Training for your next bicycle tour
It’s been a long while since I have been on a bicycle tour but I expect that drought to end this year. Maybe I can find a new place to explore. Somewhere that offers challenging climbs, seascapes on the horizon, gravel trails that meander through quaint towns, and clean campsites available every night. If 2019 doesn’t allow me an international bike trip there are plenty of options in our home state too.
My last dedicated bicycle trip was in 2011. My husband and I rode our bicycles up and down the rolling hills of Tuscany for 2 weeks. (Let me know if you would like to hear about that trip).
Experiencing the natural environment from the bicycle saddle is unlike any other travel experience. Not only does time slow down, but you taste your surroundings with all of your senses. There are many ways to approach this type of trip. Before I begin researching the logistics for my 2019 bike tour I have already begun physical training.
Once I arrived to in France for a 2 week bike tour through Alsace Lorraine and Germany without completing any pre-training whatsoever. I had hoped that my daily commuting habit would provide enough of a base for the trip, unfortunately not. On those first few days on tour I was only able to ride comfortably for a few hours at a time. My lack of physical preparation was frustrating until my stamina finally kicked in.
I urge you not to make that mistake. whether you are planning a solo two day bike adventure or a 2-week bicycle tour with friends you should begin training as soon as you can, 4 months is the minimum that I recommend. With a little physical training you will hold yourself in a better position on the saddle and ultimately be more comfortable.
Four Month Bike Training Schedule
My 4-month training schedule is a loose guideline for non-competitive cyclists. Competitive cyclists have much more rigorous training schedules involving resting heart rate and revolutions per minute. I don’t have the patience for this type of training. I simply want to capably ride for 4-6 hours a day with enough energy left to enjoy my evening meal.
16 weeks before your bicycle tour
Begin riding 4-6 days per week, try for a total of 4-5 hours per week
300-500 miles the first month is a strong goal
Concentrate on high rate of revolutions per minute, use all your gears. Do not crush it with a high gear ratio
Ride in all weather, because you will have to do the same on your bicycle trip.
12 weeks before your trip
Once or twice a week do intervals. Ride as hard as you can for 2-3 minutes, ride easy for 3 minutes, continue intervals for 20 minutes
Incorporate core workouts on your non-spin days
Complete longer rides on your non-interval days, these are your spin days.
8 weeks before your trip
Take longer rides 1 or 2 times a week for 40-50 miles
Practice finishing as strong as you start
4 Weeks before your trip
Reduce strength training
Start spending as much time in the saddle as feasible
Intervals are not as important now
Ride with weight in the panniers you’ll be utilizing
Make an appointment with your bike mechanic
Taper off your riding
Let your muscles rebuild
Take your bike in for it’s scheduled check-up
A stable core helps with balance, your posture, and makes you a more efficient rider. After a month of travel, cold winter weather, and socializing I’ll be returning to my basic routine of calisthenics and modest weight lifting soon, very soon.
My typical routine includes 10-20 minutes of sit-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges at least 3 times a week.
If you have a bad heart or other health problems please coordinate your bicycle training plans with a trained professional like a Physical Therapist or a Doctor.
These training techniques are flexible allowing you to adopt the mileage goal that fits with your abilities. It is much easier to maintain a consistent schedule if you note your progress on a calendar or maybe create a WhatsApp group to keep you motivated. Remember that the primary objective is for you to enjoy bike riding, even throughout the training process. The end result will be spectacular.