So you’ve picked your destination, and are counting down the days until take off. Whether you made last minute plans or have been counting down the days for months, training is one of the main focal points between now and then.
The amount of training needed for a tour depends on tour length and how much gear is necessary for your needs. Personally, I usually bicycle commute about 20-30 miles per day on different terrain, with a few long bicycle rides on the weekends, slowly increasing weight to match the intended carrying weight for the tour.
However, because of a recent bicycling injury to my hand, I have been unable to ride. Preparing for a tour without being able to integrate bicycling into your daily schedule can be tricky. In this case, investing in a trainer is a good idea. Riding about 1-3 hours a day on the trainer during the week, and biking with gear on the weekends can be a good strategy. Brian McLauglin, cycling coach, has information on eating well and choosing an exercise plan for tour preparation.
Climate changes and elevation changes are important factors to take into consideration. For the PCH tour, the climate will most likely have mild (but cold) winds with scattered rain showers, mostly overcast, with highs in the 60′s and lows in the 40′s. These temperatures are fairly moderate for winter, however, remember that hypothermia can happen at these temperatures when you’re exposed to the elements. The elevation changes for my tour are fairly mild. Starting at sea level, the most dramatic change is about 1000 feet in elevation over the span of around 12 miles. Even though I live at 7000 feet, in my opinion, it’s good to train at an elevation higher than where you sleep to keep your oxygen levels high for endurance while on the tour.
With the tour quickly approaching, I decided to squeeze in a short tour to help me prepare. I took a day excursion from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon on Thanksgiving (with a generous amount of weight in my panniers and BOB trailer for a good Thanksgiving dinner), followed by another day excursion back to Flagstaff after admiring the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. The raining and sleeting weather conditions, hilly terrain, 1500 ft elevation changes, and rigid 80 mile per day travel schedule were ample obstacles for replication of the predicted tour conditions. Not only was this trip physically beneficial, but it helped amp me up mentally for daily commuting in the cold weather as well as the tour. Count down…11 days.