If you have been following this blog for the last week or you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you probably know that last week I completed a single-day double century bike ride. In other words, 202 miles in one day (11 hours, 25 minutes on the bike). Since then I’ve had a handful of people ask me about my training and equipment for the ride. Here’s an overview of my training and equipment. Consider this a completely amateur guide to training for a 200 mile bike ride.
Training on the Bike
Theoretically, my training for the ride started back in January when I committed to getting myself back into shape. I was carrying 25-30 pounds more than I wanted to and I was running out of clothes that fit. So I started riding on my indoor training bike for 20-30 minutes per day four or five times a week. But I didn’t have a 200 mile bike ride in my thoughts, I was purely trying to lose weight and feel better.
By late February I was feeling stronger and started to lengthen my workouts on my indoor trainer. And by March I was back into most of my favorite jeans and suits. It was in late March or early April that my friend Angela Harvey, co-owner of the Green Machine Bike Shop, mentioned Dennis and Freddie’s Excellent Adventure to me. I was feeling good and needed a big goal so I decided to do it.
The weather here in Maine was miserable throughout April so most of my days were spent on the indoor trainer with a few days spent outside. By this point I had ramped-up the intensity and length of my indoor sessions with a focus shifting toward improving my functional threshold power. The Global Cycling Network has lots of great workouts that I followed on my indoor trainer.
Finally, by May the weather was nice enough to ride outside on a consistent basis. It was in May that I started to really increase the length of my training sessions. I did six or seven 40-50 mile rides, a couple in the 50-70 mile range, and a couple in the 70-90 mile range. I repeated that schedule in June.
Making Time for Long Training Rides
At least half of my long rides were done on the weekends while my daughters were napping or were in the car with their mother, Jess. Many times Jess would drive them to an activity and I would meet them all there. She was quite supportive of my training in this way because as any parent will tell you, wrangling two toddlers into car seats then driving them for an hour alone is not always fun.
If you know me, you know I enjoy a good beer. A friend of mine in my weekly group ride works for a brewery and supplies us with beer after the rides. But I knew that if I was going to be in top form for a double century that I would have to quit beer for a while. So I didn’t drink any beer in the month of June until the end of the double century ride. Jess supported me by doing the same.
The Day of the Double Century!
The weather forecast called for sun and temperatures in the 80’s on the day of the ride. To be prepared, a couple of days beforehand I forced myself to hydrate relentlessly.
“Eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty.”Matt Burke
That was the advice given to me by a friend who has completed some equally ambitious bike rides. Throughout the day I forced myself to drink water at least every 20 minutes and to eat something at least every 30 minutes. I recently discovered a new kind of peanut butter-filled Clif Bar. These are so much easier to chew and taste much better than normal Clif Bars. I went through five of them in the first hundred miles.
In addition to my new favorite Clif Bars I ate pretzels (for the salt), peanuts, a ham and cheese sandwich from Subway, Hostess Donuts, and drank a big can of Coke! I also snacked on some margarita flavored Clif Shot Bloks (not my favorite flavor, but I was all out of the orange ones).
In short, the day of a 200 mile bike ride is not the day to worry about eating too much.
The Clothes and Equipment
Let’s start with the question everyone has asked since the ride,
How’s your butt feel?”Everyone who asks about the ride.
My butt felt great thanks to two things. Those things were wearing high-quality bib shorts and using Chamois Butt’r. I wore high-quality bib shorts from Le Col. These are the most comfortable bib shorts I’ve worn. For shorter training rides I usually wear these bib shorts from Pearl Izumi, but fabric they use on the chamois padding isn’t quite as comfortable as the Le Col chamois for a long ride.
I own a ridiculous amount of socks. There’s nothing like the feeling of putting on a nice pair of socks. For the ride I wore one of my favorite pairs of Sock Guy socks.
The shoes that I wear for cycling are Mavic Cosmic Pro Cycling Shoes. These are light, stiff, and highly adjustable thanks to double BOA lacing. The stiff carbon sole on these shoes makes pedaling more efficient because the sole doesn’t flex much which means that more of the pedaling energy goes into the bike and not into a flexing shoe.
Yesterday I wrote a long piece about the importance of wearing a properly fitting helmet so I won’t repeat it here. Read and watch the videos here about selecting and wearing a helmet.
On my bike I have a Wahoo Elemnt computer. I have it set to display my cadence, speed, power (watts), distance, and time. It also has a feature that lets me load a route into and it will alert me when to turn. There are many more features to it but those were the only features that I used on it during my ride.
I rode a 2019 Felt FR3 Disc that I got from my friends John and Angela Harvey at Green Machine Bike Shop (shop local). I can’t say enough about this bike. Disc brakes are a total game-changer on road bikes. Regardless of the conditions the bike will stop with disc brakes. Other than replacing the standard Victoria Rubino Pro tires (that I don’t recommend) with Continental Grand Prix 4000 tires, my bike is completely stock. That said, if I happen to find an extra $1500 I am tempted to get a set of Zipp 302 wheels. (I’d love 303s, but I’ve got kids who need to eat).
Get Up and Do Something
Training for any physical endeavor takes time and dedication. There were plenty of days that I didn’t feel like getting on my indoor trainer. On those days I just had to force myself to do it. Overcoming those little, “I don’t want to” moments was the hardest part of the training. I’m not a gifted athlete, I’m just an average-looking 40 year old dad. Anyone can do a ride like I did by getting over the “I don’t want to” moments of training.