Getting physically prepared for your next major tour

One of the more common questions that comes in relates to preparing yourself for the incredible hardships of your next major tour. Of course most people worry and frit about how to prepare before they tour for the first time and then rapidly discover that bicycle touring is most of the time only as physically challenging as you want to make it.

A lot of people aim for high distance days or high daily elevation counts begging the question of why? There are invariably a number of answers but they all tend to boil down to a personal choice.

"You train for the tour or the tour trains you" is a common phrase that basically refers to the personal decision people make to either accept a few rougher days in the beginning of a long tour or to give up some precious free time prior to a tour to get some training in advance.

When I tour I typically like the idea of covering approximately 100 - 120 km per day. I also aim to have at least one 160+ km day if it turns out that the opportunity presents itself. Most of my tours involve some pre-tour training but I have also gone on one major tour without my usual advance training. The first few days were rougher then expected but three weeks later I was in stride. Probably the best reason for training in advance is that it makes it easier to really enjoy the world around you rather then becoming fixed on how far you still have left to go.

My next major tour is about three months away so I am just now stepping up my training program. I've decided to share it with you. I should emphasize that the following works for me but since all individuals are different you should use your own common sense when deciding what elements, if any, you care to utilize yourself.

Wow! Looking at this typed out it looks like a very serious list but the execution of each of these things is really not too bad time wise since so much of it occurs as an added activity at the end of a ride. When you ride 20+ times a week it becomes really easy to add in small activities at the end of the ride when your muscles are already warmed up.

One key comment about this routine is that the core exercise is riding a bike. By bicycle commuting I am able to get to work in anywhere from the same amount of time to twice as much time as by car but with the benefit of getting my pre-tour training out of the way to mention just one of the benefits only.

Training before a tour isn't mandatory but it is something that I personally recommend. I've found that if you are in better shape the first day of your tour then your chances of really experiencing that first day in a positive manner are greatly improved!


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