Cycling is accessible to many people and you don’t have to be super fit , but you do have to be prepared to train! This should start several months before the event itself. Insufficient training may prevent you from completing a challenge you set yourself.
Before you start training you should consult your doctor for advice
Cycling Expedition Training Tips
Your event will involve some physical challenge so you will need to prepare. Everyone will have a different level of fitness and experience and will meet different challenges during the event, but feeling healthy and prepared will mean you’ll findthe experience more enjoyable and rewarding.
Fit your training into your life
- The gym is good, but not everyone has access to one and remember that you don’t have to be in the gym to exercise on a bicycle.
- Why not swap that car or bus journey and cycle to work, or even part of the way?
- Take the stairs instead of the lift whenever possible.
- Make exercise part of your daily routine by getting up early to cycle, run or go to the gym.
- Go out for a walk or short ride during your lunch break.
- Look carefully at your weekly diary to identify when you have time for exercise.
- Don’t just cycle yourself fit but vary your exercise programme as this helps to keep you motivated and on track.
If you are novice cyclist
If you have not ridden a bike for several years, or perhaps never you will have to start training at least 4 months before their event. Build up the mileage gradually to avoid over-exercise and injury. This also establishes a good base fitness level on which you will need to build stamina for your cycle challenge.
Attempt a ride every other day for the first 4 weeks covering between 5 and 10 miles. Don’t over-stretch by using a gear that is too difficult for you or by riding as fast as you can – there will be time for this later.
Try to develop your cadence (the speed at which your legs rotate – RPM) as this will improve your aerobic capacity, meaning your heart and lungs grow stronger and are less stressed during exercise. Develop your cadence by selecting a gear that feels most comfortable when cycling on any gradient. Maintain a steady RPM of about 60-70 as this will increase your stamina and speed the rate at which you get cycling fit. You will soon be using harder gears whist at the same RPM.
When comfortable with your cadence and riding position you can start to step up the mileage. For the next four weeks try to ride 15 to 20 miles, 3 times each week with a Sunday ride of 30 miles.
Over the next two weeks, introduce an extra day’s cycling into your training with the distance at 10 – 15 miles. This will help to give you a feel for cycling day after day. Step up your Sunday rides to 3 times a month and cover about 40 miles.
In the final 3 weeks your daily mileage should be roughly 30 miles on each outing and Sunday mileage should be up to 50. A week before your trip you could either wind down and attempt 3 short 10 to 15 mile rides, or keep the training the same as the previous week.
Try to ride with your back straight and do exercises to minimise back pain.
Work on making your feet comfortable – shoes not too tight. Make sure your feet are straight when you clip into the pedals if you use cleats.
Padded gloves, a firm but relaxed grip on your handlebars, and your arms kept slightly bent will prevent hand and shoulder pain – especially on rough terrain.
Seek advice from a good bike shop on how to adjust handlebar and seat positions to minimise knee problems.
Ride on rough terrain to improve your balance and use of gears. Don’t use too high a gear as momentum is everything!
If you are an intermediate cyclist
This usually means that you have been cycling on and off for some years – maybe cycling to work or Sunday cycling with friends. As you have some degree of basic fitness and confidence, 3 months of training should be sufficient.
Spend the first four weeks introducing a regular training programme and work on your cadence (see the novice cyclist section) which will help to improve your stamina. Try cycling 15 miles 3 times a week and attempt a Sunday ride of 30 miles in the first month.
Over the next 4 weeks you should be feeling stronger and confident to increase your mileage – your cadence should now be comfortable and fluent. Your 3 weekly rides should cover 25 mile with a 40 mile ride on Sunday.
In the next 3 weeks you should introduce a fourth ride in your weekly programme of about 30 miles. You should also introduce 3 Sunday rides a month of 50 miles. You should be comfortable with these distances now, though don’t push yourself too hard.
A week before your trip you can either wind down and attempt 3 short 10 to 15 mile rides, or keep the training the same as the previous week.
If you are an advanced cyclist
You will already be cycling regularly throughout the year whether a long cycling commute or training seriously with weekend racing or time trials. You will already have a suitable training schedule and should cope comfortably with the demands of the event.
Enjoy your training. Take your time. Remember, the challenges are not just physical, and everyone on the ride will be supporting each other. At times it may be tough, but there is every reason to finish feeling you’ve done a great thing, and had a great time!Our cycle challenges are designed for people of average fitness, but you do have to be prepared to train! This should start several months before the event itself. Insufficient training may prevent you from completing this challenge.