TRAINING AND PREPARATION FOR YOUR FIRST 50 MILE RIDE
Completing a 50 mile road ride is both a challenge and a rite of passage in cycling. No matter what level you’re at, beginner, or regular cyclist, it is very achievable, particularly with a little planning and the right kit.
And while it is possible to do a ride of this distance without training or the proper gear, if you want to enjoy it and feel good afterwards we suggest that you build up to it. Depending on where you live, you should plan for a hill or two, but this is part of the fun.
Where to start?
Firstly, you need to make sure that your bike is in decent shape – chain oiled, tyres pumped and a few other checks.
In regard to gear, while cycle specific clothing is not necessary it is purposely designed to make riding much more comfortable. At a minimum we’d recommend a set of Lycra cycling shorts, as they’re designed for distance riding, preventing chafing and giving you some extra padding between your butt and the saddle.
It’s highly recommended that you take a few tools on a distance ride too, at the very least a mini-pump or CO2 canisters, tyre levers and some spare tubes. There’s nothing worse than getting a flat and having no way to repair it in the middle of nowhere! It’s also worth taking a multi-tool along for the ride just in-case you need to tweak something along the way, such as your saddle height.
Another item that sits more in the ‘nice-to-have’ category than essentials, is a cycling app which is great for tracking progress and reviewing ride stats.
Feeding yourself is vital to success
It’s easy to underestimate how much food you need when cycling. For a 50 mile ride you need a substantial breakfast, a couple of gels, bananas and nutrition bars during the ride, plus water/hydration fluid. Commonly when people run out of steam on long rides, it’s lack of energy to power muscles rather than a lack of fitness and training.
A 50 mile ride is a great cycling goal and a training plan makes it less daunting and more achievable. Typically you would train over a period of 10 to 12 weeks but it can be done in as little as 8 weeks.
We recommend that you train 3-4 times a week, either by bike or another type of sport. At a minimum you should try to ride three times per week while building towards the goal. A local riding group helps with training motivation. Try to avoid increasing your distance too much each week as this can cause injuries and/or fatigue.
You don’t need to have ridden the full distance in training. The key is consistency over each week and slowly building to your goal. Two weeks before the event is a good time to do a longer ride than usual.
Here’s a rough training guide that will help you reach that elusive 50 mile ride milestone:
Week Monday Wednesday Weekend Weekly total
Week 1 6 miles 9 miles 12 miles 27 miles
Week 2 9 miles 12 miles 20 miles 41 miles
Week 3 12 miles 12 miles 25 miles 49 miles
Week 4 12 miles 20 miles 28 miles 60 miles
Week 5 13 miles 25 miles 30 miles 68 miles
Week 6 13 miles 25 miles 35 miles 73 miles
Week 7 15 miles 30 miles 40 miles 85 miles
Week 8 20 miles 30 miles 50 miles 100 miles
This plan ramps up quite quickly in terms of distance. In the early stages we recommend trying to cover the distance comfortably rather than quickly. You can always bring speed/time into play for your next 50 miles ride. If you’re getting bored of the same old scenery, why not grab a bike rack for your car and drive out a little further to explore some really cool rides!
Lastly, a note about bike fit…
If while doing your longer rides you have any numbness or tingling, sore knees or hips, or any other similar ailment, this is an indication that your bike fit may be off. These problems can usually be solved with a trip to your local bike shop and maybe a few different components.