How to train for Gran Fondo type routes

Dear all,
I plan to attend two Gran Fondo type races in 2020. The first distance is approx. 140km while the second one is 380km. Both are supposed to be done within one day.

My target goal time for the 140km is below 5h. For the 380km it is below 15h.

My current FTP is at 205, I am used to structured workouts via TrainerRoad but struggle how to come up with a training plan that pushes me to hit my target goal time.

I tried the new custom training plan builder but I cant believe that the low amount of workouts per week (3-6h with a TSS between 300-450) will be enough.

Can you give me some hints how to steer trainerroad towards a more realistic plan?

Many thanks in advance.

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I’m guessing it is putting you on a Low Volume plan based on how much training you have been doing recently. So one option is to game it and put in a higher training volume so it gives you a recommendation of MV or even HV, risk of doing that is that you can’t handle that much structured work. Other option, which I think is better, is to use that 3-6 hours as the foundation of your training, but then increase your volume by supplementing with zone ~2 rides, including a long weekly ride which you can steadily increase the length of.

Also think you’d be surprised at how well 3-6 hours of very structured training can prepare you for a 140km event at least. Though agree that 350km will need a bit more volume!


Thanks cartsman. Any rule of thumb how many hours per week for the supplemental rides?

How much time do you have? For that epic ride I would personally want a few >200km rides under my belt, not just for the fitness but to test out nutrition, clothing, position, etc over that kind of duration. So if time wasn’t a limiter I’d probably be throwing in a long ride of at least 3-4 hours every weekend, with regular longer ones than that building up to your event. You can also add extended cooldowns or extra z2 rides on rest days to build overall volume if you have the time. If time is more of a limiter then LV plan plus a weekly long ride is a pretty solid approach.



In 2019, I completed 2 Gran Fondo events (both around 125 km) based on the TR training plans (SS base 1&2, sustained build, climbing road race) with an average training volume of 5 hours per week and ~350 TSS. In both events, I finished in less than 4 hours (normalized power was about 250). So, I can attest that the low/mid volume plans will be enough in achieving GranFondo type distances.

In addition to following the TR plans, I believe others have mentioned on this tread the importance of building up the duration of outdoor training rides (50km → 80 km → 100 km, etc), in part to test the bike setup/gear/nutrition over longer distances, and also gain confidence that you can complete the longer rides. I don’t have any experience with rides over 160km though, but proper pacing and nutrition become much bigger factors.


I guess we are to assume you’re not concerned about competing in the timed segments that distinguish a Gran Fondo from a more basic long ride event?


Yes, this is not of primary interest to me.

This is so true. When I did the Levi’s GranFondo (160km), my arms/shoulders became completely fatigued as they were soaking up the vibrations from the rougher road surface (rougher then what I normally ride). My power dropped off In the last 20min of the event as my body decided it was done. Since then I have upgraded to wider rims so that I can drop the tire pressure to increase the comfort without sacrificing rolling resistance.

Grab a resistance band and do face pulls everyday. That plus renegade rows and seated rows will work magic on upper body strength for long days in the saddle.

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Hi I’ve done 3 200km events last year (2019) with very little structured training, these types of events are all about strength and endurance.
my approach to them was pacing myself and staying within my limits and just keep on top of my fueling regardless of what everyone else was doing.
I found that when the front group went up the road I eventually caught them at around half distance sticking to my own pace all the way and then the last 3rd of the event I could pull away from them as I had more energy left in reserve they were spent.
so just to a pace that you think you can hold comfortably all day and keep on drinking and eating, in regards training if you’ve put the right info into your plan trust in it, its designed to build up your endurance yes of course you should still go out on the long training ride on similar terrain if possible to the events just to fine tune things fuelling wise.

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Thanks for all your comments. Very helpful. Besides cycling I do a lot of rowing - hopefully this is helpful to help my body sustain the long rides :slight_smile:

I keep you posted.

Happy New Year!!!

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