I’ve found that there’s a magic point every trip when I no longer get tired from cycling, I just get hungry. It’s the point at which my metabolism catches up with everything else, where the caloric intake converts directly to energy. Because the tour becomes a lot more enjoyable once this occurs, I’m learning that it’s well worth gearing up my metabolism BEFORE I wander off into the wilderness. Depending on the shape I’m in before I leave, this transition on the tour typically takes somewhere between 3-10 days. This period can be decreased by training in advance, and even a little training can accelerate that by several days.
My usual trip is spending the six weeks before I leave swamped at work, not exercising at all, and dealing with it by not going very far the first few days, and slowly increasing my distance each day until my metabolism changes over. For a trip that’s 4+ weeks long, this works. For trips of only a week or two, it becomes imperative to be in shape BEFORE I leave.
In shape, to me, means able to bike 20-30 miles without significant effort. It should be possible to do 2 days in a row. The next day you shouldn’t feel any major muscular stress, and indeed should be invigorated.
For the group trip to Portugal, we all needed to be at roughly the same level. I developed a training plan that was cycle 10 miles the first week (in whatever increments you want spread out across the week, 10 miles the second week, and then adding 10 miles each week, with a plateau at 50 miles, and another one at 100 miles, spread out across three months. That worked out much better than I expected – Wayne and Charlotte were in better shape than I was.
This is currently an overly intensive (to me) training schedule, and I’ll revise it as I think about it. Would definitely put you in shape tho!
- Be able to bike for several hours at a time.
- Be able to bike for multiple consecutive days.
- Be able to bike 30 miles in a day, for multiple days.
- Include days of mostly flat roads (good for working on distance).
- Include days with significant climbing.
To keep your energy levels up, drink before you are thirsty, and eat before you are hungry. If you end up hungry, you run out of energy before the food you eat can be turned into calories you can use.