Issues getting outdoors for fondo training

Training for the ride profile below. Started structured training 12wks ago with 9 more weeks until the event. Its the Whistler gran fondo. Been riding about 20mths. Im 42, 6’4", 200lbs. So far all my rides have been on the trainer. My outdoor options are all none stop, rolling hills in one direction or lots of traffic stops in the other. I do have some hills i can do short repeats on with 1 longer climb being an 11minute effort. Im on the custom plan, mid volume, and currently in final month of sustained power build. Ive completed all my rides. Im not worried about my fitness but i am worried about my lack of experience on the roads. particularly descents. i did a bunch of outdoor riding last yr including a couple of fondos, but nothing like the big climb i have to do this time. I feel its imperative that i get outside. Is outdoor training for this ride as important as i think it is? What workouts should i take outdoors? Like i said, the roads here are quite difficult to maintain consistent power profiles. I want to be as compliant as possible with my plan. Thanks for any tips

Thank you for all the great replies. here is my calender for those wondering. i just copied and pasted the link. hopefully it works.

in reference to nutrition comments, Ive been focusing on nutrition, hydration and aero position on my indoor rides. Ive built up to about 100g carbs per hr on threshold, vo2 and sweet-spot rides and about 50g per hr on endurance. During the event i will be aiming for 100g-125g/hr and loading hard the day before and the morning of. Although i do need to find food easier to take with me. I currently eat baby food pouches on my rides which are super convenient and cheap but not easy to open. Maybe i can squeeze the 20-25needed into a larger bottle for the ride. I only want stop for water refills.
I have a 1.5-2hr sweetspot ride each saturday (days off sundays and thursdays) which from next week on, i will take outdoors and look for 3-4hrs of mostly endurance pace being carful to stick to very low gears on the inclines. I may also replace one of the two threshold (once i get into specialty) per week with a ride around the local hills and do some repeats on the longer climb mentioned. its tight and windy and easy to hit 70km/h+ on the descents.
I do have about 2500km of outdoor riding under my belt with about 700 in groups so im not a total noob. Just nothing this year. Im very excited for this ride. My initial goal was sub 6hrs but im thinking sub 5.5hrs is doable. I did the tour de victoria (162km, 2200m) in 5:20 last year with no structured training and terrible nutrition. Ive been working on a pacing plan. The big climb @ 80-85% FTP. Thats about 270-280w. My best time up alpe du zwift is 52mins so i think this is manageable. My high end endurance is 254w and i think i’ll be spending a lot of time below that recovering for the next climb.
Thank you again for all the great advice

I would definitely recommend getting outside.

It would be good to stick to a power plan, but if you are following a plan the majority of the time, then taking some time to get used to being outside (like reaching for a bottle which isn’t on a nearby desk) is well worth it.

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How many days per week are you riding? Unless you’re already at 6 days a week, I’d take one of your days off and just go ride around. If you are at 6 days a week, substitute this for whatever makes the most sense to you. Really punch those rollers and treat it like an anerobic workout. Hit that 11 minute hill a few times and call it threshold. Experiment with it. Don’t feel pressured to follow a workout exactly if you aren’t used to doing them outside.

As far as how important it is, that depends on if you’re riding in a group. In a group: very important. Not in a group: less important. Fun factor: very important. How twisty is the descent?


For the safety of those around you and obviously you, it’s important to be comfortable, smooth, and predictable riding on roads and preferably on roads with other people. 100% get outside. Not knowing the roads and your training plan I can’t really recommend how to take inside workouts outside other than for us regular folk I don’t think it matters much. Just ride.


Yes. If nothing else, so your body knows what it feels like to be on the bike for longer than 2 hours and so you can test your nutrition.

You don’t need to do a “workout”…just test your pacing plan. Don’t worry about holding every moment to a particular power level, just target an IF and ride roughly to that level. A bit harder on the climbs, a bit easier on the descents.

You can also go to Best Bike Split and get a very specific power plan for the entire course.

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Looks like a great fondo!

I think you’re on the right track with getting outside before the event. Getting a feel for how you and your bike respond to inputs out on the road before a big mass start event like this is key for your safety and overall enjoyment.

You could push some of your TR workouts to a Garmin or Wahoo bike computer if you’d like to use our Outside Workouts feature! With some practice, you can figure out the best roads/routes near you to complete your structured training sessions on the road.

If it’s too tough to get that structure in outside, we’d recommend doing some unstructured low-intensity riding outdoors. This would allow you to keep up with your interval sessions while also giving yourself some opportunity to get outside and focus on your real-world riding skills.

It may also be a good idea to hop in a few group rides if possible. That will help you feel more comfortable riding with others before you race the fondo coming up. If the group ride happens to be spirited, we’d advise replacing one of your weekly workouts with the group ride to avoid overdoing the intensity.

Hope this helps! Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.

Since your riding the Forte you will be set off in a much smaller group than the regular fondo and will miss most of the front group of the Fondo when you rejoin the route. Consequently you will be riding with smaller but less experienced groups up to whistler.

I would highly recommend some group riding or outdoor riding beforehand but it will definitely be less stressful than starting with the regular fondo or Regis groups.

Not sure if you have done such events (edit: it looks have, not just one with such an extended climb) before - if you haven’t, perhaps some things to keep in mind.

  1. Relax and take a seemingly slow pace. You could go at 65% of FTP on flattish ground and push a bit harder, such as 70%, on that massive climb from miles 4 to 18. Eat a lot at the rest stops, or get the food and keep them in pockets to eat them as you ride. Don’t be afraid to eat more than you think you should. It’s not so much about eating for hour 1 or 2 but making sure you’re still in good shape for hours 5 and 6.

As the hours build up, especially from climbing, it’s easy to take yourself out for the rest of the ride.

  1. If you continue to feel great around mile 75, begin to push harder and enjoy the the finish.

It’s always nice to be able to ride around and get a feel for extended hours outside, but in my mind it’s not a game-ender if you keep the above in mind. It’s easy to feel great early, push (especially if you’re following others) and then find that your back hurts mid way, or you didn’t eat enough food and you’re now in deficit.

I find that feeling great and feeling poor is not such a gradual linear change. It just suddenly hits you that you’re in trouble.

For the descent, don’t pressure yourself to going fast, to bomb downhill. Again, if you’re in a group, it’s easy to get carried away and be uncomfortable. But at these events, there are plenty of people who will be taking it “slow”.

I did this ride last year, largely on TrainerRoad training although I did a lot of outdoor rides early in the season. I made a little video of it here: #ride4Riaan at the RBC Gran Fondo 2022 - YouTube

I will say, generally, that TrainerRoad is great for fitness and having an organized training plan for the event. What it doesn’t provide is a pacing strategy, bike handling, building your overall ability for being on the bike that long, a nutrition and hydration strategy and probably a few other skills and tolerances you need for a big ride. Some of these things are going to cost you energy that you aren’t experiencing on the trainer.

So, even if you can’t mimic the elevation profile, definitely get outside and do progressively longer rides each week as close to this profile as possible. Practice riding for an extended period of time at a certain effort (you probably want to be around 0.75 IF for this ride overall, so experiencing what that feels like over a full day will help), and practice drinking and eating for the multiple of hours while riding is also super important.

Last year, with the unexpected heat and the poor organization, that long sustained climb at the end did a lot of people in. The rest stops at the event were poorly supplied and organized and people were getting dehydrated with little edible food available. It was a bit of a debacle. I hope they fix that this year because it’s a great course otherwise. Enjoy the full lane on the Sea-to-Sky!

This may be too basic but if you haven’t done a lot of group riding, get familiar with all the hand signals and things people point out and shout out. Even if not for others, you’ll know why the person in front is waving their hand a certain way and you’ll avoid the parked car or other death trap.

As sort of mentioned above, learn to put your bottle back quickly without even looking down.

I think it’d be good to do a tempo ride over the local hills and learn to modulate power or get comfortable in a wider power band.

Do this if you have time on the weekends, at least a couple times if you can. Pay attention on the descents, and more importantly food and hydration. Ride with a group if possible. Don’t worry about the big climb at Whistler - its a 5+ hour ride and you want to be confident about how to feed yourself and staying hydrated as you’ll have fitness it really comes down to your attitude and fueling/hydration and not going too hard if its hot that day.

Thank you for all the great advice

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