Ultra cycling plan?

This seems to more or less fit the trend (or at least the general philosophy) I see from the few ultracyclists I’ve scoped out on Strava (other than guys like Christoph Strasser and Marko Baloh, who are practically pros).
Out of curiosity, what would you consider “shorter” SST rides, in terms of duration/intervals?

I liked working up to 4x20 and 3x30 SST for 2 hours of total riding. You can tack on 30-60 minutes of aerobic after that if you’d like. That’s a big workout.

You could even take that farther and do 4x30 or 5-6x20 if you really hate the long workouts.


My main focus is just such long unsupported multi-day rides, generally off-road, and while you do need to have spent time in the saddle it’s not necessary to do so regularly. The late Mike Hall reckoned that once you knew you could do a couple of 200km days back to back there was little point in doing so since they take so much out of you both mentally and physically that you spend more time recovering than riding.

Fitness is just one part of what’s required, there’s no way you can ride at crit pace for 16hrs a day so your average speed might only be 10-15 km/h for the off-road rides. Refuelling, hydrating and general looking after yourself and your bike is key. An example is bike fit: it took me 18 months to get this dialled so that I didn’t get nerve damage in my fingers. I’d be fine to ten hours’ riding but twelve and more would bring on the symptoms. It would then take six to eight weeks before I was back to normal and could change one thing and try again.

I’m using TR (generally Low volume plans) not to increase stamina but to raise FTP and general efficiency at different zones (particularly Sweet Spot and above) which will hopefully “pull up” my sustainable riding pace. It’s not possible to stay at 60-70% FTP when faced with steep climbs so you need to have enough “in reserve” that those occasional surges into the red don’t do any damage.

Planning for routes of more than a few days is difficult as there are so many variables and gotchas to throw things out of kilter. Being able to adapt to what gets thrown at you becomes key.


I’m always amazed by people that can do long rides inside.

I had an interesting experience this year where I got a little flat in May and then had to ride a 600k and 1000k in June. I decided to ride a couple of 100km a week, and that really seemed to help. That has always been a key training distance for me. Like I posted up-thread, anything up to 300k seems to have a positive training effect, but with 100km rides I need a lot less recovery.

Unfortunately, I blew up my legs in July with back-to-back 200km rides in very hot weather. I had horrible cramping the first day and the heat was so bad the second day I was incredibly slow. I really had a hard time recovering from that.

fair enough and super impressive!

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not trying to take away from Nate’s position, as I agree with it, but keep this in mind:

when a fueling strategy is taken to the next level :rofl: and becomes a detailed tactical plan :+1: Also, I tend to believe that having more long distance training would leave you feeling better the days and weeks after a grueling race like that.

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I agree!

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I did a few 5+ hour rides on Zwift as part of my training for a double century this year while using training plans (sweet spot & hill climbing) from FasCat, two outdoor centuries, and a 125 miler. This wasn’t sufficient both from fitness and mental perspective for the demand of the ride. I finished but was miserable the last two hours of a thirteen hours (twelve moving) day. I was averaging 8-10 hours a week and drove my CTL to mid 80’s.

I got slightly loftier goals next year, completing three doubles (CA Triple Crown). I plan to do SSB 1 &2 MV, Sustained Power Build MV, & Century MV. I’m week 5 of SSB 2 and been adding 15 minutes of endurance spin to each week after Saturday’s workout. I’m up to two additional hours or 3.5 hours for Saturday (skipped addin for Mary Austin -1 due to a cold last week and restarting week 4). I planning to add three centuries, a 125 miler, and two prep doubles during build and specialty as well as continue incorporating the light endurance spin after Saturday’s workout (plus 2.5 hours or 4 hours total). Hope I can push on with the Saturday’s spin but might be a bit much given the intensity.

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@jkc Those 3.5 hour Saturday rides are good, and your plan for 6 big rides looks perfect. I’ve got one century a month on my calendar starting in January. Did the Davis Double in 2017 and had built up enough stamina and fitness (all outside rides) that I did solo centuries as warm ups at 3 weeks and 1 week before the double. To this day nearly all my power PRs from 50 seconds to nearly 3 minutes are from a Wed morning commute just 3 days before the double. I’ve got a Strava KOM on a 1 minute sprint just five days after the double (enough fast guys around here they would take it if they targeted). With my knee issues in the rear view mirror, hoping to science my way back to that level of fitness this year!!

Which doubles are you targeting? I might do Davis Double again, and maybe target two more as I really want to earn the CA Triple Crown jersey this year or next year!

Solvang, Hemet, Davis, Eastern Sierra, & LA Wheelmen’s Grand Tour (highland). Salvang & Hemet are training (and if stars align, Golden Thousand this year and two birds down). Completed LAWGT lowland this year as my first. Actually registered for Davis but settle for the century after catching a cold the week prior, but DNF after trusting my GPS and took a wrong turn after the first rest stop for a short 50 miler. Glad that happened as I missed the rain. If you do Davis, maybe we can rollout (I’m a slow climber).

Just do the stage race, it’s a blast :rofl: (coming from someone who bombed out of Alta Alpina 8 pass after the first climb up Ebbetts…)

Great write up Brendan. I’ve subscribed😃

Agreed. Amazed, yes, but not particularly envious. Indoor stuff up to 1 hr 30 min, is ok (kind a), but once it gets into 2 hours it becomes, literally, a pain in the butt and I do not really believe in their benefits. So much of long distance is more than just pushing the pedals and that mental aspect is not attainable, for me, indoors.

Sorry to hear about that bad experience in the heat and string of 200’s. I ran into heat issues a couple of years ago on a 600. Ended up with urinary tract infections and whatever else could be mixed in. That’s when I dumped the rubberized Brooks saddle (Cambrium). Give me spongy leather any day in those conditions.

thanks Bullseye!

Oxduro is like 150k max, right?

Yes. About 50/50 on/off road by distance. Their entry level event. I think it is June 6th this year but I haven’t confirmed that.

Saturday 13 June and just under 150km.

I’d like to do it, but I’m injured and don’t know when I can start training properly for it. :frowning: A number of my club-mates did it last year and enjoyed it.

I initially planned to doit, but then I signed up for a LEJOG audax… 1,400km in less than 5 days. End of July. Need to get serious training for that!

Use it as a training ride. When everyone else stops, you can carry on going through to Sunday. :wink:

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I’m a randonneur and even with a dash of modesty, I’d have to say a very experienced one.

After a year of the workouts in TrainerRoad, I’m getting close to concluding that the only thing I really need is sweet spot work and sweet spot plans, since they sprinkle in a little variation, and a little variation is all I need.

But as has been mentioned above, physical capacity is only about 30% of what you need in long distance riding. The mental training can only be had by long, murderous rides. You can’t train for it. You have to ride so long that you are thrown down in a deep cold cellar with no obvious way out. Then you have to figure out how to get out. It might be stopping, screaming into the night. When it is so bad that you can’t hold back the tears, then you know "I gotta get a grip. Shit, even if I wanted to DNF (did not finish), where are you? You are 50 km out in vast farmland, on a small road with no traffic. Even if you wanted to DNF, where are you going to go? You have to ride on anyway. The next control is a couple of hours away. Call your wife. Hear a familiar sane voice. Get back on your bike and remind yourself ‘no one can fall asleep on a bike if they push their pulse up into the red’ … " and you ride on, passing others on the way.

Can’t train for that. It just has to be experienced and overcome.

That’s for long rides, of course. It doesn’t happen to me until after 1000 km.