I just signed up to ride the Pan Mass Challenge this year on a route that covers 192 miles over 2 days. Day 1 is 108.6 mi/ 5,232 ft elevation and Day 2 is 77.7 mi/ 2,968 ft. This is a big deal for me and my family, since my wife’s uncle has been battling cancer and I’ll be raising money for cancer research and treatment. The event is in 6 weeks, so I could start a new 6 week plan with a rest week and align nicely with the ride.
I’ve done 3 centuries and a few 100km rides in the past, but my biggest ride this year has been 45 miles I know Nate and crew are proponents of the idea that you don’t need to ride the same distance in training as the actual event, but this is a bit daunting!
I’ve been working through a general plan-builder mid-volume plan for a few weeks but it currently has me in SSB MV1 for the next few weeks. Given that I should probably have some longer rides and progressively up the volume, any tips on what might be a good approach?
I was thinking a MV or HV polarized plan might work. I don’t mean to rehash the general debates about polarized, but the 6 week base experimental plan would slot in nicely on the calendar and force me to do alot of time in the saddle. I was thinking about the HV version, with maybe shifting a bit of the time during the week to longer weekend rides. Since I have to ride 2 days back to back, I think this would be a good prep for the event.
Any advice is very much welcomed!!
Whatever plan you use, I would make it a point to get in those “weekend long rides” work your way up from ~3 hours to ~5 hours. If you can do a couple back to back weekend rides of appreciable length, that will really help. Even if they aren’t the anticipated distance of the event, doing two 3 hour rides back to back, for example, will really set the stage for your target event.
Polarized is probably a decent approach if you intend to ride the event at a primarily endurance pace. High volume, baking a lot of those fatigue-resistant muscle fibers into your legs will have you more than prepared. That said, more than a training plan, you need to work on fueling over long rides and riding when fatigued. I can’t understate how important a good fueling strategy is. It is difficult, if not impossible, for most to replenish the amount of calories burned during long rides like this. If you don’t train your gut to take on enough fuel to at least mitigate the losses, and then refuel appropriately after the first day, it doesn’t matter how effective your training is, you will suffer miserably and the drop in power will mean you suffer longer.
I wouldn’t overthink it too much, at a charity ride pace, the plan choice is probably six of one. Pick the one that you can maintain adherence to and get those long rides in! Good luck!
If it’s any reassurance to you, this year I’ve only done (until this last weekend) two 100k (63mile) rides outdoors, with the rest all being maximum 45 miles and with 80% of my riding mileage this year being TR indoor sessions between 45mins and 90mins length. I’ve been on a low volume plan. No speciality.
I did 125 miles in a small (7 person) group on Saturday, with circa 5.5k feet of climbing and averaged 17.5mph and didn’t feel too bad, taking my fair share of pulls at the front.
I’m convinced the various TR workouts I did this year prepped me well (mostly sweet spot and threshold).
@FrankTuna I completely agree with Sarah. I had a recent 100 mile effort that my legs and cardio were prepared for, but my back and core were not ready to be in that position for hours on end. Doing a few 50 milers with a bunch of 25 milers in between was not enough, so the last quarter of my ride was painful. Longer rides in the saddle, and back to back weekend rides will definitely go a long way, even if they aren’t all out efforts.
I’m always amazed how thoughtful the responses are here!! Thank you @EmeraldCitizen @Sarah @dsirrom
I’m going to make a point to do longer weekend rides and fuel alot. I’ve been trying to drop some weight, but I think I’ll focus on good foods and good fueling for the next 6 weeks.
I think my bike fit is good…I’ve had no issues but granted something might show up as I do longer rides.
Slowly working up to those longer rides will reveal any issues you have to iron out. Bike fit, kit issues, food not agreeing, etc. Six weeks should be enough time to get all of that dialed in, if need be.
Here’s a tentative plan I put together - any thoughts? The Monday group rides are at 5:45PM, so that would give me some time to recover later Sunday/early Monday after the long weekend rides. The group ride isn’t too rough with some punchy hills, and I figure practice riding in a group would be beneficial.
Given the charity ride will be a relatively easy Z2 pace (aiming for 16 mph), do you think 1x VO2 and 1x threshold weekly with lots of Z2 makes sense?
If for some reason you can’t get outside for your longer rides, do them inside with your helmet on. I did a century a while ago with almost no outdoor rides prior to and my neck was very sore / tired by the end.
On something a little separate from the training aspect, consider that it is something you are signing up for…for fun. Don’t stress too much on whether or not you CAN do it…you can. But remember that it is something you want to do, because you do.
Good luck on your ride. No great advise from me, but I’m interested to see how it turns out in the end
I think it’s mostly psychological, if you’ve ridden the distance before and you’re riding regularly now (even if not the full distance) you will be able to get round, just make sure you keep the pace easy at the start, and eat and drink a lot!
But obviously you want to have fun and not suffer as well, so your plan there looks like a good start. I would say you should be careful about going from MV to HV fairly close to the event like this, but most of it is Z2 so it’s probably more likely to be OK. I would focus on hitting that Wednesday-Thursday mini block and getting at least one decent length ride at the weekend - you’ll be fine.
Best advice I can give is to pace yourself during the event, especially the first two hours. Don’t judge by how you feel, because you will feel great at first. Use your longer rides now to figure out a speed or power that is sustainable and stick to the plan, regardless of what others are doing.
A threshold or Vo2 max once every five days or so will be fine. Concentrate on getting those long Z2 rides in. Time in the saddle will pay dividends. Make sure you have a good breakfast and good evening meal during the actual charity ride. Try and find out the schedule for the charity ride. Will there be mid day stops allowing you to refuel off the bike, or will you need to eat on bike? If latter then practice doing that on your build up rides.
There are stops every 20 miles but I wouldn’t want to hit them all. I’m going to try to make the DIY Maurten mix and bring some snacks too.
Thanks for the tips!!
Any chance you can do the distance all in one day? I find back-to-back rides more challenging than doing a double century. For my first double, I tried to include a shorter Sunday ride after my Saturday simulation ride. I aim my simulation ride to be 50-60% of my estimate double duration and the Sunday would be around 50% of that. So I would build up to a solo 7 hours simulation ride 2-3 weeks before the event and a ~3 hour Sunday ride so I can easily stay on the saddle for 10 hours. My moving ended up as 12:19 and total of 13:09 on a almost flat route with only 4,626’ elevation gain. I should’ve put in more time as I was crawling and almost cramped near the end.
I would shot for increase your saddle time up to your previous century times (or best estimate) with doing at least 60% of that the following day gradually in the next 4 weeks and a bit of recovery the week before. Also work out your fueling and hydration needs. I wouldn’t bother with any VO2 or much threshold intervals but concentrate on increasing your time at tempo (both the length of the interval and total duration). Maybe some sweet spot for the climb. You not going to loss that much more of your upper end in 5 weeks and hitting it wouldn’t raise it much.
You’re getting great advice above👍.
I’d just add a couple of points. Pick up some chamois cream if you don’t use it (I assume you’ve decent shorts). If you aren’t used to riding two long days in a row you can get pretty tender underneath😅. Also, check your gearing, both days seem hilly rather than mountainous but on tried legs you might be glad of a couple of extra teeth at the back.
Frankly Panmass should be a cakewalk for anyone of reasonable fitness. Between the downward trajectory of the course on the way to the cape, the hundreds of people participating for potential energy saving, and all the aid stations, it shouldn’t be extremely strenuous even if they are long rides. You’ll do fine!
That plan looks pretty good (assuming you already have a solid base of riding already).
About the only thing I might suggest is considering making your Thursday rides Sweet Spot rather than Threshold. SS is probably what you will be riding hills at on your charity ride, and is less stress on your body. Perhaps try the 1st Thursday workout as Threshold and see how you go after that.