Training to bike across America

Training buddies during a ride in Scottsdale, AZ. Six weeks to start of ride.

The ride begins April 28th, with a rear tire dip in the Pacific Ocean at Costa Mesa, CA and ends with a front tire dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Salisbury beach near Amesbury, MA on May 30th. 3452 miles in 33 days. An average of 112 miles and 2500 vertical feet of climbing every day. We will bike through 14 states ( map below ) with 2 rest days – Albuquerque, NM on day 8 and Springfield, IL on day 21. Weather is considered when selecting clothing for the day. Only the threat of lightening will keep us off the road.

Our trip is supported by America by Bicycle (ABB), with a team of four guides. Two guides will drive the vans that carry our luggage to the next hotel, provide food at rest stops and offer technical support if needed. Two guides will be on the road throughout the day to keep track of us as we bike at our individual pace. I have ridden with three of the four guides in 2016 and they are outstanding.

On April 27th, I will meet the other bikers. We will introduce ourselves and participate in a very thorough safety talk about bike riding on all types of roads and in various weather conditions. Our bikes will be carefully inspected, along with our helmets, to be sure we have safe and properly functioning equipment.

How to qualify for The Fast Ride North with ABB? Ride a century – 100 miles – in under 6 hours. Since the time includes any rest stops, you must average about 18.5 miles per hour to qualify. Have time in the saddle – they recommend about 300-500 miles a week in the month leading up to the ride. Own a decent bike that is not too heavy nor too lightweight to go the distance. Find a comfortable saddle!!!

Next, have a serious talk with myself about my limitations- I am 63 years old and have never been accused of being athletic.

How am I training? First, get to ideal weight ( on the thin side for biking). Ok, honestly, that is not going to happen.

Next, get a power meter for the bike and train at The Fix Studio in Minneapolis. There, I ride my bike on rollers to reach 300 watts – my functional threshold. That threshold is the effort at which the muscles start producing lactic acid to maintain the power output. During the class, the cadence ( revolutions of feet per minute) and power output vary under the direction of our coach. Although I have reached up to 600 watts for 10 seconds, it is not sustainable due to production of lactic acid and muscle fatigue. I am training 1 – 1.5 hours, 6 days a week and will add 7-8 hour rides outdoors in the next weeks as road conditions allow. Other recent training included climbing Mt Lemmon in Tucson – 20 miles uphill at a 5 % grade on average. For this trip, I plan to bike at an average of 210 watts. Also, based on my power meter, for my weight, I average about 1000 kcal of energy consumed per 25 miles on the road.