Training Tips for a Multi-Day Cycling Tour
23rd January 2017.When you cycle for exercise, you see a lot more of the world around you than you would any other way, even by running. Cycling lets you hit a higher top speed, and with the right endurance work, you can go for miles and miles. Over time, though, you might see much of what your town or city has to offer. Seeing the same sights can lead to boredom setting in, which can threaten the regularity of your fitness activities. Perhaps it's time to ramp up the challenge and push yourself farther than ever before. If you don't want to participate in a more competitive atmosphere like a cycling race, though, what can you do instead? Why not try a cycling tour that spans multiple days? A multi-day ride allows you to indulge in the best of both worlds: you can cover a lot more ground and see tonnes of interesting sights while also testing the limits of your endurance. Of course, you can't just hop on your bike and ride off into the sunset one day. Instead, you'll have to work up to it, preparing your body for the stresses and rigours of riding for several days in a row. With that in mind, let's start looking at some of the best training tips for a cycling tour. With the correct preparations, you'll be able to enjoy the challenge while remaining comfortable enough to soak in the views.
Develop your cardio fitness & overall strength first
Cycling over a long distance repeatedly over several days, as in a tour, can be very hard on your body. To complete this challenge, you must acclimate your body to the rigours of cycling. That means boosting both your cardiovascular ability as well as your level of strength. The importance of cardio is self-evident, but why do you need strength training, too? Think about it: where do you feel it the most when you've been cycling for a long time? Sure, your legs are tired, but your core and upper body can start to ache too. You don't even realise how much of the muscles in your body you use while cycling! First, develop your approach to cardio fitness. Do long runs on a treadmill or outdoors two to three times a week. You can also substitute swimming. If you're elevating your heart rate and keeping it there, you're on the right track. You'll also get plenty of cardio during training rides; more on those in a moment. For strength, incorporate dumbbell exercises, such as squats and arm raises. Tackle hills and inclines during your rides. Focus on exercise machines that work out your upper body. By balancing cardio and strength training together, you can give your body what it needs to succeed on the tour trail.
What should your training rides be like?
Whenever you spend a day working hard in the gym, make your daily ride a shorter one. However, throughout the weeks of your training, you need to have several days where you go for a long ride. Set your goal as the total distance you want to cover in one day of the tour. Then start at your normal ride length and begin adding the miles slowly. Week to week, you should add about five miles (up to ten, but no more) to your ride. Increasing the distance incrementally will allow you to work towards your goal gradually. However, it can still be a challenge. Remember to pace yourself. During your initial rides, don't carry anything extra with you. However, as the distance begins to add up and you go deeper into training, start carrying your packs and saddlebags. The added weight will allow you to simulate the challenge of riding on tour. This slowly increasing level of challenge will allow you to adjust while also giving you ample room to grow.
Train in different types of weather
While one always hopes for excellent weather when you embark on your tour, it's not always a guarantee. When you're gearing up for your training ride and you look out the window to see rain clouds gathering, don't kick off your shoes. If there's no threat of lightning, you should get out in the rain to keep on training. You may even want to try going longer than planned on a rainy day! The same goes for when the weather is perhaps warmer than you might like. We're not suggesting this just because we think the difficulty can build character, it's a good challenge! During training, you will spend a great deal of time conditioning your body. What about your mind, though? Mental fatigue and exhaustion make foes just as challenging as muscle cramps and oxygen debt. Getting out and riding in weather you don't like will help you break down those mental barriers that might hold you back during your tour. There will always be times, even when you're surrounded by beautiful scenery, that the idea of pedalling on for another few miles will seem impossible. You can do it, though, even if it takes riding in a rainstorm to make it possible.
Overall, consistency is the key to success
Between your cardio efforts, strength training exercises, and the long-distance runs, you're going to have a lot on your plate. At first, it can seem like an almost overwhelming amount of activity to consider every week. When you break it down day by day, though, it's much easier to manage. When you start feeling tempted to skip a day, though, don't! There's a very important reason for that: a consistent training routine will reinforce the gains you make week to week. If you start to slip and fall behind, you might find yourself running out of energy in the middle of one of your stages! To reinforce the consistent nature of your schedule, you can try several strategies. Keep a calendar devoted just to your workouts. Mark on each day what your goals are along with what you actually complete. Consider keeping a diary to mark down your thoughts, the day's results, and where you think you can improve. By adding additional elements such as these to your training beyond just the physical workouts, you can stay engaged. Keeping your interest level up will help to motivate you to stay consistent.
Remember to taper your training towards the end
While you'll want to keep up a very consistent workout and strive to go farther each week, eventually the date you've set to embark on your tour will approach. As you get closer and closer to setting out on your journey, it's important that you begin to slow down the pace of your training. Think of it as a traditional bell curve; you start out slowly, raise up to peak intensity, and then slowly wind back down again. While you won't stop training entirely in the weeks before your departure, you do want to make sure that you haven't spent all your energy too soon. A proper taper includes reducing the number of high-intensity workouts you do before the first tour day. While you might be doing two or three long rides each week, you'll want to work down to just one or two. Keep some other aerobic exercise sessions in the mix as well. In combination with other factors, like the right diet, your taper should leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready for the actual difficulties of the tour. Remember that rest is just as important as exercise at times and the end of your training should be a time for rest.
Start your training today and dream about your tour
Although it involves a lot of hard work and effort over a significant period, putting in the training for a cycling tour is all worth it once you set out on your journey. You'll have the whole of each day to cover your distance, and with the right route, plenty to see along the way as well! Challenging your body and your mind to overcome the difficulties that accompany a cycling tour is an excellent method for chasing away boredom. We hope that you'll take the time to consider putting together your own training plan and starting the work soon. The wonders of the world await you and your bicycle. What might you discover? Follow @SportNessUK