Riders biking up Capital Hill

Training Basics

Before Beginning

Most of us need a little motivation to get in shape for long-distance cycling trips. The good news about training for Climate Ride is that, in a very short time, you will see positive results for your personal health and fitness, and of course, the health of the planet. Don't delay-get out there and start pedaling! Your experience on Climate Ride will be greatly enhanced if you put in the time and effort to be prepared.

Determine what level of cyclist you are, which ride you are going on, and then choose a proper training regimen

Training for a bicycle ride involves a combination of cardiovascular conditioning, proper stretching, and strength training. While you want to train successfully, you also want to focus on preventing injuries. If you are already in good shape from other sports, it will be an easier transition to cycling fitness.

The tabs above provide training tips will allow you to reach a good level of cycling fitness over the three months leading up to your ride. Novice cyclists should start from the beginning. Intermediate to advanced cyclists and athletes should modify this training regimen as they see fit. If you are not accustomed to exercise, you should consult your physician before embarking on any training regimen.

It is also important to train for the type of terrain you will be riding on during the ride. For the California Ride, consider going on some long moderate climbs. The NYC-DC ride has lots of short steep sections so consider including short sprints up hills into your training rides. For the Midwest Ride, work your way up to long distances on flat roads.

Why Am I Training?

With a proper training regimen, nearly anyone can pedal the distances traveled during Climate Ride. Here's a few stats about 2014 rides so you know what you're preparing for:

  California 2014  Midwest 2014 NYC-DC 2014
Total Distance 250 Miles 300 Miles 304 Miles
Total Days 4 Days 4 Days 5 Days
Daily Distance 50-75 Miles 56-88 Miles 45-69 Miles
Daily Ride Time 4-8 Hours 4-8 hours 4-7.5 Hours


A Bike That Fits

Making sure your bicycle fits properly is very important before you start riding regularly. If you have a new bike, or haven't ridden the distances you will ride on Climate Ride, consider getting a professional bike fit. In addition to preventing injuries, reducing soreness, and allowing for a more comfortable ride, a proper fitting bike will allow you to use all your muscles more efficiently and improve performance. 

For more information follow our training blog



Weeks 1–6

Cardiovascular conditioning

In order to get your heart and lung capacity up to speed, you need to begin cardiovascular workouts. Using a stationary bike indoors or a normal bike outdoors, begin by cycling for 20-40 minutes, 1-3 times per week. Do other cardiovascular exercises such as running, walking, using an elliptical trainer, or rowing. Any cardiovascular exercise will help you prepare.

Indoor Trainers

Want an easy and guaranteed way to train? Consider an indoor trainer so you can still go for your daily ride even if the weather is tough, time is tight, or darkness looms. Indoor trainers can help get you great fitness results in a short amount of time. Thank you to Cascade Bike Trainers for all their support, and for offering Climate Riders a discount on their trainers! Enter "CLIMATE1" at checkout for 10% off.

Strength training

Strength training helps to supplement your cardiovascular workouts. If you belong to a gym, talk to your trainer. Find an appropriate weight or machine exercises that help build muscle in your legs, thighs, and back. Begin with light weights and a low number of repetitions until you are able to increase your strength. Increasing your core strength (stomach) will help to support your back when you are in the saddle for several hours. Basic sit-ups and push-ups can help develop core strength.


Stretching may be the most important part of your training. Get used to stretching before and after your workouts. For stretching tips visit:

Yoga.com for all sorts of great ideas


Weeks 7–18

By week 7, make sure you are on a real bike and cycling outdoors

You want to continue your cardiovascular exercises, but add in some longer bike rides. Start easy - 3 times per week for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Then add in a long weekend ride. Start out on a 3-hour ride and then extend it by 30 minutes each weekend. Spending time in the saddle will also help you discover where you are uncomfortable so that you can adjust your bike properly.

If you increase your longer rides in incremental steps, soon you will be able to ride 5+ hours. Set a goal to be able to ride 60-70 miles in one day, 3-4 weeks before the Climate Ride. Then ride 50-70 miles two days in a row, 2 weeks before the ride. This doesn't mean you have to ride fast! You will have all day to ride, so find a pace that works for you. If you average 8-10 mph, you will have plenty of time to complete each day's ride and enjoy the scenery along the way.

We encourage you to contact your local bike club and go out on some group rides. When riding with a group, you will make great friends and learn little tips on how to enjoy your ride even more.

Continue your strength training and your stretching

This is important to strengthen and support areas of your body that will remain static while riding a bike all day.

Here's a handy chart that you can use as a guideline to weekly mileage.

Week Total miles/ week Do 2 Long Rides
Max Distance
Days/ week Total hours training/ week
Week 1 20 10, 10 1 to 2 1 to 2
Week 2 20-30 15, 15 1 to 2 1 to 3
Week 3 25-35 15, 20 2 to 3 2 to 3
Week 4 30-40 20, 20 2 to 3 2 to 3
Week 5 25-50 25, 25 2 to 3 2 to 4
Week 6 45-55 30, 25 2 to 3 3 to 4
Week 7 50-60 30, 20 2 to 3 3 to 5
Week 8 55-65 25, 25 3 to 4 4 to 6
Week 9 50-75 30, 20 3 to 4 4 to 7
Week 10 70-80 30, 30 3 to 4 5 to 7
Week 11 70-90 40, 30 4 to 5 6 to 8
Week 12 75-100 50, 40 4 to 5 7 to 9
Week 13 75-100 60, 40 4 to 5 8 to 10
Week 14 80-130 60, 40 5 to 6 8 to 10
Week 15 90-140 60, 50 4 to 6 10 to 12
Week 16 100-160 60, 60 4 to 6 10 to 12
Week 17 90-140 70, 60 4 to 6 10 to 13
Week 18 80-130 60, 60 4 to 6 8 to 10