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Training for Your Bike Tour

Do you need to train for your bike trip? That’s a question that only you can answer, but here is some guidance to help you get the most from your bike tour and make sure you’re prepared to have a great time.

Whether you’re training for a week-long 500-mile trip or a trek cross-country, the preparation is the same. Bicycle touring is an endurance activity so you need to spend time on your bike to condition your muscles and get your body used to extended periods in the saddle. If you’ve been away from cycling or from exercising for a while, or have health problems it’s best to check with your physician first before you start a training program.

Trail Difficulty

The trails we tour on are relatively easy, flat trails with almost no hills or technical sections. On some of the trails, you will experience a slight elevation gain but it will be so gradually most riders don’t even notice. (Learn more about our difficulty level scale.)

Trail Mileage

Most riders of any fitness level find that our average day of 30-40 miles is a doable undertaking. This translates to about 4-5 hours on the bike during the day, allowing plenty of time to stop and take pictures, eat, and enjoy yourself. If that is a stretch, we also offer a few trips with days of 20 miles or less.

Experienced riders who enjoy longer distances can ride 50-70 miles per day, which translates to a faster pace and about 5-6.5 hours on the bike each day. This means less time for stopping, but plenty of time for riding!

Multi-Day Bike Trips

Typically the biggest challenge riders face on our trips has to do with being on a bike (in a riding position) for multiple days. While most all riders can easily undertake one 30-40 mile day, doing this for 4-5 (or more) days in a row can present challenges (stiffened back, arm/shoulders, posterior, and wrist sensitivity from gravel surfaces are common). Our training tips address this training challenge, in addition to simply learning to cover distances each day.

Bike Training Recommendations

Below are some tips to help you prepare for your ride.

  • Stretch, Yoga – If you’re use to working on a computer 5 (or more) days a week, and then sit on a bicycle for 5 hours a day, multiple days in a row you will experience tightness/strain in areas that can make your trip less enjoyable (shoulders, neck, lower back). Stretching (and even yoga) prior to your trip can help provide the flexibility needed to decreases the likelihood of strain in these areas.
  • Multi-Day Riding – We strongly encourage training geared to more DAYS on the bike, rather than more MILES on the bike. The day-after-day friction of riding on a bike trip is what tends to create the most discomfort for cyclists who don’t ride regularly. If you do not ride often and want to be sure that you are prepared for your trip, you are better served to ride just 5 or 10 miles/day for 3 or more days a week, rather than riding 30+ miles on a weekend only once a week. An ideal training schedule would be 2 or 3 short (10 mile or less) days and then two longer (30-40 mile) days on a weekend as you get close to trip time.
  • Proper Nutrition, Hydration – During your training, it would be good to get into the habit of proper nutrition and hydration to make sure these things don’t work against you while you’re out on your trip. “How to Fuel on Rides of Any Length” is a helpful article to read.

Test Out Gear & Clothing

Often riders will go out and purchase new gear and clothing for their upcoming tour. If this is something you plan to do, be sure to buy it well enough in advance to test it out prior to actual trip. For example, new bicycling shorts or shoes may cause friction and not fit correctly and you don’t want to be two days into your ride to figure this out.

Bike Fit

Also, as you train, look out for any issues that emerge from how your body is interacting with your bike. Watch for areas of friction and/or pain from the seat (seams and shape can cause discomfort – invest in some padded shorts and try out multiple saddles), bike fit (seat height and pedal placement), and handlebar set up (try changing the angle, changing bar and grip shapes, and distance between seat and handlebars). Follow this link to watch our video discussing ways to make yourself more comfortable on your bike.