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  1. #1
    Bike touring webrarian
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    Fitness versus Training

    When I am actively training for a tour, I work myself hard by increasing the weight I carry and extending the miles I ride until I can do back-to-back 60 miles rides with a fully loaded touring bike over hilly terrain. When I don't have a tour up-coming, I take most of the weight off the bike and cut way back on the mileage.

    Previously, I've been doing 35 miles rides about twice a week. However, they took the best part of 4 hours to complete and I was pretty tired when I got home. Then, I decided to take shorter rides more often and am now trying to do a 19 mile ride every two days.

    I like riding only two hours (including a food break) and have plenty of energy when I get home. My concern is that the next time I start training for a tour, I will have a harder time building up my distance from the usual 19 miles that I ride.

    I was wondering if any else has any experience with this.

    Thanks

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Maintain a good base and it becomes a nonissue. I'd do intervals, myself, break it up and do a cycle of push hard 1 day and easy recovery on the next. Do a 6 day cycle and one day off the bike.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I tend to think that you can do fine on a tour with no real training. You need to maintain general good fitness and have some base miles in. I think total miles per week are more important than doing long rides.

    I think your shorter rides more often are a good idea and doubt you will have any trouble quickly adapting to longer rides when the time comes.

  4. #4
    Macro Geek
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    I have been inconsistent about training for tours. My philosophy has been to take it nice and easy for the first couple of days. By day 4 or 5, my endurance and strength always seem to be right where they need to be.

    This seems to work for "easy" tours, but as I get older, I am coming to realize that I probably should do cardiovascular and strength training before heading into mountainous regions. I was fine crossing two or three passes a day in the Vosges Mountains in France when I was 42, but ascending the Alps at age 48 nearly did me in. If I were doing it again I would aim for a month or two of cardio and strength training; and on the tour itself, not push myself as hard. This past summer, at the age of 51, I was fine without training for five days along flat roads and rolling hills. But when I hit mountains on Day 6, I had a "satori" ten minutes into my first stiff climb. I realized that needed to be in much better shape before attempting very long, very steep climbs. I actually stopped my tour at that moment, and went home that day!

  5. #5
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Like most things, I feel it is better to assimilate game conditions as much as possible, meaning if I'm going to be putting in 6 to 8 hours in the saddle and 75-85 miles a day, then I should train if possible at least 80% of that amount so my body knows what to expect with less surprises. If I know hills are going to be involved then my body needs to see some hills while carrying a load. I think this is also great as a shake down for your equipment and gives you the chance to solve problems at home rather than in the middle of nowhere.

  6. #6
    Got an old Peugeot kipibenkipod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
    Maintain a good base and it becomes a nonissue. I'd do intervals, myself, break it up and do a cycle of push hard 1 day and easy recovery on the next. Do a 6 day cycle and one day off the bike.
    +1
    Will add that you can just pick a close hill, and do up and down intervals. This will greatly increase you fitness,
    Try to ask this question at the Triathlon forum.
    On the bike I feel like a conqueror ;)
    4 months touring trip from England to Spain http://www.underadometent.com

  7. #7
    Senior Member ricohman's Avatar
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    I've never really trained for a tour.
    But by riding every day and hitting the weights 4 times a week and a bit of running I maintain a good base.
    I also find that after 3 or 4 days into the trip my body has adjusted.

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I actually went so far as to stop training for a several weeks before the TA. Reason? The other two I was riding with did not have time to train and I wanted to be closer to their level of preparedness. One was not a cyclist, but was in good shape from running and the other had ridden in the past, but found little time for exercise for the last few semesters.

    It was all fine. We took it easy on the mileage for a few days in the begining and gradually built the mileage over the first couple weeks. The first big pass (McKenzie Pass, 4000+ feet of climbing) was on day 6 and was challenging but do-able for all of us.

    By day 17 the rider who was the least prepared and not in good shape at the start was kicking our butts!

  9. #9
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    Personally, I think for experienced tourists like yourself who maintain decent fitness, your body is not going to "forget" how to handle the miles. If you leave yourself a reasonable amount of time to ramp up your mileage prior to your tour you should have no problem.

    One thing I disagree with that I'd like to hear other folks opinion on is training with weight. Other then a couple of rides to become accustomed to the handling of a loaded bike, I'm not sure how it aids in preparation for a tour. I think there would be more benefit (and maybe fun) by riding unloaded. Not only can see more scenery and ride faster, but you can incorporate intervals, hill repeats, and other training methods that may not work as well loaded. You can also ride with a group or attack the occasional ascent/descent that you may not be as comfortable doing with 40lbs of gear.

    Mark

  10. #10
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I'm not claiming that my way is the right way, but...
    I didn't train with weight and did not regret it. My companions did the same. In fact leaving the airport was the first time we rode with our panniers on the bikes. Our touring experience is limited to one TransAmerica though so take it for what it is worth.

  11. #11
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    "In fact leaving the airport was the first time we rode with our panniers on the bikes."

    I know this type of "fly by the seat of the pants" works for some but this past May, a buddy of mine who is notorious for this type of non-training and non-preparing pulled a real cutsie and it wasn't until we were on the road that we realized he had problems that could have been easily solved at home but now cost us two days of down time. I love the guy to death and I wish I had his adventurous mindset at times but his lack of training/planning really held the group up.

  12. #12
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    -I love the guy to death and I wish I had his adventurous mindset at times but his lack of training/planning really held the group up. -

    The answer is going to be different for a solo trip, where one is basically up against conditions and time, or a group trip where one is up against whichever overacheiver sets the pace. If a person is doing mild weight trainning and road work they are probably around the training level of the 36 Olympics, .

  13. #13
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I tend to think that you can do fine on a tour with no real training. You need to maintain general good fitness and have some base miles in. I think total miles per week are more important than doing long rides.
    For me this pretty much sums it all up really. Touring isn't the same thing as racing, it's not a situation where you're obsessing over the time it takes you to complete a set distance. As long as you're getting in a decent amount of base miles, and enough to ensure that everything on your bike is functioning smooothly, I don't see any issue here.

    That said, I ride centuries for enjoyment, and I find that rattling off a few in the lead up to a tour is actually beneficial if you ever find yourself doing extra miles in a day after being caught-short, as in a campsite that wasn't quite where the map said it would be.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  14. #14
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    I do the interval training anyway....it keeps me strong, and helps with endurance and the ability to explode into a sprint doesn't hurt, at least . If I stay strong, I can climb. As to the bike load? I use a trailer, and other than on an up or downhill, the gear load isn't really an issue, other than my wheelbase is longer. On flat ground, I really don't even notice the load.

    Quote Originally Posted by Megamax View Post
    Personally, I think for experienced tourists like yourself who maintain decent fitness, your body is not going to "forget" how to handle the miles. If you leave yourself a reasonable amount of time to ramp up your mileage prior to your tour you should have no problem.

    One thing I disagree with that I'd like to hear other folks opinion on is training with weight. Other then a couple of rides to become accustomed to the handling of a loaded bike, I'm not sure how it aids in preparation for a tour. I think there would be more benefit (and maybe fun) by riding unloaded. Not only can see more scenery and ride faster, but you can incorporate intervals, hill repeats, and other training methods that may not work as well loaded. You can also ride with a group or attack the occasional ascent/descent that you may not be as comfortable doing with 40lbs of gear.

    Mark
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  15. #15
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    "In fact leaving the airport was the first time we rode with our panniers on the bikes."

    I know this type of "fly by the seat of the pants" works for some but this past May, a buddy of mine who is notorious for this type of non-training and non-preparing pulled a real cutsie and it wasn't until we were on the road that we realized he had problems that could have been easily solved at home but now cost us two days of down time. I love the guy to death and I wish I had his adventurous mindset at times but his lack of training/planning really held the group up.
    He should have been left behind, especially since he is "notorious for..." Beyond that he himself should have insisted that he be left behind. I know that I would have in the same situation.

    Since I am a practioner of it , I am all for "flying by the seat of the pants", but I will not hold up a group because of it.

    OTOH: Strangely enough, in my experience it always seems that one of the guys who plans and plans and obsesses and obsesses is usually the hold up on group trips whether they be bike trips, kayak trips, hiking trips, or whatever.

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