My research has found that there are two camps when it comes to training philosophy for long cycling adventures. The first say you don’t need to do any specific training, you’ll get fit on the fly, but the first weeks may be harder. The second emphasize that you should be able to maintain your planned daily mileage a few weeks before you set off.
I tend to agree with the second camp, for multiple reasons.
1. Knowing that you can do what you’re planning makes you feel secure and boots your confidence. Remember the first time you drove on the Autobahn/Highway and had to enter it with all the trucks and crap? Well, you obviously survived and made it somehow, but nowadays you’re much more relaxed driving on that ramp because you KNOW you’ll find your place.
2. The body is both immensely strong and incredibly fragile. While it can take a lot of abuse in terms of exercise, nutrition and general care, it is the small things that will bring you to your knees. A niggle in a tendon somewhere that doesn’t stop. A pulled muscle. Chances are, if your body is accustomed to daily exercise – and strong enough for it, it won’t develop those niggles as quickly. If you experience (harmless) problems while training, even better, you’ll learn how to deal with them.
3. Training isn’t just about physical fitness. It is about a myriad of other things: navigation, finding the right foods and drink that suit you on long rides, your most comfortable break rhythm, determining your most comfortable and efficient riding position, testing materials like pants, gloves and the likes, getting used to the silence and solitude,…. The list goes on.
So while I’m sure you COULD just jump into the saddle on a whim and go for it, I feel better knowing I’ll at least have put in 6 months of honest-to-god training time.
Though winter is approaching, I’ll be doing an overnighter to Hamburg in two weeks, keep you fingers crossed that snow and cold don’t arrive in the meantime!