

So, every stage you graduate into, there is always someone else out there to make it less than stellar as an accomplishment. But, you should still write home to Momma. I'm sure she misses you.
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Old 06-27-11, 05:34 AM   #16
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I am a casual rider, and generally ride alone. So I have not much interest in going fast, and nobody else along to encourage it.

The longest rides I've taken were right around 100 miles in a day (~160 km). That would be an 8- to 10-hour ride, counting all the stopping for restrooms, convenience stores, sightseeing and whatever else. I start out around 15 MPH and end up going <10 MPH at the end. After that I do not want to ride at all for the next couple days as I can feel my legs are still too tired.

A "typical" ride I used to do daily (back when I had the time) was between 25 and 35 miles (40-55 km). It got to be rather boring, and I wasn't really tired at all after 30 minutes of completing it.
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Old 06-27-11, 07:05 PM   #17
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... So, every stage you graduate into, there is always someone else out there to make it less than stellar as an accomplishment. But, you should still write home to Momma. I'm sure she misses you.
Dude, are you a writer? Excellent post!
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Old 06-27-11, 07:37 PM   #18
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So, every stage you graduate into, there is always someone else out there to make it less than stellar as an accomplishment. But, you should still write home to Momma. I'm sure she misses you.
Exactly. It holds true for any sport. No matter how good you think you are, unless you're world class, there is always someone who can blow your doors off.

As far as the OP's question, I answered 50-75. My typical training ride is around 30, 40 is no big deal, 50 starts to feel long and I've only gone over 75 twice. Of course, distance is only one variable, speed, terrain, weather, hills, etc being some of the others (I'm sure they're more).
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Old 06-27-11, 08:46 PM   #19
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I started off doing 13 miles at a time, and it just about killed me. Then I started riding with the local group, and upped it to 30 miles. Then I did a MS150 and was hurting afterwards, but I made it. Then I started commuting 20 miles a day, at least 3 days a week, plus 45 milers on the weekends. Then I did another MS150, and it wasn't hard at all. I just recently did a 200K, and it was hard. Something tells me it won't be for long...
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Old 06-27-11, 09:06 PM   #20
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600k, no big problems. 1200k, had saddlesore, knee issues, numbness in hands and feet. So I'd call that the breaking point between okay ride and all-the-fun-I-can-stand ride.
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Old 06-28-11, 02:35 AM   #21
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For me it depends on how much vertical riding there is to be done, and what kind of riding it is. My normal favorite route is about 25km with over 500m vertical rise (intermediate single track). If I had to go up too much more at the same pace it would probably be too much for me. On flat ground I would say about 100km is fairly long.

I started biking last fall, and am still working my way up. My problem is that I am a medical student, and don't have much spare time. When I get out I usually push myself pretty hard, and have to keep my rides to 1 1/2 - 2 hours max. My quick XC route is ~20km with ~250m vertical that I do in about 50 to 1:10 mins depending on how long I look at the nice views (mainly fire roads with a few rough spots).
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Old 06-28-11, 02:45 AM   #22
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Riding hard, fast, uphill... less than a mile feels really long. Only feels longer the next day when you try to walk.
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