Heck no! Granted, you need to get started right away, but as long as you’re not in poor health, you still have time to train for our summer 2011 Ohio rides.
As an example, we are 10 weeks away from the Trans-Ohio ride (our first ride, July 1-3). Assuming you have done practically 0 riding the past two years, here’s what I would do.
Week 1: 30 mins, three times (preferably every other day). Push yourself, but take it easy — use this time to adjust your bike, and get your butt used to the saddle.
Week 2 & 3: 1 hour rides, three times. Start easy, but maintain a consistent pace. Don’t let your legs stop. Shift to an easier gear if you have to, but keep those legs moving. By the end of week 3 you should be able to maintain a consistent pace of 15 miles per hour.
Week 4 & 5: Now it’s time to turn it on. Introduce a 2-hour ride each week. You have to make the time, and you have to keep your legs moving. By the end of week 5, you should feel comfortable keeping a 14-15 mph pace all day if you had to.
Week 6 & 7: It’s time to introduce the long rides, and really get your butt used to the saddle (you could pedal 14 mph all day in a pinch already after all). Each week, do one 1-hour ride, one 2-hour ride and one 3-hour ride. The important key here is to always push yourself, but start learning how to adjust your energy usage for longer rides (>40 miles). By the end of week 7, you should be able to complete 40 miles in 3 hours and not die afterwards.
Week 8: Now it’s time to diversify your workout. Ride one: 60 minutes, burn as hard as you can the whole time, practice hard burns – find some hills and do circles up and down if you have to. Stand up on the pedals up hills, make it hurt. Ride two: this is the long guy – 4 hour ride. Make the time. Set a consistent pace (shoot for 15 mph average). Ride three: 90 minute ride. Push hard and consistent, stay in the saddle, power through hills – don’t stand up and burn out your legs this time.
Week 9: Same as week 8, but lengthen ride 2 to at least 75 miles (hopefully 5 hours).
Week 10: Three 1-hour rides, push hard and consistent but don’t overdo it.
If you have longer than 10 weeks, repeat week 9 and increase your pace or lengthen ride 2.
One of the most important factors for long rides is getting used to the saddle. Throughout the week, try to increase your seat time. Ride your bike to the red box, take a casual evening ride with your friends or kids. (These do not count as your fitness rides :-))
Varying your environments will help ward off boredom, and also help condition your muscles. Ride city trails some days with the stop and go, other days hit the country roads where you’ll never have to stop. I know that means that some days you’ll have to drive somewhere and then ride, and that’s really stupid — but it’s worth it.
Finally, don’t overdo it. An injury (or even bad soreness) will either take you out of commission, or at least make you hate your bicycle and never want to ride again. If you’re a fit person, you can probably do more on week 1 and 2, but it’s not worth killing your butt.
Keep in mind, I’m not a health and fitness trainer or any kind of cycling expert. This is just a routine, that in my limited experience, makes a lot of sense to me, and seems to work well for me.
You know how your body (and your schedule) works better than I do.
If you know of any good cycling training blogs or resources, please post them in the comments below for everyone’s benefit.
Have your own program that you’d like to share? Cool! Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it.