How to Train for a Multi-stage Cycling Tour: Phase II

Cyclists participating in Nedbank Tour de Tuli
Cyclists participating in Nedbank Tour de Tuli Courtesy Image

If you completed phase I of our 6-month multi-stage cycling training program—designed to prep cyclists for the Nedbank Tour de Tuli, a four-day, ~200-mile mountain bike excursion through Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa—get ready for phase II.

“This 4-week cycle should get you feeling tired, yet able to get each session done,” says program designer Ryan Hodierne, a sports scientist and biomechanist with the Sports Science Centre at Singapore Sports Institute, and member of the High Performance Advisory Committee to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. “Continue to follow the plan as given, as we now lead into the vital period of getting good base mileage upfront. You’ll thank yourself in the latter stages of the event.”

Note: Each training cycle covers 4 weeks. Weeks 1-3 will progress in duration and intensity; week 4 is a recovery week. Hodierne has also provided the option of a choice session for two of the four weeks. They’re to be taken at your own discretion and should only benefit the plan, not hinder it. *This program can also be used to train for a comparable multi-stage mountain biking event.

Goal: Training phase II progresses into more time dedicated to mountain biking and a small increase in total training time in the saddle.

20 weeks out

Week 1: 8 total training hours

Ride 1
Session: Moderate (5/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB
Duration: 1.5 hours

Ride 2
Session: Mild endurance (2/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB/road/trainer on flat route with sustained effort
Duration: 2 hours

Ride 3
Session: Long slow distance (5/10 intensity)
Sport: Road/trainer with hills at low effort
Duration: 3 hours

Ride 4
Session: Skills (7/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB with challenging terrain (rocky, sandy, steep)
Duration: 1.5 hours

Rest day

19 weeks out

Week 2: 6 total hours

Ride 1
Session: Moderate (7/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB with hills (ride descents hard and use moderate effort on ascents and flat stretches)
Duration: 1.5 hours

Ride 2
Session: Endurance (6/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB/road/trainer with hills using sustained effort
Duration: 1.5 hours

Ride 3
Session: Long slow distance (5/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB group ride at talking pace
Duration: 3 hours

Rest day

Ride 4 (optional)
Session: Cross training
Sport: Additional exercise other than cycling (pilates, running, yoga, strength training, swimming)
Duration: 1 hour

18 weeks out

Week 3: 10 total hours

Ride 1
Session: Moderate (7/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB on varied terrain off-road with sustained effort
Duration: 2 hours

Ride 2
Session: Endurance (6/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB/road/trainer with hills (build effort into climbs and sustain effort over the top, not only to the top)
Duration: 2.5 hours

Ride 3
Session: Skills (1.5/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB on technical terrain (vary your saddle height to discover impact it has during climbing and descending)
Duration: 1.5 hours

Ride 4
Session: Long slow distance (6/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB/road/trainer on varied terrain; focus on maintaining an easy cadence withers and efficiency
Duration: 4 hours

Rest day

17 weeks out

Week 4: 6 total hours

Ride 1
Session: Easy (5/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB; familiarization ride using new kit, equipment, nutrition, route, and/or strategies
Duration: 1.5 hours

Ride 2
Session: Time trial (8/10 intensity)
Sport: Road/trainer—warm up for 30 min; complete 1-hour time trial for maximum distance (keep route consistent for comparison in weeks to come); cool down for 30 min.
Duration: 2 hours

Ride 3
Session: Long slow distance (5/10 intensity)
Sport: MTB/road/trainer with hills at low effort
Duration: 2.5 hours

Rest day

Ride 4
Session: Cross training (5/10 intensity)
Sport: Additional exercise other than cycling (pilates, running, yoga, hiking, swimming)
Duration: 1 hour