Whether you are riding a full tour or just a section, you should start increasing your physical and mental training routines. Some riders already have significant experience as cyclocross, road, or mountain bike riders and a well established personal training regime. For those riders who do not, the basic goal is to increase the amount you cycle each week, and the intensity of your rides, ideally on the same bike and saddle you will be using on tour.
The best method is called interval training. This term refers to any cardiovascular workout (ie cycling, running, rowing, etc.) that involves alternating periods of higher exertion and lower intensity-activity. Interval training increases your sustainable power and results in greater comfort and higher average speeds on longer rides. An outdoor or indoor bike with a computer that tracks your time, wattage (workload), revolutions, heart rate, and/or calories spent is all you need to interval train properly.
As your training sessions and intensity levels increase, the indicators of improving cardio fitness should become apparent, from the pools of your own sweat, to burning more calories in an hour than last time, to watching your heartbeat recover faster from the tough intervals.
A more casual approach would be a simple simulation of the distance and difficulty you will encounter on tour. For example, you could start by riding 100 km on a weekend, then 100 km two days in a row the next weekend, then three days in a row, and so on.
Regardless of your chosen method, the goal is to make sure that you are comfortable and capable riding 100 km+ several days in a row. Other components of a good training regime include stretching, core work, staying hydrated, and following a good diet.
Perhaps the best method of mental training is simply to dream you are spinning across foreign lands. As you interval train, or even while you are lying in bed, visualize yourself cruising through a desert landscape in Sudan, reaching the top of a long climb in Tajikistan, or flying down the Andes in Peru. Keep an open and positive mind, don’t let worry about the unknowns get in the way, and allow the journey to unfold in front of you. Through good routines and proper maintenance of your mind, your body, and your bike, you will maximize your tour experience.
There are lots of books available on training for long distance bike riding and on mental training for sports in general. For more information on training, please feel free to contact our office staff, or get in touch with any experienced cyclists in your area.