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Pro Tips: Training for multi-day bike rides 

So you’ve decided to do a multi-day event this year, great! But how do you start going about getting ready for it? We’ve put together a few tips to get you started. Training for multi-day bike rides is essential. It’s not only to ensure you are physically prepared for your endeavor and have a great time on the event, but to minimize the potential for overuse injuries (when you don’t prepare your body for back-to-back days of activity. So let’s get started training for your multi-day ride.! 

Use a calendar for scheduled training 

Using a calendar for training provides a good framework for steady progress. Let’s look at how to train for a ride month by month.

Training Tips By Month 

At Cycle Oregon, we know that training for multi-day bike rides can be a challenge. So, we’ve created a seven-month training plan to help get you started! (Pro tip: if you start this training program in March, you’ll be ready for Cycle Oregon’s multi-day Classic bike ride in September.)

Month 1: Base Fitness

The first month of training, is all about getting the body moving and establishing baseline fitness. Focus on cardiovascular (aerobic) fitness at this point. You should be training two to four days a week, anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes in duration. It’s also a good time to begin implementing a full-body strength and stretching routing a couple of days a week.

Month 2: Riding

This is the month to start working on that cycling posture. Aim for three to four rides a week. Indoor and outdoor training sessions count! Focus on keeping yourself relaxed on the bike. Keep a flat back, open chest, and knees tracking straight.If you find certain areas feel tight, do some specific stretches to address those areas at this time, before you develop any bad habits compensating for immobility. 

Month 3: Efficiency

This is when things start to ramp up and get more challengingr. You should have yourtposture dialed in and your aerobic base sound after the last 2 months of training.. Now it’s time to work on your cadence and pedal stroke. 

For your pedal stroke, focus on engaging your glutes and hamstrings to push and pull through your pedal stroke; think about making a big circle, and ‘scraping mud off your shoe’ at the bottom of the stroke to help engage these muscles. A good way to work on an even pedal stroke (and even distribution of power)  is to do some single-leg pedaling drills. This can help identify your weak spots so you can focus on those parts of the stroke. 

For your cadence work, begin in an easy gear and strive for a cadence between 80 and 100 rpm. This range, for most, will be the most energy efficient cadence to use for your back-to-back days of cycling.

Month 4: Strength

With a strong cadence and pedal stroke, you’re ready for the next step: hills! Yes, hills! Get ready for a month of strength training by climbing hills (see below for other examples)   Focus on keeping a steady cadence–regardless of whether you’re riding flat or on an incline. When climbing, aim for a cadence of around 60 rpm, continuing to work on your pedal stroke/efficiency. 

Month 5: Benchmarks

This month is when you should start perfecting your craft and hitting some  benchmarks. You should focus on working on your climbing and descending skills as well as knowing which gears to use in what situations. You should also be riding between 100 and 200 miles per week, getting in four to six rides per week (obviously some back-to-back days now), a few of which have some good climbing on them and at least one long ride. As an indicator of what work you have left to do, find a big, long hill and see how you do. Piece of cake – great work! Tiring out by the end, then you may want to put one or two long climbs in a week and work on them. 

Month 6: Putting it all together

Now is the time to put all your hard work together. All the cycling-specific pieces—cycling, posture, pedal stroke, cadence, strength, and gearing should be working together. One of the last things to focus on is building power. If you do power drills, you can teach yourself to have a reserve in the tank at the end of your ride. Here are a few power drills to try: out-of-the-saddle work, sprints, and power cadences. Do these a couple of days a week to give you that extra ‘boost’ you might need during your event.

Month 7: Ready, Set, Relax

A couple weeks prior to your multi-day cycling event, you can start to taper off your training. Where you’re at is where you’re at. You should let your body rest and recover so you can be at your best for your ride. If you want to ride, do an easy neighborhood ride, ride to the store or meet some friends and ride to a park. You’ve done the work over the last 6 months, so take time to relax and have a great ride!

Strength Training Exercises

Strength training will keep you on the bike longer and make long rides more enjoyable, especially when you hit those hills. One of the most common challenges you hear from cyclists when training for multi-day bike rides is climbing. Fortunately, one of the best ways to get better at this is to include hills and rollers in your training.

How to include hills and rollers in your training

If you’re riding four days a week, two or three days should consist of hill climbing. Find a route in your area with some hills, and work on climbing. Only have one hill? Do hill repeats. Don’t have hills where you are? Do interval training on the flats by doing sets of 40 seconds of hard pedaling (either a high cadence or shift into a harder gear), then 20 seconds of easy pedaling. Repeat this 10 times. To simulate rollers, do something similar, just decrease the work time and go all out for 10-20 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. 

When you’re ascending hills, think about your gearing. Finding the gears that work for you is an important part of riding up hills. You should be trying for a climbing cadence of at least 60 rpm if possible. 

Don’t Forget To Stretch! 

Stretching is an important part of training for any sport but especially when training for multi-day bike rides, as you’ll have long days in the saddle with only a few different positions Below is a list of some of the best stretches to do when training for a multi-day bike ride:

  • Thoracic Mobility Stretch
  • Neck/Upper Trap Stretch
  • Updog (Lumbar Mobilization Stretch)
  • Hip Flexor/Quad Stretch
  • Piriformis Stretch
  • Gastroc/Soleus Stretch

Practice your nutrition strategy for back-to-back days on the bike

When planning your nutrition strategy for back-to-back rides, it’s best to plan ahead. That way, you’ll know exactly what foods you need to have on hand before heading out on each ride. This helps ensure you get the right balance of nutrients each day and avoid overindulging in sugar or processed foods. Sugar and processed foods may leave you feeling sluggish or lacking energy the following day.  

Eating small snacks throughout the ride will keep your energy up. Look for snacks such as energy bars or gels that have essential carbohydrates and protein to sustain you through the day. Another thing you need to consider is recovery. 

Recovery after a multi-day bike tour

Recovery is vital both while preparing for a multi-day ride, after each day of a multi-day bike ride. Before you collapse into bed, you should do a few things to help your body recover. Here’s a quick guide on how to recover after a multi-day bike ride.

Eat Right

Eating the right foods is one of the most important things you can do to help your body recover. After a long ride, your body is depleted of glycogen (energy stored in muscles), so it’s important to replenish those stores as soon as possible. Eating foods high in protein and low-glycemic index carbohydrates within 30 minutes of finishing your ride will help jumpstart the recovery process.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is critical for recovery, so ensure you get plenty after a long training ride. Take a short power nap (10-15 minutes) or two during the day to help your body reenergize. Aim for eight hours of sleep at night, so your body can repair muscle tissue and replenish energy stores.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated during and after a long bike ride is essential. Drinking plenty of fluids will help your body recover from the stress of exercise and prevent dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and other problems. Be sure to drink water or an electrolyte-rich sports drink throughout the day, and remember to rehydrate after your nap!

Take a Recovery Day

If you’ve been riding hard for several days in a row, taking at least one day off for recovery between rides is essential. This doesn’t mean you must sit around all day; light exercises like walking or gentle stretching are fine. Just be sure to give your body time to rest so you can hit the road feeling refreshed and ready to go.

Now that you’re ready to start training for multi-day bike rides, here are a couple that you can sign up for! 

Sign up for a multi-day cycling events in Oregon

Do you love Oregon AND Cycling? Sign up for one of our Cycle Oregon multi-day cycling events this year! Rides are open to everyone and all skill levels. 

Cycle Oregon – GRAVEL 

  • Month: May 
  • Duration: 2 Days
  • Cumulative Distance: 91-109 Miles

Cycle Oregon –  CLASSIC

  • Month: September
  • Duration: 8 Days 
  • Cumulative Distance: 272-443 Miles

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