184 mile ride on dirt trail. How to train??

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Powderfinger, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger New Member

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    Hey all,

    I want to ride the C&O (Chesapeke & Ohio) canal trail next spring. It's 184 miles of hardpacked dirt / pebble road. Most people do it in two or three days. I've read that you can expect a 6-8 mile per hour average since there's no pavement and the trail conditions vary a lot.

    So how does one train for such a ride. I'm assuming I'd do three days of 60 miles each, which probably equates to something like 80 miles on pavement. Another consideration is the crazy vibration you get up through your arms from the uneven surface.

    Right now I'm riding 20 miles three times a week with one longer and one shorter day thrown in.

    My main concern is waking up on day two and being totally seized up with soreness and cramps.

    Any advice? I've got about nine months before this trip would be feasible, so time isn't a consideration. I'm wondering if certain kinds of cross-training or distance training would be helpful.

    Thanks
     
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  2. Lonnie Utah

    Lonnie Utah Banned

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    What type of steed will you be riding? Mtb or Road/Cyclocross bike with knobbies?

    L
     
  3. markh_b87

    markh_b87 New Member

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    Powderfinger,

    I don't believe it's a particularly steep trail though it's probably more uphill than down from Washington out. One thing to consider is your own numbers and what they mean...60 miles/day, 6-8mph. That comes to about 10 hours per day in the saddle.

    So, try a day of seven to eight hours of riding to see how it feels. You might aim for an average heart-rate of 65%, not a whole lot higher since you plan to ride more for endurance than speed.

    Also, if it's possible, spend a day on the C&O trail to get a firsthand idea of what it's like.

    Mark
     
  4. markh_b87

    markh_b87 New Member

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  5. joule

    joule New Member

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    Unless you are in terrible shape or have a lot of weight to lose you should do fine. I started riding this time last year at 47 years of age, 5'6", 170 lbs. Picked out an 18 mile loop with two decent hills and found I had to walk up them when I first started riding. Now one year later I'm down to 130 lbs, racing and turning in 21.5 mph times over a 40 km rolling terrain course. Participated in a 3 day, 300 mile ride this past July over the mountains out in Gettysburg and did fine. All this is on the road, but still, it gives you an idea what can happen over a one year period. Best advice I can give is keep at it at an intensity that you can sustain through the coming cold months and monitor your progress. As winter trails, get out and start working to increase your endurance through longer rides.

    Finally there are quite a few good bike clubs in your area so check them out. You may find riding with a group even more enjoyable.

     
  6. JEJonesJr

    JEJonesJr New Member

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    I have ridden the length of the Canal many times in two days, starting in Cumberland, where I'm from (I now live in Southwest Virginia). After realizing my family was getting tired of picking me up on the DC end, I started going down and back on the same trip - 4 days - I did it once in 3 days.

    My training consists of working my way up to doing centuries (100 miles) in the local hilly Virginia countryside. I've found that doing a hilly road century takes me about the same time a Canal century does without packs. With 55-pound packs on the Canal, I need to ride about 125 miles in Virginia to equal the same time, and the same time seems to equal the same effort.

    After I work my way up to doing two consecutive days of 125-mile Virginia rides, I'm ready for the 4 day Canal ride. My body adapts to the two extra Canal days fine while riding, it's just that the resultant recovery period is longer.

    Now I left out one very important training issue - rearend conditioning. The Canal is quite rough in places. I lift weights moderately and that allows me to handle the upperbody pounding in stride. But the only way I'm found to get the rearend conditioning is to do day centuries on the Canal while visiting family on Maryland trips before my 4-day Canal trip. Two such rides within the 4-6 weeks presiding the 4-day trip seems to do it. A local Virginia unpaved rails-to-trail (New River Valley) that is 50 miles long (century round trip) helps and reduces my Canal century training to one trip instead of two if necessary, but the rails-to-trail is not as rough and not the equal of a Canal century - translation: somewhat more rearend suffering.

    Other important considerations are bike prep and what to take and what to eat. Let me know if you are interrested on my experiences with them. A lot of my experience has been trail-and-error. I went from a high-failure rate to almost never failing.


    Jack
     
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