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  1. #1
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Pre-tour training

    I'd like to consider some short tours this summer (for the first time ever) and a number of them that look interesting are in the 2-4 day range, 60-120km/day (short-long days). The longest rides I've done are about 60-65km in a 2-3hr (2 different routes) timespan (essentially continuous with a 10min or so break in the middle to drink and stretch before the next section). These rides were each done on a single day with a couple of days after with little to no riding. My legs are generally toast after these rides.

    I'm 53 this summer, 5'8", 170lb (despite living in Canada for 46yrs, I still think of my height and weight in Imperial). In the warmer weather, I commute to work 3-4 times a week, 16km each way.

    What can I expect when a tour (Finger Lakes) states 60-110 km/day? How do I train for this?

    Thanks for your help,

    Jules

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    just do some long weekend rides in that range and you'll be fine a few weeks before you go. Also add a few extra km to your journey home to increase training easily.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1. Slow down a bit ... stop and smell the roses.

    2. Get out and start riding longish rides on the weekends, starting now. Maybe start with back-to-back 30-40 km rides this weekend and see how you feel.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    I presume that having toasted my legs in a 2-3hr 60km ride is not the same as riding 60km on one of these tour days.

    It is too snowy right now to get out and ride much but within a month, I should be able to put in some longer and more regular commuting rides and by mid- to late-May, be back to summer distances on a regular basis.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    If you are averaging 20+ KPH on you rides I think you are in pretty good shape already. Was the bike loaded? Those would be flat country miles for me while touring. I am closer to 16 KPH in western US and Canada and when the hills turn into mountains it can drop into the single digits and that is in metric!

    My suggestion is to load your bike and find some hilly routes and see how you and the bike behave. For me doing a metric century even fully loaded is not a big deal. It doing it again the next day that requires the training.
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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Start the 1st week riding some place flat. expect the mph average to be about 10 ,
    My pace turns out to be about 7 mph , and I enjoy seeing where I am going,
    and stopping for an ocassional pint with the locals, along the way

    at 50 I took my tour from the SW end of Ireland, to the northern end of Scotland,

    gave myself months to do so, brought my Mandolin to join in Pub Jam Sessions.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-28-13 at 02:31 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Remember, a tour is not a race. You'll have 12 or or more hours of daylite to pedal that metric century. Take it easy to preserve your legs for the next day. Add some mileage, with the bike loaded, as the tour date approaches.

    As you're talking short tours, you do want to be physically peaked at the start for maximum fun. If the tour was a lot longer, you could put the finishing touches on conditioning early in the tour.
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  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Yes, definitely load the bicycle and go do a hilly ride. There's a decent chance you'll discover that 20 km/h and faster is out of the realm of possibility. Your touring 60 km distance will be slower, which might be easier ... but it could be more work.

  9. #9
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Generally I tell people that there is no need to "train" for touring. Touring is not about going fast. However, if your legs are "toast" after a 3 hour, 20kph ride I'd certainly suggest you take Machka's advice and go out for some rides with the bike loaded. You'll find that the weight makes a big difference to the speed. For example, on an unloaded road bike I could ride at 26-27 kph pretty much all day, but my touring speed when loaded is about 20kph; less in challenging terrain.

    Having said that, when touring one has all day. It's surprisingly easy to cover 100km per day if one takes one's time. So don't be too worried by your state of fitness.
    Last edited by chasm54; 03-01-13 at 03:10 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    It is very hilly around here, nothing extreme but you're either going up or down unless your crossing an intersection. Even my commute, I encounter a couple of 5-7% grades, hills won't be an issue. However, I've never fully loaded my bike, I'll do that too.

    Thanks everyone!!!

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    Look at the web site. It's a series of three days rides out and back from one place, so there is no loaded riding involved. Having ridden around the Finger Lakes region during the Bon Ton Roulet, I can tell you the difficulty will depend on which direction you go. Generally, north-south/south-north is the easiest since the Finger Lakes were carved by glaciers that moved south then retreated north. When you cross over from one lake to another going west-east/east-west is generally when you get the most difficult terrain. You will have shorter ride options each day, so you won't be forced to tackle something that's over your head.

  12. #12
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Yes, I wanted to start off with either out-and-back tours or with carry wagons or there are a series of nice 2-day tours not far away which go from B&B to B&B so all I'd need to carry are evening/night clothes, toiletries, wallet and bike tools.

    Added: One of the tours sounds more like you go from B2B, brewery to brewery.

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Generally I tell people that there is no need to "train" for touring. Touring is not about going fast. However, if your legs are "toast" after a 3 hour, 20kph ride I'd certainly suggest you take Machka's advice and go out for some rides with the bike loaded. You'll find that the weight makes a big difference to the speed. For example, on an unloaded road bike I could ride at 26-27 kph pretty much all day, but my touring speed when loaded is about 20kph; less in challenging terrain.

    Having said that, when touring one has all day. It's surprisingly easy to cover 100km per day if one takes one's time. So don't be too worried by your state of fitness.
    The "training" isn't about going fast but about learning to deal with the weight of touring. It takes more strength to move the bike down the road. Riding a loaded bike is also something that you need to get used to in terms of how the bike handles. Finally, training is for the bike as well. It's better to find problems with the bike that might end a tour around home than hundreds of miles from home.

    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    It is very hilly around here, nothing extreme but you're either going up or down unless your crossing an intersection. Even my commute, I encounter a couple of 5-7% grades, hills won't be an issue. However, I've never fully loaded my bike, I'll do that too.

    Thanks everyone!!!
    For a newbie, I'd suggest you do train for your tour. Commuting is perfectly adequate for getting your bike in shape and getting you used to dealing with the load. I'd start a few weeks before your tour with carrying 10 to 20 lbs of weight distributed like you are going to do on tour. If you are going to use front bags...I'd suggest you do so...start with the 10 to 20 lb split between the front bags. Add 5 to 10 lbs per week until you reach the load you plan on carrying on tour. I use beans and/or rice for weight because they aren't abrasive, come in convenient weights, and you can eat them when you are finished using them for training.

    Once you've got a few tours under you belt, you'll probably find that you don't need to do too much training but for the first one, I'd suggest some training.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    If bike commuting is an option for you, that is a great way to train. You are riding in all sorts of weather conditions and carrying a load. I bike commute year-round, and longer weekend rides and bike tours are a breeze.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

    I use beans and/or rice for weight because they aren't abrasive, come in convenient weights, and you can eat them when you are finished using them for training.
    Eat 5-20 lbs of beans and you can fart your way to 20kph!

  16. #16
    Senior Member jrickards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhendrick View Post
    Eat 5-20 lbs of beans and you can fart your way to 20kph!
    ... and until then, your body weight becomes negligible.

  17. #17
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    The "training" isn't about going fast but about learning to deal with the weight of touring. It takes more strength to move the bike down the road. Riding a loaded bike is also something that you need to get used to in terms of how the bike handles. Finally, training is for the bike as well. It's better to find problems with the bike that might end a tour around home than hundreds of miles from home.

    For a newbie, I'd suggest you do train for your tour. Commuting is perfectly adequate for getting your bike in shape and getting you used to dealing with the load. I'd start a few weeks before your tour with carrying 10 to 20 lbs of weight distributed like you are going to do on tour. If you are going to use front bags...I'd suggest you do so...start with the 10 to 20 lb split between the front bags. Add 5 to 10 lbs per week until you reach the load you plan on carrying on tour. I use beans and/or rice for weight because they aren't abrasive, come in convenient weights, and you can eat them when you are finished using them for training.

    Once you've got a few tours under you belt, you'll probably find that you don't need to do too much training but for the first one, I'd suggest some training.
    Sudbury fellow, cyccos advice is pretty much spot on, for both you physically as well as seeing how your bike handles it so you can deal with mechanical stuff beforehand.
    The adding weight gradually over time is also a great suggestion, as the best approach to being prepared physically for a loaded tour is to gradually get stronger over time, and regularly biking with some load and increasing the load incrementally is the best approach.
    (did I do this on my first heavily loaded trip? Nooo, but I certainly learned from that experience)

  18. #18
    Senior Member TiBikeGuy's Avatar
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    Training for a tour means getting yourself and your bike in shape for the tour.Do not ride with new equipement that you have not tested. Things like new shoes, which is not run in might give you blisters, and spd cleats which is new and need to be constantly adjusted until it is in the right spot. Also check on your repair kit, make sure there are enough patches and the glue has not hardened.

    Make sure the spare inner tube is of the right size and not punctured from previous rides. If you are touring with tent, try and set up the tent before the trip, to ensure that all the rods, pegs and flysheet is there and not damaged.

    As you might be travelling with electronics like phones, cameras, etc. make sure to pack the charger and the correct cables. I had a friend who brought a video camera but brought the wrong charger, so when the battery failed, he was lugging a useless deadweight for the whole trip.

    If you haven't replaced the batteries on your speedometer for a few years, you may want to do so before the trip and make sure it is calibrated to the correct tyre size. Nothing spoils your day like not knowing how far you travelled that day, or being denied bragging rights when you can't post pics of how fast you cleared that steep downhill section.
    Last edited by TiBikeGuy; 03-01-13 at 10:50 AM.

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    1: Load panniers
    2:Install on bike
    3:Ride bike
    4:Repeat

    Go for a ride with your touring weight on your bike.Get your behind out of the sack before dawn and don't be home until it's starting to get late.Go all day long,10-12 hours.Make it 30-40 mile,20 out 20 back or so.That's 3-4 MPH average.....you can do that.I'm old and feable and I can do that.

    Have fun,take your time,look around,laugh at stupid people.....so you only go 20 miles the first time,or 10....who cares,make it a fun 10 miles.

    It's not a torture test,there's nothing to prove,your already doing what most people think is crazy.Enjoy your crazyness,go out and have a blast!

    The only difference between us mortals and the worlds best bike riders is time......and we don't have any control over that.....
    Last edited by Booger1; 03-01-13 at 10:44 AM.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Brennan's Avatar
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    Some tips I learned about long distance training:

    1. Spin. That is, ride in lower gears than usual. If you mash the pedals, you will tire out quickly. If you take it slow and ride in lower gears, spinning the pedals at a faster cadence but with less resistance, you can go much longer.

    2. Time. Don't obsess over miles/kms too much. You also want to think about conditioning yourself for long hours in the saddle. So, think about your training rides in terms of hours more than miles/kms. When you're comfortable on 8 hour rides, regardless of distance covered, you should be pretty good to go.

    3. Calories. Naturally, hydration is key, but it's also important to eat good meals/snacks during long rides to get some calories (fuel) in you. Riding all day without eating enough can be a very unpleasant experience.

    4. Optional: Cross-train. While training in the saddle is the most important thing to do, I think it's good to mix it up a bit and do some running, swimming, weightlifting, or some other physical activity once in a while. (I'm just starting to get into yoga.) I ride better when my whole body is in good shape, not just the parts that get worked when cycling.

  21. #21
    djb
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    One thought that does come to mind with any physical outdoor activity, being more prepared fitness wise etc will always mean that you will enjoy yourself more. Less issues like sore this and sore that, less knackered at the end of the day and its always more fun having fun if you arent totally whacked.
    Its in everyones interest to put in the hours in the weeks and months before a bike trip, especially a short one.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    It is very hilly around here, nothing extreme but you're either going up or down unless your crossing an intersection. Even my commute, I encounter a couple of 5-7% grades, hills won't be an issue. However, I've never fully loaded my bike, I'll do that too.

    Thanks everyone!!!
    It is a very different experience to ride with a loaded bicycle. The handling is different. If you're used to standing while climbing, try that with the loaded bicycle, but try it with caution ... it may take some practice to be able to do it comfortably. And the weight will slow you down.


    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    Yes, I wanted to start off with either out-and-back tours or with carry wagons or there are a series of nice 2-day tours not far away which go from B&B to B&B so all I'd need to carry are evening/night clothes, toiletries, wallet and bike tools.

    Added: One of the tours sounds more like you go from B2B, brewery to brewery.
    Those are good ways to start.

  23. #23
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    On all my tours I do what ever riding I can in advance to toughen up my skin for the saddle, but mostly get in physical shape on the ride itself by starting with shorter days and building up mileage over 3 - 4 days. I am 52 years old.... In the finger lakes, prepare for significant headwind potential in some directions. I remember going down a moderate grade decent from Watkins Glen heading North and having to pedal downhill because wind cut my speed so much that you could not even tell it was a downhill. Miserable!

  24. #24
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I definitely train. I'm always training. Not for anything in particular, other than the rest of my life. I just like it. I have a slightly different perspective. I don't train on a loaded bike. I train to ride as fast as possible. On my single, 28 kph is a good average for a hilly 100 - 150 km course. I'm 67. At least years are the same, Imperial or metric. I give it everything I've got on the hills. I ride 150-250 km/week, which isn't much, but many of those kilometers are specific trainings: pedaling drills, intervals, stuff like that. I also lift weights, ski in winter, hike in summer, etc. Riding up hills with panniers full of sand just isn't appealing. I'd rather ride multiple mountain passes on my light bike. I'm saying that I like my biking and other exercise to be really fun.

    The important things are to get strong, develop your aerobic system, and develop endurance. A good way to develop endurance is to ride away from home until you are tired, then ride back. Endurance starts when you start to endure, not before. Put in a lot of saddle time. Riding frequently is more important for the butt than riding long, though you also have to ride long. You really won't know how the shorts/saddle interface is going to work for you until the fourth hour of continuous riding. That's a hard and fast rule. You can train very well with your commute, but find a longer way back home. 16 km isn't enough to properly warm up. Then on weekends, do back-to-back rides, longer each weekend, working up to a total of 150 km or so for the weekend. Most folks go easy the first day, then hard the second. Don't commute on Monday.

    Then there's the matter of riding loaded. You also have to do that. For now, plan your gear list and purchase it. Then allow a couple of weeks before your tour to get that sorted on your bike. You should be able to easily get your load under 30 lbs. While you are sport riding and getting stronger, ride the chainrings and derailleurs you plan to use for the tour, but use a smaller, closer ratio cassette. Once you know the weight of your gear and are in your touring condition, you can use online calculators to figure out exactly what gearing you'll need to climb the grades you'll encounter on your tour. Then you can purchase the correct cassette. You can get your exact gradients by plotting your training and touring routes with an online mapping tool like RideWithGPS.com.

    Finger Lakes is a hilly area. I did my first solo Imperial century around Cayuga Lake when I was 18 and didn't know squat about what I was doing. It was great fun.

    I realize this is different from what most folks advise, except for this one thing: make it fun! I find it a lot easier to smell the roses if I'm having fun, not in pain, and there's no question about whether or not I'm going to make my stopping place by dark.

  25. #25
    djb
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    Cf feller, very good points for the person asking advice. Pushing oneself is the key in life, its how we gradually get stronger. I too like doing hills on an unloaded bike, and pushing it on hills is great for getting stronger and especially getting used mentally to doing hills. The point about long rides to see how short/saddle works is very important too.

    The last paragraph pretty much sums it up, especially the last sentence.

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