Pacing 50+ mile rides

I’m trying to plan some routes and pacing strategies to go with them.

What are some common pacing strategies for pacing non-competitive rides that are 50mi above with over 4k feet climbing?

I’m thinking that z2 (flats) then z4/5 climbs would make sense. But what if I stopped every 10 miles for a 2 min rest - would z3 on flats then be achievable?

Is there a ‘done’ thing?

I’m trying also to keep the intensity factor down within a reasonable limit (say 0.90 max)

1 Like

This all depends on how aerobically fit you are, but my first aim would be (upper) Z2 on the flats and sweetspot on the climbs. Zone 5 on 4k of climbing would make no sense imo.


What @Fritso said…if you are feeling good in the latter half of the ride(s) you can open it up to Z3 on the flats and finish faster. More than Sweetspot on the climbs will likely translate to misery by the end of the ride.


Agree with both of the responses above. If you are ending up with 0.9 for a 50 mile ride either your FTP is too low or you are absolutely SMASHING it and it will take you a couple days to recover.

Agree with all the above and I think the podcast recently talked about doing centuries.

If you get carried away and go too hard you’ll end up curled in a ball afterwards. Build up and use the first long ride to test the water and test fuel and hydration strategies before.

Ride well within your limits and you’ll find it a more pleasurable experience.

This!! Definitely go back and listen to their takes on pacing, etc.

Just did a 50+ mile ride with 6K climbing with a buddy that is mildly out of shape, but wanted to have an epic day with me. On all the flats I was in low Z2. First long climb (Cat2) starting at the 3 mile mark I kept in the middle of Z3. I decided to hammer a Cat3 climb that came about 24 miles in. I was destroying it, until the road ended due to a landslide and was unpassable. Following Cat2 climb started at mile 42 was done in Z4/Z5. I got an extra bit of climbing at this point, as my buddies legs cracked halfway up the climb. I went back to ride up with him and he ended up zigzagging across the road up the last 2 miles of 11%. Strava nailed his pace at 1.8 MPH (He was on a TT bike as well adding to his suffering). We had a nice long descent that was in Z1, with only a 1/4 mile 12% kicker that I hammered Z5 up and then cruised in to the finish.

I think the key to me being able to hammer up the later climbs were greatly influenced by not hitting the first climb hard, and keeping things under control in the flat sections. I was recovered enough the next day to go back out and smash the first climb of the ride.

Don’t think I’ve ever paced a 50 mile ride like that…just ride. However, looking at some stats after, I seem to spend up to 40% in zone 1, 30% in zone 2, and the rest somewhere higher (all the way up to 7 if I’d been having fun). So I’d suggest, go really easy, and have some fun!

@jordonp In January we wrote a guide for building a pacing plan for longer events. Hope this helps!


20 minutes – 1.05 IF
1 Hour – 1.00 IF
1.5-2.5 Hours – 0.90 IF
2.5-4.5 Hours – 0.80IF
4.5-16 Hours – 0.70 IF

Wow. That’s pretty much spot on for me. For roughly 50-70 miles, I run about .80 - .85 IF. Keep in min I’m slower than molasses. So 50 miles with with 3.2K climbing, for me, is about 3hrs exactly and 70 with 5.2K is roughly 4.25hr.

I would suggest that you try and limit the number of times you stop. It can be a struggle to get going again if you’re deep into your ride. Practice eating on the bike and see how that feels.

I wouldn’t worry about zones, either power or HR, just ride at a pace such that you can hold a full conversation without having to gasp for breath. That puts you somewhere around 0.7 IF. After that you’ll know if you’ve anything in the tank to be able to push it a bit on the hills. Eat and drink well and you’ll be fine.

I live in a hilly area - did a short ride last night and after the first 8km we’d done 240m of ascent! IME the level of effort depends on the grade of climbs, there’s no way I can stick in Z2 on 20% grades for example but on a 5% grade I’d just slow down a bit and spin away. Currently with the lockdown I’ll head out with my wife, I’m a lot fitter than her so my rides tend to be all Z1 unless I push it on a climb and then wait for her at the top.

Thanks - you’ve all been a massive help. I’ve worked out what my normalised power should be and also found out that you can add Normalised power as a data screen on Garmin to stop guess work. I’m going to do the split pacing around what my NP should be - so 180W for 25miles then 220W for the later 25miles.

This is a handy list, but if you want to convert between power <> speed and between time <> distance universally across ANY ride distance/time you can (if you wish) use our handy bonking/pacing calculator for free . So for example, set units to imperial & distance, enter your FTP and 50miles…and look especially at cell “F46” . bw alex

hope this helps!

1 Like

Do you have a link for that chart? I can’t seem to find it.


sorry the link didnt work here it is again:

Thank you!

1 Like

That’s pretty interesting. I need more power Scotty!

1 Like