Training plan for Ultra bikepacking race?

Doing Panceltic Ultra in July and need more endurance. A complete change from my cyclo x race training.
But no way do I want to lose my speed and turn into a tortoise :turtle:
I 'm naturally am good at endurance but have to work hard at my vo2 max and sprint power.
Ideally, I was thinking 2 intensity sessions / week and the rest increasing my hours on the bike.
Maybe a Polarised plan, or century?
I’d be interested to hear what others on here are doing, so your thoughts please

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For past 2 years have followed pattern (wouldn’t call it real plan):

  • 2xSS → 1xZ4 + 1xSS → 1xZ5 + 1xZ4 (month per block)
  • filling all the available time with Z2 (capped by HR, ~60-63% of FTP)
  • pushing towards less/longer intervals (a la 1x120min for SS at 90%, 2x40min Z4 at 95-98%, 5x5min Z5)
  • weekends back-to-back long Z2 (a la 2x4h → 2x8h)
  • 15-18h/week, occasionally 2-3 weeks of 24h-28/week but this was little bit over edge, made last year TSS graph little bit toothy
  • never planned peaking, just kept repeating pattern. Might not work if you race.

1st year had pretty good FTP gains, 2nd year less but TTE for all durations improved quite nicely, eventually still plateaud. For 2024, I am back on TR generated masters plans. Will try to cycle through proper base → build → specialty twice, first Gran Fondo and then TT.

Regarding TR POL plans, not fan of 4x16min suprathreshold intervals – lot fatigue, little gains. YMMV.


That looks quite do-able. I think the back to back long rides are what I need to get used to riding for longer. My big problem is keeping my z2 rides to z2!
Which is why I struggle a bit with higher mileage.
Probably go back to base mid Feb, then same as you ,build, and I’ll try Gran Fondo after that.
Thankyou for your advice :smiley:

I think good approach could be any TR’s masters LV or MV plan, shifting prescribed days to make 2 day block available for your own b2b Z2 progression. No need to worry about overly disciplined Z2, once volume grows enough, it will self-regulate. Especially 2nd day, when need to start with already tired legs.

Through trial and error I just know that if I push higher than 65% frequently, it will hit me in 3-5 weeks hard, losing motivation and consistency and it takes week or so to get hunger back :slight_smile:

I did North Cape 4000 last year with a friend (we weren’t fast, but arrived within the time cut off). I followed the century plan, but only did two interval sessions/week. Effectively that was one vo2 max and one threshold session. I also did two weights sessions per week because I wanted to go in with a string core. Then one (or rarely two) 100 km rides at the weekend. I also did an audax about once a month going up to 600 km. I had done about 3500 km before starting.

My friend trained totally differently. She just went for time on the bike. No intervals, no weights, but she had about 5000 km or maybe more down before we started. Apart from having constantly sore arses we were both fine and happy with the training we’d done. Make of that what you will :laughing:.

Makes me smile when you post a question. I think you should have National Champion in brackets after your name to help users calibrate their answers :wink:
My gut feeling would be to continue with your high intensity work. I never feel thats wasted energy plus cx season comes around again so fast. Then I’d get up on the Downs and do 6-8hr rides once a week. That place makes you super fit! Personally I’d chuck in a couple of out and back bivy trips too, but thats just for the love of cycling, I don’t think they’re the best training because of the rubbish sleep).
So two fast sessions plus a long one each week. The rest is fluff in my opinion. Certainly do a few easy hours if the weather is nice, but probably better to eat well and chill.
Not a stalker btw :smile:, just a fellow mtb, cx’er living near the SD so I’m familiar with your name.

I did the GBduro last year and will echo what others have said - 2x midweek interval sessions plus long rides at the weekends. Ultra-racing is so un-specific that it really doesn’t matter that much what kind of power profile you’re training as long as you can get lots of saddle time.

I couldn’t be happier with the rollout of the masters plans for this. I can handle the normal 3x intensity sessions a week but now with a masters plan I can give one of them over to something ‘fun’ like a race simulation, massive day out, etc. which is huge for my motivation and fulfillment.

Masters Mid-Volume is kind of perfect for an ultra training plan IMO. I’ve swapped days around so my two intensity sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday (limited to an hour each), with 1h z2 on Wednesday. It means Saturday is scheduled as 90 mins z2 and Sunday 2 hours z2, but that’s very rarely what I do at the weekend.

In the absence of other life factors or weather considerations I’d ideally do 3ish hours of something with intensity on Saturday and then something really long and steady on Sunday, but even that gets changed around quite a bit. If I’m truly stuck indoors all weekend I’ll swap the Saturday z2 for an additonal hard interval session and then do the Sunday z2 ride as prescribed (or possibly extended) whilst watching a film or something. Mostly I let the weather forecast shape my plans though.

This would be a really good way to shape those long weekend rides and give some periodisation to that part of your ‘build’. I guess in an ideal world your audax would be the last weekend of each training block so you’re going straight into a recovery week afterwards. Audax if it suits you, but you could just as easily do the same thing by planning your own solo rides.

For me I’d want my last and biggest of those rides to be a full-on race simulation with a full kit shakedown, test pack, sleeping out, timings and routines as intended for the race. Two days and one night is plenty if you do lots of bikepacking and most of your setup is already familiar, but maybe three days and two nights if any significant part of this kind of racing is new. I find that fatigue/soreness/etc. plateaus pretty significantly from day 3 onwards, so there’s no real benefit to going longer than that in training. Ideal timing is probably 3-4 weeks out so you can fully shed the fatigue (and there’s still time to replace any equipment that didn’t meet your needs in the test!)

Taper should be a bit less aggressive than you’d do for a one day race IMO - you want to be rested but you don’t really need to be ‘fresh’ in the traditional sense. I think there’s more benefit in keeping your body familiar with long hours in the saddle than in starting the race at your absolute sharpest. I think a week before the race I did one last full kit shakedown with 3hrs out, sleep, and 3hrs back. I didn’t bother with any of the final taper and opener intervals in my plan either - just focused on rest in that final week since it seemed like it might even be a bit of a pacing advantage to start out a bit ‘flat’ on day 1.

You’ll likely need a few weeks to really recover from the race before you can do hard intervals again in the Autumn, but with that much base fitness you should be able to sharpen things to a pretty respectable VO2 and Sprint performance again fairly quickly once you get back into it. Probably won’t be your sharpest CX season ever but you’re definitely not going to be stuck as a tortoise/diesel for the rest of the year either!


Good advice. I expect OP knows this already, but I found that a ton of protein really helped to speed up recovery after multi-day efforts.