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Training with 50+ miles Advice please

Old 07-26-11, 02:21 PM
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wphamilton
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Training with 50+ miles Advice please

Some of you folks talk about your 50,60, or 70 mile rides - I am asking for advice on how you approach it. I am a non-competitive cyclist, and do not belong to clubs or group rides. During the week I have 100 miles of commute, and not much else.

On Sundays the past month I've been doing a 50 mile route, which is a longish or longest ride for me. Actually, three laps of 16.5 miles on a route chosen for lack of hills, out of traffic and general ease. I just wanted the miles and something to compare week to week while pushing my performance. Beyond just achieving that distance (yay) I suspect I'm just spinning my wheels. I've improved 15 or 20 minutes but still nothing to write home about. The three lap times are the same on a given day so I'm doing a consistent speed throughout.

So do you just consider the miles as base conditioning without doing anything special? Just add on more miles at a given pace? Or do you target segments for higher efforts or even intervals? My goal is not distance per se, but better endurance and to be overall a stronger rider. Three hours seems overly much time to spend, for me, if I'm not training for more than adding another few miles in range. What do you suggest to vary that routine?
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Old 07-26-11, 02:36 PM
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Depends on your commute, but your distance matches mine (though mine is 6 days a week). If I set it up right, I could do much of my high-intensity training during my commute, or by just extending it slightly. I could easily do something like Carmichael's low-volume plan (check out the Time Crunched Cyclist if you're interested). I typically have some goal in mind for my commute. On the way in, it's 5 am and traffic is very light, and the wind is mostly consistent from day to day, so I'll try to beat my best time from point a to b or something. On the way home, if I'm not tired, I might do sprints between stops.

Longer rides are best for...building the endurance to do longer rides efficiently. I usually include some kind of intervals during them if they are not group rides (which kind of have their own intervals built-in). I treat my long rides more as enjoyment than work, though. And when you get better, you really notice it from about the 90 min mark on.

If you want to push it on your loop, try negative splitting it. Do the first two at your normal speed, and try to best it on the third. Or do that on the 2nd when you're more fresh. I often try to negative split my rides. Keeps me from just slogging home, and lets me compete against myself.

BTW, 20 minutes over 50 miles is a real improvement. Acknowledge your own accomplishments. Congratulations.
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Old 07-26-11, 03:11 PM
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Good suggestions, that's the sort of thing I was looking for. Is there a point of diminishing returns for the ride length, or is longer better generally speaking? Bearing in mind that the capability for longer rides is not the immediate objective.
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Old 07-26-11, 04:07 PM
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100 miles of commute plus a 3-hour ride on a Sunday is enough to give you opportunities to get seriously quick. Tadawdy's suggestions are excellent. When I was commuting, I used to pick two or three journeys each week - say, Monday, Wednesday, Friday evenings - and try to ride at threshold, traffic permitting, the whole way. Threshold being the highest level of effort you could sustain for an hour, but you don't need to get scientific about it, you can do it by feel. On the Sunday ride, why avoid the hills? If you could incorporate a few hills into your lap, and attack them reasonably hard, that would introduce some intensity into that ride and you'd soon see the difference. Alternatively, just put some intervals into your middle lap - say 6x60seconds sprinting as hard as you can, with 2 minutes recovery between each.

Yes there is a point of diminishing returns. Lots of miles is good, but simply churning out distance at low intensity will take you only so far. Having said that, keep the intensity reasonably brief. The coaches say that the most common mistake is to make the hard rides too easy, and the easy rides too hard. You need variety, to be riding within yourself for the bulk of the time, but absolutely going for it for short periods.
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Old 07-26-11, 04:09 PM
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I've been riding those distances and longer, much longer for years now. The aspect of cycling I like the best is long distance cycling ... I just simply enjoy being out there all day long on the bicycle.

One of the incentives to build up to and to ride long distances are goals, and I have had several over the years.

One goal Rowan and I are working toward now is the Century-A-Month challenge, where we ride at least one century (a 100+ mile ride) in each month of the year. I completed this challenge in 2003, 2005 and 2006 and came within 1 month of completing it in 2008 (just couldn't get that December century in).

We're also Randonneurs so we do long distance events locally (in our province/state) and around the world.

And we enjoy 24-hour Time Trials. We've done 2 of them so far, and would really like to do more.
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Old 07-28-11, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
If you could incorporate a few hills into your lap, and attack them reasonably hard, that would introduce some intensity into that ride and you'd soon see the difference. Alternatively, just put some intervals into your middle lap - say 6x60seconds sprinting as hard as you can, with 2 minutes recovery between each.

Yes there is a point of diminishing returns. Lots of miles is good, but simply churning out distance at low intensity will take you only so far. Having said that, keep the intensity reasonably brief. The coaches say that the most common mistake is to make the hard rides too easy, and the easy rides too hard. You need variety, to be riding within yourself for the bulk of the time, but absolutely going for it for short periods.
Thank you for the suggestions. I wasn't sure before if hard intervals would be effective in the middle of a long aerobic effort, or asking for punishment even, but you're making a lot of sense here.
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Old 07-28-11, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Thank you for the suggestions. I wasn't sure before if hard intervals would be effective in the middle of a long aerobic effort, or asking for punishment even, but you're making a lot of sense here.
Go hard when you feel like it. You're not training for anything so there is no need to get structured. You can do intervals in the middle of a ride.

I'd recommend not riding on a loop all the time. Go somewhere! See something different. Also, riding with other people makes the time go by faster. But since you are in it for fun, do what is fun. I do that in my off season after racing is done, and it's mentally refreshing.
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Old 07-28-11, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
Go hard when you feel like it. You're not training for anything so there is no need to get structured. You can do intervals in the middle of a ride.

I'd recommend not riding on a loop all the time. Go somewhere! See something different.
+1

That's one of the best parts about cycling.
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Old 07-28-11, 06:27 PM
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If you had a specific goal like an organized century ride, then it would be fun to get ready for that.
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Old 07-28-11, 07:00 PM
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I'd love to do an organized century eventually, but I'm not good enough yet for specific goals. Seriously, everything needs improving and then bigger goals. I know it's not a race but still I want a century I can be proud of when the time comes, and not just finishing one.

Fortunately I'll be forced to do as ericm979 suggests this weekend since my easy loop is currently chopped by construction.
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Old 07-28-11, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I'd love to do an organized century eventually, but I'm not good enough yet for specific goals. Seriously, everything needs improving and then bigger goals. I know it's not a race but still I want a century I can be proud of when the time comes, and not just finishing one.

Fortunately I'll be forced to do as ericm979 suggests this weekend since my easy loop is currently chopped by construction.
First ... finish one. Then work on improving whatever you feel you need to improve.

Remember, your first century doesn't have to be an organised ride. You could, for example, decide to do a century on your own or with a few friends at the end of September. For that one, you would just relax and enjoy the scenery ... and ride with your only goal being to ride 100 miles in a day. You might pick a destination that is 50 miles away so that you plan to ride to that place, have lunch there and return home.
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Old 07-29-11, 03:10 AM
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"+1

That's one of the best parts about cycling. "

Agreed... one of the reasons I hate indoor training, and even a "there and back the same way" approach.
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Old 08-20-11, 12:00 PM
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Just to report back I've put the suggestions into practice the past several week. Extra hills, intervals, trying to max effort the middle third and then tough it out on the home stretch. You sadists. But seriously I can tell I'm getting much more for the effort, stronger on my daily rides. So, good show on the advice.
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Old 08-31-11, 08:01 AM
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I just done a big charity bike ride. It was 80 mile a day over 6 days; It was solo too! You sound ready enough for a century ride to me mate. Your training sounds spot on mileage-wise. You should do different routes on your sundays and on your commute home try sprints each time... (i say commute home coz help you sleep that night,plus you wouldn't want to do that before work!!!) Sprint training can really help with long distance rides. I didn't have time to do lots of long distance training because of other commitments so i just did lots of sprints everytime i got on bike and it did wonders for me... Good luck mate but i really don't think you need it. Your last post sounds encouraging. Maybe you should put a thread up asking for another 'century virgin' to join you???
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Old 08-31-11, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
And we enjoy 24-hour Time Trials. We've done 2 of them so far, and would really like to do more.
I think you may be severely addicted to biking : D
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Old 08-31-11, 09:19 AM
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Thanks for the encouraging words badger. It's still taking me 3 hours for the 50 mile workout, so I think I'll wait on a century until I can bring that down some. Although ... the pattern seems to be that the shorter rides go faster after your longer rides become routine so it is tempting.
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Old 08-31-11, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Thanks for the encouraging words badger. It's still taking me 3 hours for the 50 mile workout, so I think I'll wait on a century until I can bring that down some. Although ... the pattern seems to be that the shorter rides go faster after your longer rides become routine so it is tempting.
Speed is all relative! I've got some courses that I'm proud to complete in over 16 mph.

My advise to you is to go out and do an organized ride. You shouldn't have any trouble handling a metric century or more. You'll find out real quick that your better off than a lot of other people, plus it's a great way to train.

I used to think the same as you about myself until I did my first organized metric century. I started out slow and in the back. I got sick of riding around all of those slow pokes, but I didn't want to blow up later in the ride. I couldn't take it any longer, so I had to go on. After about 10 miles (on the mountain climb) I started passing people like crazy. For the rest of the ride I passed at least 400 or 500 riders. Talk about an adrenaline rush passing that many people. I soon realized I wasn't as bad as I thought. Since then I've been getting incrementally faster.
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Old 08-31-11, 05:47 PM
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No probs; jbholcom right too; I wasn't in a race but met plenty of pro-cyclists on my trip who saluted my efforts..... That was a big ego boost! His advice is spot-on. Enter something like a century and i think you will be fine. A big tip would be to pace yourself on your training; Keep a constant speed and see how you feel afterwards? It sounds to me like you would have plenty left in the tank on the last 20 mile(which is where alot fail) I could have done 100+ during my ride but i had a place to stay after 80mi and then the next day a place to camp after another 80mi so that worked well for me; Good luck and post if you manage something soon. Oh i have posted a thread about my trip with pictures if you want to check it out.
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Old 08-31-11, 05:49 PM
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My thread is called my 1st tour across England. Stay lucky.
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Old 08-31-11, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by poxpower View Post
I think you may be severely addicted to biking : D
And have been for 38 years. Especially the last 21.
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