Our route is challenging and there are some long days and long hills ahead. We strongly encourage you to set aside considerable time for training. You may think you can handle the Ride, but the more you train, the more you'll be able to enjoy the Ride. If you don't train enough, you could be in for some long, painful days, especially at the beginning of the Ride. So start training now! Our training guide is designed to prepare all Riders, regardless of fitness level or experience.
To support you in your training we have links with information for you to use to help you in your journey. Along with the information provided by your Rider Coach, this will help you on your road to Ride success.
Bike and Gear Information
Cycling Techniques and Tips
Where Do I Begin?
Part of developing your plan is doing a realistic assessment of your current abilities. Training for the ride will be demanding and challenging. It is advisable that you consult with your physician before beginning any training program. No one knows your abilities and your limitations better than you. Your physician can also provide invaluable information which can lead to injury prevention and/or treatment should that become necessary. Know your body. Know your limits. Know your strengths.
- Approach your training as a true priority for you. Training is going to take time. There really is no way around it. Finding the right amount of time is going to be a challenge. Begin by taking a look at your own schedule and evaluating your priorities. Figure out how much time you can devote to training, where you may be able to make adjustments, and make a commitment to that time. Don't let a lack of time intimidate you however. Start making time wherever possible, no matter how much or little time you have.
- Work within your own constraints and develop a training plan which will work for you. Your Rider Coach is available to assist you. There are also a bounty of resources which are available to you...you are definitely not alone! There is no need to be shy in asking for help. We are in this together!
Determine what your cycling ability is and factor that into your training plan. If you haven't been on a bike for years, start slow and build up. If you're an avid biker, offer to assist with training rides. You'll get both the training benefit, and assist others in meeting their goals too!
Start training early, and start training smart. Build your plan starting with manageable amounts, and continue to build in intensity and time commitment. Also, be sure you build variety into your routine. There are a variety of things you can to do effectively train for the ride. In the upcoming sections you will learn a bit about some of the most common. We recommend you try them all, find what you like and stick with it!
Training Rides/Training Schedule
Most of the training you do should be on a bicycle, on the road, and preferably on the bike you'll be using for the event. There is no substitute for in-the-saddle training. As a general rule, by the time you depart for the Ride, you should be comfortable cycling at least two 60 to 65-mile days back to back, with two good climbs in each of those rides.
The training rides organized by the Minnesota Red Ribbon Ride are the best possible way to get into shape. These rides vary in distance and terrain, giving you the best approximation of what to expect on the event.
The rides will begin in the Spring, and will be led by various people associated with the ride. On these rides, you'll learn riding and safety techniques, experience group riding, see parts of your city you've never seen, meet other riders, and also have lots of fun.
The Ride is a combination of long mileage and lots of hills. Keeping that in mind, there are two important components to stress when you train:
Focus some of your workouts on long and increasingly longer distances cycled at a moderate pace
Other rides should emphasize shorter distance, but with intensive hill-climbs.
These recommendations are meant to be VERY general. Each person will do their best with a tailored individual plan. Please use your best judgment!
*Last long training ride should be the weekend before the Ride and then allow a few days of rest.
These times include cross training which is vital to prevent overuse injures, burnout, muscle flexibility and strength imbalances. The mileage should include one long ride per week in the beginning. Your second longest ride should be half to three quarters the distance of your current longest ride.
Two to three rides a week are recommended, including your long ride(s), at your "pace" speed. This is the approximate speed you'll be doing the Ride. These rides will build your base endurance. One to two rides per week should be at a "brisk" pace or working on hills. These rides should be between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and 35 to 60 minutes in length. These rides will increase your speed and endurance.
Every fourth week cut your training mileage and time by 40%. The intensity can stay close but the rest will make all the difference in preventing staleness of the mind, body as well as prevent over training! On the fifth week you can add on to the third week week’s mileage by 5-10%.
Make a plan of gradually increasing your total mileage and longest ride by 10% percent a week. It is important that most of your riding is on the bike that you will be using for the event and be outside. However, taking a spin class or purchasing an indoor trainer would go a long way to improve your overall fitness level. If this is not possible, a brisk aerobic walk outside or on a treadmill will have significant benefits. These aerobic activities count, and as mentioned above are very important in other ways! You can exchange an hour of ride time for an hour of cross training.
Chart Your Progress. Create a training chart or journal to log workouts, mileage cycled, where you've cycled, how you felt and your overall health. It will keep you focused and honest. You'll know exactly where you are in your training and how far you've come.
The key to building your endurance is to systematically increase your training base. The best way to do this in to increase your ride distance or difficulty each week at a slow, consistent pace. Stress quality and not quantity in your workouts. Mix long-distance rides with period shorter/more difficult rides. Remain dedicated to giving yourself time to train. You're doing this for you. You're also doing it to help prevent injury in the future.
Aim to work up to an average speed of 12 miles an hour over the course of a day's ride. This average rate will prepare you to complete even the longer courses within the allotted hours the route remains open. If you don't, you may not be able to finish the route before the sun goes down.
Listen to Your Body
Aches and pains are a part of the training. Expect them, but don't just ignore them and consider them "part of the program". We want you healthy and happy for the ride itself. Treat your sore knees with ice, or wrap them in bandages if necessary. If your lower back is troubling you, speak with an experienced rider. Chance are there are some changes you can make to your riding form that will help. If your legs cramp up, incorporate more stretching into your routine....and don't forget proper hydration! Bottom line, pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Take at least one day off from training each week to let your body rest and recover from your efforts. This is extremely important. Most of the injuries we experience will come from over-training . Also, pace yourself when out on long rides; don't let yourself be goaded into riding faster than your ability. The end result will be pain, overuse injury, exhaustion and lost training time.
Rest and Attitude
In addition to proper training, keep the following in mind: Take the time you need when riding to get off your bike, stretch, rest from time to time, and most of all, enjoy yourself! This is not a competitive event. It's a ride, not a race. By having a positive attitude, a good level of fitness, and the willingness to accept a few aches and pains, you'll do just fine.
Your local gym may offer indoor cycling classes. These classes, led by an instructor, use stationary bikes with adjustable resistance to take you on a group "ride" set to music. Usually 45 minutes to an hour long, you will simulate climbing hills, sweat through sprints, and practice good cycling and pedaling form. Learning the techniques is often more important than developing the endurance. Good form prevents injury!
Training at Home
Another option is a wind trainer or rollers that use your own bicycle. You can train at home at any time and condition your butt to sit on your own bicycle saddle. As with a stationary bike, one or two hour-long rides on your wind trainer or rollers during the week will help you tremendously. You can also try riding your bike to work. It's a great way to get in some training miles every day.
Other types of aerobic conditioning will help you to train for the ride. In-line skating and cross-country skiing are good cross-training activities for cycling because the use similar muscle groups. Stair-stepping is also a good way to strengthen your legs for climbing hills. Running, swimming, rowing, aerobics, or any other activity that elevates your hear rate consistently for at least twenty minutes per workout will improve your aerobic condition and your stamina.
Try adding strength/weight workouts to your training to beef up your preparation. Strengthening your leg and buttocks muscles will increase your cycling power. Cyclists also benefit from strengthening their abdominal, back, shoulder, arm and chest muscles as well. Strength in these body parts really pays off when hill climbing.
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