Training for an endurance event requires training but you don't want to jump in all at once. To train for an endurance event you will want to slowly build up so you can sustain pedaling for a long time on your bike. Training includes time for rest as well. The body needs recovery so be sure your training plan allows for some down time. Training for the Red Ribbon Ride will help you be prepared, cut down on potential injuries and set you up for more fun and less pain. 

Where to begin:

Part of developing your plan is doing a realistic assessment of your current abilities. 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 strengths. Know your limits.           

  • Training is going to take time. 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.
  • Work within your own constraints and develop a training plan which will work for you. If you need help with this please reach out to the Ride office. 
  • 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.  


Training Rides

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 Red Ribbon Ride are the best possible way to get into shape. Attending our training rides makes training easy.  Our training rides vary in terrain and increase progressively in distance as the training season continues. This will help you slowly build your endurance and give you the best approximation of what to expect on the event. Please visit our full calendar for our training rides.

The rides will begin in the Spring, and will be led by our Training Ride Leaders. Training Ride Leaders are volunteers who have all done the Red Ribbon Ride in the past. 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.  

Progressive Training Schedule

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!

 Month Total weekly miles Longest ride in miles Days a Week Total Training Hours/Week
 April  25-75  25-35+  2-3  4-6
 May  55-115  35-55+  3-4  10-12
 June  105-175  50-75+  4-5  12-14
 July  150-200  75-100*  4-6  13-16

*Last long training ride should be the weekend before the Ride and then allow a few days of rest. 

  • 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.
  • These times include cross training which is vital to prevent overuse injures, burnout, muscle flexibility and strength imbalances. 

  • Two to three rides a week are recommended, including your long rides, 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 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.
  • Pace yourself when out on long rides; don't let yourself be goaded into riding faster than your ability. Your pace will increase over time. Pushing your pace can result in pain, overuse injury, exhaustion and lost training time. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Building Endurance

By increasing your ride distance or difficulty each week at a slow, consistent pace you will build your endurance. It's important to: stress the quality of your workouts not the quantity; mix long-distance rides with period shorter/more difficult rides; and rremain dedicated to giving yourself time to train.

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 are unable to finish the day's route our Crew teams will get you back to Camp safely.

Remember, it's about loving every mile you ride, not riding every mile. 

Listen to Your Body

Aches and pains are a part of the training. Expect them, but don't just ignore them. We want you healthy and happy for the Ride. The time you spend preparing your body for the Ride should include training, cross training, stretching, proper nutrition, hydration and rest. If you listen to your body you will get better at preventing injury.


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. It's a ride, not a race.  


Cycling Form

There are many different ways to ride a bicycle. Being efficient will help you with endurance riding. While you are on training rides you will want to focus on learning good cycling form and technique. Shifting, stopping, starting, climbing, descending, riding flats and rolling hills all take practice. When you know how to properly use your bicycle and all of it's components you will be maximizing your riding experience. Learning how to position yourself on your bicycle for different terrains will make your body more efficient and build your endurance.

Cross Training

Cross training is an important component of your training and will help you become a stronger rider. Weight training, spin classes, swimming, running, yoga and other aerobic conditioning can be beneficial for endurance cycling training. Please visit our Community Partners to discover which gyms support the Ride and offer discounts to our Participants. 

Weight Training

Cycling uses large muscle groups efficiently. One of the best forms of cross training for an endurance event like cycling is to do weight training because it strengthens those large muscle groups in an efficient way. Weight training can be beneficial for building and strengthening your legs, buttocks, core, back, and arms. The more strength you have the easier being on a bicycle will be. You can find weight training at most gyms as a group class or with a personal trainer. 

Spin Classes

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 build cardio endurance. Most spin classes teach good form and technique for a spin class which doesn't always translate to a cycling outdoors. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take spin classes but you will want to make sure you are learning proper usage of your gears, shifting, and climbing from a fellow rider or Training Ride Leader.

Aerobic Conditioning

There are other various types of training that use the same muscle groups as cycling that can be beneficial to your training like in-line skating and cross-country skiing. 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. If you are not currently a runner, skier or skater these activities might not be the best option for you as learning could be more of a challenge and lead to injury. There are plenty of other options to train smart. 


Yoga is a great form of exercise for strengthening and stretching your body. Having good core strength will help you with your cycling, prevent fatigue and injury. Restorative Yoga can be a great addition to your training plan and can help with your recovery period as well. 

Training at home

 For some it is easier to train at home especially in the winter months. Wind, roller or stationary bike trainers all allow you to use your own bicycle.  You can train at home, any time, and condition your body on your own bicycle saddle.  One or two hour-long rides on your wind, rollers or stationary trainer 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.