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How much training & conditioning did you do...

Old 05-02-12, 05:14 PM
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How much training & conditioning did you do...

.... before your first tour?

Were you a hard-core commuter?

Did you just up and leave on a ride?

What do you do now to stay in shape to continue riding?
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Old 05-02-12, 06:00 PM
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No training, just a ride about once a week(35km or so). I suffered on my first tour.

Many years later, I am into cycling as a major pastime and keep fit all the time, cycling about 14-15K km a year. Thus I am fit at all times of the year and do not need any extra buildup to a tour.
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Old 05-02-12, 06:04 PM
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I am an older guy (I turn 60 tomorrow). I don't work so I have time to train as I see fit.

I generally ride between 70 - 100 miles a week with a partially loaded touring bike (tools, spare parts, extra layers of clothes). When I have a tour approaching, I increase my mileage about a month before departure. I begin adding more weight to the bike until I am riding my expected distance with a full load about 2 weeks before I leave. I feel I am ready when I can do two back-to-back days at my touring distance with a full load.
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Old 05-02-12, 06:43 PM
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I haven't trained extra before a tour. Instead I've been using the bike to commute. In 2001, I sold my car and went cycle touring for 365 days. On return, I decided to wait a while before purchasing one again. That wait is now over 11 years and I still intend to purchase a car someday. However, it also means traveling many places by bicycle in between tours.

What I've also done is schedule some slightly easier days earlier in a long tour - with expectations that I'll use start of the tour to train further for the rest.
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Old 05-02-12, 07:10 PM
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Rather little specific training before my first tour. Work and work travel got in the way of commuting and training, so I ended up riding into shape (and across the hardest parts) through Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri.

I've been training for my next tour -- we'll see if that works any better.
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Old 05-02-12, 07:28 PM
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i have on occasion put in a couple 2-4 day short tours as a shakedown before a longer one.
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Old 05-02-12, 07:34 PM
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I was a teenager, so I guess puberty did it.
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Old 05-02-12, 08:23 PM
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No training, but I was riding a lot. Commuting and long recreational rides. No formal plan of training though.

The ride aspect of my first tour wasn't an issue, it was where to find decent camping and bathrooms.
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Old 05-02-12, 09:11 PM
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Never a strong rider, I stay in semi touring condition year round with mostly short local, unloaded rides, 12 to 40, x 3/week. As tour date approaches, I'll up that a bit, but nothing dramatic. Loaded, I go a little slower. Stamina doesn't seem to improve while touring. Probably an age thing.

What would help is to lose 10 lbs I don't need to be hauling up hills.
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Old 05-02-12, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville
.... before your first tour?

Were you a hard-core commuter?

Did you just up and leave on a ride?

What do you do now to stay in shape to continue riding?
I learned to ride when I was 6 and I've been cycling ever since. I've also been quite active in other ways all along.
I've been doing hub-and-spoke style tours since I was a kid.

I guess my first point-to-point tour would have been in 1995 down the Icefield Parkway. I had been ramping up my distance anyway, and had ridden my first century the previous year, and I had wanted to do that ride for years ... so the opportunity presented itself, I was in shape, I had the stuff, and so I went.

Then I got into racing.
Then I got into randonneuring.
And with randonneuring, I got into more touring.

As for commuting ... I'd have to say that most of my working life I've been able to walk or cycle to work, but that's "most" by a relatively narrow margin. I don't know if that makes me a "hard core commuter"???? But when I've been active during my commutes (walking or cycling) that has not been my only source of exercise. I've combined it with more walking or more cycling or other sports/activities.

What do I do now to stay in shape? Cycle lots, walk lots. I'm still into Randonneuring. Rowan and I have been doing a Century-A-Month for the past 18 months or so (although that may come to an end soon ... other priorities). And hub-and-spoke or short point-to-point weekend tours approx. once or twice a month.
Occasionally I also lift weights, cross country ski, snowshoe, go canoeing, go surf-skiing or boogie-boarding, go swimming ........ I don't like being too sedentary. Boring and bad for my health.
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Old 05-03-12, 01:27 AM
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Training for touring is not necessary if you have a basically capable body, and:

1) you can set your own pace;

2) you are going to have enough easy ground to cover, before it steepens, to build up your strength;

3) and/or you don't mind a little suffering. I would rather be a little winded now and again touring, than maintain the fitness level required to meet all contingencies. That would be nice, but my knees won't take it

It is understandable that some folks who like touring, also like to ride their bikes at other times, but it isn't necessary. I know a lot of folks who have done long arctic canoe trips, often a month long, they are not the same folks who marathon canoe, or are members of the dragon boat, or C1 clubs at the bottom of my street. The idea that everyone has to train more diligently tthan a pre-war olympian in order to participate in everyday activities is a pretty recent product of attitudinal changes in the 80s. It's a choice.
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Old 05-03-12, 01:56 AM
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Before leaving on some of our self-contained tours, we upped our weekly mileage some; on others, not much. In either case, we found that the first 3 or 4 days were challenging, with sore muscles and sore butts. After the second day, though, things would start getting easier and by the second week, we were putting in our 40 to 50 miles a day with no problems.
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Old 05-03-12, 02:04 AM
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First tour? ... Just did my "building up my riding" routine which was focused on getting myself into commuting. From that I went on to a tour and Audax riding. I have my big tour coming up this year and no training for that. Same applied when I did my ~1,000 km bushwalk ... no training then either

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Old 05-03-12, 02:27 AM
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Steady conditioning for extended rides.

Moved to an area where the local roads are dedicated to cyclists. Looked for mature riders and found several WWII combat piolots. This was 1985. Some still flew all were riding. We would meet every morning and ride 20-40 miles through rolling hills. End up in coffee shop and lie to eachother for a couple of hours. All were 55-65 yrs old. End result was 800-1000 miles a month. This was casual but steady riding. The group rode a few years back from Oregon to Maine. Averaging a 100 miles a day. Moved again and had to learn how to spin....................The conditioning was fun and daily.

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Old 05-03-12, 04:57 AM
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My first tour, which was the Trans America route, I had been doing a lot of training but not specifically for the ride. When I realized that my companions would have very few pre tour miles in I actually de-trained a bit, slacking off for a few weeks. It worked out fine.

My other tours I have mostly trained either very little or not at all. I was trail running regularly, but not riding much if at all leading up to them. Riding into shape on tour generally worked out very well on all but the southern half of the Sierra Cascades route. On that trip my running mileage was low leading up to the trip, the route was exceedingly difficult, we had exceptionally hot weather, I was suffering with some health problems related to a earlier stomach surgery, and I was riding with my much fitter daughter. That one was tough, but I still enjoyed the trip. The big problem was that I had great difficulty eating and drinking enough for the level of effort. I could barely force enough down to keep me going.

I plan to have a bit more mileage in than usual before my upcoming Colorado Rockies tour. I will still probably run more than ride leading up to the trip but plan to at least have some saddle time in. On some other tours I didn't even have a hundred miles in for the year. At least that won't be the case this time since I did most of the Southern Tier earlier in the year and the Pacific Coast last Fall.
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Old 05-03-12, 05:08 AM
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Never trained for touring. I was a bike commuter, though, so wasn't desperately unfit.

The thing about touring is that you make up your own schedule. It isn't a race. If you start out unfit you go less far, less fast than you might towards the end when you have ridden yourself into better shape. So unless the first tour starts in seriously mountainous territory (in which case I'd recommend starting fit enough to at least ensure it's a cycling tour, rather than a walking-beside-a-bike tour) no training is required.

As for staying in shape to tour, it isn't an issue, both for the reasons given above and because I routinely spent around 10-12 hours per week on the bike.
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Old 05-03-12, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville
.... before your first tour?
My first tour averaged about 70 miles/day with a max of 95 miles and 4000-6000 feet of climbing for several days in a row. I spent a good 6-8 weeks training on my loaded touring bike before I left. After all of the training, the riding part of the tour was relatively easy which made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.

Were you a hard-core commuter?
No.

Did you just up and leave on a ride?
No.

What do you do now to stay in shape to continue riding?
I ride my road bike 100-150 miles/week at a fairly brisk (16-18mph avg) pace.
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Old 05-03-12, 09:53 AM
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I don't know what qualifies as training. If training means riding your bike, then I guess I'm always in training. If training means riding your bike the same number of daily miles that you plan on doing when touring, then I guess my training is minimal. And if training means doing fully loaded miles, then I guess the only training I do is when I need to carry more than usual on my bike.

I ride regularly. It's how I get around. To what extent that qualifies as "training," I don't know. My first "tour" was just a 3 or 4 day self-supported ride, and to this day I haven't managed more than a week of self-supported riding at a stretch. When I know a trip is coming up, I do make a conscious effort to get a few more miles in, but usually nothing like what I'll do during a whole day in the saddle. More like turning my 7 mile commute home into a 15 mile commute. I do like to try to load the bike up and go somewhere, an overnight or weekend trip, just to make sure I can fit everything on the bike and that everything still works, and to get a feel for fully loaded riding to make sure I can actually move the bike with all the gear on it. But on that first tour, I think the first time my bike was fully loaded was the day I set out.

But that's the extent of it. I don't think I'd want to hop on a bike and start a tour when I hadn't been riding at all regularly, but people do it. But beyond general riding, there's only so much to do. To me, the best training for touring is actually touring. If training doesn't involve me and my gear moving over a lot of miles in a day, then it doesn't really get me prepared for touring. And if I'm actually moving all that gear, I might as well just make a mini-tour of it.

The biggest issue is whether or not you have to make a certain number of miles. Sometimes you have a schedule or fellow riders to keep up with, but if don't, just ride what you're comfortable with and you will quickly be comfortable riding more.
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Old 05-03-12, 10:12 AM
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Oh I forgot to mention... If I do ride when off tour, I ride on the bike that is the most fun for where I am riding. That means that between tours, I ride a sportier bike and never with a load unless I actually have to carry stuff.
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Old 05-03-12, 11:18 AM
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My first tour (Cycle North Carolina) a few years ago was a one week long supported tour, and my friend Bill and myself did it on trikes. I was riding a Catrike trail, and he an ICE trike. I was working 50 hours a week, so we trained on weekends, longer and longer rides until we were sure we could ride 75-80 miles in a day and get up and do it again the next day. I also trained with a loaded trailer hooked to the back of the trike, to add resistance. What we weren't able to train for was days and days of hills! We live in South Florida where there are no hills, and the first four days of the CNC tour was mountains and then hills as we worked our way down to the coastal plain. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to doing it again so time when I have vacation built up for a trip like that.

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Old 05-03-12, 03:29 PM
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This -> Did you just up and leave on a ride?

And proceeded to get destroyed by mothernature the first week. Sunburned lips, Santa Anna winds and dust storm. Thank goodness for scheduling beds with friends and family 4 of the first seven nights. I had to stop for 3 days just to let my skin recover.
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Old 05-03-12, 04:11 PM
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Prior to my first tour I had been riding (training) about 200 to 450 miles a week. However, I was not training for the tour, but for racing. The tour was 1100 miles and was covered in 11 days, the longest day was 169 miles. I do have to confess that it was 40 years ago when I actually had hair. Well, more than I do toady It went from the Idaho/ Canadian border to Southwestern Oregon.


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My wife and I ride year round so we are mostly ready for our tours. We are leaving on a short one next weekend and have kicked the mileage up. I enjoy riding, and see no reason to start a tour in less than top riding shape. Riding into shape or just getting into shape requires periods of activity and recovery. I'd rather spend my touring time on more riding and less on recovery or rest days. When we rode across the US we averaged 50 miles a day for 74 days. Three of those days were "rest" days when we stopped in Michigan to visit family. Being in shape also allows some reserve for those situations where you have to dig a little deeper. At my age if I get into the hole early in a tour recovery time is longer. The more important the tour the better shape I try to be in. We spent 3 months last summer in Europe, and we were in pretty good shape when we started.

I believe for a first tour or a short tour it is even more important to be in good riding shape. Touring often requires some long tough days, and while there may not be a way to makes them enjoyable; being in shape may make them tolerable.

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Old 05-03-12, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville
.... before your first tour?

Were you a hard-core commuter?

Did you just up and leave on a ride?

What do you do now to stay in shape to continue riding?
I was riding 4 miles round trip to classes every day, and running about 70 miles per week. Spring break came and I took off on my bike to visit a friend on the southern Oregon coast. I rode 136 miles the first day and decided that was a bit much. Just over a year later I graduated from college and left on a ride from Oregon to Newfoundland. Prior to that trip I was biking about 50 - 70 miles per week, and running about the same (I was running marathons at the time in about 2 hr 30 min, so I was in pretty good condition aerobically).

I try to stay somewhat in shape (for my age, anyway) by continuing to bicycle. My knees don't let me run anymore.
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Old 05-04-12, 12:53 PM
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Thanks for the great replies. I am training for my first over-nighter this summer. I commute and I started using my panniers with weight added. So far, so good. But I have about 30 pounds of body fat I can loose.
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Old 05-04-12, 07:30 PM
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Bike commuting is one of the best ways to train for a tour because you are carrying loads and riding daily. However, you should also do some long weekend rides to prepare for doing distances and increase stamina
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