Ride Strategy for Longer Ride than I’m Accustomed To

I just registered for a 70 mile ride in three weeks (peer pressure). I’m wondering how I should approach the ride. I tend to ride on the trainer for an hour, twice a week (TR workouts) and outside for 35 miles once a week. I’ve never done this many miles in one ride (I’ve done it in a day with several stops on a tour at a very leisurely pace).

Should I pace myself via power, speed, HR, or something else I can’t think of? I feel like I’m in good enough shape to be on the bike pedaling for as long as this will take, but I don’t want to ruin my day with bad pacing.

Also, how does stretching my 35 mile Saturday ride to 45 this Saturday and 60 next sound? Would that help or just put me in a hole?

I appreciate your input.

If it helps, the ride profile is:

Thanks in advance,

Will

Sounds like you’re just trying to make it out in one piece. If that’s your goal, look at your normalized power on your hardest 35 mile ride in recent weeks. Then knock 5-10 percent off that and you should be ok to ride the 70 miles at that level of effort.

This assumes it’s broadly similar in terms of surface (eg gravel ve tarmac) and terrain (hilly vs flat).

There may not be much you can do fitness wise in three weeks. But you might try to increase your time at sweet spot. Then rest up, check your bike, and figure out hydration and nutrition.

Good luck.

The right strategy is to not take any pulls on the front at all and let your friends do all the work

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If you can ride 35 miles then you can ride 70 miles. Increasing your long ride in the next couple of weeks will certainly help with confidence, pacing, nutrition, and any other limiters like fit or comfort issues which may become apparent with more time in the saddle. As long as you’re doing those rides at a fairly easy pace they should help not hinder your fitness.

Re pacing, if you just want to enjoy the day and get round I’d aim for mostly cruising at endurance z2, allowing that to rise to tempo or maybe sweetspot to get you over the hills but keep it all below threshold. Only exception to that is that if there are some groups on the course then it can be worth digging a little deeper to latch onto a group and benefit from the draft. That’s a judgement call and depends a lot on how busy the course is and whereabouts you are on it. If it’s a mass participation event with hundreds or thousands of riders then typically there are so many groups that if one is too hard you can sit up and another one will be along shortly.

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That’s it right there: don’t stress out too much, enjoy the ride and listen to your body. Reducing your effort by a few percent will be more than enough. Also, make sure to drink and eat enough. Don’t start drinking and eating when you feel thirsty or hungry, by then it is too late. And if your goal is to just complete the ride, who says you can’t take a break.

Don’t worry, @Wad06, I’m sure you’ll be fine!

I appreciate all of the advice!

I guess I should have said this in my initial post - the goal is definitely to get around the 70-mile loop, but I’d like to make it challenging for myself and maybe set a time that I can use to try to beat in future rides. I guess I’d like to finish the ride spent and with something within 10% of what would be a good time for me. Does that make sense?

Am I approaching it wrong? Should I just focus on getting through this first ride this long? Having never done one like this, I can happily accept that it may be the best plan. That said, I do like trying to beat my “normal” times and power with my usual 35 mile outdoor ride. I was wondering if I could set my 70 mile ride “standard” with this ride.

And @OreoCookie, thanks for the nutrition advice. I’ve been looking into it since signing up. With my usual rides, I haven’t really worried about it, but it seems like I should this time.

Will

Times depend very much on the terrain, on your fitness and your physiology. In one race I did 32.1 km in 52 minutes and the in the race last weekend I did a mere 21.5 km in 1 hour 10 minutes. One was a rolling road race the other a hill climb :wink:

Honestly, IMHO aiming for a time is not a smart goal for you to pick, because you don’t know how to pace such a long distance. Instead, make this a learning experience. In my mind, better goals would be:

  1. Don’t crash.
  2. Finish the ride.
  3. Improve your drafting skills.

Plus, I reckon this is not a timed event, correct? In that case, I’d just enjoy the event, being out with your mates on two wheels in nature.

Thanks for the good advice. I’ve never ridden in a group bigger than four people. I will focus on those three things.

Will

Stay out of the initial surge off the start. That’s a good way to blow yourself up. Also, don’t pull. Let others do the work. If you can find a group that’s going your pace, sit in with them for as long as you can. Long rides go by faster with people to work with and talk to. Have fun!

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^if nothing else listen to this and be sure to eat/drink early and often. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people latch on to the fast group at the beginning of a long charity/for fun fondo and then I pass them 2.5 hours later and they are struggling to finish. Ride the first half well within yourself and if you are feeling old with maybe 15-20 miles to go, then slowly start ramping your effort and finish strong.

I think you are going to be shocked at how easy this turns out to be.

As others have said: You got this. Don’t worry too much. If you can do 35, you can do 70.

That said: Optimize for comfort, not speed. Go a little bit easier, wear your best shorts, eat and drink enough.

And update this thread after, so future readers can gain from hearing how well it went for you :slight_smile:

More good advice. I probably would have wanted to keep up with the initial surge group. I will resist the urge. I can hopefully establish my own comfortable pace and happen into a group moving at about the same speed. The people that pressured me into this are all much stronger riders, and I assume will disappear into the horizon shortly after the start. On our 35 mile rides, they tend to finish about 7-12 minutes ahead of me and look less worn out (they seemed to have conquered the TR caption advice of makIng it look effortless no matter how much it isn’t).

I’m looking at some of the SIS gels people on here seem to like (probably not going to make my own between now and then). I’ll keep nutrition and hydration in mind throughout the ride. Apparently, they’ll have “aide stations” setup every so often with some stuff to help.

Thanks for the encouragement and advice. I’ll definitely update with results.

Will

@ wad06 - as others have said you’ll do it - but take it from me that unless the feed stations have exactly the kind of food you’re used to - take as much of what you’re used to as you can. And don’t try anything new on the day - be that shorts, position or food.

Take it easy and enjoy it - then use that as your benchmark to improve next time and never try to keep up with the fast lads as that’s a sure fire way to all kinds of trouble. Again as other above have said - stay within yourself.

I’ve learned not to rely on aid stations for your nutrition. I carry all my fuel (gels, food, water mixes) and just get water at the aid stations and mix with my fuel.

Yeah, definitely you should resist the urge until you know yourself well enough to pace your efforts correctly. The beginning should feel really easy, almost laughably easy. Keep your goals in mind, you are not shooting for a time here.

Yeah, make use of them so that you can refill your water bottles. (You should definitely carry 2, not just 1.)

The ride was Saturday. I’m glad I did it. The weather wasn’t great - started at 42 degrees with a bit of rain and ended at 54 degrees and still raining. I was told there were only 125 people signed up and the weather probably kept some of them away. I came away with several observations:

  1. Always bring rain gear, no matter what the forecast says. I was not prepared on that front. I was pretty cold and very wet at the end of the ride.

  2. As to conditioning, I seem to be somewhere between most riders. There were several groups riding quicker than I felt comfortable riding and several groups riding slower. I never found my “Goldilocks” group. I rode 85% of the ride alone. I still don’t know what it feels like to draft in a group.

  3. Nutrition was easier than I thought. This could have been partially the result of the weather. Had it been hotter, I think nutrition would have required more attention. I alternated between a banana and PB&J sandwich ever hour. I also made an effort to drink more often than I regularly would.

  4. My power meter is a worthless accessory to me on rides like this, at this point in time. For fun, I used Best Bike Split to put recommended wattage for the entire race. My Garmin would give me a heads up for each “leg.” It didn’t matter. I was way above recommended on all climbs. On downhill portions, I was always below. And on flat portions, I just rode at what was comfortable, which sometimes matched and sometimes didn’t. Part of this is the result of my FTP being pretty low, so all climbs pretty much required a higher wattage than what it recommended just to get up the hill. I think, for me, heart rate was a better indicator for pace (for knowing when I was going to hard for too long or too easy for too long). This may just be me, and I may need to learn more.

  5. Heart Rate - What is a good riding heart rate for a ride this long (accepting steeper climbs and downhills)? At what rate do most people ride?

Thanks again for all the help preparing. I would have approached this very differently without your advice. It is much appreciated.

Will

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