Best Use of Long Ride

I’m currently going through a “base-ish” block and wondering how to best spend my long rides on Saturdays. During the week I try to hit a lot of sweet spot and sometimes a little VO2 when I feel good. On Saturdays, I have 2-3 hours to ride and am pretty comfortable on the trainer for that duration. As far as goals, my target events are currently 6 hour and double century road events, hopefully one day building up to 300-500 mile events. I’m currently 27 and have the first kid on the way in November, so I’m especially looking right now to build a huge base and raise my fitness floor for when I get back on the bike after family life settles in (i.e. gain the longer term adaptations, such as mitochondrial density, if I understand the biology relating to such things correctly).

For Saturdays, I’ve been hitting stuff like 4-5x12 SST into 30-60 minutes of Z2. I’m wondering as I try to increase my ride lengths, should I be going for 100% Z2, or more like 60m Z2/60m of SST intervals/30m Z2? In other words, for the same given duration, for base building is it better to ride all Z2, or do some intensity and then end with Z2? Or put another way, do I lose any of the adaptations gained from long Z2 rides by spending some of that time at higher intensities?

With everything else you’re doing alongside your goals, I would focus on increasing your time in Z2 and drop the sweet spot stuff. You won’t lose adaptations by doing longer SST stuff, but it could inhibit your recovery a bit. Nail those structured workouts during the week, and then get your long ride in. There are a lot of TR users out there who favor the long Z2 ride over the 2-hour sweet spot. My personal experience with the change has been nothing but positive and I’ve broken through a plateau in part because I’ve incorporated the longer Z2 rides in place of the 2-hour sweet spot stuff.

FWIW, the sweet spot rides were put in because the TR team noticed that not many people liked to complete the longer 3-4hour trainer sessions, not necessarily because they are better.

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as your rides start to get longer on the weekends, if you truly try to peg zone 2 the entire time, you’ll find that they get pretty tough! Truly riding at zone 2 for 4 hours is not easy, if you’re pedaling.

try to keep your zone 1 time below 10% of the entire ride durations; sounds easy, is TOUGH!!!

i’d conquer that, then consider adding tempo to the long rides; probably dont need any sweet spot on the long ones.

good luck and enjoy the rides!

Brendan

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Hm, this is good idea. With warmer weather I replaced in SSBHV2 2 days with 4h & 5h rides (Longfellow & Mianzimu). After 3 weeks it feels I recover very easily from those days (but I don’t think FTP have increased yet, did ramp test last week). So, to keep progressing you suggest adding intensity? Or what about moving those days together?

If you have 3+ hours to ride solo, pegging higher end of Z2 and holding it the whole time with no breaks or rest is a great workout. If you’re doing it right, for the first part will feel so slow you’ll be wondering why you even bothered getting on the bike but by the end you’ll be crying for your mommy.

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Last weekend I did a 5 hour and 30 minute (elapsed time) ride and only 12 minutes of breaks for water/toilet. Made it to 5 hours before I started “crying” and wanted to stop the ride:
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I’ve been following the advice that @brendanhousler outlined above and it’s been great for my endurance but is also pretty brutal 4 hours in and all you want to do is coast down every little descent. He goes into greater detail here about what a “proper” Z2 ride looks like.

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Yeah, the coasting/Z1 inefficiency factor is why I prefer to get the longer rides in on the trainer, up to a point. If I’m doing a century or longer, then yeah, prefer outdoors. But for targeting Z2/endurance adaptations on shorter Z2 rides, trainer is fine for me.
Thanks for the suggestions yall. I’m going to stick to Z2 today and see how long I can hold it. Maybe get some good HR decoupling data as well.