Through 2 - From Couch to Trail: The Overnight Bikepacking Trip Training Plan


I have about two months to get ready for this ride.  I blew the time I had in the early season to get out on the trails and train and, as a result, now I have to make up for lost time or else this ride will force me into submission. 

I used The Mountain Bike Project data to help plan this out.  Based on the elevation profile of the ride, I believe the greatest challenge will be the first 17 miles of the ride which has an average incline grade of 4%.  If I can get through that in decent shape then I think I can hang as long as I need to on the downhill. 

START

Elevation Profile - Courtesy of Mountain Biking Project

PEAK

Elevation Profile 2 - Courtesy of Mountain Biking Project

CALCULATIONS:

Approx. 17 mile ride with 2,900 feet of elevation gain for average grade of 3.2%

Converting that into an executable plan means that we would have to start the ride early enough to get over the pass before afternoon thunderstorms roll through.  The last thing we want is to be caught high on a mountain pass with lightning.  We will have to do a good job of map recon in the coming weeks to identify best places for camping on the downhill side, preferably with a short ride left on Sunday morning to the cars. 

I estimate that I would need six hours to get through the 17 mile uphill, based upon last year's riding and being conservative at 3 mph average speed.  Starting at 6AM would allow us to make the mountain pass around noon before the afternoon thunderstorms come in.  We could ride another couple hours to find that campsite on the downslope and trim off the remaining mileage to the cars. 

PEAK TO FINISH

PEAK

Elevation Profile 3 - Courtesy of Mountain Biking Project

FINISH

Elevation Profile 4 - Courtesy of Mountain Biking Project

CALCULATIONS

Approx. 30 mile ride with 3,000 feet of elevation drop for average grade of -1.9%

 

My personal plan is to hike the steep grades since they are pretty short overall.  This would help keep me from burning out unnecessarily.  I have to be ready to ride any green incline and hang with it to keep good time on the uphill.  This is all subject to change, obviously, pending more data as I get out on the trails and gather more information.

As for training, I feel that if I can get to the point where I'm confident in my ability to do about 15 miles of the uphill, then determination can carry me the last two or three miles over the top.  I am confident in my ability to recover enough with a break at the pass to then hold my own on the downhill as long as I need to, especially realizing that I am only a few hours from camping for the evening and getting a long block of rest before saddling up again.

SEPTEMBER TRAINING OBJECTIVES

An old Army-ism, and favorite modus operandi is to "train as you would fight," which means, in this context, to get out on mountain biking trails with a fully loaded bike and pack just as I would on the actual ride itself.  Unfortunately, life just hasn't afforded me (or I just haven't figured out how to create) the opportunity to log all my miles like that so I will have to get creative. 

The following is my draft training plan.  I tried to get creative to make up for the fact that I can likely only hit the singletrack once per week and most days will only be able to ride indoors on an exercise bike in the gym at my office building.  Something….something….life, lemons, lemonade right? 

  • Example – Week Ending on Sunday date – Objective of that week
    • Plan to accomplish objective for that week
  • 7/15 – Baseline
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Weekend Long Ride on Trail – 15 miles
  • 7/22 – 6 mile out and back
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride For Saddle Time – 20 miles
    • Weekend Long Ride on Trail – 6 miles
  • 7/29 – 10 mile out and back
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride For Saddle Time – 20 miles
    • Weekend Long Ride on Trail – 10 miles
  • 8/5 – Dial back and match with family visit weekend
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride For Saddle Time – 20 miles
  • 8/12 – 12 mile out and back
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride For Saddle Time – 20 miles
    • Weekend Long Ride on Trail – 12 miles
  • 8/19 – 14 Mile out and back
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride For Saddle Time – 20 miles
    • Weekend Long Ride on Trail – 14 miles
  • 8/26 – First Dress Rehearsal 17 mile out and back
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride For Saddle Time – 20 miles
    • Weekend Long Ride on Trail – 17 miles
  • 9/2 – Iowa Visit – Dial Back
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride For Saddle Time – 15 miles
  • 9/9 – Second Dress Rehearsal 17 mile out and back
    • Bike Park Mileage – 1 mile
    • Medium Road Ride for Saddle Time – 15 miles
    • Weekend long Ride – 17 miles
  • 9/16 - RIDE
  • TOTALS: 376 miles excluding final weekend trip mileage of 55 miles

 

Logistics

1.5 hours of driving back and forth to the Boulder parking lot

Estimated 4mph going up a 3% grade and 8 mph going down a 3% grade based on my in-shape rides at Table Mountain in 2017.  Generates following estimates of time needed for each long trail ride:

Training Time Required - To Include Drive-Time

I learned a valuable lesson in the Army: no plan survives first contact with the enemy.  I like Mike Tyson's version a little better though: everyone has a plan until you're punched in the face.  As with most of my backcountry excursions, I will create a plan that is flexible and will be ready for it to change on a moment's notice with whatever the trail brings.  I'll be sure to circle back to this post later with an update!


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