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From Scratch to Cycling 350km in 3 days - 6 months to train - HELP!!!

KevlingtonKevlington Posts: 11
edited April 2017 in Road beginners
Hi all,

I recently agreed to do a ride with some friends (all experienced riders) from London to Amsterdam to Bruges over three days, with the longest legs being up to 150km per day. My issue is that it has been 15 years since I last rode a road bike.. or any bike for that matter. Currently I have bought myself a road bike (Specialized Alliez 2014) and winter riding gear and have been out for two 10km rides over the weekend. My problem is basically I'm a 30 year old, slightly overweight ex smoker (gave up on NYE this year) and I like a beer or two... So my fitness levels are non-existent. I wouldn't say the 10km killed me as I was able to repeat the ride the next day at a faster pace (15kph average.)

I now have 6 months to get into a position of being able to ride 350km at a reasonable pace without embarrassing myself. Do you lovely people have any advice on training, building up fitness and diet to help achieve this? I have the following time available to train - weekends and two 1 hours slots in the week where I can get out on the road. Also am joining a gym so can have gym facilities on 2 days per week.

I really don't mind putting in as much effort as needed to achieve these goals and am keen to build up my fitness as quickly as possible. The advantage is that the two short rides I have done to date put a massive grin on my face. I forgot how much I loved cycling!!
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  • Ride as much as you can and it'll come with time.

    Also invest in some decent bib shorts
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Do they have spin classes at the gym ? Get to those if you can. At the weekend - ride and ride some more.
    You can come along quite quickly with distance so you shouldnt be in too bad shape if you keep at it.

    If you can do 10km this week then next week you can do 20k. Maybe add an extra 10k each week and see where you go.
  • Fenix wrote:
    Do they have spin classes at the gym ? Get to those if you can. At the weekend - ride and ride some more.
    You can come along quite quickly with distance so you shouldnt be in too bad shape if you keep at it.

    If you can do 10km this week then next week you can do 20k. Maybe add an extra 10k each week and see where you go.

    Thanks for the advice. Will do exactly that. 2 x 20km rides this weekend.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,934
    Easily enough time to get ready for that, should be a good challenge. Personally I would concentrate on doing a long ride each Saturday increasing distance each time, the fitness and any weight loss will come as you build up so you want to get used to spending a long time in the saddle. I'm sure a lot of people will have some good advice on the specifics but broadly you could do a lot worse than just getting used to the effort required and learning what sort of pace/distance you can do now, then building from there.

    Make sure you take enough food and water, set out with a sensible loop in mind (as a guess maybe 40km to start?) and take it deliberately slowly for the first 3rd to see how you feel. You will probably find that you get to the half way point feeling surprisingly good, then you can up the pace a bit if you want to. Needless to say, make sure you have a phone and/or emergency taxi money. If you start out early and have enough supplies you might find that you can do a hell of a lot more km already than you think you can.

    When you start feeling comfortable at the longer rides speak to your friends about the sort of pace they are planning on then try and work to that. I'm sure you'll have a few rides where you feel bad but don't get disheartened

    In my experience I would say it's much easier than it sounds to do long rides so long as you build up to it and keep eating. Avoiding takeaways and eating slightly smaller portions on non-riding days will help lose any weight you want to. For the sessions in the week maybe look at doing something that gets your heart rate up

    Good luck!
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    any chance you can commute to work ..... a short spin to work and back every day does wonders for fitness levels and bike handling.

    short more intense sessions during the week, long endurance rides at the weekend
  • HaydenM wrote:
    Easily enough time to get ready for that, should be a good challenge. Personally I would concentrate on doing a long ride each Saturday increasing distance each time, the fitness and any weight loss will come as you build up so you want to get used to spending a long time in the saddle. I'm sure a lot of people will have some good advice on the specifics but broadly you could do a lot worse than just getting used to the effort required and learning what sort of pace/distance you can do now, then building from there.

    Make sure you take enough food and water, set out with a sensible loop in mind (as a guess maybe 40km to start?) and take it deliberately slowly for the first 3rd to see how you feel. You will probably find that you get to the half way point feeling surprisingly good, then you can up the pace a bit if you want to. Needless to say, make sure you have a phone and/or emergency taxi money. If you start out early and have enough supplies you might find that you can do a hell of a lot more km already than you think you can.

    When you start feeling comfortable at the longer rides speak to your friends about the sort of pace they are planning on then try and work to that. I'm sure you'll have a few rides where you feel bad but don't get disheartened

    In my experience I would say it's much easier than it sounds to do long rides so long as you build up to it and keep eating. Avoiding takeaways and eating slightly smaller portions on non-riding days will help lose any weight you want to. For the sessions in the week maybe look at doing something that gets your heart rate up

    Good luck!

    Thanks for your post - I think in my head I'm building it up to be almost impossible, however I will train hard. I think they are saying a pace of 20-25kph..
  • fat daddy wrote:
    any chance you can commute to work ..... a short spin to work and back every day does wonders for fitness levels and bike handling.

    short more intense sessions during the week, long endurance rides at the weekend

    No chance of that as my office is 110 miles from my house and I travel nationally for work. This is why my training time is so limited in the week
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    Start with endurance (distance) first and worry about speed much later. As others have said, there's no substitute for time in the saddle as much and as far as possible. Agree that you have plenty of time.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Well I returned to road cycling after a 25 year break at the ripe old age of 50 and following knee surgery. Bloody hell, it was hard at first, especially the hills. Stick at it and the fitness and stamina will come.

    I'd echo what was said above, just spend as much time on the bike as possible. Don't worry about speed at the moment, just keep upping the distances by say 10% a week. Find nice routes so the rides are enjoyable rather than a slog. Concentrate on pacing yourself so you don't finish the rides absolutely exhausted, and remember to include enough recovery time. Look at comfort on the bike (bike fit, decent bibshorts, footwear gloves etc); you're going to be spending a lot of hours in the saddle. And practice eating and drinking on the bike so you get a feel for the types of things that work for you and how much you need to carry. (No need for expensive 'sports nutrition / hydration stuff; my personal favourites are fig rolls and jelly babies, and in the bottles I have squash with a bit of salt)

    Good luck!
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,934
    Kevlington wrote:
    HaydenM wrote:
    Easily enough time ...
    Good luck!

    Thanks for your post - I think in my head I'm building it up to be almost impossible, however I will train hard. I think they are saying a pace of 20-25kph..

    I know the feeling! I have managed twice to do my longest ever rides in the multi day rides themselves rather than building up enough before hand, it's surprising what you can do with enough gels, encouragement from friends and the promise of a few pints at the end but I wouldn't recommend it! You've got plenty of time to get your distance up as long as you go for it
  • peatpeat Posts: 1,242
    I've fallen in love with cycling because of the simplicity of achieving your goals.

    If you put in the work, the result will be achieved.

    Get yer head down, you can do it.
  • You'll be able to do it.

    In addition to the advice to spend time on the bike and get the kms under your legs, also spend time doing things like getting comfortable drinking and eating on the bike. Also spend time getting used to riding on the drops, to help you speed up.

    Last year I went from no riding to doing the Ride London 100 miles and started off very worried, but worked hard and it was fine on the day. But early on I would ride up and down local roads just getting comfortable pulling my bottle out of the cage and drinking. Then eating etc. It's essential on the ride as well.

    I personally advocate doing other gym work as well, core strength stuff which you can do when travelling.
  • Hi All,

    Just a quick update I have booked out a velodrome that I have found near to my office for 4 hours on a Monday night each week. Going to work on building speed and drinking, eating in a safe flood lit environment. Hopefully I can monitor my distance and improve each week.Thanks for all the advice

    Kev
  • riekorieko Posts: 121
    Training in the week can be difficult at this time of year with the shorter days and wet/windy weather.

    You could invest in a turbo trainer do help you get some miles on the saddle, or better yet an entry level smart trainer (Tacx Flow or Vortex). I know someone who recently picked up a Tacx flow for £110 on Gumtree, which means he can Zwift away on his bike in the cold winter months for relatively cheap.
    Giant TCR
    Giant TCX
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,811
    If you take it seriously and do a reasonable amount of training, by which I simply mean riding as far as you can comfortably, as often as you can, then it will be a breeze. 20-25kph after a summer of training is surprisingly easy.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Train early. Plenty of base miles. I would suggest since it is 3 days in a row to train up to the distance. Some will train to 75 miles for a century race. That may be fine there, but if you have to do 75 3 days in a row that's different.

    I would do this:
    Split up the weeks and distances/elevations. Don't ignore elevation, training to 75 miles at 500 feet is way different than 75 miles at 5000 feet.

    You have let's say 25 weeks. Do one shorter ride of 10 to 15 each week and one longer ride. Start the longer ride at 10 miles and increase by about 3 miles per week until you get there. Be sure to maybe add elevation with distance to match the elevation also.
  • When at the gym I personally wouldn't be doing any weight training. Just the endurance side of things which hopefully will help with weight loss.
    Rowing , cycling , running , cross country ski thing , stepper. Do steady 3 mins with a 15 second blast at the end. General interval training to relieve the boredom ., 4 x 15 mins on alternating equipment should keep your body from finding things too easy.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Don't ignore elevation, training to 75 miles at 500 feet is way different than 75 miles at 5000 feet.

    There's not much in the way of elevation between London, Amsterdam and Bruges unless you do a massive detour....
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    And spin the pedals at 80 rpm rather than the 60 that beginners often start with.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    When at the gym I personally wouldn't be doing any weight training. Just the endurance side of things which hopefully will help with weight loss.
    Rowing , cycling , running , cross country ski thing , stepper. Do steady 3 mins with a 15 second blast at the end. General interval training to relieve the boredom ., 4 x 15 mins on alternating equipment should keep your body from finding things too easy.

    On this, something I noticed on doing London to Edinburgh (about 115 miles a day for 4 days and my first centuries) was how many people (including me) got tight Achilles. Spoke to the Bike Whisperer afterwards who suggested that doing some Achilles exercises (front of foot on a step and raise/lower body) would be good preparation if multiday distance riding isn't something you do regularly. YMMV but it might also save you some discomfort and it's an exercise you can do anywhere.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    it's as much training your legs & heart as it is the rest of your body to be comfortable on the bike for a longer duration.
    One part often overlooked until it's too late is your censored !

    Getting a sore censored can knock your training for 6 - so make sure you've got some comfortable shorts - doesn't matter if they're cheap or expensive - they just need to be comfortable. Ensure your saddle is comfy - I found the stock Allez one comfortable enough - but others dont - and get some chamois cream for your longer rides - makes a massive difference
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    doing some Achilles exercises (front of foot on a step and raise/lower body) would be good preparation if multiday distance riding isn't something you do regularly. YMMV but it might also save you some discomfort and it's an exercise you can do anywhere.

    Although if you do it in the middle of an open plan office, your colleagues might be wondering why you're suddenly popping up and down like an inquisitive meerkat...
  • Where possible do your road riding with friends rather than on your own. Much more enjoyable and if (like me) your friends are a bit fitter then it will push you to go a bit harder, faster and longer.

    If your friends aren't able to ride then look for a local cycling club, they often will have rides you can join at weekends. My local club has 6 or 7 different rides on a saturday morning, ranging from super fast covering 70-80 miles down to super slow covering 20 miles or so.
    GET WHEEZY - WALNUT LUNG RACING TEAM™
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    4hrs is a long session for a beginner :shock:

    If you average 15mph you can do 60 miles in 4 hrs.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,811
    Moonbiker wrote:
    4hrs is a long session for a beginner :shock:

    If you average 15mph you can do 60 miles in 4 hrs.
    15mph = 24kph. 9:00 - 11:00 and a coffee break = 48km.
    11:30 - 1:30 and lunch = 96 km. 2:30 - 5:00 time for beers = 156km. Easy. :P
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Moonbiker wrote:
    4hrs is a long session for a beginner :shock:

    If you average 15mph you can do 60 miles in 4 hrs.

    I've been riding about 8 months. I'd say 6 months at any reasonable distance. I've done two metric centuries.

    I labored 5 hours on one of those metric centuries, 65 miles, because it had 4000 feet of elevation. No food, only two bottles and refills and a little energy snack bar of rice junk. Poor decision there but it is what it was.

    It wasn't THAT bad.

    Beginners like us can make big improvements early on. Just takes miles and hard work. The improvements get smaller and harder the faster you get.

    People will disagree on this point, and I can't say I've done it because I don't own any, but some people find TT bars for long solo efforts effective at staying aero without holding your weight in your arms on the drops for half a day.

    If your route is what it says above then wind may play a huge factor. Could be difference between an easy flat effort and a life changing experience of a fight.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    People will disagree on this point, and I can't say I've done it because I don't own any, but some people find TT bars for long solo efforts effective at staying aero without holding your weight in your arms on the drops for half a day.

    If your route is what it says above then wind may play a huge factor. Could be difference between an easy flat effort and a life changing experience of a fight.
    If it was a solo effort then yes - I'd happily agree with TT bars - but for group riding - stay away from those bars - unless you can get in lots of training sessions it'll end up in a crash - even if you do get in lots of training sessions itll probably end up in a crash - you're just too far from the brakes to react in time.
  • My training isn't anywhere near as severe as yours (couch to 100 miles in 6 months - event is in June) I'd echo the comments about finding somebody to ride with.

    It pushes everything up - your distance, speed, variability.

    In fact the only thing it reduces is the temptation to not go out - having to face the knowing stare of my mate on Monday is enough motivation!
  • I never cycle in the winter as I'm worried about the ice etc so what I do is run. But i also want to still be in shape when the cycling season starts again. I started at going just round the block, then gradually upped the distance. Running is great for weight loss and stamina building so if you incorporate a little running in your routine too, you may find the overall fitness will improve and might help you out achieve your goal.
  • Hi Guys, firstly thanks for all your advice. I really appreciate it. I've taken everything on board and as a quick update I am now up to 80km as my longest ride. Averaging just over 20kph. I've lost 1 1/2 stone in weight and am really enjoying getting out on the bike. Have joined the gym and am doing some weight training too. Cyclings amazing! It has actually changed my life over the last few months. I'm enjoying the feeling of getting out on the bike at the weekend after the 6am training sessions in the gym during the week and seeing improvements in my cycling. Think I will join a club soon. Not sure how this will go down on a cycling forum but I'm now thinking about entering a triathlon... thanks again for all your help
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