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  1. #1
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    Touring level of fitness

    for you seasoned tourers, how long did it take before you felt like you were fit enough to travel long distances, day after day?

    id consider myself to be quite fit.. i did my longest ride 2 weeks ago (im 21 btw), it was a 40 mile ride which took me just under 5 hours (including breaks), it might not sound like much but the terrain is very hilly around here.. you dont get long sections of flat road for more than a minute. it's either uphill or downhill, usually steep.

    after the ride i felt ok but if i hadn't had the proper snacks and drinks i would've been much slower and not healed so well, i couldn't imagine doing another 40 miles the following day.

    how can i improve my fitness so it's at the level required to do long distance touring? my friend said it may take around 12 months of increasingly intensive training, saying i'd have to do loads of other exercises and stretches, building up my back and upper body muscles, doing finger stretches, and wrist exercises etc etc.

    what are your ideas on this?

    cheers

  2. #2
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    Was the 40 mile ride with a load, or just on a road bike? If it was just on a road bike, you probably have a ways to go; 5 hours for 40 miles is pretty slow unless it's just one long 40 mile climb averaging around 7-8%.

    If it was with load, that's about right- 10mph average over hilly terrain.

    It usually takes me 6 days before my legs feel good on a bike. That said, I put in a few years worth of 15K per year and racing, so I have a decent base.

    Whatever the case, I'd suggest using Merckx's training method: "Ride lots." It's all about fun, and if you start training to tour, I think you'll probably end up not having as much fun.

  3. #3
    !BAMBOO! Contour's Avatar
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    I'm 20 years old, just started biking for the first time (aside from messing around as a kid 7-10 years ago) this spring. I had done 30 in a day, then a week later did 57. Then at the end of my summer break I did a tour from Portland to San Francisco. 65mi/day average, I never felt drained after any of my rides really. I also don't run or jog so basically I was out of shape and didn't seem to have any problems. However if you're tired after 40 miles (my 30 and 57 milers weren't that hilly) I think you may want to do that a couple times a week. Then maybe sat and sun back to back.

    Also for tourning as long as you go at a pace that is comfortable for you then you don't really need to be worried about getting tired out. Take breaks when you want, take a day off when you want, or push through the night. It's all up to you and I think it's simpler than you think. Just get out there and do it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Before I do a tour, I try to ride 30-50 miles on consequtive days for a couple weeks before. I think it's important to no set your expectations too high on the trip. If you allow yourself plenty of time you will be able to take a day or half day to rest up a little. Remember, when you finish, you will be in shape.
    Read Simply Cycle

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    my opinion is that touring is not racing. if you can maintain an all-day pace all day, you will get wherever your are going (wherever you go, there you are.)

    i think bike fit and comfort are where people tend to have issues. pain and discomfort in your hands, ass, feet, back, knees, etc. will compound and be difficult to ignore or overcome if you are in the saddle for hours every day. if your bike fits and is comfortable, you will probably ride yourself into shape early in any tour

  6. #6
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    I don't think touring really requires much fitness at all. I would consider low intensity touring along the same exertion level as walking for a long time. Sure if you want to average 20 mph you will need to be an athlete, but you can easily ride 100 miles in 10 hours with very little exertion and a few stops. What will cause you more problems than lack of fitness is lack of mental toughness when it's too hot or too cold or wet and repetitive stress on your knees, neck, wrists, and tender parts and other places that you would never think would bother you while riding a bike.

    I started a tour when I was 22 and rode 140 km the first day and averaged about that for two weeks having never ridden more than 50 km prior. Now I wasn't in terrible shape, but I had never trained for cycling.

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    the 40 mile ride was done on a knobbly tyred hardtail MTB. no load, but i had a lightish rucksack on (2-3 kgs). i often feel like im getting a cramp soon after setting off on a ride, if i've cycled the day before. the last time it happened i was only one mile in, i never got a painful cramp but felt like i would've done if i'd pushed it, or jumped off the bike too fast.

    am i at much of a disadvantage being underweight? i'm 5'10" and 9 stone, and i have a very fast metabolism, so got to eat often on a ride.

    anyway i'll put in a few hundred miles in in October and see how i feel.

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    I don't know what 9 stone means, but lighter is generally better. It saves you a lot of trouble with broken spokes, punctured tires, and makes climbing a lot easier. It also gives you more options for which bicycle you can use and how much gear you can carry and where you load it.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I started riding again in 1990 ... without any thought at all of touring. Over the years I increased my distance and speed, and then started dabbling in various areas of cycling. I raced for 3 years and then got into Randonneuring (Audax).

    When I was doing Randonneuring, that's when I also started touring. So by the time I started touring, I was well used to riding long distances and riding long distances day after day after day.

    Start riding about 5 days a week. Keep 3-4 of those days at an after work sort of riding level, and gradually increase the distance on 1-2 of those days. When you do your next 40 mile ride, try getting on and doing 5 or 10 very relaxed miles the next day. Just keep building up.

    And get a rack for your bicycle ... don't carry the weight on your back. Ouch!!

    You mentioned putting in a few hundred miles in October. There is a challenge in the Long Distance forum called the 1000 Kilometer Month challenge ... are you up for that yet (that's a little over 600 miles)?

  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    When I prepare for a specific tour (week long cross state approx 400-500 miles) I start riding daily 10 weeks prior to the event, starting with low miles increasing 5 to 10 miles per week. I have 2 objectives for this, 1) to condition my rear end so I will not have any pains during the tour, 2) make sure that I will not have leg cramps and know my pace that I can ride all day without hurting. I normally average 14 mph with rest. during the off season I do a spin class and stair climber

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan The Man View Post
    I don't know what 9 stone means
    If you type "9 stone in pounds" into Google, it will tell you directly (i.e., without going to any other web page) that it's 126 pounds. Or, if you prefer, 57.2 kilograms.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    You're on the lean side for sure. All muscle and very little fat reserves. Frequent snacks during a long ride would certainly be in order.

    As for conditioning for a tour, I'm in the don't overdo it camp. I'm 68 and stay in cycling shape by riding for an hour or two every two or three days. Near the start date, I'll up that to a couple of 40 milers, unloaded. More conditioning will take place early during the tour when it's a lot more fun.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  13. #13
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I posted this on 9/18/09 for another thread about training for touring.

    "For a major tour, with hills (Pacific Coast, TransAM) we put in about 100 to 150 miles a week for the 2 months before the tour. We ride year around at about that level, but switch from our road bikes to our touring bikes to get that seat time in, and get used to them again. Machka is right, it still takes about a week to get in the "tour mode". The big difference is the extra weight of the fully loaded bike. Sometimes with a headwind and a lot of hills, 55 miles is a long day. We just finished the Oregon portion of the Pacific Coast Route, and had a couple of days with 17 mph headwinds and several good hills. Average speed on those days was about 10 mph, and we were happy to stop after 55 miles! Bottom line for me is that I enjoy it much more when I am in shape at the start."

    Dan the Man wrote:
    I started a tour when I was 22 and rode 140 km the first day and averaged about that for two weeks having never ridden more than 50 km prior. Now I wasn't in terrible shape, but I had never trained for cycling.
    I did a lot of things in my 20's and 30's that would be impossible for me today. I try not to think too much about what I used to do; it gets discouraging. I finished a 12 day, 1100 mile tour in 1982 with a 169 mile day. Today that distance takes me three days!

  14. #14
    Buddy Ratzinger's Avatar
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    My last tour, I was in decent shape. But after a hilly two days (combined 230km) I had to take a day off. Then after another two days (combined 240km) I took another day off. Fortunately I had people to visit, I woudln't have otherwise gone that far in those two days anyway.
    Anyway, my point is that if you really push yourself, don't hesitate to rest. But the end of my trip I was pulling consecutive 150km days (though in flatter conditions) but I credit that only to taking care of myself and not being afraid to take a day off or do a short day when I felt like my joints, tendons and muscles were being taxed too much.

  15. #15
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I think everyone is different. I can go slowly 100 km without training at all. I did it several times as a first day tour after I left the hospital. You only need enough time. I quite often started a tour with 40 km training in 180 days. If go on the first days not so far (eg. 60 km) the fitness comes automatically.

    Training is necessary if you want to cycle fast.

    Thomas
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

  16. #16
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    There is a challenge in the Long Distance forum called the 1000 Kilometer Month challenge ... are you up for that yet (that's a little over 600 miles)?
    does mountain biking count double? (I don't have any plans for the next weekends, so I have time to cycle (8x60 km = 480 km) + go twice a week to office on bike (320 km). Then I'm close to the 1000...

    Thomas
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

  17. #17
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    I don't really train before touring. I cycle regularly, though not a lot or miles daily. About 10, maybe, though on a big ute bike with 2 kids and school stuff, so that might equate to more miles on a normal bike. I like to go on a couple of longer rides the week before, but more for my butt than anything. It would be nice to do more, but my time is not my own, and I can;t fit it in. When on tour, it usually takes me about 5 days for my legs to wear in and stop the morning aches and strain. I'm 45, BTW, but I've been cycling a long, long time.
    Last edited by Gotte; 09-29-09 at 04:29 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
    for you seasoned tourers, how long did it take before you felt like you were fit enough to travel long distances, day after day?

    my friend said it may take around 12 months of increasingly intensive training, saying i'd have to do loads of other exercises and stretches, building up my back and upper body muscles, doing finger stretches, and wrist exercises etc etc.

    what are your ideas on this?

    cheers
    Holy cow! If your friend is right, I've been doing it wrong all these years!

    Ideally, I feel like the better shape I can get into before a tour, the better off I'll be when it starts. Realistically, I've never been able to train properly beforehand. I do what I can. Some years that's lots of riding; other years it's very little. Very little means a few Saturday rides of 25-35 mile rides. Training properly means rides every 2 or 3 days of 30-40 miles, with occasional 50 or 60 mile rides, for at least a month. However, no matter how much training I've done prior to a tour, there has always been an adjustment period at the start before I get into a rhythm where I can do long, back-to-back days.

    For that reason I try and schedule very easy rides for at least the first three days of a tour, and keep my options open to throw in a rest day after 2 or 3 days if I need it. I usually start with a 25-30 mile day, and don't go much over that for the next couple of days. Then I play it by ear. After about a week I usually settle into about a 50 mile average, mixed with 60-65 mile days if the route calls for it. I'll go further - 75-80 miles - but only occasionally. However, once I get into the swing of things I seldom take rest days. I only take a day off if I find a really special spot.

    I like tours of at least two weeks in duration, with my longest being four weeks. One of these days I'll do a cross-country ride, but probably not until I retire.

    For what it's worth, I'm 58.

  19. #19
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    wow thanks for all the responses, this forum's been really useful over the past few months. i'd like to start a tour right away, but i need some equipment before i embark on a multi day ride.. and i'm pretty broke at the minute. still, i've got all the essentials for maintaining my bike and doing full day winter rides, so i'll make good use of it in the upcoming months.

  20. #20
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I have done a week long tour with about 50 miles of training before hand. dumbest thing that I ever did my rear end wasn't in real bad shape but leg cramps the first couple of days and weak legs were the worst. I have a friend that rides very few miles before our annual tour and he has welt on his bum after a couple of days and suffers through the remainder of the ride. But he ride a tour every year and always trains the same way.

  21. #21
    Bicycle Lifestyle AsanaCycles's Avatar
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    personally, i don't own a car, and i like to ride for sport, etc...
    i ride between 20-40hrs/week
    so a "tour" simply happens

    my last tour was Astoria to Ventura
    and as crazy as it is... the duration of time it took for a buddy and I...
    for me...
    it was a slump in time/distance for the given calendar days

    that is to say...
    a typical day for me, running errands, going for a ride, etc...
    its easy to end up with 50 miles, just screwing around.

    one of the easiest way to "train" is to simply use the bike all the time
    honestly... ditch the car.
    thats my method...

  22. #22
    Day trip lover mr geeker's Avatar
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    I am about to embark on my own tour here soon, but thats a matter for a different thread. so far I don't realy believe I have done any training, but I ride my bike near daily. at least a couple miles. on weekends I go on day rides 20-50 miles in length, depending on my amount of free time. personaly, I believe this is enough.
    instant human: just add coffee
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  23. #23
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    I don't think you need elaborate training regimens before touring. But do get in some regular riding. Then ease into the tour by riding less for the first few days. Your bod will tell you when to go longer. A friend of mine did thirty miles on his first day of a cross country tour and finished with a 170 mile day to dip his wheel in the Pacific (however, the last day was without baggage).

  24. #24
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    "how can i improve my fitness so it's at the level required to do long distance touring? my friend said it may take around 12 months of increasingly intensive training, saying i'd have to do loads of other exercises and stretches, building up my back and upper body muscles, doing finger stretches, and wrist exercises etc etc.

    what are your ideas on this?"

    There are basically two things that require super fitness when starting out. One is super fit companions. The other is extremely strenuous route. It's like the frog in the pot of hot water. As long as the route and companions allow one to work into the trip, virtually no training is required (though admittedly the frog dies). In a mater of days the body will respond to the new work load, and you will be comfortable. Only downside to this approach is that you can't be sure it will work, you may immediately pull a groin muscle and be back home, but with modest luck, you can make it work without having to bore yourself to death with endless pre-trip workouts.

  25. #25
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
    for you seasoned tourers, how long did it take before you felt like you were fit enough to travel long distances, day after day?

    id consider myself to be quite fit.. i did my longest ride 2 weeks ago (im 21 btw), it was a 40 mile ride which took me just under 5 hours (including breaks), it might not sound like much but the terrain is very hilly around here.. you dont get long sections of flat road for more than a minute. it's either uphill or downhill, usually steep.

    after the ride i felt ok but if i hadn't had the proper snacks and drinks i would've been much slower and not healed so well, i couldn't imagine doing another 40 miles the following day.

    how can i improve my fitness so it's at the level required to do long distance touring? my friend said it may take around 12 months of increasingly intensive training, saying i'd have to do loads of other exercises and stretches, building up my back and upper body muscles, doing finger stretches, and wrist exercises etc etc.

    what are your ideas on this?

    cheers
    I haven't read the other posts, but I would say your friend is mistaken.

    In fact, you don't have to do any training at all. You're already quite fit enough, and you will probably become fitter as you tour.

    Just pace yourself. Find a sustainable pace -- a pace that you can keep up day after day without getting exhausted or run down.

    Sustainable pace levels will of course vary from individual to individual, and for a single individual according to fitness level and and a variety of other factors.

    It's simple. You don't have to perform heroic feats of athleticism -- and it can actually be counterproductive to do so.

    Just find and keep a appropriate pace.

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