Showstoppers II: A Dozen Mistakes Endurance Cyclists Make

This article appeared in Road Biker Review Newsletter No. 1012


By Coach John Hughes


Summer is coming and you’re probably planning a long ride. You may not be up for a century but look forward to the club’s 50-miler or a 100K with a friend. Or you may be preparing for a century, 200K or longer. Whatever the distance here are 12 potential mistakes to avoid.


1. Inadequate training. A long ride is an endurance event and a successful and fun event requires miles in the bank.  Build up to a long training ride of 2/3 to 3/4 the distance of your planned event over similar terrain.


2. Ramping up too fast. Increase your week-to-week volume by 10-20%. Increase your weekly long ride by 10-20%. Increase your month-to-month volume by 15-25%.


3. Training at the same intensity. Effective training includes endurance riding, some hard intensity rides and also easy recovery rides.


4. Training too hard. Most rides should be done at a conversational pace including the weekly long ride. You should be able to talk the whole time but not sing.


5. Not testing and your perfecting nutrition, clothing, equipment, etc. in advance. Nothing new during the event.


6. Skipping breakfast. Glycogen supplies (from carbohydrate) are limited in the body. You should eat a good breakfast (but nothing new!) primarily of carbohydrate with a bit of protein and fat.


7. Not eating enough during the event. You should eat at least 200 calories per hour and 300 calories hour is better.


8. Not eating regularly during the event. If you eat at a rest stop, ride several hours to the next rest stop and then eat again, then your energy may fade in between rest stops.  You should eat 200-300 calories every hour.


9. Improper hydration. We were taught to drink before we are thirsty; however, on multi-hour rides drinking too much may dilute the blood sodium, resulting in hyponatremia, a potentially dangerous condition.  Drink enough to satisfy your thirst but not more.


10. Improper pacing. Riders sometimes go out too fast and then fade and struggle by the second half. If you can’t ride with a group at that conversational pace then drop off. The right group for you is behind you!


11. Getting lost. Don’t assume that the group you are with is on course. Pay some time in advance studying the cue sheet and then double-check each turn.


12. Inappropriate equipment. Bike shops generally sell a range of racing-style road bikes. These may have a fairly short wheelbase and straight fork, which make for quick responsiveness in a criterium, but the bike is harder to ride straight and the ride is harsher. The bike may have a significant drop between the saddle and the handlebars, great for aerodynamics in a road race but tiring on a century. The bike may have reduced spoke count wheels, which make for faster acceleration but aren’t as durable as wheels with 32 spokes.


By avoiding these mistakes you’ll finish an endurance ride with a grin on your face.



Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris.

He has written nearly 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.  This article appeared in Road Bike Rider Anti-Aging: Core Strength in 1 Hour a Week - Road Bike Rider Cycling Site

My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process includes chapters on how to meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations on aerobic, high intensity aerobic, strength training, weight-bearing exercises, balance and flexibility. I include sample weeks and months for different types and amounts of exercise. I give you plans to build up to 100 km and 100 mile rides. I include a plan to increase over two years your annual riding from around 4,000 miles (6,500 km) to over 5,000 miles (8,000 km) a year. You can easily modify the plans for different annual amounts of riding. I discuss the importance of recovery and how to gauge if you are getting enough recovery. I combine the different kinds of training into programs that balance training and recovery. The 106-page is available here Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process