Improve Endurance In Longer Rides

I am on a low volume Build Plan, but only do 2 workouts each week with an additional outdoor club ride. The completion date of the plan is extended accordingly, which is all right with me. My longest TR workout is 1.5 hours.

Club rides last 3 hours or longer. We ride at a pretty good pace (relative to my fitness). I feel fine in the first 2 hours, but I am starting to run out of gas in the last hour. What kind of changes to my program should I make to improve my endurance?

More zone 2 volume is the quick/easy answer.

How is your nutrition on the longer rides?


You probably are but just have to ask … are you fueling those club rides with at least 60+g carbs per hour? I’ll let others more qualified than me answer the “what can I change” part. I’ve always done a fair bit of volume, so I’m no good at answering how to best improve on lower volumes. But I’ve definitely been there running out of steam after 2 hours on club rides for lack of fuel. Back then, I thought it was a lack of fitness.


My first thought was the same as @BrianSpang regarding nutrition

Additionally - can you share a link to one or two of the rides where you felt like you were running out of gas after two hours? Could be something other than a lack of endurance that’s blowing you up and without the ride details it is hard to do anything but guess

It is a relatively easy answer (and this is not meant to sound snarky) - ride more.

You need more volume….any kind of volume. You just aren’t getting enough miles.

Additionally, make sure you aren’t doing too much work early in the rides when you feel OK. If you are coming up short in the final hour, conserve as much energy as you can earlier in the ride.


Easy / not so easy solution:

  • Ride more than three times a week.
  • Do a true endurance ride once every week (or two).

For me, three times per week is like maintenance. Five times per week is improving fitness.

If the 3 hour group ride is the weekly “A” race, then do some 4 hour rides every now and then.


These are along the lines of my thinking. Do you record power &/or HR on these club rides? Either of those will likely give a better idea of how you’re riding than RPE will when you’re excited to ride with the bunch, or nervous about whether you’ll make it to the end. I’ve found that RPE tells lies in the first part of a ride of any significant duration.

It really is surprising how much harder everyone pushes up the climbs than on the flats. I’m talking more than doubling their output on rides here. String a series of those together & you have an unstructured anaerobic workout that will burn through fuel very quickly! I do a decent amount of interval work & some of these rises tend to bust groups apart, so I typically do the sag climbing thing: my aim in these situations is to be second-last up the climbs so that the ride can be more endurance-based.


My nutrition is fine. I carry energy gels with me during the rides. It’s more about fatigue, similar to the feeling at the end of a workout.

I take energy gels during the rides. I agree it’s more about volume.

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I record my power for every ride. The club rides are over rolling terrains, and as you mentioned, everyone increases their power by 2X or more when charging up a hill. Depending on the ride, sometimes they don’t regroup at the top of the hill, and I have to spend more energy than I like to keep up, or else I will be dropped and lose the benefit of drafting.

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With what you’ve listed, sounds like the remaining question would be, how much time and desire do you have to increase your training volume? Riding with others and seeing that your fitness isn’t as high, can be a great way to obtain desire to train more. That’s what did it for me. But how much available time is another matter.

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If you only do 1x 3 hour ride per week and it is a “pretty good pace” it is going to be a significant ride for you

Treat it with the significance it has in your training schedule: fuel well, tuck in out of the wind when you can and burn your matches only when you need or want to.

Enjoy it for what it is and take as much as you can from it.


How much carbs per hour? Even if you take multiple gels per hour some gels only contain 10-15g.


About 25g. I have experiences of running of fuel, and it feels differently from overall fatigue.

That’s probably too low for a hard 3+ hour ride. I personally would be doing that every 15-20 minutes.

It’s between that, and more volume / fitness.


If you want to ride your best in a 3-hour tough ride, 25g per hour is not enough. No disrespect, but I’m surprised you resisted the idea that at least part of your problem could be fueling, while knowing that your fuel rate is 25 grams per hour.

Back when I used to fade 2/3 of the way through a 3-hour tough ride, I was fueling around 35 grams per hour. Which was also, not enough.


Just because you don’t completely bonk doesn’t mean that fueling isn’t a contributing factor.

In the long term, I totally agree with others that more hours per week and more long rides will really make a big difference.

But in the short term, tripling your carb intake will also make a noticeable difference.


I’ve been doing this experiment and I beat my stronger friends in the last hours of multi-hour rides and events. On our hard group rides, my strong buddy always fades at the end. I’ve got one bottle maxed out with as much sugar as I can tolerate and another with water. My buddy is kind of carb phobic - think they will make you fat.

On a 5 hour gravel fondo, my buddies who beat me up the first hill lagged seriously in the last two hours. I had 1200 calories in my hydration pack plus another bottle of water. They had a few gels in their pockets and only two bottles on their bikes. 60grams per hour of sugar in a hydration pack is like a secret weapon in a long gravel event.


Saturday I did 110 miles on a rails-to-trails (out and back x2). The first 55 miles I did at .80 IF to see how fast I could go. The second 55 miles I just stuck to zone 2. Anyway, with about 7 miles remaining, I started to feel a little gassed. Then I thought about my fueling. I had probably slackened off the fueling pace a bit. So I injected a whack of maple syrup, and soon felt right as rain again. :joy: