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Training for a tour

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Training for a tour

Old 10-30-13, 08:32 AM
  #1  
lurch0038
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Training for a tour

After reading all of the threads and viewing the amazing photos on this site I AM GOING ON A TOUR!!! I am tired of wiping the drewl off of my desk and finally decided to jump in. I wish I could go cross country but lets start off with a small tour first.

The big question is...training for the tour. I live in Mass and it is almost November so how do you train in the winter months? Does working out in the gym help? Is road work required to properly train?

CANNOT WAIT to do this so any help is appreciated.
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Old 10-30-13, 08:42 AM
  #2  
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Riding in the gym is better than nothing. But I feel that riding outside will
prepare you better. You have to deal with traffic, flats and other mechanical
issues, food and liquid management, dressing for different conditions, etc.
Stuff that you'll need to sort out.
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Old 10-30-13, 09:13 AM
  #3  
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Are you in a situation where you can bike commute? This is one of the best ways to train for touring because you are carrying gear and riding in all sorts of weather conditions.
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Old 10-30-13, 09:23 AM
  #4  
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Do some workouts with your legs.
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Old 10-30-13, 09:49 AM
  #5  
lurch0038
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Are you in a situation where you can bike commute? This is one of the best ways to train for touring because you are carrying gear and riding in all sorts of weather conditions.
Yes but I work from home 90% of the time. As much as I hate the office I should go to the office twice a week on the days that the weather cooperates for "training"...to and from the office is ~20miles with some nice hills too.
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Old 10-30-13, 09:51 AM
  #6  
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Between now and next March I'd suggest you concentrate on aerobic conditioning -- spinning, cycling, running, rowing, swimming (though not recommended as part of rowing in January...).

Starting in the spring, it's time to start conditioning your saddle interface. Progressively longer rides, preferably twice on weekends, to get you used to long hours in the saddle. When you're riding back-to-back 40-50 mile rides, start adding some weight in panniers (or a trailer) to get used to that.

You could do worse than following one of those "ride a century in three months" training plans if you want the structure.
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Old 10-30-13, 10:09 AM
  #7  
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Training for touring is unnecessary if:

- you are in normal cycling health
- you are not in some kind of competition, and this can be nothing more than being the weakest member of a party. If you are that, then you have your training set out for you since you can gage what chance you have of making up the difference. The problem is that if they are crazily training flat out for their touring next year, it becomes a bit of an arms (or legs) race.
- If the terrain your tour starts out over is particularly challenging.

Otherwise it is touring, and there is no requirement to be in top shape. You will rapidly improve as you go.
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Old 10-30-13, 10:26 AM
  #8  
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I've been commuting 12 months per year in MA, so it is possible to ride year-round here. I don't ride with significant snow on the roads or if the roads are substantially narrower because of large snowbanks, but light snow and ice are not a problem (I have studded snow tires). Cardio-type workouts at the gym (or home on a trainer) are probably useful as a substitute for real riding, but I don't do any of that. I also find that doing squats and deadlifts with relatively light weights and high repetitions helps my cycling. I do those at home, as free weights are inexpensive and don't take up a lot of space when I'm not using them.
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Old 10-30-13, 10:31 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
Training for touring is unnecessary if:

- you are in normal cycling health
- you are not in some kind of competition, and this can be nothing more than being the weakest member of a party. If you are that, then you have your training set out for you since you can gage what chance you have of making up the difference. The problem is that if they are crazily training flat out for their touring next year, it becomes a bit of an arms (or legs) race.
- If the terrain your tour starts out over is particularly challenging.

Otherwise it is touring, and there is no requirement to be in top shape. You will rapidly improve as you go.
+1 on all of that.

Just allow time to ride the pace you are in shape for. Good general fitness does help, but you can tour at a wide range of fitness levels. Enough saddle time so you are not miserable is a big help too.

Last edited by staehpj1; 10-30-13 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 10-30-13, 10:50 AM
  #10  
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I ride rollers out in what is effectively a garage. That's a huge help over the winter. I also go to the gym and do weights, mostly high-rep, and a spin class. Some intervals once a week over the winter are a huge help. The big deal when touring is of course climbing hills, and intervals are the way to get better at that, also actually riding hills when weather permits. The more hills, the better. You'll want to get comfortable on your touring bike with a load of course and get comfortable paring that load down much below what you want to take, as opposed to what you need to take. But IME training with the load is unimportant as long as you are riding a lot of hills. Whatever increases your enjoyment of hill riding is the thing to do.
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Old 10-30-13, 11:17 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
The more hills, the better. You'll want to get comfortable on your touring bike with a load of course and get comfortable paring that load down much below what you want to take, as opposed to what you need to take. But IME training with the load is unimportant as long as you are riding a lot of hills. Whatever increases your enjoyment of hill riding is the thing to do.
+1. I went to southern Spain for 7 weeks one March. While I rode my bike around town a lot during the winter and frequented the gym, I did not ride hills and didn't do intervals on the bike at the gym. The first riding day in Spain was 62 miles. Maybe 8 of them were flat. I was completely spent at the end of the day and took the next day off. It took me a while to find my legs on the hills that followed day after day.
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Old 10-30-13, 02:11 PM
  #12  
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Everything depends on how you plan on doing your tour. How many miles do you plan to ride each, 40, 50, 60, 100, 100+? That determines how good of shape you need to be in before leaving. The more you are use to doing the kind of miles you plan on riding while on tour the easier the tour will be. Like MassiveD said you don't have to train for touring.

Now for winter riding, I live in west central NH and ride outdoors year round. I don't own a car so I have pretty much no other choice than to ride if I'm going to go anywhere. No I don't have internet access at home either, so if I want to get online...I have to ride.

I find that I hate fall riding the most. The temps are such that you can't ever dress like you should dress. Winter is easy to dress for, just keep the layers off and let the heat escape so it doesn't build up and start making you sweat. Sweat is called evaporative cooling for a reason. It's design to cool the body down...if you want to stay warm you want to avoid sweating in the first place. Let the heat escape and you'll stay warm. Winter time that is easy but during the fall when it maybe in the mid 20s in the morning and lower 50s in the afternoon that gets to be a pain in the butt to try to stay dry. The temps rise too much and that causes you to sweat too easily.

Get out on the road and ride and learn as you go. Experience is the best teacher. I will agree, the more hills the better. Don't worry too much about the snow. I did in the beginning for no reason at all...at least up here in NH. I just ride on the snow, not on the wet pavement, and I have no trouble. Just remember, like driving a car, don't make any fast moves...take everything slowly. Fast moves on snow/ice will send you to the pavement quicker than you could ever imagine. Yeah, I had my first snow ride this morning. No accumulation but it was snowing during the beginning of ride. Winter is coming.
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Old 10-30-13, 02:49 PM
  #13  
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Depending on where you live in MA, you should be able to ride some during the winter. Every so often there are snow free winters. If it is too icy where you are you can go to the Cape or RI . Sometimes the roads are clear there. Of course some times, they are worse. Check out the Winter cycling forum for tips.
Just use your bike a lot, do errands by bike; commute etc. sometimes November and early December are nice for riding.
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Old 10-30-13, 02:51 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
Everything depends on how you plan on doing your tour. How many miles do you plan to ride each, 40, 50, 60, 100, 100+? That determines how good of shape you need to be in before leaving. The more you are use to doing the kind of miles you plan on riding while on tour the easier the tour will be. Like MassiveD said you don't have to train for touring.
Good point. I found if I did forty the first two days, I could do 90 the third, and that is about as much as I do on an average day. When I first did it, I had only probably done 40 a few times and maybe never 90. And I had a lot of injuries to deal with. The thing I find works is to pace yourself entirely on comfort, stop to deal with any hot spots, adjust the saddle, apply peneton, etc... If one is so pressed to prove one can do a century the first day, then one might create a problem the first day out that leads to pain for the rest of the trip. I go solo, and would love to go with my wife etc... I think that would work, but I know I ramp it up the moment I fall in with someone else. I'm competitive, but given my injuries, I have the wisdom these days to insist I am only going at my own pace, but I can sure see why that would not be to everyone else's taste.
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Old 10-30-13, 03:37 PM
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I have seen that the first day is fantastic, you can go forever. The second day is a major drag. What happened? The third day is almost the same, a bit better. But starting on day four you are in a routine and things start to go much smoother. The trick comes on day 14 when you really are dug in deep. Day 14 is when things get very smooth and extremely routine. You can literally just keep going. You get so use to it that you don't think a thing about continuing on. Even when doing high mileage days you can just keep going, you are so use to biking when you have did it for 14 days that it's effortless.

I'm starting to notice that now. I was in a rush to get things around home set up for winter so I have been riding, compared to the rest of this crappy year, decent miles. 14 days ago I started riding basically 100km each daily, just trying to get everything done before the cold weather set in. I normally always have a pack, day or full backpack, on my back everyday during the warm months. I always make a homemade rear rack for the bike for winter use to keep the pack off the back and keep it from trapping body heat. Once I finally finished up with the winter prep errands I just kept riding 100k a day just to see how long I could keep it up. Yesterday and todays ride have pretty much been effortless. It feels like the good old days from summer 2012 again. I just wish the air density was a lot lower and I wasn't pushing so much darn air out of the way all the time. Boy my average speed is abysmal.
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Old 10-30-13, 06:12 PM
  #16  
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Your ass will hurt the first two days.

Whatever physical shape you are in will be secondary.
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Old 10-30-13, 09:35 PM
  #17  
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I believe trying to "ride into shape" on a tour is a waste of touring time, and a lot less enjoyable. Not being in riding shape does not provide reserve capacity when encountering an extremely hard day due to hills, headwinds or longer than anticipated mileage. As MassiveD indicated, pushing hard before your body is ready also increases the potential for injuries.

I enjoy riding, and do not find "training" for a tour onerous. Where we live it is hard to ride and not get a hill workout. My wife and I stay in good riding shape year around, so it is only a matter of tweaking the intensity and hill work. A few years ago on a loaded tour, we averaged a little over 50 miles/day for 74 consecutive days. While not mega-miles by any means, I felt pretty good about it for a guy in his mid 60's. We took several short days, but did not need a rest day. However, we had a lot of base miles before we started.

Most training regimes designed to improve fitness or strength use some variation of hard days followed by recovery days: overload/fatigue- adaptation- overcompensation. It also takes time to get into shape, and is probably not possible on a short tour. One training program, just to ride a 6 day tour, uses a 10 week progressive training schedule (Cycling Past 50, Joe Fried). I've seen similar schedules for "youngsters" that still utilize the 10 week time frame.

Something that is harder than being in physical (bike muscles, and cardio) shape, and something we have less control over is acclimatization. We have had some pretty rough tours when we left the cool wet climate of Oregon and ended up riding in a country with temperatures hitting 43C or 110F. If you know you will experience a wide difference in climatic conditions, allowing time at the start of the tour to get used to it will prevent any heat issues. Or if you can do some riding on hot days before the tour, all the better. This summer we were on a tour across British Columbia where the the temperatures ranged from 28F to 108F. It is pretty hard to prepare for those conditions. However, I think being in good riding shape at the start made a lot of difference on those hot, hilly days.

IMO- Be in as good as shape as you can at the start of a tour, and keep "training" fun and enjoyable. After all, you probably would not be considering a bike tour, if you did not enjoy riding a bike
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Old 10-30-13, 10:12 PM
  #18  
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Great info!
I was scanning the "winter cycling" forum for more info on cold weather riding and training. Now that I remember, I would ride in the dead of winter before I had my drivers license so it should not be a problem 30 years later!
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Old 10-31-13, 03:56 AM
  #19  
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I am of the opinion that it is better to be in shape starting the tour, rather than attempting to get into shape while on tour.

Attempting to get into shape while on tour takes the fun out of the first couple weeks of the tour. DOMS can be a real pain on about Day 3 of new exercise, and that's the last thing I want to deal with when I'm trying to relax and sightsee ... and especially when I know I have to get back on the bicycle and ride again the next day.

And ... getting in shape, and being in shape, is a good idea anyway.

I recommend cycling outside whenever you can ...
Cycling inside on the trainer (you can get a trainer relatively inexpensively) ...
Taking a spinning class ...
Joining a gym ...
Doing some winter sports like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing ...
Lots of long walks ...
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Old 10-31-13, 07:43 AM
  #20  
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You can tour without training, but you will enjoy it much more if you are in shape for it! I ride in supported tours almost every year, and there are always people along who do little or no training. They manage to ride 60 miles or so every day like everyone else. However, they are the last ones to finish riding every day, sometimes not reaching the destination until it's almost dark. They are also the ones who get saddle sores, have mechanical problems with their bikes and get rides from the SAG wagons when available.

For me, training is not a problem because I like to ride. So I bike commute and ride recreationally year-round. It is not a chore, it's my hobby. I don't think I would enjoy bike touring if that's the only time I rode.
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Old 10-31-13, 07:47 AM
  #21  
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In the winter I use studded tires and enjoy riding without all the sweat. I've been touring for about 40 years off and on, but have never worried about "training"for it. Ride more, take few short loaded trips to dial in your choice of gear. Your question reminds me of a trip I took a number of years ago. I told a customer of mine I would be riding 700 miles on vacation. He said "You don't look like you're in shape for that!"
I told him, " I will be before I'm half done."

Marc
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Old 10-31-13, 08:13 AM
  #22  
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One more BIG thing to remember. Loaded touring versus unloading training makes a REAL BIG difference. I thought I had it made last year when I headed out west. In July, the first 17 days of July, I rode over 2000 miles. The last three days of the stretch(15-17th) I rode 160 miles each day, unloaded. I had tons of free time off the bike each day during daylight hours. I was averaging 17-18 mph without pushing it. I had two weeks completely off the bike on a car trip down to Texas. I got back and spent a week or so helping out a friend of mine. I left for the trip figuring I shouldn't have any trouble making the 800 miles for the first leg of the trip in 5 days. Yeah, 150-160 miles a day...sure why not. Boy, was I ever in for a shock. Yeah, in western NY I did pull off a 170 mile day and I was still pretty much doing 120 each day otherwise, but I was nowhere even close to averaging 160 miles a day. Talk about a rude awakening.

Ride the way you plan to tour or plan to be in for a surprise when you go on the tour.
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Old 10-31-13, 11:16 AM
  #23  
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Lots of long slow distance. Mountain biking helps too.
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Old 10-31-13, 03:47 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Are you in a situation where you can bike commute? This is one of the best ways to train for touring because you are carrying gear and riding in all sorts of weather conditions.
I second that. Part of touring is to be out there when the weather isn't perfect, or when you don't feel like pedalling. Commuting builds character and before you know it, you'll have miles in the saddle. Throw in a few longer rides and you'll be fine.
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Old 11-05-13, 04:58 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
+1. I went to southern Spain for 7 weeks one March. While I rode my bike around town a lot during the winter and frequented the gym, I did not ride hills and didn't do intervals on the bike at the gym. The first riding day in Spain was 62 miles. Maybe 8 of them were flat. I was completely spent at the end of the day and took the next day off. It took me a while to find my legs on the hills that followed day after day.
I think most people will agree that trying to get into shape while crossing a mountain range is not for everybody. I've heard though that the rolling hills on the east coast are more discouraging as there never seems to be a flat spot where you can recover.
As indicated by others, planning the route will make or break your tour if you aren't in top shape.
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