How do you train/prepare for long ride

I am considering a ride in Sep. that is being held here in Savannah where I live. I am thinking about the 25 mile version because it is the shortest offered ride and I have never tried this before. so far my longest single ride has only been 8 miles. I don’t get to ride daily and am just now trying to make sure I get to ride at least once a week, usually after work and I cap it at 5 miles
I know this will have to change but I’m not sure of the best way to get ready to shoot for a 25 mile event. will I need to start riding daily and just keep riding farther and farther. it is tough as I work full time so I’m limited to riding time.
I would be doing this on a 29" and realistically am still at level 1 but I would say good top level 1 almost 2 :roll_eyes:
any suggestions are be welcome

It’s hard to say what you “need” to do. Maybe you will be completely fine at the level you are at. Maybe you’ll need to work hard to get to an appropriate level.

For long distance races (I gather you aren’t entering a race, but a ride for fun, but I think what I’ll describe still applies.), the conventional strategy is preparing with a mixture of shorter distance, high intensity rides, and going increasingly further with low intensity rides. The short rides are to raise your anaerobic threshold from a fitness standpoint, and from a “technique” standpoint, will get you more comfortable at high cadance. The long rides are to get your body to get used to riding for longer times, and to well…get your ass used to being on the seat for a long time. Also useful for figuring out a backpack, waterbottle, food etc. strategy.

So for example, your training plan could be one or two 5 miles rides after work per week, and every weekend you find time to do so a longer ride. (maybe start at 10 miles, and work your way up). It’s probably more effective to do 2-3 intense rides a week the way I described, than 7 of the kind I call “stroll” rides, where it’s more about looking around and enjoying the scenery. But don’t forget to enjoy riding either, it’s pointless if you don’t :slight_smile:

With limited training time I’d suggest you work on leg strength by riding the steepest/longest hills you can when you can. If you have no handy hills to train on, just ride with no weight in the saddle for as long as you can. Of course you need to work on putting the least amount of weight on the pedals also and during the 25 mile ride that will be required. Unicycling uses muscles not normally used in other activities and could very well be the limit of your current ability. You should be able to do a 25 mile ride in about 3 hrs and endurance (other then quad strength) should not be a big deal, most anyone could likely do that.

If you don’t already, start using padded bike shorts. You might need a pair with a larger padding surface. I’ve found a couple of the pairs I’ve owned to be lacking in that regard. I have gone on longer rides with two pairs of padded bike shorts (under my regular shorts).

Maybe you could spend some time experimenting with your saddle angle. Some riders reported being more comfortable after tilting the nose back. Or, you can focus on sitting slightly more to the back on your saddle, I think this might increase your comfort.

For a 25 mile ride, I suggest you take a break every mile…to let the blood circulate.

If you don’t know how to do this already, learn to stand up off the seat. Doing this for even a few seconds will help, and it may help you get re-adjusted onto a better part of the saddle.

I suggest keeping your cadence slower than you’re able to spin. Whatever cadence makes you feel like you’re working less…that’s the right speed you want to be going. It’s a marathon (almost literally), not a sprint. Is there a certain amount of time the organizers of the ride give you to finish. I would use every minute you have.

For a longer ride, one without serious hills, I might consider shorter cranks. However, without a decent amount of time practicing on the shorter cranks, the inefficiency of the new setup would probably counteract whatever benefit I got from the shorter cranks.

I think you should be able to identify the “weak links” in your distance-endurance while taking shorter rides. If you’re bottom is getting chaffed after only a few miles, then something needs to be changes/fixed/addressed. I think John Foss, in another thread, requoted someone or another: “It’s not the 10 mile run that’s difficult, it’s the rock in your shoe.”

You mentioned you have a limited amount of time to train. Improvements in efficiency and form are going to be more important than how “in shape” you are. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get the efficiency and good form without time in the saddle.

My longest ride was 26 miles on my 29er. For me my saddle/behind were my biggest issue. I had probably ridden 15 miles prior as my longest ride. The fitness of riding was not very hard, but the being on the uni for many hours was. My back and my rear were killing me at the end.

I would say just get used to being on your uni for longer and longer periods and see where your weak points are. We all have different bodies and I think we all struggle in different areas.

It’s a long ride on a 29er, but totally doable and should be really fun. You will probably get a lot of support from the cyclists.

Go out and try 8 miles and see what happens, then 10, etc.

I’ve done a few long (30-40 mile) rides on my old ungeared 29er and yeah, it’s a long slog but definitely doable. How long do you have to complete the ride? Also, what cranks/tyre setup are you riding?

What works for me is exactly what finnspin said. I commute 9 miles a day (but before I had this job I was doing about 5-7) during the week then do one or two longer rides on the weekend. I started with the longer rides at about 10 miles but upped them to 20 or so as time went on. A lot of this prep was about sorting my carry and what food works for me.

Just sit back and enjoy it - assuming you’re not trying to break any records it’ll most probably be a fun jaunt but you’ll pay for it in calf and back cramps the day after :smiley:

I’ve never done a 10 mile run. But I have had a rock in my shoe, and I totally get it. :slight_smile:

My first really long ride was a 75 km charity ride, which my friend and I did on geared 6’ tall unicycles. We were the first to start and the last to finish. Our crotches did not survive. Fortunately, we were teenagers and they eventually grew back.

I highly recommend a quality pair of padded bike shorts. Those will make a huge difference. You can wear regular shorts over them, but watch where the seams are; you could be undermining your padding. Or dual-layer mountain bike shorts. Then start trying longer rides with the shorts, to make sure they’re working for you, and also to get your crotch used to the idea.

Before the big day, you should do at least one ride that’s at least 3/4 the distance of your goal ride, and several rides that are at least half. This will help you to know what to expect, and know you can finish.

Try shorter cranks. I don’t know what you have now, but 125mm is too long, unless your route contains multiple steep hills. I would recommend 110 or 102mm. They will be scary at first, but give them time and you’ll learn to control them and feel quite comfortable. Then you’ll be able to spin faster and not have to move your legs quite as much.

Don’t carry too much in a backpack. I always ride with a Camelbak, but don’t weigh yourself down with stuff you don’t need, as it’s all extra weight on your crotch.

Make sure you’re comfortable with freemounting, as you might not have handy stuff to hold onto when you need it. You have plenty of time to get solid at that.

Lastly, make sure you have a great time, and enjoy the ride! It’s a totally achievable distance for even a smaller wheel. Prepare yourself for the unoriginal comments other riders will make. If you don’t know what I mean by that, you will before September. :slight_smile:

wow great responses, so I do use padded bike shorts and as far as my uni it is the UDC 29 trainer so it prob has 110 cranks and has a smooth skinner street tire, honestly I don’t know
I’m not totally smooth and consistent with my speed so I don’t think changing cranks right now would be a good idea. I’m still where I can get a good smooth rythem and speed going then almost over ride myself and have to make harsh corrections. I can ride slower and stay pretty smooth so I know this is just a matter of time in the seat needed. I can average about 6 to 8 mph. and stay fairly smooth
I found out the the 25 mile ride isn’t totally part of the event so it’s not marked and follows a completely different route, the next shorter ride is 37 miles and it follows the other longer runs so now I’m torn as to what I want to do. I think I’ll try to do a 10 mile ride this weekend If I can and just see where I am as I am now and then mull it over.

A 10 mile long training ride is a very good idea. You will have a better chance of knowing what your limiting issue is. For some it is the saddle, for others it is muscle fatigue, or back or leg pain. When I stated road riding a little over a year ago it was muscle fatigue, if I rode over a couple miles I stated to get concerned how I was going to get off without just collapsing to the ground. For saddle issues I just take a minute or two break every 10 or 15 minutes or ride with no weight on the saddle for a few revolutions every so often.

I did work on building my quad muscles for about a year and now even though my longest single training ride has been less then 15 miles, I have completed a 70 mile one day ride and should be good for a full century.

Jim Thode

I’ve ridden that distance several times on my 29er. For the first event I used one of the free online training schedules for marathon running and that worked well.

And you ride that distance non-stop?

For longer rides, I nowadays choose my 32" with handle bars. My 29" is a muni, so for road rides a different tire would be better.
My longest ride was 24km and it is always the seat that kills me after 10-15km, but with a break here and there I can certainly do more kilometres.

Good luck with the 25 miles.

I did ~25 miles non-stop at least once while training for a Unicon marathon. The other times I might have stopped once. Yes it was tough being in the saddle that long but I persevered by frequently putting my weight on the saddle handle and shifting my butt off the saddle. I also had to shift my feet so they wouldn’t go numb.

My long rides these days are around 15 - 17 miles with one or two stops. Those are the most enjoyable IMHO. All my long distance rides are on my 29er (with no handlebars). It’s crazy but I feel the most comfortable on that wheel and it’s easy to take with me when I travel.

A couple of years ago I started the shortest route of the Tour of Flanders Sportive and bailed after 17 miles. The cobbles were no fun so I took a shortcut back to town and still rode across the finish line. Got lots of odd looks.

so I got out yesterday morning and hit the road about 7:15, after about 2 miles I was in the zone and feeling good. I would have easily made the first 5 miles with no offs but going over one of the speed bumps in the neighborhood I misjudged it and got thrown off :roll_eyes: no biggie I came off on my feet and just started back at it. I stopped one time at about 6 miles to stretch for a min and then stopped at 7 3/4 miles for the morning ride. I was averaging 6MPH hit top speeds of 9.3 a couple times and did 7 3/4 miles in 1:13 min I realized I could have easily went 10 + miles as I wasn’t tired at all and my legs felt great. I was wearing padded undergarment and padded bike shorts but that seat was starting to bite and it was getting harder and harder to stay comfy. I came to the conclusion that I am not as ready for a 25 mile ride as I thought I was. I decided that I just don’t have the desire to ride the uni for 4 hours just to prove I can. I’m just afraid it would change the way I think about riding. so for now I’m just going to stick with getting out there and enjoying riding for 3 to 6 miles at a time and be totally happy with that
For those of you that get out there and make these rides I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your commitment to making it happen

@aj1500 What you experienced is why I rarely do any long rides on the Uni. It’s fun and challenging but you can’t overlook the time it takes to get your butt in shape for sitting on the saddle that long, it’s way easier to get your legs into shape. But if you have the time and don’t increase mileage too fast it’s very doable, just have to make sure you get a longer ride in once a week or so.

Also I think there is a point where as you put in more miles and time it begins to get in shape faster. A lot easier to increase from 10 to 20 mile rides than from 0 to 10 mile rides if that makes any sense.

Maybe next year :slight_smile:

that is exactly what my wife said, there is always next year
so I will keep this in mind every time I ride and see where it goes

It is only when I wanted to participate in the Dutch Championships that it was important to ride 20km for training. The downside is that at some point I might feel it to be a drag and don’t want to ride that long. Now that that is behind me and I see unicycling as a way of exploring the area, it can easily happen that I ride 20km without noticing, just because Im doing it for fun. I even once did 10km on a trials uni, because… well it felt good and was easy, even though I might have busted my knees with that stunt :slight_smile:
So I reckon you shouldn’t set too high targets that will make you lose interest in riding.

Yeah i agree with anton005, training for long rides is a lot of work but if you practice once or twice a week, and you slowly increase the distance you rides, you can certainly increase the time you can spend in the saddle.

I did this while preparing for a world record and got to where i could ride 40km(on an impact gravity seat) on my 20in unicycle, with out a super high cadence. So just keep on working at it and you’ll get there.

40km on a 20" uni??? I thought my 10km was far already and it made my knees hurt like mad.

I did a 10 km ride on my 20 just after I had really learnt to ride. I came home and started looking for a 24 which came up a few days later.

The 20 seems like such hard work to go far now. I have one with 100 mm cranks that I ride down gentle hills as fast as I can to build cadence.

I noticed when trying to ride as fast as I can I start swaying forwards and backwards and also the uni starts bouncing. However when going downhill, I always picture myself flying, leaving the uni behind, so I take it very slowly.

Don’t the pedals spin out of control when you ride fast downhill? - I know you said “gentle” :stuck_out_tongue: