The long ride also known as the long bike, or endurance ride is a staple in triathlon training. Including the Long Run, these are integral sessions if you are planning to race a half-iron or an iron-distance event. And most likely, the long ride will also be your longest training session in any given week. So making it right, efficient and hassle-free is essential if you want to make the most out of it.
• Get a Proper Bike Fit
Assuming you are using a triathlon bike, it is a must that you stay on your aerobars tucked in, and producing good power for an extended period of time. If you cannot stay in your aero position, and oftentimes resort to your handle bars on long straight roads, then you must invest of having a professional bike fit. Staying comfortable in the aero position will make you and your bike a steady producer of good power. It may take a few rides to adapt and several adjustments on your positioning so communication and feedback is important with your bike fitter.
• Build Endurance Gradually
Here at ironguides, in the first weeks of a long distance program, we always start off with Easy Long Rides. The foundation to build endurance, fat burning and fatigue-resistance start with these 2-3 hour Easy Rides. If you are starting your race season, or coming back from a race, doing the long rides at easy effort will you build the endurance base without overloading your body, and will also hasten recovery. This is also a good time to fine-tune body position (see post above).
• Ride Early
The night before your ride, prepare your bike, your gear, and your planned nutrition. That way, you avoid delays in the morning that will dampen your mood when something isn’t right, say a flat tire when you are about to go out the door. Riding early on a weekend gives you less traffic, safer roads, and it gives you the opportunity to finish the session early, before family and social life activities gets in the way.
• Never Leave without Cash and Mobile Phone
This is essential especially if you ride alone. Any number of things can go wrong in a long ride. Cash will buy you food or drinks if you go bonk. It will also provide you transport if a mishap happens along the way. Last option in an emergency, call a spouse or a friend to pick you up. Even if you don’t have an emergency, it’s always great to have cash to buy you good coffee.
Make sure you also bring a set of basic tools to fix or tighten a loose bolt or to make small adjustment on your bike fit if you need. A couple spare inner tubes and a hand pump is also very handy, light, small and can be the difference of seeing you cutting the session short, to continue with the planned workout after a quick stop to fix a flat
• The staple of the ironguides long rides are starting out easy, maintaining a moderate pace and finishing with a hard effort. This training develops the discipline in bike pacing. It allows you to estimate and gauge one’s ability to put out a specific effort on the right time, given the remaining time and distance to be covered. There will be days when you will mess up and miscalculate your efforts. But with repetition, consistency and discipline, you will master proper bike pacing.
• Practice planned nutrition
While it is ok to have breakfast or coffee stops on your rides, you can get away with these on your first few long rides. Allocate your build and peak periods practicing your planned race-day nutrition. Nutrition is very personal, so what might work for you may not work for someone else. With practice, you can experiment on what type of nutrition works best for you.On the final block of training leading into your race, use your race day nutrition at least every second long session
• Simulation Rides
Near the end of the training plan, it is required you go through this simulation rides. It involves everything, from your planned bike set-up (placement of nutrition), race-day nutrition, your planned apparel, and your target pace for your ride. This is the ultimate test if you are ready for race day, and also this ride will give the most feedback.
Start with 30-45 minutes of easy spinning. Then spend the most of your ride in your planned pace on race day. Stay aero for most of the time and also avoid stops, save for that needed bottle refill. If you are racing an ironman, this could go on from 2-5 hours staying aero and nailing your goal pace.
Afterwards, a transition to a 20-30 minute run is a staple on this simulation days. The feedback you will get is essential: from learning where apparel gives you the chafes on your body, adjustments on your bike nutrition set-up so you stay low and aero while eating your nutrition and adjustments on your pace and the like. The training and information you get means less guessing on what will happen on race day.