Training for ultra-distance

Hello every one

I’ve just started Trainerroad, and so far I’m loving it. I’m on my last week on SSB1 mid-volume, done mostly on my home trainer but with some outdoor week-ends ride. My FTP at the begining of the plan was 281W.

I do not consider myself to be a cyclist, as I’ve always ridden as a mean of travel. I have 10kg to lose, I’m painstakingly slow during the climbs, but I can ride 100+km every day (I have been traveling for 5 months on my bike before covid hit).

I’ve decided to try ultra-distance cycling. Next July I’ll ride the Race Across France : 2500km, 10 days max (I’m lucky France is smaller than the US, because I don’t think I’m ready for the RAAM). Solo, bikepacking on road…

Of course I need to get ready for the event, but I also need to:

  • lose some weight: 281W of FTP is not so bad (I was expecting less), but it’s only 3.1W/kg. If I was loosing some weight, I could ride with all my gear and basically carry as much as I do today without it.
  • get better at climbing: I can climb everything (I’ve done climbs with 2000+m of elevation), but I’m not going faster than 10km/h (and that for the good days)
  • train myself on the saddle: home-trainer is good, but in spring I will definitely go ride outdoor. When I do that, I like to leave for 2 or 3 days with all my gear, ride all day and camp at night: for me it’s the best way to enjoy cycling, but it doesn’t seem to fit so well with structured training
  • in spring (May?), I’d like to take one month to travel across Europe(~150km a day)

Now is the question: how do I train for that? At first I was considering SSB2, but now I’m thinking about Trad Base (mid or high volume): even though it seems boring to death, it could be great for me as I really need to shed some weight.

Any suggestions (or feedback) would be very welcome.


Related threads worth review (if you haven’t seen them already):

Not an exact match, but related to super long stuff:


I had already read most of those topics, but I don’t find them very instructive. The events that are discussed are either the RAAM with a team or things like Leadville, which are not the same as what I’m planning to do. Even randonneuring is different as it’s a bit shorter.

I’m more interested about plan suggestions adapted to my goals and time frame, if anyone has any idea…

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Long distance mountain bike multi-day bikepacking events are my main focus so …

Don’t worry about FTP, I’ve been (well) below 3W/kg for most of those I’ve done, currently a tiny bit lower in both FTP and weight than yourself. What you really need is time in the saddle and the ability to just keep going.

Treat indoor training as an activity in itself, pick a plan or sequence of plans you like the look of and that lets you work on something you’d like to improve. There’ll be some crossover/benefit from pretty well any of them. Maybe even a Low Volume plan and do long weekend rides (assuming that’s legal in your current jurisdiction) with a bivy.

Is 10km/h your average speed or just up hills? Hopefully the latter. Assume 20km/h that means 13hrs on the move per day for your event which isn’t much, I reckon on 16-18hrs to give plenty of rest (comparatively, reduced sleep is expected on events like this).

Doesn’t matter what “plan” you do on TR. Any of the base / builder repeats will be perfectly fine. Seriously. You’ll likely be off the plan all Spring as you build up your endurance anyway.

In my humble opinion, you need to work on the mental training if you’re jumping into multi-day events. In the Spring, go out and do a really long and hard ass ride. Sleep less than five hours and repeat the hard ass ride. Nothing teaches you how to do that more than experience.

Find a riding club this Winter that does stuff like this. Doesn’t matter whether it’s an ultra, bikepacking, or Audax club. Build up till your ready for a multi-day really long event. Then go do it. Failure is just as educational as success. Nothing wrong with getting knocked down a peg or two and then learning from the folks that were successful. Has worked for me a time or three. :slight_smile: