How to train for a long bike trip

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how to train for a long-distance bicycle trip โ€“ Travelling by bicycle allows you to discover amazing places in a slow and totally immersive way; it also allows you to keep fit, and to experience on-the-road adventures, alone or with family and friends. There are also many voluntourists who choose to travel between volunteer projects using their bicycles. To enjoy the ride to the fullest, however, it is important to do it with a sufficient level of fitness, so as not to turn cycling into suffering.

With this in mind, in this article, we summarized the best advice, tips and hints we read and learnt from bike experts on how best to prepare.

how to train for a long-distance bicycle trip

How to train for a long bicycle trip – Photo credits of all pictures: Pexels

For a bike trip of about 200 kilometres, how far in advance do you need to start training?

In short: three-six months is an adequate preparation time (in order to enjoy the trip without suffering).

Bike travel, especially on gravel terrain and with bike-packing gear can be really slow: you can can take up to 8 hours to cover a distance of 100 km (about 60-70 miles). However, the problem is not the distance. It is cycling for more than two-three days in a row. Our body needs to get used to sitting in the saddle and pedalling for hours.

How many days a week should one ride for training?

At least three days a week. Maybe doing 2-3 short rides on weekdays and then a long ride on the weekend.

How many kilometres/miles would one need to ride, roughly, per week?

About 200 kilometres a week would be great for your training. The important thing is to be able to hold up (physically and psychologically) cycling for several days in a row, so one has to evaluate how one feels after the long weekend ride: if the day after a long ride we are too tired, it means that maybe we are not ready.

You don’t just have to pedal, to prepare for a bike ride

One of the biggest mistakes is to think that training is just spending time in the saddle, but it’s not. We recommend at least two other very important activities: you have to work on flexibility and mobility, so you don’t risk injury and imbalance. Keeping the muscle fibres elastic and flexible is important. The second aspect to work on is strength-related and heart-related. The goal is to have a good basic physical condition, which helps us while pedalling. Even free-body exercises can be sufficient.

train for a long bicycle trip

How much does preparation change for a ride on unpaved roads?

Normally gravel trails are a bit more muscular, wheels slide less, and speeds are slower. The effort and fatigue change little because in the end pedalling is still pedalling, however, those are technical roads, which therefore require more attention and lead us to spend some more mental and muscle energy.

Does it make sense to train with loaded luggage?

Definitely, it’s good to have tested everything we’re going to use. Never assemble the bag on the day of departure. It is better to figure out first what may bother us, if we have little stability, or are unbalanced. Usually, the more you travel, the more you achieve the right balance.

What else can’t be missed in preparing for a bicycle trip?

You have to be prepared for any eventualities and occurrences.

  • Know first aid techniques.
  • Learn the basics of bike mechanics for small interventions such as adjusting the gear or replacing an inner tube.
  • Be familiar with navigation devices (Google maps or simple maps) because there is no worse thing than not knowing where the right trail is.

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How to train for a long bicycle trip – Photo credits of all pictures: Pexels

Learn more about long-distance bicycle tours using this free Wikipedia page.


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Author: Voluntouring staff

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