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  1. #1
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    Long Training Rides on Shorter Trail Systems?

    Currently gearing myself towards my first 100 miler this summer (hopefully) and I am already running into what I feel like is a snag with my local trails. In the past I have done 50-ish mile races and training hasn't been an issue. With my local trails I am able to piece together a 35-40 mile ride fairly easy, coupled with shorter rides through the week and commuting on a gravel bike to work. This has always worked for me for the 50s, but I am not sure how I should approach longer training days for a 100.

    I have a trail system that's roughly 20 miles in length, which I can tie to another trail system via 5 mile chunk of road an add another 10-ish miles. It's a pretty fun ride, but spinning a single speed through 10 miles of road (out and back) sucks. Either way, that's there. The other trail systems in the area are 10 miles or less.

    I did a 4 hour ride on the 20 mile trail system Saturday and ended up doubling up basically all of the trail system, and was about to have to start tripling up on some sections. I am worried that trying to squeeze miles out of all of the smaller trail systems in the area is going to burn me out on local terrain by the end of spring.

    How do you guys in areas without large trail systems manage this? I can drive down to Arkansas and do some bigger trails like Back 40 every now and again, but that's a whole day trip (or overnight camp) so it's not something I can go hit on a whim.

  2. #2
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    road bike

  3. #3
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    +1 on the road bike.
    As an alternative, if your trail systems are not one-way traffic you can ride them forward, then reverse. None of the trails in our local area are directional, so we can go to a park with 11 miles of singletrack and get 22 miles in and it's a whole different trail in the opposite direction.

  4. #4
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    You might ("might") look at the road section as recovery after hammering the trail sections (????). Work on leg speed if it's flat/downhill or just z2 between. Just pretend (yeah that's a bit of a stretch but...) it's a fire road?

    throwing out ideas that you've probably already thought of.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hey_poolboy View Post
    +1 on the road bike.
    As an alternative, if your trail systems are not one-way traffic you can ride them forward, then reverse. None of the trails in our local area are directional, so we can go to a park with 11 miles of singletrack and get 22 miles in and it's a whole different trail in the opposite direction.
    Yea, that's basically what I meant with the 20 mile trail system thing. The one I specifically mentioned is 10 miles out and back, so by "doubling up" that means I rode everything north to south and back twice. The trail system that is basically in my backyard is a 10-ish mile loop, but doing a second loop of that system is like torture.

  6. #6
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    Road bike and laps. I've ridden a few 100+ milers on our local 12-13 mile trail loop. Obviously, part of the challenge is having the legs to ride the distance; and, repeated laps can help you figure out pacing, nutrition, and how your HR and performance changes as you fatigue over time. The other part of the challenge is mental, and riding the same loop over and over (and over, ad nauseum) is a mental beat-down, especially if your trails are uninspiring.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasSingleSpeed View Post
    Road bike and laps. I've ridden a few 100+ milers on our local 12-13 mile trail loop. Obviously, part of the challenge is having the legs to ride the distance; and, repeated laps can help you figure out pacing, nutrition, and how your HR and performance changes as you fatigue over time. The other part of the challenge is mental, and riding the same loop over and over (and over, ad nauseum) is a mental beat-down, especially if your trails are uninspiring.
    I actually love our local trails, which is part of why I am concerned with burning myself out on them. With the comments on this thread so far, I am wondering if maybe I could try staging my gravel bike somewhere and throwing some road miles into the middle of multiple trail loops. Just to change things up...

  8. #8
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    We ride to our trail system to add mileage, adds about 13 miles each way. I have my singlespeed bike set up dinglespeed for the ride to the trails and back.
    [

  9. #9
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    I too race and ride endurance stuff on a single speed, so I feel your pain. IMO you don't need to train at the distance you plan on racing in for the endurance stuff. Meaning no need to do many if any ride over 40-50 miles in preparation for a 100 mile race. You definitely want to do plenty of multi hour rides to test out nutrition and contact points on your bike. But doing anything too long actually can hinder your training, mainly because of the extra time needed for recovery. To me a 20-25 mile ride is a short "easy" ride, unless your pinned the whole ride, that I can do several times a week without having to really think about recovery . A 35-45 mile ride is a great training distance ride (especially if it is all single track with plenty of climbing), mainly because you can do an easy ride the next day without having to worry about getting buried too deep.

    From my experience overtraining is second to only improper nutrition as far as ways to wreck a race season.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbell View Post
    From my experience overtraining is second to only improper nutrition as far as ways to wreck a race season.
    This. Holy cow this. My experience trying to train exclusively on my SS was that I ended up overtrained pretty quickly in the spring and that would take me 2-3 weeks to dig out of of. Then I'd be behind, so I'd ramp up too quickly again and repeat the cycle. I'm putting in way more time on the rollers and road this year. It's not as fun as riding the SS, but I'm seeing huge gains in just 2 months of training because I can train more consistently without over doing it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbell View Post
    I too race and ride endurance stuff on a single speed, so I feel your pain. IMO you don't need to train at the distance you plan on racing in for the endurance stuff. Meaning no need to do many if any ride over 40-50 miles in preparation for a 100 mile race. You definitely want to do plenty of multi hour rides to test out nutrition and contact points on your bike. But doing anything too long actually can hinder your training, mainly because of the extra time needed for recovery. To me a 20-25 mile ride is a short "easy" ride, unless your pinned the whole ride, that I can do several times a week without having to really think about recovery . A 35-45 mile ride is a great training distance ride (especially if it is all single track with plenty of climbing), mainly because you can do an easy ride the next day without having to worry about getting buried too deep.

    From my experience overtraining is second to only improper nutrition as far as ways to wreck a race season.
    I have read a lot about this, and honestly I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around it. For the 50 mile races I have done in the past, I have trained up to 45 miles so in my head I should be doing 80-85 mile training rides. Everything I read is to the contrary though.

  12. #12
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    From my experience with marathons the biggest thing long rides or runs do is checks everything in your plan. Are you getting saddle sores, are you cramping(is your cockpit setup properly?), are you able to hydrate and eat on the trail? Then you can come back and get better shorts and butt jelly, adjust your seat or ect., take 5 minutes to eat two bananas and chug a liter of water every two hours. Competitive marathon training plans are increasing in miles from when I did them, but they were much more about checking everything on long runs when your building up to a big amateur event.

  13. #13
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    I have been reading through the 2018 training thread and it seems like most people agree that base miles and a varied training style is what works the best, as opposed to big rides... I don't know, the more I think about it the more it makes sense. I did BikeMS with a friend one year and did the 100 mile route on a single speed cross bike. I had never done over 40 miles or so on a road bike at that point, and I made the 100 miles in a very reasonable time (I want to say I averaged 15mph?). I guess it's just more intimidating being on single track.

  14. #14
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    Lots of good info in this thread for you.

    My perspective (besides the fact that I just like riding long), is that the long "training day" is also about getting yourself mentally over any humps that you may be fearing regarding your actual race. party_wagon mentioned some great things about testing your "system" as I call it, but that ties into the mentally preparedness that I mentioned too.

    I trained a few local riders a few years ago as they began their move over from XC into marathon events. And once their base was nice and set, I gave them to the directive to just go ride for a day. Ride over to a trail (system) ride it all, then ride over to another (ride it all), stop by 7-11 and fill up, take photos, ride some more, just keep going for the day. Invariably, they ended up doing about 8.5 hrs that day. They learned a good bit about themselves, most of which was a 4-5 hrs marathon now seemed short and no longer daunting. From there we worked on dialing in their "system" and "process". In marathons your mind can be a great asset or weakness. IMHO it needs training too.

    Lastly, I'll echo the road bike request. But my suggestion may come at it from a different angle. I like the road bike for actual roadie-riding. I like being with decent sized groups (15-50 ppl) all covering miles together in a pace line. I love exploring new country roads, hoping I don't get dropped because I can't find my way back home....or having to ride smart in a strong crosswind so that I don't burn too much energy. I love being FORCED to ride someone (the groups) pace for long periods of time, which keeps me out of my comfort zone. I love the "final 2 miles" in where the gloves come off and everyone flexes their muscle trying to see who can measure up! My point is, many people suggest road bikes as something to ride solo on the road (usually when the trails are muddy). That can be lame and boring. I suggest road bikes as a way to get plugged into a (completely) different facet of cycling. One that also, just happens, make make you VERY fit.

    Later,
    CJB

  15. #15
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    I have 5 mile and a 6 mile trails to choose from, and have done several 50+ mile rides, my longest being 75.

    Multiple laps really don't bother me. I also like not having to carry all the food, water, and gear I might need to carry on a similar length ride on a longer trail system. I can also ride right up to dark and quickly go back to the trail head whenever needed.

  16. #16
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    Quote from CBaron:

    "My perspective (besides the fact that I just like riding long), is that the long "training day" is also about getting yourself mentally over any humps that you may be fearing regarding your actual race. party_wagon mentioned some great things about testing your "system" as I call it, but that ties into the mentally preparedness that I mentioned too."

    Adding to what I said earlier in this thread, I have to agree completely and probably should have mentioned that I was speaking from the perspective of having a LOT of long rides and races behind me. So not having that mental hurtle that CBaron is talking about is huge. You will (or at least most normal people) have big doubts as to whether or not you can actually ride the distance in question, never mind actually racing it. IMO the only way to get past that is to go and do it, and even fail at it (maybe). But learn from it, and learn that "a long ride / race" really isn't that long. That just takes experience. But once you have that experience you are then able to effectively train for it with purpose and not have to "waste time" on long drawn out training rides.

    **That isn't to say I don't enjoy long days of just riding to ride, that is what cleanses the soul. But when talking about purely training there isn't any need in empty miles. Never go down the rabbit hole and lose site of why we all started riding and racing in the first place - BECAUSE IT IS FUN!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by coke View Post
    I have 5 mile and a 6 mile trails to choose from, and have done several 50+ mile rides, my longest being 75.

    Multiple laps really don't bother me. I also like not having to carry all the food, water, and gear I might need to carry on a similar length ride on a longer trail system. I can also ride right up to dark and quickly go back to the trail head whenever needed.
    Doing laps like that also can help dial in transitions for getting water bottles and refueling. And if you're new to endurance racing on a long day of laps you can figure out what your food and drink needs are as the distance increases if you have a decent selection of items stashed at your lapping point. I've done something similar when preparing for 24 hour solos.

    I'm a fan of doing both mental and physical preparation for long distance races. Get at least a couple big-ish days on the trails to get you and your gear sorted, and figure out how to mentally keep things fun late in the race even though you'll be hurting.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbell View Post
    Quote from CBaron:

    "My perspective (besides the fact that I just like riding long), is that the long "training day" is also about getting yourself mentally over any humps that you may be fearing regarding your actual race. party_wagon mentioned some great things about testing your "system" as I call it, but that ties into the mentally preparedness that I mentioned too."

    Adding to what I said earlier in this thread, I have to agree completely and probably should have mentioned that I was speaking from the perspective of having a LOT of long rides and races behind me. So not having that mental hurtle that CBaron is talking about is huge. You will (or at least most normal people) have big doubts as to whether or not you can actually ride the distance in question, never mind actually racing it. IMO the only way to get past that is to go and do it, and even fail at it (maybe). But learn from it, and learn that "a long ride / race" really isn't that long. That just takes experience. But once you have that experience you are then able to effectively train for it with purpose and not have to "waste time" on long drawn out training rides.

    **That isn't to say I don't enjoy long days of just riding to ride, that is what cleanses the soul. But when talking about purely training there isn't any need in empty miles. Never go down the rabbit hole and lose site of why we all started riding and racing in the first place - BECAUSE IT IS FUN!

    jbell, I feel like we may just be high-fiving each other back and forth, but your last paragraph is indirectly how I stumbled into the longer distance (marathon) type stuff.

    Back in the early 2000's after racing XC for many years, at the end of the XC seasons, most of us were burned-out with all the "training/racing/structure". So we'd take all this built up fitness and just go ride ALL DAY for fun. We'd roll out from the house early AM on the bike and meet at trails and then just ride trail, to trail, to trail. All we wanted to do was have fun out on the bike. No agenda, no attitude, no itinerary. This was back when most of us were single and we really didn't have anything else to do or places to be. Likewise, IMHO this was back before long-distance events had come into vogue (the TX Marathon series 1st season was 06'). None-the-less it opened my eyes to another kind of riding and what was possible. (while still retaining the 'fun' [that suffering brings])

    Good thread,
    CJB

  19. #19
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    Perhaps instead of focusing on simply more training, you could look at perfecting your race strategy for the longer distance. Proper pacing and nutrition can be really beneficial--especially so in the longest of events.
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  20. #20
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    +1 on multiple laps. I have done it. It can get boring but it works. Once I did 6 laps of 14 mile trail. Now I mix trails with gravel roads. Luckily I can connect seven single track trails with mostly gravel roads for a loop of nearly 100 miles. I do one 100 mile race every year - Lumberjack. It is in june. I try to get about five 100 mileish rides during spring plus a number of 30-40ish. The long rides allow me to train my mind to being on the saddle for 8+ hours and dealing with the "pain".

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    Train by goal expected race time as oppose to miles. Figure out gerenal time it will take and work up from there. A general rule is 6-7 hours training ride and no more, anything longer just hampers recovery. Dont worry about terrain and what bike if you are racing SS do your singletrack and hit a road loop (on the SS), than back to your singetrack until you get hours in. Buying a preplanned 100 miler plan for someone like Lynda W can help a lot understand what you should be doing. Also can make your shorter rides harder and your longer rides endurance or race pace. Focus on being able to ride a long period of time first ahn work in the seepd stuff.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  22. #22
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    OP... keep us posted on how it goes.

    My current plan is to train for a 100 miler this July. Not sure I'll be ready, but having fun working on it.

    The advice in this thread appears useful. I use to race a lot but never did a 100 miler before. Main reason I'm putting in long hours is that the psychological aspect of being in the saddle for that long seems daunting. We'll see how it goes.

    As our trails are still under snow I'm training on a old cyclocross bike and hitting a mix of pavement and logging roads.

    Agree that looping the main trail system over and over again could create an aversion to riding there.

  23. #23
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    Agree that looping the main trail system over and over again could create an aversion to riding there.
    It would drive me crazy but some people are, uh, different:

    The Longest Ride: Woman Bikes 86,500 Miles In One Year

    But she did it all on one stretch of road. She biked the seven-mile loop around Flatwoods Park in Tampa, Fla., almost every day for the last year, to the tune of 13 hours and an average 236.8 miles per day.

    The nearest trail system to me runs through Flatwoods park, so I see it a couple of times a week. I cannot imagine the brain damage of riding that little loop over and over like that.

  24. #24
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    i know i am in here on an mtb site with nothing but road bike advice BUT

    long road rides are perfect training. you get in the miles and the strength training. most importantly you don't beat yourself up too bad so you can ride longer and recover easier.

    when i was "training" i kept the mtb mostly for the nice days; shorter rides with friends, and generally just fun rides.

    i recently got a new garmin that does turn by turn directions and have been having a blast following routes other people created i get off of ridewithgps. i'll be honest with you i am not training for sh!t this year. if i had this back when i was more serious i woulda been a monster. it makes road riding 1000% more fun when your can just following other peoples routes and not worry about getting lost or directions.

    everyone's different but don't burn yourself out on the mtb. that would be terrible...

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