Summer is coming and you’re probably planning a long ride. You may not be up for a century but look forward to the club’s 50-miler or a 100K with a friend. Or you may be preparing for a century, 200K or longer. Whatever the distance here are 12 potential mistakes to avoid:
1. Inadequate training. A long ride is an endurance event and a successful and fun event requires miles in the bank. Build up to a long training ride of 2/3 to 3/4 the distance of your planned event over similar terrain.
2. Ramping up too fast. Increase your week-to-week volume by 10-20%. Increase your weekly long ride by 10-20%. Increase your month-to-month volume by 15-25%.
3. Training at the same intensity. Effective training includes endurance riding, some hard intensity rides and also easy recovery rides.
4. Training too hard. Most rides should be done at a conversational pace including the weekly long ride. You should be able to talk the whole time but not sing.
5. Not testing and your perfecting nutrition, clothing, equipment, etc. in advance. Nothing new during the event.
6. Skipping breakfast. Glycogen supplies (from carbohydrate) are limited in the body. You should eat a good breakfast (but nothing new!) primarily of carbohydrate with a bit of protein and fat.
7. Not eating enough during the event. You should eat at least 200 calories per hour and 300 calories hour is better.
8. Not eating regularly during the event. If you eat at a rest stop, ride several hours to the next rest stop and then eat again, then your energy may fade in between rest stops. You should eat 200-300 calories every hour.
9. Improper hydration. We were taught to drink before we are thirsty; however, on multi-hour rides drinking too much may dilute the blood sodium, resulting in hyponatremia, a potentially dangerous condition. Drink enough to satisfy your thirst but not more.
10. Improper pacing. Riders sometimes go out too fast and then fade and struggle by the second half. If you can’t ride with a group at that conversational pace then drop off. The right group for you is behind you!
11. Getting lost. Don’t assume that the group you are with is on course. Pay some time in advance studying the cue sheet and then double-check each turn.
12. Inappropriate equipment. Bike shops generally sell a range of racing-style road bikes. These may have a fairly short wheelbase and straight fork, which make for quick responsiveness in a criterium, but the bike is harder to ride straight and the ride is harsher. The bike may have a significant drop between the saddle and the handlebars, great for aerodynamics in a road race but tiring on a century. The bike may have reduced spoke count wheels, which make for faster acceleration but aren’t as durable as wheels with 32 spokes.
By avoiding these mistakes you’ll finish an endurance ride with a grin on your face.
To learn how to train effectively, eat correctly and ride an endurance ride get my bundle of three eArticles Endurance Training and Riding.
- Beyond the Century describes training principles and different training intensities and how to integrate these into program of long rides. Although written for roadies doing longer events all of the principles also apply to shorter events. I lay out an 8-week plan to build up to a century and then a 200-km ride (about 125 miles), plans which could be easily adapted to shorter rides.
- Nutrition for 100K and Beyond provides you with the information you need to fuel your engine before, during and after endurance rides.
- Mastering the Long Ride gives you the skills you need to finish your endurance rides. Effective training provides your base, and proper nutrition gives you the fuel. The key to success is to use your smarts to complement your legs.
The 50 page Endurance Training and Riding bundle is $13.50 ($11.48 for our Premium Members).
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John's full bio.