Training For A Bike Tour
No matter how much you ride your bike, you should consider training before heading out on a bike tour. If you're going on an advanced level tour, you're going to have to train heavily before your trip if you don't already ride daily. For beginners, training doesn't mean you have to be marathon ready, but you should be used to being on your bike and able to ride for an hour or two at a steady pace. Many travelers make the mistake of hopping on a plane and planning to ride around for several hours a day without ever spending time on their bike in the weeks leading up to their trip. They end up with sore bums, aching muscles, and general regret that they didn't train. You don't need to be in serious shape to enjoy your trip, but putting in a few hours a week on your bike will make your trip much more enjoyable.
10 Training Fundamentals for Beginners
1. Set A Goal
Check with your tour company to get the average daily milage of your trip. This is the perfect training goal. If you're a true beginner, make the average daily milage what you work up to. If you're a more seasoned rider, try to work a bit further than this or use more hills and your trip will be multitudes easier.
2. Work Up To Your Goal Gradually
Once your goal is set, start riding half of that goal and work up to your final milage slowly. If you've given yourself enough time before your trip you have no need to rush. The last thing you want to do is push yourself too hard and cause a travel-ending injury. At first, only do what is comfortable and push yourself only to the point where you're not in any pain.
3. Start Training Several Weeks Before Your Trip
If you start 8-10 weeks before your trip you will be able to work up slowly to your milage goal. For example - if your goal is 30 miles a day, then start riding 10 or 15 miles at a time for the first week. Then add 5 miles each week for the next three to four weeks until you're at your goal. Now, keep riding 30 miles at a time and you will get more and more comfortable. Once you feel ready, start going on a different route with more hills or turns. You will encounter hills on your tour, so don't ignore them at home. With proper training you'll feel more confident, comfortable and stronger than ever.
4. Stay Relaxed
Beginners often grip their bars too tightly or have their bikes set up incorrectly and cause uncomfortable conditions such as cyclist's palsy or biking numbness. Keep your hands relaxed by adjusting your grip every few miles. Rotate your wrist position so that pressure isn't always on your palms. And, if the vibrations from the road are causing you troubles, Harmonic Dampers can work wonders and are extremely easy for anyone to install. Next, check your riding position. Incorrect seat height is the most common error for beginner riders. This step-by-step guide will help you get the perfect saddle height. If you're uncomfortable doing this on your own, head over to your local bike shop and they will likely adjust your seat and give your bike a quick safety check free of charge.
5. Mind Your Behind
If you don't regularly cycle or dislike bike shorts, your backside will likely cause you troubles during training. Saddle sore, as it's called, is something that can only truly be overcome by riding more regularly. Just know that this will go away as you continue your training. In the meantime, try using chamois butter which is available at most bike shops. Apply this before you ride and you'll avoid chaffing as much as possible. And, even if you don't like the way they look, consider buying a great pair of cycling shorts. They have padding in the rear to combat this exact issue and are worth every penny. Some companies, such as Zoic and Bontrager, offer loose fitting cycling shorts with padding for riders who prefer more relaxed fit clothing.
6. Test Your Tour Gear
While training, wear what you plan to wear on tour. You'll quickly realize what works and what doesn't so there are no surprises. You'll get used to wearing clothes you wouldn't normally wear and all of your apparel will become softer and more comfortable.
7. Drink Slowly, Drink Often
Take small sips of water every 10 minutes while you're riding. By not taking big gulps of water you'll avoid those painful side aches that may keep you from riding. And, nothing feels better than some ice cold water while you're training. But, your body can't absorb such cold liquids so you're better off putting regular tap water in your bottles before heading out. Finally, drink about 16-ounces of water in the 1-2 hours before you go out for a ride. This will keep you hydrated throughout your trip and keep you from cramping.
8. Do a Bit of What You Hate
If you hate hills, try to incorporate them in your route. Even small hills over time will pay off. You're training right now so there is no need to head up a mountain, but the more hills you encounter at home, the easier they will be when you're on your trip.
9. Protect Yourself
Wear sunblock, glasses, and cover your exposed skin as much as possible. Even cloudy skies can pack quite a UV punch and cause a nasty sunburn if you are out riding for several hours. Try to ride in the morning or late afternoon if at all possible. By avoiding peak sunlight hours (between 1:00pm an 4:00pm) you'll minimize your chances of heat stroke, sunburn and fatigue.
10. Keep It Fun
After all, you're training for a vacation, not an IronMan. If having an end destination will help you stick to your training plan, then head to an ice cream shop, beautiful lake, or even a friend's house. Make your training as fun as possible, and don't worry about being perfect. Any riding you do will help get you ready to have a great trip. The most important thing is that you enjoy the ride and feel great doing it.
Training Resources for Advanced Cyclists
The following recommended resources come directly from the experts in advanced or active level bike touring. These guides are full of great training tips, guidelines, plans and supplemental information. Many of these tours are extremely difficult so training accordingly will allow you to ride hard and enjoy every moment of the world's most epic climbs, cols and switchbacks.
Recommended Training Tools for All Riders
Widely known as the most exciting indoor cycling training videos in the world. These videos have structured high-intensity interval workouts and feature races like the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix and the Giro d'Italia. Even beginner riders can have a blast following along with these videos which are available for your laptop, Smart TV, Roku or AppleTV.
It’s one thing to say you had a great ride, it's another thing to be able to prove it to your friends, and yourself. Strava is a mobile app for iPhone and Android that does all the basics of a GPS-enabled cycling computer but on a device you probably already own. Strava allows you to track your progress on every route you take, compare yourself to others who have ridden that route and visualize the data behind your ride. The premium subscription brings more filters to the ranking system, keeps track of weekly progress goals, and allows you to incorporate data from your heart rate monitor and power meter.
CycleOps Indoor Trainers
When the temperature drops or the rain is pouring, CycleOps indoor bike trainers will keep your training on schedule. With trainers, rollers, indoor bikes and even virtual trainers, CycleOps has high-quality training equipment for every budget and riding ability. There are many companies providing similar training aids, but you won't find anything stronger, more durable or thoughtfully constructed than this.
Join an Indoor Cycling Studio
Normally considered an exercise option for young females, spinning classes are kicking it up a notch and gaining more male students than ever before. These classes are great for keeping yourself motivated, on schedule and having fun. We recommend looking into Vision Quest, Cyc Fitness, Flywheel, SoulCycle or even looking into spinning classes at your local gym.
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