Over the next few months, I am going to present a series of blogs which will offer general guidelines and coaching tips for The Freedom Ride participants.

My blog does not cover detailed training plans as it would be difficult to cover the majority of cyclists’ needs within a blog of this nature and the training requirements of each cyclist are unique.

In this first blog, I will cover endurance training and how you can benefit from a good plan that includes building endurance via long steady miles. Some of you may be joining the ride for a few days, and some of you may be riding the full distance of 1400 miles from Bend, Oregon to Laguna Beach, California. Regardless, the fundamental principles of efficiency and comfort are the same.

Before embarking on the physical training, let’s consider your equipment and clothing. Investing in high-quality bike shorts and a bike fit by a reputable specialist is imperative. Chafing is annoying, and saddle sores are painful. While chamois bike shorts reduce both, many cyclists still experience discomfort due to the sheer amount of time spent in the saddle. However, a good quality lanolin cream designed for chamois helps reduce friction and soothe saddle sores. Most high-end bike shops offer bike fitting. Sitting correctly on your bike ensures a more efficient and enjoyable ride. A small change such as moving your handlebars up can take pressure off the shoulders and the hands for a more comfortable ride.

Once we have the bike and the clothes, we can focus on the training plan. You could be the fastest cyclist in town for 20 miles, but if you can’t make efficient use of your fuels and your body, then you are likely to run out of gas before the end of a long ride. This is especially true with back-to-back endurance rides. The goal of the training plan is to increase your mental and physical endurance.

The Freedom Ride begins September 9th. You’ll want to start weekly long rides (50-60 miles or so) mid-April. If you already have a good base (i.e. you did a lot of endurance mileage the previous year but, have been off the bike for more than three months), then you can start with confidence that your base mileage will come easily and with little risk of injury. If, however, you’re fairly new to longer rides over challenging terrain, you’ll want to start with somewhat shorter rides (20-40 miles) so that come May through June you’ll be ready to increase the distance and time on the bike.

I encourage you to be patient with building the base; it is easy doing too much too soon and suffer mental and physical fatigue. Sixty miles should be a good starting point (40 or 50 miles perhaps if you’re a little behind the curve due to harsh winter conditions or a heavy work schedule). Increase your ride time/distance by 10-15 percent each week – no more. Also, make sure to allow a week or so for some recovery from your endurance workouts. Recovery from endurance workouts takes a bit longer than it does when training more specifically for speed, strength or power.  Since we’re speaking of training for endurance and not for “speed,” your most important ride will be your long ride. It is important not to mix your weekly endurance rides with speed, strength, and power workouts at this time of the year. Avoid the local group rides for the next two months.

Find a friend who likes to ride steady i.e. you can still hold a conversation — yes, even uphill and on your favorite town-line sprints! Avoid those friends who insist on half-wheeling you. The objective is to train not only your muscles and your cardiovascular system — both of which receive benefits from strength, speed and power workouts — but also to train your digestive system and your ability to use energy efficiently.

The key is to plan and build up the miles slowly and consistently and enjoy your cycling!

BY: Marianne Berglund