One of the training suggestions for Elite Tour riders during the last month of training is to ride 500+ miles away from home over three days. The suggestion is to ride hard each of the three days; go to bed tired and get up tired and climb back on the bike. The idea is to simulate what you might likely feel like during the Elite Tour.
I had hoped to do this three days of riding closer to the end of May right before starting to taper for the Elite Tour, but because of work/family obligations, the only three free days I had in a row were May 13, 14, and 15. I felt I just had to do this ride to help with my confidence going into the Elite Tour.
The first day of the three, May 13, I rode 215 miles. I didn't taper for this ride at all but the previous day was a rest day. I did try and push just a little to see where my conditioning really was. I rode the first 200 miles in 11:35. (Eleven hours and 35 minutes). This included 4 convenience store bottle refilling/potty breaks. My speed on the bike was 18.2 mph for the whole 215 miles. (Now folks, this ain't bragging. There are plenty of Elite Tour riders who can ride considerably faster). But for where I am in my long-distance cycling right now, I was very pleased with this ride.
The next two days were 152 and 150 miles respectively for a total of 517 miles over the three day period. I did reduce my speed just a tad the second day just to feel like I'd have something left for the third day. The second and third day were ridden at 17.5 and 17.4 mph respectively.
Overall I'd have to say the three day ride was a good experience and a success. While there were some long stretches into head winds that made for tough riding, I can say that at no time did I feel anything close to suffering. I felt strong over the three day period and maintained a respectable speed with consistent, steady riding. Most importantly, I think the three days of riding did a lot for me mentally. The Elite Tour is not a race. But there is a minimum speed you must maintain or risk having to be shuttled ahead in one of the vans to keep up with the group. I do have a goal to to ride every single mile of the Elite Tour. This three days of riding I just did gave me the idea that I just might be able to do it. 17 days in a row is obviously a whole world away from three, but I can knock my speed down a couple of notches from what I've just done and still maintain a high enough average to acheive my goal for the Elite Tour.
Although the suggestion for this 500+ mile ride is to do it away from home, I figure I've spent enough time away from home as it is with all this training, so I did all the miles close to home and slept at home. Heck, during these three days of riding I even mowed the grass, took out the trash and cooked dinner for the family one of the evenings. Not bad, eh?
Oh, and by the way, I'm still going to sing the praises of my Brooks Team Pro leather saddle. The 3 day/517 mile ride left me a little sore down there, but no saddle sores whatsoever.