10 Week Training Program for Cambodia Cycle Tour
Posted on 12/09/2019
If you have been considering doing an Escape Adventures cycle tour, but are unsure if our tours are for you, then Cambodia is the perfect place to start. This is a great Escape Adventures introduction to cycle touring. It showcases our style of travel and the local experiences we relish giving our bikers, while having slightly shorter distances per day and flatter terrain compared to some of our other tours. If you’re still not sure about joining the tour because you are worried you might not be fit enough or an experienced cyclist, we’re here to help with our carefully crafted 10 week training program. First we’re going to discuss some ways to prepare for traveling in Cambodia, then we’ll discuss training for Cambodia.
Having an event to prepare for can be a compelling motivator to stick to a training program. Often the event we are training for is a long and arduous racing event. Boring!! I’m not a competitive person, so even training for a race isn’t compelling enough for me to stick to a training plan. This is why I’ve come up with an idea... How about I train for a holiday! That sounds way more fun. Not just any holiday, a holiday I have to be fit for. It’s a completely different mind game. And I think it will work. Who wouldn’t want to train for a fun, laid back 13 day cycle tour through Cambodia! So stay with me on this and let’s see what we’re in for.
If we’re going to prepare for a cycle touring holiday we better have a quick look at what the specific challenges are going to be. We’ll look at the terrain, climate and daily distances and identify any key points to nut out. After reviewing Escape Adventures Cambodia cycle tour page I pulled out the points I think might present challenges and further down we look at them in depth individually.
- The tour is 13 days.
- The total riding distance for the whole tour is 550km.
- The longest day of riding will be 75km.
- The terrain we’ll be riding on is mostly on unpaved / dirt roads.
- This cycle tour is mostly flat (not a ‘challenge' but worth discussing).
- The climate is hot and humid.
Right, so now we’ve got our key points let's talk about each one in order to better understand it and how to prepare for it.
1. 13 day cycle tour
Once I read the itinerary tab on Escape Adventures Cambodia cycle tour page, I realised that days 1,10 and 13 of the tour are non riding days. So we’re actually riding for 10 days total and we’ll be getting a break on day 10. The take home point for me here is, my bum needs to be happy sitting on a bike saddle for 10 days in a row. Training your bum for multi day cycling trips can only be done one way - by riding your bike multiple days in a row. This will simulate the same demands on your butt as the cycle tour. We’ll talk about this again later in the article, but it’s really good if you can do two or three days of riding your bike in a row. This repetition is great bum conditioning. But don’t be frightened off by thinking it’s going to be really intense. The intensity of your rides can vary.
2. Total Distance - 550km
The total distance is good to know, but doesn’t really dictate what we do with our training. We’ve got a whole 10 days to squeeze in 550kms. We’ll get it done, no worries!
3. Longest day 75km
The longest day of riding is 75km. That’s a pretty big day for some of us. But there are two things to consider here. First, we’ve got all day, literally. It’s not like we’ve got to wash the dishes, hang the washing, think about what is for dinner, commute for an hour to work and pay the bills. No no no, we’re on holiday here, the only thing scheduled is riding your bike and having fun (even your meals are planned and made for you!). It may sound like a long way to ride, but given the whole day it will be a piece of cake (especially after you’ve completed our amazing training plan).
Second point is you don’t need to train to the full distance. For example, when training for a marathon, runners don’t actually run a marathon routinely in their training plans. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll do some big long runs, yes. But we should also be careful to not over train. You don’t want to be riding huge distances consistently before your tour. If you do, you’ll be over trained before your tour and feel really tired and sluggish. We do need to start working towards being able to ride 75kms in a day, but ‘working toward’ are the key words.
4. Dirt Roads
As far as surfaces go, good condition dirt roads are awesome. There is all kinds of biking, right? Road riding, mountain biking, uni-cycling, trials etc… but for travelling and exploring a new country, cycle touring has to be the best option. And the substrate you travel on makes a huge difference to the level of enjoyment. Paved roads can be smooth and fast, but are very unforgiving if it gets potholes and bumps, and is even more unforgiving if you take a tumble and fall on it. In Cambodia, Escape Adventures mostly ride on hard packed dirt roads, ideal for cycle touring. They are quiet, with hardly any traffic from motorised vehicles. They take us through some beautiful villages and agricultural areas. Yes, they do get the occasional pot hole, so you need to be able to dodge or absorb... And they do have the odd chicken or child running around, so you need to be able to react. Reacting to your surroundings. It is good to know as we can work some riding on unsealed surfaces into our training plan to prepare for this aspect of the tour. It is a good idea to get used to handling a bike on a different surfaces, so seek out some loose gravel roads in your area, or hard packed dirt roads… just see what you can find.
5. Mostly flat terrain
The roads we ride in Cambodia are pretty much flat. There are a few undulations and a small hill towards the end, but for the most part we are cruising along flat roads. Taking this into consideration, we won’t prioritise hill training in our training program. If you really like puffing up hills to gain fitness, then by all means, go ahead. But for those of us who are ‘normal’, rest assured, it’s not necessary for this ride.
6. Hot and humid climate
It’s pretty hard to simulate the same hot and humid conditions that we’ll encounter in Cambodia. But we can try to prepare for it. Escape Adventures try to time the bike riding in the cooler parts of the day. You’ll thank us for the early morning start when your relaxing at lunch with a cool beverage in the heat of the day. And speaking of cool beverages.. Staying hydrated is really the key to staying functional in hot climates. Escape Adventures provide clean drinking water throughout the tour for you to refill your bottles. We encourage you to bring along electrolytes to add to your water as well. This ensures you are replenishing your salt and sugar levels that become depleted from perspiration. One final thing that is sure to help you stay cool in Cambodia. Be sure to bring along your bandana for when we come across ice trucks. You can put ice in your bandana and drape it around your neck for extra cooling.
So that’s all our key challenges looked at. I hope you’re feeling a little more at ease about taking on a training program now. Hey, you might feel so good about going to Cambodia you skip the training all together!! Why not, go for it. Now it’s time to discuss how to use the training plan we’ve created. We’ll also share with you some general training tips.
How to use this Training Plan
How you use the training plan will depend on your existing level of fitness, other activities you participate in and at what frequency you do those activities. In my own experience, when I see a training plan I immediately start clearing my schedule, rearranging my life. I start mapping out where, when and how I’m going to ‘complete’ the plan so that on race day I’ve got what it takes to get the job done. I’m not very flexible with substituting other activities or moving the schedule. But it doesn’t have to be like that! The plan is there to be whatever it needs to be for you. If you really want to be religious about your training and need some guidance then follow the plan to the T. But if you’re willing to be flexible and take a more casual approach to your training that’s okay too. Take from the plan what you think is useful and skip the stuff you don’t think is relevant for you. In saying that... you will need to ride your bike in order to train for a cycle tour, so don’t get too relaxed.
For example, say you already swim, run and ride a bike several times a week. You may not need to add any exercise sessions to your existing weekly workouts. You may just want to reduce one of those activities and replace it with another biking session.
Most of the training will be about building endurance and strength, however another part of it is conditioning your bottom for multiple days of sitting on a bike saddle. This is why it is good to try and train two or three days in a row. This will help to build your seat endurance. If it’s not possible for you to train 2 days in a row, don’t fret. Your bum will still get a good level of condition just from increased riding sessions.
Types of Riding
Below we outline the different types of riding that are included in the training plan so you understand what is expected.
Distance - One ride a week should aim to be a long ride, looking to grow your endurance. This will help prepare you for the longer days on tour. If you’re someone who hasn’t done a lot of riding don’t be intimidated by this. On the contrary, get excited. You’ll be surprised at how far you can ride when you set your mind to it!
Intensity - One ride a week should be focused on intensity. Intensity is about building strength and increasing your comfortable cruising speed. It’s important to remember to warm up gently for 5-10mins before launching into intense physical exertion. Also give yourself time to cool down afterwards. Your intensity rides can be done a couple different ways.
- Intervals You can ride really hard and fast for a timed interval, then rest before doing another interval. Or if you have landmarks you know are ahead you can set rules about riding hard till you get to the landmark.
- Hill training Early in this article I said you didn’t need to worry about hill training. However it is a really good way to get the old heart rate up and build strength. If you have a hill near you and just want to get out and quickly smash out your ‘intensity’ ride, go do some hill repeats.
- Ride at a higher intensity for a shorter time. Lets say riding while having an easy chat is an effort level of 1, and sprinting to outrun a lion in pursuit is an effort level 5. On your higher intensity ride try to sit somewhere around 3 and 4. (Feels more like a yappy dog chasing, not as scary as a lion).
Easy/Active Recovery - This ride should be for fun! It’s really good to keep active but not push too hard after two previous challenging rides. It’s also great to keep your frequency of riding up to condition your bottom to multiple days of riding in a row.
10 Week Cambodia Training Program
This 10 week training plan is broken into 2 week sections. Over the first 8 weeks we slowly build endurance and strength and by weeks 9 & 10 we start to ease up in order to be fully recovered for the tour. Each week we suggest riding your bike at least 3 times.
This training plan is designed to prepare someone with a small amount biking experience and biking specific fitness for Escape Adventures 13 day Cambodia cycle tour. If at any time during this 10 week training program you feel that the program is too strenuous or have other fitness/health related concerns, please see your doctor for advice. The program has been created to be achievable with incremental increases in distance and intensity while allowing for recovery time.
Weeks 1 & 2
Distance Ride - Aim to ride 20 to 25kms once per week during your first week of training.
Intensity - Experiment with what type of intensity ride works for you. Try to make this ride at least 25mins long. That might be 5-10mins warmup, 10mins intensity and 5mins cool down. Do this once per week.
Active Recovery Ride - Once per week do a social ride with your mates, or try to seek out some dirt roads to start building your handling skills off the tarmac.
Weeks 3 & 4
Distance Ride - Increase this distance ride to 30 or 35 kms once per week.
Intensity - Bump up your intensity to 5-10mins warmup, 15mins intensity and 5mins cool down. Roughly a 30 minute workout is about right. Do this once per week.
Active Recovery Ride - Keep this weekly ride fun, get out with your mates or make the destination a nice cafe spot or any location of your liking.
Weeks 5 & 6
Distance Ride - See if you can get your weekly distance ride up to 40 or 45 kms during weeks 5 and 6.
Intensity - You should be settled into your intensity training by now, whether it be intervals or hill reps or another type of intensity training. I don’t think it is beneficial at this stage to increase the amount of time spent doing intensity training, but if you can take it up a notch and increase your effort level go for it! This is when you can really push yourself and set some hard challenges in terms of exertion. Again, keep this intensity ride to once a week.
Active Recovery Ride - Cruise down to the shops for groceries, or get out on a social ride. Whatever you fancy. Just be sure to ride your bike as this training session is about keeping those legs moving and training your butt to be able to sit on a bike seat for several days in a row.
Weeks 7 & 8
Distance Ride - In weeks 7 & 8 we’ll reach our maximum training distance of 50-55 kms. Perhaps plan to ride 50kms in week 7 and shoot for 55kms in week 8 knowing that you’ve reached peak distance and can ease off in week 9 &10.
Intensity - Continue to ride your intensity program once per week. You can stick to the same duration and effort level as weeks 5 & 6. Don’t be too concerned about going for longer or pushing even harder. As long as you feel you’ve put in your best effort at the end of the session then you’ve done great!
Active Recovery Ride - Remember to give the legs a spin out and have some fun. Don’t be tempted to drop this once a week ride as it does serve a purpose.
Weeks 9 & 10
The worst part is over! We’re now in our ‘taper’. All the hard work you’ve put in will pay off, but for now it’s time to rest up.
Distance Ride - In week 9 go for a chillout 25km ride and the following week take it down to 20kms.
Intensity - In week 9 do a shorter and low effort intensity training session, say 5-10mins warm up, 10mins intensity and 5 mins cool down. In week 10 (the week before your tour starts!) don’t do any intensity training. On the day that you would usually do your intensity training go for a short, easy fun ride.
Active Recovery Ride - In week 9 do an easy, fun recovery ride as per usual. In week 10, have the day off. You’ll be busy packing for your tour!
Now you’re ready to get riding! Remember to have fun with it. Most importantly, listen to your body for signals or growing strength but also for signals of over tiredness. It’s easy to get carried away and forget to give your body time to rest and recover. Recovery is a key element in the training process. So be sure to rest up before joining us in Cambodia! See you there.