How Do You Train for a 50 Mile Mountain Bike Ride?

Thinking about doing a long charity ride or even a mountain bike race? Well, there’s a good chance that if you only ride a couple times a week less than 4 hours each ride, you’re going to need some consistent training for 12-16 weeks before your big ride. While there are many opinions about how to train, and they’ll vary greatly depending upon who you talk to (pro and amateurs alike), the key is simply to have a plan.

A popular charity ride coming up in late April, the 50 Mile Ride for Project Rwanda, has 25 mile and 50 mile options. If all you’ve done for years is rides around 20 miles, then the 25 mile option should be no problem for you. But what about the 50? Trust me, there’s a big difference between 25 miles and 50 miles on a mountain bike and it all comes down to time in the saddle.

A great training guide you may want to check out is “The Mountain Biker’s Training Bible” by Joe Friel. Buy it, read it, and make a commitment to train not just as a weekend warrior, but as a competitor. Nutrition and hydration are key elements to surviving an endurance ride so you’ll want to do your experimentation with food and various drinks well before ride day. Once you find a combination that will keep you fueled and hydrated for a continuous 6-8 hour ride, you’ll be ready for a 50 miler.


My Personal Experience…

I’ve found in the past that while it’s important to know the route you’ll be riding, it’s not so important (or advisable) to spend all of your training weeks on the same route. I do the 50 Mile Ride for Rwanda, for example in sections. I do the 25 mile route one weekend and I do the extended portion on another weekend. That way I’m familiar with any course changes while still not doing the entire 50 miler all at once. Over those weeks before the big ride, I ride everywhere BUT the Project Rwanda route and focus on increasing time and mileage by about 10% each week. I also cross train on the road bike. My plan may not be the best for everyone but I guarantee you’ll have more fun in the weeks leading up to the ride if you change up your ride routes every week.

Want to train with me? My training for the Project Rwanda Ride is going to begin with a 26 mile ride in the Angeles Forest this Sunday. Check out the details of the route here: I’ll have a big ride like this on the calendar every weekend, so be sure to check out the 3F calendar and stop by our Facebook Group once in a while.

Remember: It’s the journey that counts, not the destination.

Mark Warrick
3F Bike Club