Question: After reading about your 600-mile week in Arizona, I’m wondering how to increase mileage so drastically. I bet that before the camp, you hadn’t ridden 80 miles in a day since winter started, and yet you averaged 88 miles for 7 consecutive days. How did you live to tell about it? — Len G.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: The standard recommendation is to increase mileage no more than 10% a week. Obviously, a 400% increase is a bit extreme.
But I survived, and so did the other 60 riders at the PAC Tour Training Camp. Coming straight from winter, no one could be fully prepared for such a big increase. Here’s how I laid a foundation that worked.
In January and February, I averaged about 13 hours of exercise per week. About 8 hours were on the bike. The rest was snowshoeing, hiking and weight training. Then I rode 35 hours during camp week, or more than four times as much as I’d been averaging.
One key to survival is to do several long training rides. These give you physical and mental benefits that help compensate for the lack of high-mileage weeks. For example, I did four 4-hour rides before camp.
The other secret is to “ride into” the camp. This means not going too hard on the first couple of days. Still, I managed to get into fast company on the first day! My legs weren’t too sore that evening, but my rear end was. It wasn’t accustomed to being on a saddle for nearly 6 hours.
Also, I think that my many years of riding 500 hours, including a decent number of long rides, has created a “muscle memory” and “organic fitness” that allows me to do an occasional astronomical week without getting too badly beaten up.