Training for your longest ride of the season

June 02 — 2021 | Santa Cruz, California

So you’ve chosen your longest ride of the year…and never mind those butterflies, it’s time to prepare! Before you stress too much, keep your eyes on the prize. What’s really driving you? Get clear on your goals (other than crushing the competition) so you can focus on the deeper experience of your highlighted event. Nothing zaps fun like self-pressure, so we recommend creating multiple reachable outcomes that are small and meaningful to you.

First line of business, you’ll need to get a heart rate monitor that lets you track your max and average heart rate for a period of time. Your heart rate monitor will be your most valuable training partner. If setting up heart rate training zones sounds more intimidating than racing the final stages of the EWS, you’re not alone. Relax, we’re here to guide you through it.

Second, let’s figure out your heart rate zones. You’ve probably heard the old equation “220 minus your age,” but that’s not very accurate for most people. Welcome to a super simple “field test” that will give you all you need to know to dial in your custom training zones. This gets you results specific to YOUR body, leading to much more effective training. And what could be more exciting than that?

1. Find a dirt or paved climb without any stop signs or obstacles (you can also do this on a stationary bike).
2. Warm up for at least 20 minutes.
3. When you’re ready to begin, start climbing, picking up the pace every minute to increase intensity as you go up.
4. After 5 minutes of intensity, sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds out of the saddle.
5. At the end of the 30 seconds you should be going as hard as possible, immediately check your heart rate reading, or after the ride you can download your data and look for the highest heart rate number. This is your max HR.


There are 5 different training zones to get familiar with. Each of these zones is a certain percentage of your max HR. Use specific training zones to ensure you can complete all of your training rides. If you end up riding too hard, it can cause additional fatigue leading to subpar recovery, which makes it harder to stick with the training plan. Effective training often requires workouts that are slightly easier than you think they should be. And if you think about it, is that really all that bad?

Zone 1
Intensity: 50-60% of your max HR
These workouts help with fatigue and soreness – but only if you make sure to keep them easy. Otherwise, you won’t get the benefits, and instead, you’ll risk overtraining. This is also the heart rate you want for the “active recovery” part of your cycling intervals in Zone 4.

Zone 2
Intensity: 60-70% of your max HR
This should be the foundation of your training and make up the bulk of your workouts – especially if you’re new to training. It’s where you build your base and it’s an intensity you should be able to comfortably hold for an extended period of time – all while chatting and enjoying the scenery. Your long rides should be at this intensity.

Your weeks will vary with the length of your rides, but in a nutshell, your weeks will follow the same trends. You’ll be riding 4 days per week and have 3 days off each week. Below is a sample, you may have to choose days of the week that work best for you depending on your work schedule.

Keep it easy. It’s super important to make sure your easy days are EASY and rest up for your longer and higher intensity days. Here are a few great activities for your easy day:

  • Lounge on the couch and watch Netflix
  • Elevate your legs
  • Take a nap
  • Best recovery would be light stretching

If you don’t get enough sleep one night, you still should be able to complete your ride. If you are tired for a couple of days in a row, make sure you take an extra day or two of rest and then resume your schedule. Work and life stress can get in the way and it’s okay to let yourself have an extra day of rest if you need it. Yes, you deserve to rest!

Track your training on an app or calendar so you can get the big picture of what is going on with your body and schedule. If you’re tired for one day, try to get out there and ride. If you’re tired multiple days in a row, take an extra day off. Take into consideration what’s coming up for you in other parts of your life and make adjustments. It’s a balance!

Because this training ends with a rest week, this will set you up to be ready for your big event! For extra caution, you could also modify the last 10 days of the 3 month calendar to only include 3 x 1 hour easy to moderate pace per a week.

Now go get ‘em! Please tag us @julianabicycles during your big ride or race photos and let us know how the training schedule helped you!