Advice on What Distance to Sign Up For

I signed up for TrainerRoad in February with the hope of riding with my husband in the Hotter than Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls in August - well, not “with” him, but at the same event. He will be finishing in less than 6 hours most likely. I am filling out the registration and have come to a field where it asks me to choose which course I am going to complete. They have 6 choices between 10k and 100 miles. Am I supposed to pick the thing I hope I can complete or pick something I am almost sure I can complete? I am not sure yet that I can complete 100 miles - a rather scary distance for me at this point. And then I have to select how fast I think I will be :thinking: - 4-6 hours, 6-8 hours or 8-12 hours… Um. Algebra was not my thing at all, but this looks like it might be an algebra problem…? If the woman cycles at 65% of FTP for 100 miles, how long will it take her to complete the course? For example for today’s VO2 Max workout, Ohio, Strava says I had an average power of 84W and went 18.63 km, NP 108, IF .86/.83 . Do I have enough information to know how long it will/might take me? Oh, and I am currently at 125 for FTP.

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Hi! I think that more information is needed. You just signed up for trainerroad but have you been doing any training or unstructured riding before that? wich distance are you used to?

I think that you should aim for the distance you hope can complete and make it your training goal, but you need to balance your background and the time/effort are you willing to commit to training to make the right choice. If you have an acceptable background (healty, active, etc) and with proper training and commitment you may be able to complete most distances (at your pace).

Also for the question of how long will it take, depends on the course, its not the same a hilly race than a flat one.

EDIT: I would like to add that sometimes I use Komoot (free route planing app) I load the gpx or manualy create a route and if you choose your fitness when editing the route it will give you an estimate of the time that it will take you to complete it, you can try with routes that are familiar to know wich “komoot fitness” correlates with yours. But you should consider that komoot can’t predict the wind or you drafting the peloton the day of the race. There are other apps that are better but i find them more complex to use (like best bike split)

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Hi there!
The course profile and weather conditions will have a big impact on your finishing time, so if you can speak to someone locally who’s familiar with the event and/or you as a rider I think that’s a big plus- at the very least it can give you some idea of what to expect!

I’d say pick something that seems like it’s on the edge of your capabilities- something that seems achievable but exciting. Heat will make things significantly harder in terms of nutrition and pacing so I’d err on the side of more conservative in this instance- for most of us the first event is about finishing strong and enjoying the experience :slightly_smiling_face: A 50 miler or 100k could be a great choice, but if you do end up going for the full distance I’d recommend the 8-12 hour bracket to give you a bit of wiggle room to rest or refuel if needed.

Finally, prep is key- there are lots of good resources online covering training, hydration, equipment etc- thinking about and practising areas of race day execution can help give you some idea of what you’re up against, what your capabilities are, and what your biggest challenges might be along the way so you can pick something that’s right for you.

Good luck- would love to hear how things go!

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Agree with the previous comments about needing to know more about your experience level and typical ride length, longest ride, heat acclimation, etc. I live in Houston, but I’ve never done HHH because I’ve been told it’s a real beast with temps well above 100 degrees. Multiple cutoff zones, brutal heat, IV’s etc. I’m not at all trying to scare you away, but more to say you need to be well prepared and this is not the race to push your limits on.

As to “how long will it take”, I’ve never used it, but many people, including the TR hosts, say Best Bike Split is a great estimation tool.

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Yes,Best Bike Splits is actually a great tool!! I have used it some time ago, but you have to input a fair amount of data about yourself, the bike, the course, your target NP, your FTP, position on the bike, etc etc etc. The free trial let you try everything but only once (you can’t add more than one course and you can’t delete the previous one either so…). Thats why I suggested komoot, because is free, it’s easy but obviously is worst estimating because gather less data, it’s not intended at pacing/timing app its for planing routes and navigation, the time estimate is just a secondary feature.

I also agree on not to push one’s limits in already challenging external conditions.

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ha - thinking of it as a high school alegbra problem. :scream: :rofl:

A couple of approaches here:

  1. Pick a distance that is a Stretch. It feels more than you could do tomorrow, but something that feels achievable with 4 months of training.

  2. If your husband is going to finish in about 6 hours, pick a distance that is going to take you about the same time, so that neither of you are having to wait around too long at the end. As a rough guide, @ 65% of 125W FTP (, you could probably expect to do around 14-15 mph, plus stops at checkpoints. So either the 100k (60 miles) or 75 mile options seem realistic. I haven’t checked the HTH website if the start times for each distance are dramatically different.

A century is a realistic goal for most regular cyclists, so long as a. you keep the effort consistent and don’t go out too hard in the 1st 2 hours, b. eat and drink regularly, and c. are comfortable on the saddle and have a good bike fit. That said, the temperatures of HTH mean that hydration is a real issue, and it may not be the ideal event for your first century, and an easier distance may be a better target.

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Hey, I have ridden the HHH a few times (am also female). Are you riding it for fun or trying to get the best time you can? Since it sounds like your first big event, I would just ride for the fun of it and enjoy the atmosphere and aid stations. Before my first 100 miler at the HHH, I was doing group rides around 50-60 miles long at 17-19 mph average. The heat took a huge toll and I finished around 7 hours elapsed time. If I could go back in time I’d tell myself to sign up for the 100k (at least for the first year) so I could soak it all in.

You will likely be able to lower the amount of power you have to maintain due to drafting. At fondos like these, you’ll often find a group going around your pace to hang on with and share pulls.

Just a little tip, you can sign up for the 100 miles and just take the turnoff for the 100k if you feel like 100 miles is too much.

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I don’t think things like bestbikesplit are necessary for this…It’s more geared toward racers looking to go as fast as possible.

  1. What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden in one go?

  2. What would you say is your ‘comfortable’ long ride? e.g. After what length ride do you think “man that was getting tough right toward the end but was pretty manageable”?

  3. Decide how much you want to push yourself. If your longest ride ever is 80 miles do you want to push yourself to do 100? In that case you most likely have the fitness to do it, it’s just a matter of doing it. But if your longest ride ever is 40 miles then maybe shoot for more like 55-65.

  4. Then think about how long your typical rides take. If a 30mile ride takes you 2 hours then a 60 mile ride would probably take you 4.5-5 hours (twice the distance but going a little slower).

Also, as others have said, usually these rides share the course for a while before turning off. So if you go for a ‘stretch’ distance but halfway through you’re really hurting then you can turn off and complete a shorter distance.

Also, if this is your first bigger group fondo then I would probably consider sticking to a longer distance but one that you are comfortable with. Odds are that you will get sucked into the atmosphere of it all and start out too hard. I would use a more comfortable distance for your first one and then for your later events start to shoot for longer and longer distances.

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Wow! Thank you all so much! So many good ideas here and things to consider. I got booted out of the sign-in last night because I was taking too long, so I will go back in shortly and try again. I think I will sign up for the 100 miler at 8 to 12 hours for now. My guess is that that will start me at the back of the group, which is where I want to be so I have as much room as possible.
To give a little more background as @Ddtoco and @Pbase requested, I started riding 2018 when I got a KickR Snap with the idea of training indoors so that I could ride with my husband outdoors sometimes. Fast-forward to now and we’ve moved to Houston; I pretty much only ride indoors here. And with Strava egging him on, we won’t really be riding together very much anyway. He has a wild system for creating routes and tracking KOMs including consideration of the wind direction :joy:. It’s all too technical for me. Recently we found a park (Grantwood Park) where I can ride a 2k loop without traffic. That ride was 34km in an hour and a half. I have been Zwifting around for a couple of years now and tried a couple of their training plans, but after the beginner plan, the intermediate plans were too difficult. I could get through the first couple of weeks and then suddenly everything was too hard. So I am loving this adaptive training! I am using the low volume gran fondo plan and got a message at the beginning that February to August was a good amount of time to train. So I have great faith that from a training standpoint, I will be ok. It’s just the thing of being out on an actual road in the heat… well, and whether my seat, feet and hands will go that long.
Hmmm, so I just went and checked Strava. Apparently I have done 7 rides since November 2020 between 40 and 45km and one that was 60km on Zwift , and one ride while we were in Germany on an E-Bike (hubby took his road bike) together that was 76km with a moving time of 3 and a half hours. I’m not sure what that tells me…
Thanks @ciarrai for your thoughts having been there. As I said, I think I will sign up for the 100 miles and then see what I think as we get closer to the event. I do want this to be fun and to be a good experience, so maybe not going for the 100 miles my first time out is a good idea.
Thanks again to everyone who commented! I will be visiting this thread regularly and pondering what I should do.

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Make sure you get outside a bit as much as you can be comfortable with. Houston summers are brutal. The race will be 100 degrees with very high humidity. You’re going to want to have experienced that before the big day.

If you’re at all interested in gravel, you’re pretty close to Chappell Hill, where you can easily ride 40 miles and only see maybe 10 cars. Let me know if that interests you and I can hook you up with a female shop owner who leads a lot of beginners rides out there. Have fun training! Welcome to Houston and to TrainerRoad!

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Thanks @Pbase! I am actually interested in gravel and would love to have the contact info. It’s not entirely out of the question that I would get a gravel bike… I have a Trek Silque currently with skinny little tires, but have been eyeballing the possibility of gravel as the cars scare the daylights out of me here.

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Do you want to have fun or suffer? Given the hot temps and flat-ish course, I’m thinking you would be averaging 20-25kph. 100 miles sounds brutal if Wichita Falls is 100 degrees and humid. The 25 mile/40km and 50 mile/80km routes look good.

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Katya at Cool Cat Cycles is who I think @pbase is referring to. She is a rad lady rider and organizes weekly rides from Chappell Hill on various gravel routes.

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Yep! Call Cool Cat and ask for Katya. She’s a fantastic cycling and gravel ambassador. http://www.coolcatcycles.com/

She’s active on Instagram and Facebook too if you prefer those.

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Thanks @ciarrai and @Pbase! I’m checking out the website right now! I see they are also advocates for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, which is a topic I have developed a keen interest in, so I like her already!

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Um, is that correct, you’ve only done 7 rides on the last two years?

To be really honest, do not sign up for the 100 miles. 100 miles is 160km, four times as much as your longest ride. Do one of the shorter distances, enjoy the day, learn from the experience, and sign up for 100 miles next year.

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Based on the information I’ve read I’d go for the 50 miles / 80km… but I might have missed a critical piece of information. How long in time and distance are your longest rides outside? I saw you’d done some around 25 miles / 40km but how long did that take and how did you feel after.

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Ooops, what I wrote was misleading… I just signed up for Strava so I can access all of the data. I can’t see how to get the data from the last couple of years, but it says this year I have a total of 1,151km. Usually my Zwift rides before I signed up for TR were about 30km in about an hour, but I assume I would be much slower outside without my fans and worrying about traffic.
I still have four months, so if I manage to put in some longer rides I might think about the longer distance, but otherwise I will do maybe the 100km and enjoy that. Thanks very much for your advice!

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My longest ride outside was on the e-bike so I could keep up with my husband on his road bike. That went fine, but I was tired when we got back. The e-bike really isn’t a fair comparison though, but it was super fun to be able to keep up for once - especially on hills. The 75km was 3 and a half hours of moving time with ideal weather (from Lindau to Rorschach at the Bodensee in September). I guess I really need to get outside… :flushed: :crazy_face:

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Houston’s humidity can be oppressive, its hot here in CA but low humidity. I’m part polar bear and the one thing that helped me do Wed night group rides in the heat is to ride in the heat as much as possible. Any hard interval sessions in the morning, endurance rides in the heat. I’d suggest that a couple months before the event you do some riding in the park on that 2k loop. And pre-hydrate with some electrolytes an hour before the ride. If your schedule is flexible maybe mid-morning before it gets afternoon hot and muggy. Or evening.

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