General Training Tips
We do not expect you to jump on a bicycle in June and ride over 200
miles in Vermont without some preparation. By adhering to the following
guidelines and committing to a consistent training schedule you can get
your body into the kind of shape needed to meet the challenges of the
Bike Tour—probably the best shape of your life! Keep in mind that the
terrain we will be riding is very hilly and challenging (some would use
the term “mountainous”). We strongly recommend riders have either a road
bike or a hybrid bicycle. Heavy mountain bikes pose a real disadvantage
for riders and are not recommended. Depending on the spring weather, this
can be a difficult ride to train for and it is critical to start riding
outdoors as early and as much as possible. While spin classes can be helpful
to get you through the winter, nothing gets you ready for hill riding
like real hills. The upper Westchester area is ideally suited to training
rides that offer varying degrees of challenging hill work. If you invest
in warm clothing and use layers, you may be able to start your outdoor
training in March.
- Train gradually and build up aerobic strength. Start out with rides of 20 to 30 minutes 2 or 3 times per week. Don’t worry about doing “big miles” or speed, focus on getting in shape, get used to riding and the miles will come in due time. You will feel your legs and lungs getting in shape and getting stronger. Make sure your seat is adjusted properly. If your butt hurts, adjust the seat a bit. Keep adjusting seat height and angle until it feels comfortable.
- Increase mileage and keep a “ride log” of how many miles you have ridden, the terrain you rode, the wind, and weather conditions as no two rides will be exactly alike and the differences in distances or average speed may be accounted for by varying weather and terrain conditions.
- Ride steadily, but increase the pace, working up to one-half to three-quarters of your target distance.
- Twice a week, increase your “cruising speed” with sprints along flat roads or be aggressive on hills.
- Rest at least one day per week, but stay focused (clean/repair your bike, plan your next ride).
- Think of opportunities to ride rather than to take the car (commute to and/or from work, get up early and ride before work or early on the weekends before “chores” get in the way, schedule bike riding like other daily appointments, combine cycling with other family events. It’s OK to accept a ride home, if needed).
- A week before the ride, make sure your bike is “all set”(seat the correct height, spare tubes, pump, water bottles, check your tires for cracks, etc. ). Never try new gear or wear new clothing on a long distance ride that you have not tested previously.
- Work to improve one area of riding with each training ride: improve awareness of traffic and “safety tips” to be used in heavily trafficked areas or even on rural roads; improve your climbing or descending skills; be more aware of your breathing; remember to drink lots of fluid; increase your ability to stand on your pedals when climbing hills; use of hand signals, etc.
- Use cycling gloves as they provide additional padding for your hands and may save some scrapes if you fall off your bike. They also help relieve discomfort caused by the compression and hyperextension of the nerves passing through the wrist into the palm. Change your hand position on the handlebar often.
- If your knees are sore on a ride, this may result from pedaling in “too hard” a gear. Use your gears more effectively, working to keep a pedal cadence of 80 rpm. Your seat height may also need adjustment.
- Massachusetts and Vermont are not flat. As the weather begins to moderate, you should try to gradually increase your climbing activities throughout the months of April and May. Since the most challenging part of the route is the second day after lunch, we cannot stress enough the importance of proper training and preparation.
- Keep your hands, wrists, elbows, neck, legs and shoulders relaxed. You are more likely to ride smoothly when relaxed than when tense.
- The week before the ride, take it easy and don’t go on any long or challenging rides.