The first step in getting ready for one of the Tour for Kids ride options is to assess where your fitness level stands today. How much riding have you done in the past few years? How much riding have you done in the past few months? The answers to these questions will help you to decide which length of ride is appropriate for you. It is important to choose a distance that is both challenging and yet achievable.


Your training program should be designed to build your strength and endurance over time, enabling your prepare yourself for the ride distance you have select. Your training program consists of a number of different types of rides, with each of them combined in the proper sequence, with the proper nutrition and proper amount of rest and recovery time between training sessions. Over time, you will be able to gradually increase each ride’s duration and exertion level as you become stronger. Ultimately you will achieve the level of fitness that you need to successfully perform over the ride distance that you have selected.

But first, word about heart-rate monitors (HRMs). If you do not have one, buy one now. It will be one of the most valuable training aids you can purchase. And they don’t have to be expensive… some HRMs are available for as little as $30. A HRM will be valuable in helping you develop your training plan and monitoring your output during your rides. It’s easy to tell when you’re maxed out -- you’re gasping for air and your heart feels like it’s going to jump out of your chest. It’s harder to know when you are within the lower HR limits needed for your recovery rides. A HRM will be very helpful in keeping your at or below your target.

In addition, you will notice that all the instructions below are referenced in terms of the percent of your calculated maximum heart rate. Your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is calculated based on a number of factors, including your age, gender and physical condition. Be sure to consult the HRM instruction manual to calculate your Maximum Heart Rate.


Here are the different rides that are covered more detail below:

  • Long rides: these rides are planned to be similar to the actual riding you will be doing on the Tour For Kids
  • Endurance rides: the same intensity as your long ride but a shorter duration
  • Intervals: Shorter rides that build strength by repeating cycles of intensity with cycles of rest
  • Tempo Rides: This workout is longer in duration than your interval workout but with lower intensity
  • Recovery rides: a short easy ride used to flush your legs out and help your body recover from harder workouts

Each ride serves a specific purpose in your training program and is explained in detail below.

Warm Up and Warm Down
A proper warm up and warm down is very important for these workouts. Your warm up should last 15-30 minutes and start at a nice comfortable pace to get your muscles warmed up and ready for the harder work ahead. After 10 minutes of easy pedaling you should add in a few 30-60 second pickups where you build your pace up your workout effort. Rest for 60-90 seconds between each. This will ensure you body is ready to go when the hard work starts.

Your warm down should be 15-30 min of easy pedalling in an easy gear. This is used to flush out your legs and help your body recover for the next training session.

Long rides
Now that you have decided which distance you are going to ride it is time to get training to get ready for it. Your key workout will be your long ride and for those of you doing multiple days then it will be important to have long rides on back-to-back days in order to train your body to handle it during the event.

But you must follow a proper progression – you can’t just jump into training and do a 4-hour ride if the longest ride you have done in the last few months is only 45 minutes. So make sure to build slowly, and don’t add more than 30 minutes to your long ride each week. Also make a note of your total training hours each week and try not to add more than 10-15% from one week to the next. This is especially true for the novice athlete or an athlete who is currently doing more training hours than they have done in the past.

One of the keys to finishing a longer event like the Tour For Kids ride is to make sure you pace yourself properly. Your long ride is the perfect time to practice this. Too many people go hard right from the start and burn up valuable energy that will be needed down the road. So practice constraint and keep your effort levels down, working at a steady pace (65-75% of maximum heart rate). This is especially true on hills. Many athletes sprint up hills like each one is a race. That will be fine for the first few hills but you will be walking up hills by the end if you overdo it. To help make hills easier be sure to have your bike fitted with the proper gearing. Check the course profile and if it is a hilly segment, make sure you have enough easy gears to allow you to climb the hills with a decent cadence. This will allow you to climb without over-exerting yourself.

Endurance Ride:
Endurance rides should be at the same intensity as your long ride (steady effort, 65-75% of maximum heart rate) but of a shorter duration. If your long rides are 4 hours, then an endurance ride will be 2-3 hours. These rides are used to build your aerobic base while allowing for a quicker recovery time than a long ride. Athletes planning on riding multiple days during the Tour For Kids can do endurance and long rides on consecutive days (even up to 3 or 4 for more experienced athletes) to help prepare for the multiple days during the Tour For Kids ride.

For the more experienced rider, it’s also a good idea to add some intensity – in the form of intervals – to your midweek rides. This can be in numerous forms and different settings. Some good examples are:

A workout on an indoor trainer.

The intensity portion of the workout should be broken into intervals of 3-15 minutes with a rest period of 1-4 minutes. The total duration of the intervals should be 15-40 minutes, depending on your level of ability.

For example you can ride a local hill that takes 3-5 minutes to climb, repeating the cycle 4-5 times for an intermediate rider, and 6-8 times for an experienced rider. Use the ride back down the hill for recovery.

Another example is a workout on your indoor trainer where you ride a pyramid of 4/6/10/6/4 minutes at high output with 90 seconds rest between each interval.

The effort level for both workouts should be hard (85-90% of maximum heart rate) but you should be able to finish all repeats at the same speed and you should always finish feeling like you could do one more (just don’t do it!!). Add one more interval per week or extend each interval by a minute or 2 to provide a progressive overload to your system over time.

Tempo Ride:
This workout is slightly longer in duration than your interval workout but at a slightly lower intensity. The idea here is to find a rolling stretch of road with little traffic interference. After a proper warm up (same as for the interval workout) do a moderately hard, steady ride of 30-90 minutes (20-40 minutes for an intermediate rider and 45-90 minutes for an experienced rider). Your effort level should feel moderately high but not all-out (75-85% of maximum heart rate). Conversation may be difficult but you shouldn’t be gasping for breath and you should finish feeling like you could still go longer. Any hills will provide a little variation in intensity. Go slightly harder up the hill, but not so hard that you have to rest down the other side. A few rolling, but not very steep hills are best. You can add 5 minutes per week to this workout to provide the proper progression.

A proper warm down of 15-30 minutes of easy pedalling should also be done after this workout as well to help aid in your recovery.

Recovery Ride:
This is a short, easy ride used to flush your legs out and help your body recover for harder workouts. Many athletes make the mistake of going too hard in these workouts. The intensity level should feel easy (<70% maximum heart rate) and these rides should be short… around 30-60 minutes. Going too hard or too long is counterproductive. Many athletes go too hard during a Recovery ride, and therefore remain tired, reducing their performance in their subsequent harder workouts. As a result, these are wasted training sessions: they are not stressful enough to provide the proper overload and at the same time, not easy enough to allow for recovery from previous sessions.


Here are some sample outlines demonstrating how a training week can be organized depending on your level of ability. The frequencies and durations are dependant upon each individual and their current level of fitness. These should be used as a guide only for athletes who are preparing to ride the 100+ Km legs of the Tour For Kids.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Day off Recovery ride
30 min Endurance
90 min Recovery ride
30 min Day off Endurance
90 min Long ride
2-4 hours

For 100 Km riders, your long ride should slowly build to 80-100 Km for your last long ride before the event.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Day off Alternate
Tempo and Interval ride every other week
1-2 hours Recovery ride
30-60 min Endurance
2 hours Day off Endurance
2-4 hours Long ride
3-6 hours

For 100 Km riders, your long ride should slowly build to 100+ Km. For full stage riders, slowly build your long rides to within +/- 20 Km of the distance you will be riding and on similar terrain. For multiple day riders you should build up your weekend workouts so that you can ride back-to-back days of 5+ hours.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Day off Interval ride, 60-90 min Recovery ride
30-60 min Tempo ride
90 min-2 hours Recovery ride
30-60 min Endurance
2-5 hours Long ride
4-6 hours

For 100 Km riders, your long ride should slowly build to 110+ Km. For full stage riders, slowly build your long rides up to the distance you will be riding and on similar terrain. For multiple day riders you should build up your weekend workouts so that you can ride back-to-back days of 5+ hours.


Periodization refers to the structuring of your training plan in order to provide the necessary training overload and recovery. This helps you to achieve the highest performance at a specific event. “Training overload” is the training stress that you impose on your system. The idea is that you make your body tired and then, through recovery, your body adapts and becomes stronger/faster. The key here is to introduce periodic changes to your overload. This is why you must slowly build the amount (hours) and intensity (number and duration of your intervals and tempo rides) into your training.

If there is no progression in your training, then your body will stop adapting, as there is not enough stress to provide the overload for the adaptations to take place. On the other hand, if the stress is too great, you will not be able to adapt and recover, resulting only in being overtired or injured, but not stronger or faster.


Many athletes benefit from incorporating an “easy” week into their training programs. An easy week means a 25-50% reduction in training hours and a 50% or greater reduction in intensity. Try adding an easy week every third week or it can just be incorporated when you feel you need it.

You may need an easy week if you have achieved a plateau in performance or loss of motivation or simply because real life gets in the way and you need to take a break. The key to remember is that training overloads your system and makes you tired and it is during recovery that your body adapts and gets stronger. So proper recovery – and the occasional “easy week” – is as important as hard training.


Nutrition plays a critical role in your performance and recovery in both training and racing. For workouts of up to 90 minutes in duration you can drink just water. But for workouts longer than 90 minutes you will need to consume some form of carbohydrate as well.

A very general outline is that for rides of 2 hours or longer you should try to consume 500 ml to 1 litre of liquid, and 25-75 grams of carbohydrate. These can come in many forms: electrolyte drinks (Gatorade, Cytomax etc); gels (Power Gel, Gu etc); energy bars (Power Bars, Cliff Bars); honey sandwiches, etc. The amount necessary varies from athlete to athlete. To better understand what you need, practice with your nutrition during your training rides to find out what kind and amount of nutrition works best for you.
For recovery after your hard or long workouts it is very important to refuel with a combination carbohydrates and protein. The ideal ration is approximately 4 units of carbohydrate to 1 unit of protein taken within 15-30 minutes of completing your training. Your body offers a short window of opportunity in which it is able to store extra carbohydrates for future use. If you don’t consume the right amount in that timeframe, your recovery will be compromised. It is important to plan ahead so that you have the right food available. Tuna on a bagel, a carbohydrate/protein bar or chocolate milk can all work well.


Consistent training over time is the key element in maximizing your fitness. This is achieved by starting at the appropriate level and then slowly progressing. A mix of longer rides, shorter intense rides and recovery rides will provide your body with the right amount of stress and recovery and will enable you to prepare properly. By looking at the specifics of your event (100 km in a single day or 4 full days) you can set out your program to provide the right type and amount of training to enable you to achieve your goal.

Good luck with your training program!

Nigel Gray is a Professional Triathlete and Head Coach of NRG Performance Training. Nigel has been racing as a Professional for the last 10 years with numerous top 10 Ironman finishes. NRG Performance Training works with athletes of all levels and abilities to help meet their goals.