So you finally did it: you coordinated schedules, took time off from work, and booked a week-long cycling vacation in a beautiful place. So are you ready for your adventure? This may seem strange, but one of my favorite parts about epic bike trips is training for them! If you booked a Great Freedom Adventures bike tour, you’re guaranteed to be heading for some world-class cycling in a stunning locale. Bike tour training rides in the weeks leading up to your trip not only feel good, but they can mentally transport you to the perfect roads and unforgettable places you’ll soon enjoy.

Getting Rolling

As a general guideline, you should start training for your bike tour 2-4 months before your trip. This will allow time to build comfort, endurance, and strength in the saddle, and if you don’t already know it, you’ll be amazed by how great you can feel on a bicycle. Before you start riding, make sure to check with a physician if you have any health concerns.

Getting Your Steed in Shape

If your bike hasn’t seen much use recently, or if you’re planning on using a bike that is new to you, be sure to check with a bike mechanic before you start knocking off miles. Many bike shops are more than happy to take a quick look at your bike and make minor personal fit adjustments free of charge. Making those small adjustments to your ride will make a BIG difference in your enjoyment and success in training.

Base Training Miles

Start your training by riding a comfortable distance at a moderate pace, whatever that means for you. Be sure to stretch before and after your ride, and hydrate properly. Make comfort adjustments to your bike as needed.

bike tour training Great Freedom Adventures

Building Endurance

Once you’ve established a baseline, make a training schedule that slowly builds to riding distances ⅔ of your average daily tour mileage 2-3 times/week. When making a training schedule for yourself, keep it realistic and then stick to it! If you know you won’t be able to get out for a ride on a weeknight, plan your rides for the weekends and do a quick indoor spin or strength training session during the week. Ultimately, the best training regimen FOR YOU is the one that works with the rest of your life!

Making Your Bike Tour Training Plan

Here are a few guidelines to follow when making your training schedule:

1.   Start slow. If you haven’t spent much time in the saddle recently, give your body a chance to build up new muscles and work out in a new position. Building gradually will also give your rear end a chance to get used to the saddle so that you can avoid the dreaded SBS, aka, Sore Butt Syndrome. As you get more familiar with the balance and fit of your bike, you’ll tend to relax into a more comfortable and efficient stance.

2.   Don’t forget to stretch! Get a minimum of 5-minutes dynamic stretching in before your workout and 5-minutes of static stretching afterwards. Think about incorporating some hip openers and calf stretches!

3.   Don’t worry too much about distributing your workouts evenly throughout the week. Rest days are important after long, high-intensity rides, but in general it is fine to ride several days in a row. In fact, it’s good to have a couple of back-to-back days under your belt before your bike tour! Most of the time, if you are scaling up your workouts appropriately and eating and sleeping well, you can safely schedule two longer rides one after the other (on the weekend, for example).

4.   Incorporate some core strength exercises into your routine. A strong core improves comfort and reduces fatigue when biking for long stretches of time, while allowing the legs to deliver power to the pedals more efficiently. Build strength by including core exercises in your weekly workouts. Holding a plank position is a simple isometric exercise that effectively improves core strength. Start by holding the plank for 30-60 seconds and gradually build up.

5.   Incorporate bike training aspects you KNOW you’ll enjoy. Are there roads you’ve been wanting to explore? Plan a long weekend ride around a new area. Do you prefer training with a friend? Get someone to commit to one mini-adventure per week with you. Already an experienced yogi? Work some yoga sessions into your training plan.

6.   One of the best ways to motivate yourself to exercise regularly is to have an athletic event scheduled in your future. Visit Great Freedom Adventures’ website for ideas for some great biking, walking and multisport tours. You’ll find options for easy, moderate and challenging adventures!

Sample 12-Week Training Schedule

 Let’s say you just booked the 6-Day Hudson Valley Bike Tour for a July departure and you have not ridden a bike in a long time. Below is a sample training plan you might create for yourself, starting to ride in April and working up to several rides/week at ⅔ of your average daily mileage by week nine (⅔ of the average daily mileage is about 30 miles if you opt for maximum mileage on this tour). If you have the time, try to incorporate a ride or two as long as the longest day of the tour.

This is just meant as an example – you should always personalize your training regimen to fit your own style!

Green days are low-resistance training. Stick to easy terrain and get some cardio in!

Blue days are moderate-resistance training. Look for some hills or incorporate some interval training to build strength.

Maroon days are high-resistance training. Find those hills and do some sprints!

Week 15-mile ride 5-mile ride 8-mile ride  
Week 210-mile ride  30-min cardio & 30-min strength  10-mile ride
Week 315-mile ride   15-mile ride  
Week 415-mile ride 40-min cardio & 20-min strength 15-mile ride  
Week 520-mile ride  20-mile ride  20-mile ride
Week 620-mile ride 40-min cardio & 20-min strength  20-mile ride 
Week 725-mile ride 20-mile ride  25-mile ride 
Week 835-mile ride 20-mile ride 40-min cardio & 20-min strength  
Week 935-mile ride 20-mile ride   35-mile ride
Week 1040-mile ride  35-mile ride  35-mile ride
Week 1150-mile ride  35-mile ride  35-mile ride
Week 1215-mile ride 40-min cardio & 20-min strength 10-mile ride EMBARK ON YOUR ADVENTURE!


How far in advance of my bike tour should I start training?

This will partly depend on how intensely you hope to train. Generally, we recommend that you start training 1-2 months before your tour for shorter trips, and budget 3-4 months to prepare for longer trips. With this amount of time, you will be able to establish endurance and comfort before focusing on intense strength-building workouts.

training for a bike tour 3 Great Freedom Adventures

How do I train for a hilly bike tour if I live in a flat region?

You’ll have to get creative! Are there any bridges in the area you can incorporate into your route? Riding over a bridge a couple times is a GREAT way to simulate a hill. Do you have access to a stationary bike in your home or at a gym? You can select all kinds of different terrain for your spin workout. Even riding on flat terrain, you can incorporate high-intensity interval training to build muscle and preparedness for hilly terrain – just choose an object in the distance and sprint to it, slow your pace down to recover, and repeat.

My schedule is so crazy. How can I find time to train for my bike tour?

Training for your bike tour doesn’t have to take all your free time! Aim to get one good ride in on the weekends and hit the gym a couple mornings per week if that’s what works for you. Or use your training as a chance to connect with friends and family members who may want to join you for one of your low-intensity rides to explore a new place on the weekend. Is commuting by bicycle an option for you? In some cases, riding to work will actually save you time on your commute, and certainly save you money on gas or bus tickets. It’s really up to you to decide how to make your training fit your lifestyle!

I have a regular exercise routine already that does not involve cycling. How important is it for me to train on a bicycle specifically?

If you already have a regular exercise regimen, that’s great! Spending time in the saddle at least once per week leading up to your tour is still important though. It will help you to develop a relaxed stance on a bicycle, which will lead to more efficient use of your energy. It will also train your body and muscles to perform in a specific position that is pretty unique to cycling! Although there is no absolute requirement to train on a bicycle specifically, your body, and especially your butt, will thank you for allowing a little “break-in period” before spending several straight days in the saddle. You’ll also be glad that you reviewed how to shift gears BEFORE getting halfway up a hill! Have fun with your bike tour training and have a blast on your trip!

#FindYourFreedom with Great Freedom Adventures

Post by Lydia Glenn

When Lydia isn’t leading tours for Great Freedom Adventures, she can be found biking, climbing, hiking, diving or learning even more about the magnificent creatures that inhabit our planet.