I got an email from subscriber
Jeremy C asking how you can ride
for longer :
“I have been following you for a while now and today I realized
that to my observation, you mostly talk about how to be fitter to get PR’s or KOM’s etc. My riding style as mentioned in this email is more to enjoy scenery but also to ride far distances like several hundred miles over a week or 2 like bikepacking as well as some road touring. Could you write some articles about training for long term endurance as opposed to speed? That would definitely help me and I’m sure others who have a different style of riding.”
This is a great question
So first of all my usual advice has a big crossover to riding long
distances. If you get stronger and faster you are going to be able to ride further for longer periods of time as you will become much more efficient, meaning you use less energy to travel the same distance. There are ways to train specifically to be able to ride for long distances, day on day though
1. Ride more
First of all – if you want to ride longer distances – you can’t shortcut it. You need to ride longer distances. There’s a reason runners will run up to 18, 19 or 20 miles when training towards a marathon and not just 5 or 6 miles then jump to 26.
If you want to be able to ride further, and for longer, you need to put the hours in the saddle. You need to commit the time to actually getting out for full days – and full weekends in the saddle.
There is no shortcut. If you want to be able to ride hundreds of miles a week then you need to build up to it. Start with 100 miles a week. Then 150. Then 200 etc. Being fit enough to ride large distances – and on consistent days means training as close to that as you can. Going out daily for example, if you want to get better at riding daily for long distances.
Saying that…intervals will help you build up that longer distance
stamina. You want to be working mainly your ‘slow twitch’ muscle
fibres. This means that you are going to want on emphasis on 2, 5, 10, 15 or 20 minute intervals for example rather than short sharp 30 second sprints which are more fast twitch muscle fibres.
An example session : Head out and perform a 20 minute hill climb where you are busting a gut, pushing to 95% of your max effort when you cross the line. Then continue riding at a steady pace for 10-20 minutes and repeat the effort. This will improve your fitness to be able to ride further without actually riding further. This has to be in addition to point one though.
3. Weight train
You still need to be strong to ride long distances. You need strong muscles, tendons, ligaments and even bones to be able to ride for hours at a time.
The stronger you are as a whole, the more efficient you will be – and thus the easier your body is going to find to ride for long distances. It will also mean when you get to sections of trail that require a lot of leg strength – think a short steep climb, or a tech section, that you will easily have enough strength to complete it meaning it takes less out of you.
Weight training will HUGELY help you have the strength and efficiency to ride long distances.
4. Base miles
Finally, base miles will really help build up your stamina. Base miles are extra miles in the saddle at a really easy intensity. Think a 10 mile ride along the canal at 50% of your max speed. You should get home feeling like you have worked a little – but still have PLENTY in the tank. If you don’t need a sit on the sofa when you return home your intensity is about right.
Base miles make a good difference in building up your ‘base fitness’ so you can build on it. It makes your body super efficient at spending hours in the saddle.
The more base miles you can do the better. Every morning or evening works great. Or riding to and from work at an easy pace
These are the main 4 ways to improve your fitness for riding day, day out and covering long distances.
Remember – above all you need to put the hours in the saddle. If you want to ride everyday for 2 weeks you are going to REALLY struggle if you only ride once or twice per week at the minute.
Nothing beats putting the hours in.
Always remember: there are no shortcuts