The Ultimate Challenge is one of the most challenging and respected non-competitive amateur cycling events in North America. A common roadblock for cyclists training for a long event is scheduling the training. This twelve-week plan is designed for cyclists who have several century rides under their belt and/or those who have a strong base of training (cycling 30-50 miles per week in the recent months).
*Please consult a physician before engaging in physical activity.*
|15 miles easy||Rest||8 miles with 3 sets of 2-minute intervals||45-minutes cross training or rest||12 miles hills/climbing||Rest||25 miles moderate|
|15 miles easy||Rest||10 miles with 4 sets of 2-minute intervals||45-minutes cross training or rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||30 miles moderate|
|15 miles easy||Rest||10 miles with 4 sets of 2-minute intervals||60-minutes cross training or rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||35 miles moderate|
|12 miles easy||Rest||8 miles with 5 sets of 2-minute intervals||Rest||10 miles hills/climbing||Rest||25 miles moderate|
|20 miles easy||Rest||10 miles with 5 sets of 2-minute intervals||60-minutes cross training or rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||40-45 miles moderate|
|20 miles easy||Rest||12 miles with 6 sets of 2-minute intervals||60-minutes cross training or rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||50-55 miles moderate|
|20 miles easy||Rest||12 miles with 6 sets of 2-minute intervals||60-minutes cross training or rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||60-70 miles moderate|
|12 miles easy||Rest||10 miles with 6 sets of 2-minute intervals||Rest||10 miles hills/climbing||Rest||40 miles moderate|
|15 miles easy||Rest||12 miles with 6 sets of 2-minute intervals||60-minutes cross training or rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||75-85 miles moderate|
|20 miles easy||Rest||12 miles with 8 sets of 2-minute intervals||Rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||85-95 miles moderate|
|10 miles easy||Rest||12 miles with 6 sets of 2-minute intervals||60-minutes cross training or rest||14 miles hills/climbing||Rest||40-50 miles – race course!|
|10 mile recovery ride||Rest||60-minute ride – with 3-5sets of 3-min climbing intervals at or slightly above race pace||60-minute ride – 4 sets of 90-sec intervals with 5 min between each||Rest||30-minute ride – with 2 sets of 90-sec intervals with 5 min rest between each||Ultimate Challenge!|
Consistent training is the key to your best athletic performance. The keys to consistency are structured training, moderation and rest. This training plan is periodized which means that there are 3 weeks where mileage and intensity increase, followed by a recovery week to allow your body to rest and get stronger. If you begin to fee fatigued, it is a great idea to take an extra rest day or cut a workouts short so you don’t get injured or over-trained.
Feel free to rearrange the ride schedule to work for you, but be sure to spread the rest days throughout the week.
Mid-distance Easy Rides (Sundays): These rides should be enjoyable at a comfortable pace. It’s important to build time in the saddle for your body to adapt.
Long Moderate Rides (Saturdays): These rides are the key to successful completion of the Ultimate Challenge. The distance will gradually increase and hit a maximal distance (85-95 miles) two weeks prior to the Ultimate Challenge. Do your long rides at a moderate pace and try to include some of the race course in these rides. You should feel tired, but not overly fatigued when you complete these rides. These rides are scheduled for Saturdays on the plan, but feel free to modify to do your long rides on the day that works best for you. You’ll notice that the mileage drops back down to 40-50 miles in Week 8. This is an intentional decrease to allow your body to recover so you’re ready for the final push.
Mid-week Intervals: Interval training can increase your lactate threshold which will help you to ride at higher levels of intensity, with less effort. Interval work can be done on a flat or on a hill. After an 8-10 minute warm-up, complete the prescribed number of hard effort intervals. The intensity should increase your breathing and elevate your heart rate to around 90 to 95 percent of your maximal effort. Recovery is important! Spin easy for twice the length of the interval – you should feel almost fully recovered before you start the next hard interval. Complete the ride at an easy to moderate intensity.
Hills: The Ultimate Challenge course includes a ton of climbing. In order to be prepared, you’ll want to integrate hills into your training every week. This ride can include rolling hills or longer climbs. The intensity of these climbing days should be relatively high. You’ll build climbing strength and stamina with these workouts. Remember to focus on your descending skills as you coast down!
Cross training: Cross training can increase your fitness and help to prevent overtraining injuries. Pick a sport or activity you enjoy – mix it up! Hiking, running, swimming, yoga, mountain biking, group fitness classes and walking are all great choices.
Rest: It is very important to incorporate rest days into your training. Workouts break the body down, rest builds it back up. However – resting does not mean that you should become a couch potato. Even rest days should include some light physical activity. You may want to participate in a gentle yoga class, or take a stroll in the evening.