Bike Training Tips for a Touring Adventure

How to prepare for a big two-wheel trip
April 4, 2014

If you love cycling and sightseeing then a bike trip might be just what the doctor ordered to rekindle that spirit of adventure. Some people call it a bike trip and some people call it a tour, but either way it means you’re going to ride from city to city and explore what that state, country, or continent has to offer.

Thinking of going abroad? Some of the most popular bike touring routes are through the mountains, towns, villages, and countryside of rural France, Italy and Spain. Prefer to stay stateside? Consider a wine and bike tour of the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York or Napa Valley in California, or take a trip through time along the Underground Railroad trail or the Lewis and Clark trail. Feeling adventurous?  Set out on a cross-country bike trip like Anna McNuff. Wherever you are, wherever you’re going, you can take a bike trip anywhere.

Regardless of the final destination, I’m sure you’ll want to actually enjoy this bike trip rather than suffer for the whole time. Therefore you must put in some work to get the legs, heart, and lungs ready for the adventure. This means building your mileage and fitness to ensure that your body gets used to the daily rides. And depending upon your type and distance of your adventure, you should potentially think about doing daily long rides.

Start your bike training slow – build up your fitness (weeks 1-8)

Start riding two-to-three times per week to start building up a base level of fitness, ensuring two of these rides are least 45-60 minutes long. The third ride should be your long ride (often on the weekend) and it should be around two-to-three hours. Depending on your fitness level, you might have to take it nice and easy, adding breaks when needed. Make sure that you always stay fueled and hydrated during your training.

Weeks 8-14

Having built your base fitness, you can then add about four-to-six weeks of high-quality cycling work to get your body ready for the adventure. This means four or five rides per week: three 45-60 minute rides and a couple two-to-three hour long rides (preferably back to back days). This will get your body ready for the consistent work ethic needed to make it through a solid bike tour.

You’ll also want to include some basic core work to really get your overall support structure ready for this expedition. No need to splurge on an expensive gym membership for this kind of stuff if you don’t already have one: just do some planks, sit-ups, lunges, squats, pull-ups, and pushups.

Train for the terrain

If you’re going on a bike tour in the mountains of France (or any mountains/hills), make sure you get in as much training on mountains and hills as possible. I can tell you from personal experience that training super hard in the flat lands still won’t get you ready for the task of the mountains. Mountains use different muscles, require different techniques, different gears, and different “mental muscles”. So do yourself this service and ride ALL of the hills you can.

Check all the gear you need for your bike trip – leave nothing to chance

Test your fuel, hydration, clothing and gear before you show up to your bike tour. Never bring new stuff that hasn’t been tested, just hoping that it works out. Riding a bike a lot can cause chaffing in places that you need to know about BEFORE you get there. Dial everything in during the training periods I specified above.

Map out your route. Plan where you’ll stop for lunch or to sleep – as well as where to get more water. Take stock of any sites or events you want to visit along the way.

Rack it!

Think about throwing some rack storage on your bike if you need to carry extra clothes/gear or want to buy some stuff to bring back. Depending on the type of bike trip you take, you might end up camping instead of staying at a hotel each night, so make sure you think ahead and have some empty space prepared for returning items.

Above all else make sure your bike tour contains a lot of new sights. This is all about adventure and exploration – getting outside, enjoying nature, seeing a new culture, trying new foods and drinks, and meeting new friends. Keep the rubber side down and always wear your helmet.

Happy riding and happy adventures, gang!


Dustin Hinton

Trail running, triathlon, marathons
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Barefoot Trail Run Ascend Glove, Bare Access 3
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