Training tips

Group Health STP training for one- or two-day riders

By Craig Undem, Dean of Cycle University

Your Group Health STP training plan - got one?

Since riding a bike is something most of us learned as kids and as adults, it seems reasonable that we can just jump on our bike a few times and be ready to tackle the STP, right? Wrong! Becoming a competent cyclist, like learning to windsurf or playing golf, takes practice, good skills and instruction. Because we have received so many questions from riders wanting more guidance preparing for the STP we’ve created a free Basic plan for both the one-day and two-day riders (see below). 

How to prepare for the Group Health STP

If you read no further in this article, these are the three simplest ways to insure a great time on the STP:

  1. Ride with others, take a cycling skills class, join a club like Cascade Bicycle Club or join the Cascade Training Series (CTS) to learn the language of group cycling.

     
  2. Don’t ride as hard as you can on every training ride. This is the most common rookie mistake! Ride steady and aim to add more miles each week to go longer and longer. Start with rides you can finish feeling like you could have done a little bit more and gradually build your endurance until you can complete 75% of the mileage of your longest day at this years STP.

     
  3. Use Chamois Crème or Bodyglide to reduce friction in groin area, and don’t wear underwear.

The most important part of any cycling training plan is the number of hours or miles you will ride on a daily and weekly basis in the months leading up to a big ride like the STP. These training rides are the building blocks that will prepare your body and mind to ride long and hard on the day of the event. There are many other factors that will influence your enjoyment on the big day, such as how your bike fits you, nutrition, hydration, clothing, equipment, mental preparation, skill level and general comfort with riding long distances with lots of other people.

Below is a rough training plan giving you a very basic sketch of an average person’s riding mileage leading up to a successful STP. It has 3 rides per week. If you haven’t ridden a bike in 10 years, start with a 5-mile ride to get the hang of it. Your goal may be simply to have fun and stop when you are tired. If you had a good summer of riding last year and haven’t ridden since October, go out for a nice flat 20-miler and get back into it. From here build up your mileage gradually and challenge yourself a bit more every few weeks.

Every person is different and no single training program will work for everyone, the important thing to remember is that “this is fun!” Take your time and work at a level your body will allow. Depending on your conditioning and riding experience, you may need more or less miles than this program presents. Feel free to consult Cycle University to outline a program to fit your level of riding and athletic background, and be sure and get an OK from your doctor if you are over the age of 30 and new to cycling.

Special note for one-day riders

Most people think that they can just ride tons of miles and get fast enough to do the STP in one day, but what many find is that even though they get strong and increase their average speed they still can’t meet their goal. Why not? They need the shelter of other people to help them achieve their finishing goal. The wind often blows from the South, which means that much of the ride from Seattle to Portland is into a head wind, and if you ride BEHIND a group or even a single rider, you can save 30% or more of your energy…and still go the same speed. It is like free money; you do less work and go faster! This skill is called DRAFTING, and it is something that takes practice and good coaching to do it SAFELY.

The best place to learn this is from other experienced riders or in one of the Cycle University Classes.  If you are not in Seattle, check out www.bikeride.com and look under “regional links” to find a club near you and see if they offer paceline instruction.

Training for one and two-day riders

Start your training with easy miles and add an occasional hard day once every week or two where you push the hills. For your normal days, when you start breathing hard and can't say a 10-word sentence at a normal tone, slow down. After the first half of the training, start looking at your average speeds during your midweek and Saturday rides. Increase the midweek rides to move toward your target average miles per hour pace. (i.e. to complete the 200+-mile STP in one day under 12 hours you will need to average 17.5mph and only take one 30-minute break. Two-day riders will need to average 10 mph to finish each 103-mile day under 11 hours, with 55 minutes of breaks each day.) Aim to get your average speed near your target ride level as the event approaches. Learn to ride in a paceline to further stretch your endurance and speed and maintain a high average mph.

June will be the hardest month. Plan to take good care of yourself between rides. Eat right, stay hydrated and get consistent sleep. Use Flying Wheels as your final rehearsal. Test out the energy foods, equipment and clothing you will use on the STP. After your last big ride two weeks before the event, focus on recovery. During these final two weeks you will rest more because the mileage is much less, but keep your cadence high and effort at or above event speeds to increase your speed.

STP Training miles in PDF form: STP Training miles 2014

STP Suggested Training Miles

TWO-DAY RIDERS

WEEK OF MILES MON TUES WED THURS FRI SAT SUN
Feb. 10-16 40     10     10 20
Feb. 17-23 54     10     10 *34
Feb.24 Mar. 2 80     20     30 30
March 3-9 100     20     40 40
March 10-16 80     20     30 30
March 17-23 100     20     40 40
March 24 - 30 120     20     50 50
Mar.31 Apr. 6 130     30     50 50
April 7-13 90     20     50 20
April 14-20 130     30     50 50
April 21-27 140     20     60 60
Apr.28 May 4 170     30     70 70
May  5-11 110     30     50 30
May 12-18 170     30     70 70
May 19-25 180     20     80 80
May26 Jun 1 170     40     **65 or 100 65 or 30
June 2-8 160     40     60 60
June 9-15 120     30     50 40
June 16-22 150     30     100 20
June 23-29 120     30     50 40
Jun 30 July 6 100     20     50 30
July  7-13 222     20     101 101

* Chilly Hilly

** Flying Wheels Summer Century 

ONE-DAY RIDERS

WEEK OF MILES MON TUES WED THURS FRI SAT SUN
Feb. 10-16 60     20     20 20
Feb. 17-23 74     20     20 *34
Feb.24 Mar. 2 80     20     40 20
March 3-9 70     20     30 20
March 10-16 90     30     50 10
March 17-23 110     20     70 20
March 24-30 110     30     50 30
Mar.31 Apr. 6 130     40     70 20
April 7-13 120     20     80 20
April 14-20 140     40     70 30
April 21-27 190     50     80 60
Apr.28 May 4 160     50     90 20
May  5-11 170     30     100 40
May 12-18 160     40     70 50
May 19-25 190     50     110 30
May26 June 1 210     40   20 **100 50
June 2-8 160     40   20 60 40
June 9-15 140     40     70 30
June 16-22 200     50     100 50
June 23-29 160     40     70 50
Jun.30 July 6 120     40     60 20
July  7-13 222     20     202 0

* Chilly Hilly

** Flying Wheels Summer Century