Advice for Person Not Used to High Miles

MahatmaAndhi

Active Member
Location
Peterborough, UK
Hi all,

I would love to cycle from my house to Paris (370ish miles according to Google). But so far, I'm up to about 35 miles on the flats around the Fens. That said, I haven't really tried for any decent kind of distance and my only experience with hills is a 23 miler around Rutland Water (I call them hills. People from Yorkshire would probably disagree.)
My only fixed goal at the moment is to ride from Hunstanton to Peterborough (~60 miles) this year.

What would you suggest as a kind of 'action plan' to begin working towards the ride to Paris? What's a realistic daily goal for mileage (60? 100 miles?) How long do you wear clothes for? How much do you pack and how much do you put on card/cash when you're en route?

So far, my Specialized Globe (the bike in my avatar) is the only bike I own that I would consider doing it on. It's an oldie, but has been a great bike and is really comfortable for the rides that I do. Whether flat bars cause issues on a longer ride, I am not sure. I've never owned a drop bar bike yet.

Your thoughts for an aspiring tourer please.
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
Build up the mileage steadily - 60, then 100 is a good start. But then I'm on the extreme end; next weekend I'm riding the 1000km All Points North, hopefully between Friday evening and late Sunday/early Monday.

It depends how long you're planning to ride this over? You're not just going to need to ride the distance, but repeatedly.

The bike you've got is usable, although Id suggest slick tyres. Keep building up the miles, then do this over consecutive days.
 

Rooster1

I was right about that saddle
I reckon If you can get 80-100 miles in a week with some hills included, for a month and see how you feel.
You can break that down into 5 x 20 milers or 4 x 15 and a 40 on the weekend.
You just need to build up your fitness and stamina over time.

I'd try and get a lighter road / gravel / hybrid bike if possible

Having said all that, you've not said that you need to do the ride quickly so you could take all day and do 50 if you want.
 

rugby bloke

Veteran
Location
Northamptonshire
I was in your position 4 years ago - I had signed up for RideLondon with zero experience and a clunky old mtb to ride. I put myself through the mill and built up from 10 miles a day to 100 miles in 4 months - it was doable but hard work and not much fun at times.
In terms of multi day touring, I did my first one last year, it was fully supported so I was not carrying any luggage and the average mileage was 90 miles a day. Again it was doable but really hard work in the mountains. I have not done a multi day tour with luggage but there are plenty of people with experience of this who can give advice.
I would echo the comments about upgrading the bike - a lighter bike makes a massive difference. My road cycling experience was certainly transformed when I bought a road bike. In my experience 50 miles a day on a mtb was my upper limit.
Good luck with the training, the best advice I have had is just ride, as often and as far as you can. You will be amazed how you can build up the mileage once you throw yourself into it.
 

byegad

Legendary Member
Location
NE England
My normal mileage is 18 miles in a morning. I do it 2 or 3 times a week. Every year I join a group based near Berwick and ride a little further than that, often topping 30 miles and sometimes 40, in the day. We always stop for a coffee and always lunch. To be frank 20 miles before lunch and another 20 after is doable with no preparation. So your 350 mile ride needs to be broken down into morning and afternoon distances. If you can ride the longest planned spell and then after a meal do it again in the same day, you're ready.
 
OP
MahatmaAndhi

MahatmaAndhi

Active Member
Location
Peterborough, UK
Thanks for the advice so far. It all seems perfectly logical. There's no set time for this. It could be this year, next year or whenever. It's more a bucket list item that I want to tick off, but also a means to get back to a much better, healthier weight and size.
I am always on the look out for the next bargain and I have a full Tiagra groupset sat in a cardbox box waiting to be put on a bike. Which, I suppose, brings another question to mind: What tools would you take with you?
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Which, I suppose, brings another question to mind: What tools would you take with you?
Off the top of my head, in rough order of priority:
Telescoping pump with gauge,
Tyre levers and instant patches (and old-style patches if you'd rather take the time to do a permanent repair in good weather and light),
Reusable cable ties,
Topeak Super Chain Tool (TT1302) which is a chain tool, 5 and 6mm hex keys,
15mm-jaw 4" adjustable spanner (15mm is pedals and non-QR wheels),
Magic links aka quick links aka power links,
¼" square drive sliding bar, hex bit adapter and whatever hex key heads and hex sockets you need to cover the bike (for me, it's straight screwdriver heads to open some magic links and adjust derailleurs on some bikes, 10mm for chain tensioners, lights and racks, 12mm for pedal bearings, 14mm for crank bolt emergency, 4mm hex key for something (brake blocks?))
All wrapped up in a brush roll, except the pump.

Then I'll survive most stuff short of bearings or BB failure or headset death.

I'm off to ride 50+ around the fens from Lynnsport tomorrow with KLWNBUG. Hope the wind is kind!
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
What would you suggest as a kind of 'action plan' to begin working towards the ride to Paris? What's a realistic daily goal for mileage (60? 100 miles?) How long do you wear clothes for? How much do you pack and how much do you put on card/cash when you're en route?
I agree with others about riding more.

I find 40 miles a day comfortable, 50 means you need not to faff around and get going in the morning, 60 means your route needs to start prioritising speed/flow over pretty/nice.

I wear clothes once unless conditions are exceptionally kind (no sweat or rain), then hand wash clothes and towel-swiss-roll-dry when I reach the hotel/hostel, hanging them up overnight.

I pack as light as I can but that's still usually about 26litres split between saddlebag and tail roll. I use cards as much as possible because hunting cashpoints is dull.

So far, my Specialized Globe (the bike in my avatar) is the only bike I own that I would consider doing it on. It's an oldie, but has been a great bike and is really comfortable for the rides that I do. Whether flat bars cause issues on a longer ride, I am not sure. I've never owned a drop bar bike yet.

Your thoughts for an aspiring tourer please.
Comfort is everything IMO. Lightweight or aerodynamic mainly matters if you are doing extreme daily distances and probably no sightseeing.

Flat bars often cause wrist pain from the unusual angle your wrists have to maintain to hold tje!. If you don't want drops, swept bars like North Roads or Porters are basically flat bars but with wrists at a more relaxed position. A different stem angle, height or length may be needed, though.
 

Spinney

Bimbleur extraordinaire
Location
Under the Edge
If you do stick with your flat bar bike, consider fitting bar ends. They allow you to change hand position. I found them useful when I rode a hybrid.
13774410.jpg

(image from the internet, not my bike!)
 
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I like Skol

Hold my beer and watch this....
Flat bar bikes can do the same (if not more) mega-mile rides as drop-bar. Until very recently my 'other' bike was a flat bar hybrid and it did many of my 100+ mile rides with ease and also my biggest ever single day distance of 185 miles was on that bike. I would still have it now if the frame hadn't cracked :sad:

Don't be bullied into a drop bar bike if it doesn't suit you, some riders look down their noses at anything that isn't drop bars. They are wrong!
 
OP
MahatmaAndhi

MahatmaAndhi

Active Member
Location
Peterborough, UK
I am all for trying drop bars, if only to see. My bars have the ergonomic grips on them (with the big slab of rubber to rest your palm on). It's not bothered me so far. But if the right drop bar bike came along (or bike with the means to covert quite easily) then I would be up for chucking a few quid at it for the experience.
 
If you plan it properly, with enough stops / rests, you could do it. You’ll need to get used to longer days in the saddle than you currently do first though. If you can do 75 miles comfortably, in one go, and take in some terrain, you should be fine with 100 mile days. I would split it into 3 100 milers, and whatever’s left on the 4th day. The other issue you will almost certainly encounter is the compound fatigue associated with multiple long days, when you’re not conditioned for them. There’s not much you can do about it, other than train for it. Eat sensibly and drink sensibly, and listen to what your body’s telling you. As far as bike choice goes, I’d say a flat bar bike would make it harder than it needs to be, but wouldn’t make it impossible. There are some very competent drop bar bikes on the market that won’t cost the earth, so I’d invest in one of those if it were me. Make sure you have bibs / shorts / shoes that are comfortable as well, and maybe some chamois cream.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I would love to cycle from my house to Paris (370ish miles according to Google).
A later reply has flagged this up to me. I wouldn't use Google for this because its cycle routing varies between mediocre and downright hazardous, in my experience. It's OK as a quick comparison, but better routing sites like https://cycle.travel/map are available. I suggest riding to London however you like ( https://cycle.travel/map?from=Peterborough&to=London suggests a 103 mile route as a starting point - I think it might be possible to shave 10 miles off but it's a lot of riding next to A and B roads), then https://cycle.travel/map/journey/103418 to Newhaven (64 miles) and https://cycle.travel/route/avenue_verte_france to Paris (150 miles). Total 317 miles.
 

Brains

Legendary Member
Location
Greenwich
Work on 50 miles a day/250 miles a week

The first day you might only do 20-25 miles, and by day 3 the tiredness kicks in, so if you have had enough after 25 miles, stop.

Nothing wrong with the bike for that distance, it may give you and idea of what you really want on your return

Hills: Peterbrough to Paris can be done almost entirely on the flat.
I can give you a route via Kent with one hill (and that is the only one you cant avoid at Dover)
Or the other route is via Sussex to Newhaven and the Avenue Vert, which is much nicer

Kit - You really don't need much, one set of clothes on the bike, one set off the bike.
A mate of mine did a 30 day tour with two 20 litre panniers, and that included tent, sleeping bag and stove.
 

steveindenmark

Legendary Member
The biggest help in my improvement has been a heart monitor. In 2 years I have gone from 22km being a difficult ride to 200km being a normal day in the saddle.

Obviously a lot of practice has gone into it but my heart rate monitor is a huge help.

After a few rides I could see what my maximum and minimum heart rates were. I now try and ride so my heart rate stays between 120 - 160 bpm but mostly under 150bpm.

By doing this I can ride comfortably all day. I means losing about 1 or 2km per hour. But it is well worth it.
 
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