Training for Distance

Had posted in “just conversation” and was advised that here might be better so…

Just thought I would post in this forum in hope of getting some great replies. I want to start breaking into some distance stuff. Right now I have a good 10 mile base (Can ride that anytime). My question is how do I train for a 50 miler and eventually a 100? I remember when I used to run I would do 3-5 ever other day and a long run on the weekend but what do you guys do? I Would like some help in setting up a schedule and getting ready for a 50. I am going to ride a 22 mile ride on 21 sept right now. Another thing. What about water. Do you use a camel back? If so, how big? I really appreciate the help and for you studs out there with crazy endurance, I am 49 not 29! Ha! (riding a Nimbus 36")

I guess the trick is to just ride further, and push yourself a bit more each time so that you know what you are comfortable with and can recover from.

I read somewhere that for any particular event, you are always able to push yourself to 30% more than your maximum normal ride.

So, if 10 miles is comfortable now, I’m sure you could do, say, 15 miles without too much trouble. Do that a few times and the 22 miles will be doable. But, don’t stop there. After the 22 miles, do it again, and 25 or 30. Before you know it, you’ll go out for a 40 mile ride and come back thinking that wasn’t so hard - so the next ride will be 50.

But don’t over exert yourself. If you go for a 15 mile ride and can’t walk for a week, then maybe that was a bit far. Sure, push your body, but give it time to relax a bit, and most importantly, listen to what your body tells you. The best person to know if you should be doing more or less is you.

One thing I do recommend though, is keeping a log of your rides. Any significant ride should be noted. At the moment a 10 mile ride is probably significant, but it’s great to look back a few months later and realise that you hardly notice these any more, since you’re only logging the 30+ rides!

A good thing to have is a destination to aim for. If you have a friend that lives, say, 15 miles away, arrange to ride to see them one day and have them bring you home. A couple of weeks later, ride there, drink beer and stay over, then ride back the following day. With those kind of rides, you get there because you have to get there. A circular ride is always too tempting to take the short cut home at the first sign of aching legs.

How far do you live from work? Commuting can be a fantastic option in the right circumstances.

As far as water is concerned, I think camelbaks are great. My biggest one is 2.5 litres, and I only had to refill that once a day on my RTL qualifying ride. Starting out on 10 mile rides it probably isn’t so important, but the longer you ride for, and the further you go, the more water you’ll want to carry. Likewise, you’ll want to carry more in the way of tools, food, maps and other stuff too. Buying a small camelbak now will be very good, and certainly won’t be money wasted, but you’ll probably want a bigger one as you start to go further.


do you guys really carry tools? If so, how and where?

“Ride the bike, ride the bike, ride the bike.” --Fausto Coppi

You can probably increase your max distance by 5-10 miles per week; plan to do a long ride each weekend, and at least one maintenance ride during the week.

Use a Camelbak, because that will keep you hydrated. Bring a snack, a Clif bar or some dried fruit or trail mix or whatever. Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty.

I carry tools in my Camelbak; not a whole lot, but a mini-pump, a patch kit and an Alien tool.

Hi rem48,
Good on you for wanting to push yourself. For longer distances a camel pack is a really convinient way to carry water, tools, bananas, and all that other stuff you are going to need on a longer ride (phone, wallet, camera, etc). I have a 3L camel pack (actually a generic cheaper one) which has one compartment for the bladder then another one for tools etc. Also i would recomend getting a bag with a waist strap. It does not have to be large or even well padded but it anchors the stuff you your back and will make you feel more secure when mounting or when when you have to get off the saddle to get some extra torque to the pedals.

As for tools i would at least take- Allen key for bearing holders, seat clamp, rail adapter (if you are runing a T7), spanner for crank bolt, metal tire levers (i have never come across plastic tire levers that have not snapped on a tire as thick as the TA) some patches, and a pump.

Also, for the actual distance riding part i have a little bit of advice. Just because you are going to be riding a long distance does not mean you have to do it quickly. Remember to take breaks when you feel the need, stretch up throughout the ride to stop cramping, drink water in small amounts but at regular intervals. Long distances are easy if you make it comfortable to be in the saddle for a good period of the day. On that note, crank length is important for comfort and speed. I run 125s and find them to be a great all around length for whatever terrain you come accross. If you are still on the 150s that come with the nimbus i would consider making the change.

Ok well best of luck,
let us know how it goes,

Thank you all for the help. I am definitely getting a camel back. I did not kknow they had places for tools. I am stoked. will keep you all posted. Dean

Hey Dean.
I’m glad you started this thread. I’m watching and learning as I’m a 55 yr old getting started on the Coker as well. The people on this forum are great.

Thanks Dave, We all need encouragement and a reminder we are not as young as we think! Ha! Dean

Unicycle Magazine issue four (spring this year) had a comprehensive article by Nathan Hoover on “training for touring”. See if you can lay your hands on a copy. Or maybe better: subscribe yourself. You then get to choose with which issue you want to start your subscription which is always for 6 issues, so start at four.

(Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in the magazine, I just happen to like it.)


I’ll just echo what a lot of others have already said: ride, ride, ride! :slight_smile:

Also, be careful, but remember that there’s a happy medium to how much care you should take. Some of my best coolest rides were way longer than I’d planned on. I’d just go for it, because I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself with your capabilities. Just make sure to bring lots of water and food (Camelbaks are great for this, but I hate them and would much rather bring bottles and bags attached to the unicycle; that’s a whole different religious debate, and there are plenty on either side!). My theory is that you can go forever if you bring water and food, go just harder than you think you’d be able to hold onto for the duration of your ride, and take adequate rest. The way I’d say to be careful is to set up safety nets for yourself should you completely run out of gas, become injured, or become afflicted with something generally inconvenient and/or ride-ending. Bring lots of food/water/money/tools, maybe a map, phone, etc; maybe make sure there’s someone who can pick you up if the sky falls, but don’t let your caution prevent you from really doing what you don’t yet think you’re capable of. :slight_smile:

If you can do 10 miles without a problem, try 20! It’s just two tens. :slight_smile: If you can do 20 without feeling too phased, then try 60 on for size with some rest at each 20, plus whenever you feel like! It’s only three 20s! The worst that could possibly happen is that you don’t make it, and have to phone someone really really friendly for a ride. (And the worst that happens if no one’s available is that you spend the night at the roadside till the next morning, and somehow find your way home… how bad could that be in the scheme of things? Lots worse could happen in the daily course of things, I imagine. :)) You have to get way more tired than you think you do for that to happen, though. The longest I’d ever ridden on a bike before my first 100-mile bike ride was maybe 30 miles. I didn’t break any speed records on that 100 miler, but by golly I made it. After I’d done maybe 8 or 10 hundred-milers over five months or so, I tried a 205 mile ride (2006 Seattle to Portland), and though I was nice and dead by the end of the day, it worked out just great, and I finished!

I hear people talking about training to do a 50 mile or 100 mile ride, or what have you, always next month, but the truth is, you’ll never really “feel” ready. Just do it one random weekend, and you’ll either not make it (VERY improbable) or you’ll totally pwn it in that slowly-but-surely sort of way, and forever know you’re able to.

Also, perhaps playing a mind game with yourself will help. When I go on a long ride, I think to myself “ah, it’s just 7 hours, or 9 hours” or however long, and make sure I have nothing to do for the next 15 or so in case something happens. After all, many of us (especially me!) spend longer sitting in front of the computer wasting time without getting up to pee, so how bad could spending that time pedaling be? :slight_smile: Sometimes acting to yourself like it’s no big deal may help to convince you that it really is no big deal; then you can just hit the road and have a great day spinning your cranks without caring about whether you “can” do it or not.

My advice is to just get up and do it, aware that you might fail, but ready to push through some discomfort (won’t call it “pain” yet) to do it. When I get up to go for a long ride, the awareness that I have the option of calling it quits serves both as piece of mind and as a motivator for me to not take advantage of that option. Give yourself the option of aborting your ride halfway through, and then start your 50 mile ride, and see what happens. It may sound stupid to think like that right now, but I am willing to bet you money you’d surprise yourself!

It helps to have some other idiot to suggest rides too - I know my first 100 mile ride, we talked about on Tuesday, and then decided to do it on the Sunday. If there’s two (or more) of you, you can’t back down without looking like a right wuss.


maybe this is why I ride alone! Ha!

BTW I realised I was unable to drink from a CamelBack while riding! I have to stop to take a sip (or munch something)! what’s wrong?
(well for the moment I can’t ride: plaster around my wrist will be there until the end of august and afterwards I need to be over-cautious: so no riding until october! I’ll have to wait longer for the 60km ride)

Why the plaster? Was it unicycle related? If not, just make something up and say it was… It is ok to start your story with " A long, long, time ago…" ! Dean