12 hour charity indoor ride!

Having been inspired by Geraint Thomas’ NHS Zwift Shifts, and encouraged by work colleagues, I am going to do a 12hour indoor cycle to raise funds for a local charity our company has done volunteering work for in the past few years, but can’t do this year now due to the virus. More importantly this year they need funds, as do most charities, at this time so I’d like to help.
I have no time to prepare for this! I am going to do it in less than two weeks time. Other than concerns over my backside! Any advice on what target IF I should stick to?! I will be breaking it into 2 hours segments with 5 min breaks between, as needed!?! I am not a newby and have been training for years, the last few with TR, and race short TT’s. I have reached 4W/Kg at 51 years old, but I know this really won’t help with sitting on a stationary bike for 12 hours!!!
Thanks in advance!


You don’t need actual fitness to do this type of event. Just a strong head, strong stomach and a butt made of iron.
I think it might be useful to check out the YT channels of Francis Cade and other YouTube personalities, who have done virtual everesting and other crazy long indoor rides recently. They provide some real good insight about what’s needed.
Good Luck!


I did similar last weekend, around 12 hours. Started very easy and finished working what felt like relatively hard, ended with an IF of 0.6.

My goal was to stay well under VT1/Aerobic threshold at the start, and try not to pass it at all. There was a minor blip going for a sprint jersey and the volcano lap on Zwift, but apart from that I think HR-wise at least I achieved the goal.

I’d advise to eat a lot, and use chamois cream (which I don’t normally). I also changed kit at the ‘cafe’ stop at halfway.


What kind of TSS did you end up with on this?

It was 420, for 11:45 so call it maybe 440-450 if it’d been 12 hours. This kind of thing isn’t that unusual to me so I was on the bike the next day for 75 minutes getting the legs back up to speed

Thanks, I’ll take a look.

Thanks. I was thinking 0.6-0.7 IF.

If it helps, I did a 12 hour TT last year. Average watts were 160W when pedalling and 140W due to coasting for nearly 90 minutes down hills, with an FTP of 240 or so. (It was the national 12 on quite a windy day). However I was after maximun distance on a TT bike, rather than just surviving. Suggestions

  1. Start really easily. It is so easy to go off quick. I rolled off the start line ridicuously slowly. This is not a short TT.
  2. Have a constant conversation with yourself holding yourself back. You need to pace this. So, even it you start at the equivalent of my 125W or 130W, then hold that for a good proportion of the time.
  3. Take in carbs at at least 90g per hour. I was drinking 500cc an hour (High 5 mix) and eating aan energy bar and a gel. You need to keep the carbs up. Have some other food as well - its a lot easier on a turbo, as trying to eat a sandwich on a tt bike at 20-30mph is not easy (nor safe). Caffine gels help as well, especially in the last hour or so.
  4. Stay in the moment as much as you can. Focus on really simple things like the force you put through your right leg at the top of the stroke… and play with those sorts of things… (I had the distraction of traffic, holes in the road, other cyclists etc. so distraction helps). Obviously you can watch TV or something…
  5. I actually also ran, not just on power but heart rate. I had found a combination of power and hr that I could easily sustain, and therefore stuck with that. It gave me a second reference point. It is often a useful clue you need a pee stop or whatever. (There is a good paper on doing a 12hr based on heart rate around. Still applicable with a power menet)
  6. Try to relax. If you are used to short TTs (and you sound pretty fast) you’ll recognise when you are pushing and when you are in the flow. A 12 hr TT is about relaxing and managing the peaks (you won’t have hills, but every so often a bit of variation in pace/cadence might help. Just don’t get too carried away).
  7. Have some saddle cream handy. Apply before it is an issue. Perhaps evet 3-4 hours. Also as it is warm my feet got hot and I poured cold water on my shoes to cool them down. If you are inside you might find the same.
  8. For an indoor session I assume you are planning to use a road bike. However if you are like me and have a pretty comfortable TT position, then raising the TT bars a cm or 2 and just resting on those bars in a relaxed manner can be quite good. For the 12hr my TT bars were 15mm up from my short distance race position. Maybe swap bikes part way through. Just an idea. (Those doing 24hrTTs sometimes do that)
  9. If you are feeling good near the end, then push on a bit for the last hour, but don’t start that too early as your tank will be surprisingly empty.

Refuel afterwards a lot.

Finally, good luck @AdyP Just relax and enjoy it.

PS I am 61, and was probably 3w/kg at the time last year.


Build a rocker plate so that you get some natural movement. Resurrecting an old thread, I use the DIY Rockit Plate.

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Thank you @PhilSJones for all the useful info and insight.

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Francis Cade just completed a virtual double Everest on Zwift… 27 hours plus in the saddle, ouch! It was also a fund raiser deal.

Good luck @AdyP! So pleased you started this thread - now I have some advice to follow up on for my own 10h ride in a few weeks.

Maybe make a Day Plan to make sure you’ve got a food and power schedule? Here’s the google sheet for my effort. It matches up with a lot of the advice @PhilSJones lists:-

I like having a plan to follow for a big day, and I’m getting my friends, family and colleagues to add in shout outs and song choices for me to up the involvement level.

You are welcome @AdyP I hope it goes well… Do you want that Heart rate based 12 hr plan? I probably have it somewhere…

I’ve done a lot of 12hr mtn bike races over the years. Done a couple 5+ hr trainer sessions as well.

Just completing it should’t be an issue, that’s almost entirely mental if you have a decent base of cycling fitness and a well callused butt. Then it’s just distracting yourself enough and breaking the time down to manageable increments. I’ll generally take it 1hr (typically 1 lap) at a time and focus on what pacing will produce the time I want for that lap and what I’ve deemed is manageable for the entire race…then stick to it for that whole hour. Repeat for the next hour, and the next and maybe make small adjustments as you go. Before you know it, you’ll have done 4 hours and be 1/3 of the way through, and only 2hrs away from being halfway through. Then you’re halfway through and can start counting down the hours. Couple hours later and you’re 3/4 or 2/3 of the way through…and if you can do 8hrs, then 4 more’s not an issue. But still gotta only focus on that next hour/lap, and the specific pacing to achieve whatever power/speed you’re going for. The more tired I get, the smaller the increments I’ll try to break it down. Just focus on keeping the pace up the next climb, for the next 20 minutes…for the next 1 mile…whatever it takes.

For races, in my opinion, the pace is surprisingly fast in the first lap and really doesn’t let up that much. The start is really similar to 50mi mtn bike races as people try to get good positioning for the single track. My max HR is low 180’s, LT is around 170…and in my last 12hr race the first hour HR was 161…and that was with the descent. The first 20-30 minutes is very close to threshold. Went down to low 150’s for the next 4hrs or so, then gradually drifted down to mid 130’s for final laps. If you have a good base and do a fair amount of 3-5hr rides, you’ll probably be surprised at how much you can hold for 12hrs, it’s not gonna be that much different.

Gotta force yourself to eat and drink throughout. Avoid bonking at all costs, as you will not recover and it will be miserable. Avoid getting off the bike for more than a minute or two or whatever it takes to go pee and get back on. Everything tightens up and it feels terrible to get back to pedaling if your muscles cool down at all. Better to sit and spin at 100 watts for a few minutes and ride with no hands for awhile or something.

I think doing a workout with variable power is gonna be highly preferable to setting a static power and trying to pedal that the entire time…even if theoretically the static power is more efficient and might allow you to do more total work. That would allow you to change your cadence slightly every 5-10 minutes, and have some easier sections and harder sections to mix things up and keep it a little more mentally fresh.

Maybe ‘Bandeira’ twice…but lower it roughly 5%

Good luck.

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@timon That sounds like a really difficult way to manage a 12 hr race, with such a high effort start and early lap. I am very, and genuinely, impressed you can get through such things. It is a dramatic contrast to a 12hr Time Trial on relatively open & rolling roads.

However, what you say about thinking about the time and managing it is exactly my experience. Just counting the hours or miles up or down… as approriate.

Fascinating to compare and contrast.

My apologies for resurrecting this thread for my own purposes, but i’m struggling to find much info on this online. :sweat_smile:
How long would I be looking at for recovery from a 12 hour ride? I’m doing a similar thing for charity, but being a dual citizen I was entertaining the idea of doing 2 12 hour rides for each country. (probably with a week-ish recovery in between, I’m no Geraint Thomas :joy:)
Is this advisable or even feasible? I’ve done a couple of full Ironmans before, but I’m not sure how the two will compare as I won’t be racing this time, just trying to make the distance.

A great idea :+1: charities are losing out due to mass event cancellations :pensive:

If you have the mental resolve to complete a couple (!) of Ironmans, and you’re already training at a high volume, then I’d say your legs would be OK with a week in between. You can do it! As long as you stay out of threshold… :wink:

What about your contact points though? Recovery time for those is going to vary a lot between individuals.