Best training plan for the Fred Whitton challenge

I’m hoping/planning to do the Fred Whitton challenge in May.
It’s a 113 mile hilly 3800m course with the toughest Lake District climbs included. Fastest times last year were just sub 6 hours.

Currently on 3 weeks holiday, coming into of a good training block the holiday can count as off season.I’ll have 17 weeks to train when I get back. Wondering what training plan combination works best in this time period.

First a Training history
4 years unstructured cycling
1 year of trainer road. I’ve handled SSB mid volume but I’ve not tried a build at this mid level.

What I plan to start when I get back on SSB II mid volume
General build mid volume
Climbing road race mid volume as far as I can get through it


Also any tips for long hilly events will be appreciated. My plan is to get the lowest gearing that my bike can accommodate a compact and a 32 tooth at the very least.


Good luck with the ballot.

Sweet spot followed by general or sustained power build should be fine. I would concentrate on the aerobic development of of base and build rather than the icing of the specialty as time is short. Your ability to get up Hardknott and Wrynose at the end is down to how much of your FTP you can still sustain, your W/Kg and gearing.

I have completed the Whitton 5 times and have chipped my time down over the years. i also live on the edge of the Lake District and train over the roads a lot so would like to feel I know the event pretty well.

If there is any specific you want to know then I am happy to share what I have learned.
What sort of time are you aiming for?

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A 32 is definitely a good plan!

I would also be seeking to do regular 100km plus rides outdoors / the hillier the better! I wouldn’t want my first century ride of the year to be the Fred Whitton!

Good luck.

My best result at the Whitton was off the back of 6.5 hours a week and I only logged 5 rides over 50 miles from 1st Jan to the Fred. The longest was 70 miles. 90% of my training time was logged on the turbo and none of those was over 2 hours. Most were around an hour. Unless stamina is a real concern I would concentrate on quality work with occasional longer rides (probably before the recovery week) so that they don’t compromise the consistent quality workouts.

A 32 bottom sprocket is solid plan. I think most people would go faster with a lower gear installed so they don’t get forced too far over threshold on the steeper sections.

I recorded some footage of the 2017 event and uploaded it to Youtube.

This should be a link to all of the segments; Fred Whitton 2017 playlist

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With 11 speed shimano (105/ultegra) and a mid cage mech, you can get a 34T on there and I have even have had some success with a 36T sram cassette, although it depend on your mech hanger and how much B screw you have to work with.

You can also get a 33T chainring for 110BCD, TA Zephyr.

every little helps as they say

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I’d recommend the following progression when you get back:

SSB II (6 Weeks)
Sustained Power Build (8 Weeks)
Century Specialty (1-2, 8)

Since your event will be self paced (no attacks or breakaways like in Road Racing), the Sustained Power Build/ Century progression will be a better fit for your. You’l notice in the Century Plan, you do Weeks 1 and 2 before skipping to Week 8. This is because Week 8 will serve as your Taper, which will help to let your legs recover by reducing volume in the week leading up toyour event.

Happy Training!


Unsure on how long I expect think if you get in a good group on the flatter parts can shift things. Maybe less than 10 at a first attempt.
I’m okay cyclist 4.3w/kg but agree I’m unlikely to be able to do anything to close to it at the end.

What’s been the best nutrition strategy you’ve found on the course?

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Well at 4.3W/Kg I think your 10 hour mark is very very conservative.

The main factors that affect the time other than your own fitness are the weather, the group(s) you ride with, your attention to detail on your feeding/aero/support etc etc.

Here is a link to the TrainingPeaks file of my 2017 ride which was off an FTP of around 4.2W/Kg (63Kg/265W)

Fred Whitton 2017

There were a combination of factors which led to that time but I made it my season goal and managed to nail it. One thing I would highlight on that ride is that I only stopped at the summit of Whinlatter very briefly as the guys I was riding with didn’t have dedicated support so needed to stop to grab their food/bottles. I think its on the videos I linked up thread. Apart from that it was constant movement.

Feeding wise I have been spoiled for support so I dont use the feeds provided.
i have the first at the summit of Kirkstone, one on the A66 approaching Keswick, one at the summit of Whinlatter, one near Santon Bridge and a final feed at Cockley Beck.

This enables me to run very light with one bottle and little in my pockets. Without support you need to be running two large bottles and plenty off food/gels.

My feeding strategy is;
1 x Rice Cake following descent of Kirkstone
1 x Bar on A66 on the fast stretch following Scales Farm
1 x Rice Cake Borrowdale
1 x Gel on the descent of Honister
1 x Gel on the descent of Newlands
1 x Bar after the descent Whinlatter
1 x Rice Cake on the run to Ennerdale Bridge
1 x Rice Cake on the descent of Cold Fell
1 x Bar after Gosforth
1 x Caffeine Gel at King George V pub (about 20 min from Hardknott)
1 x Gel at Cockley Beck

On top of that I get through 5 to 5.5 small bottles of energy drink (Torq in my case) different flavour in every bottle. Bland non sweet flavours to start.

With regards to groups, if you dont have a group to ride with prior to the event it may be worth hanging around the start and looking for groups in club kit setting off. Kendal CC, Honister 92, Harrogate Nova usually have decent bunches of riders setting off. I’m in Kendal CC and they usually go off around 7am to 7:15am ish in the past. Not sure what there plan is this year and I am not riding. If I hear I will send you a message if you like?

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Thanks for all the info. I was hoping for less than 8 but want to see what best bike split reckons and your training peaks file is great as you are a similiar weight and power to me I’m 62kg at 263 pre holiday.

I’ll do a more detail review in the next few days as Vietnese WiFi isn’t the greatest.

Let you know about the ride group. :+1: thanks.

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Also have my first place in the Whitton this year! Am thinking Low volume SSB 2, and then low general build which should take me up to the week of the event. The low should give enough time to do big rides/ hills at the weekends! Currently at about 3.6 w/kg.

Oh, and a 32 and a set of Alu climbing wheels :-p any thoughts on tyres? 25mm GP4000 as normal or… ?

25mm will be fine. I have run 23s and 25s and had no issues. Just make sure they are in good condition or chuck a new pair with new tubes on a couple of weeks before.

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Hi Jack, nice blog.

I’m not riding this year but will be helping out on the weekend and staying up in Grasmere over the weekend. Planning on riding next year and having another stab at a swift time then.

Good luck with the sub 6:30 and let me know if there are any specifics you want any advice on.