How do I go about training for the long races and rides I do?
One of the recent things I did was determine my Anaerobic threshold. This has proven to be highly effective for monitoring how hard I should ride in a given circumstance. I recommend anyone training to determine their AT and use it!
I learned a lot about training, and improving for longer rides from UMCA's website. I have the site linked in the links section. I've also learned through practice, what works for me and what doesn't, and also from talking to others that have participated in such events. Brevets are a great place to start if you are interested in riding long distances. It's not a race, and the people are usually very nice. I use brevets as a motivation for the distance, but don't really ride it how a lot of people participating in brevets do. I ride at a race pace the entire time and don't stop besides getting my card stamped. I don't have egg sandwiches for breakfast breaks! I stick with my Super green bars and hammer gel. If I ever get some influx of cash I'll use hammer perpetuem but until then it's gel and bars!:)
My training consists of a few different types of riding. The week usually consists of three to four days of training rides with one of those rides being a weekly long ride. Almost every day I commute to work via bike, but I usually take it easy on a few of them and treat them as active recovery rides the day after a training day. I try to train on Tuesday and Thursday or Monday and Wednesday. I always have a day of rest before and after the long weekly ride. One of the days involves hill climbing repeats which basically means I ride at slightly above race pace to where the hill is (roughly 40 minutes away) then I hammer up and down a climb that is about 1 mile long and pretty steep. I do this ten to fifteen times. The other type of riding is usually in a flatter environment like Central Park. Central park has a 6 mile loop which is nice and smooth with a few small hills. I ride there, which takes about 15 minutes, then ride at a hard pace, harder than I'd ever ride during a race or long ride, and do this for about an hour and a half. This type of riding will get longer as the season progresses all the way up to doing an entire century at this pace. Maybe some day a double century at this pace...but that is far off still! Another type of riding I'll do in Central Park is intervals. Various lengths riding as hard as i possibly can with equal or greater recovery time in between depending on the time I spend going all out.
How do I do the long weekly rides?
These are the most important for me. I used a recommendation from UMCA to figure out the miles I should ride and when. Estimate how many miles you want to ride in your race (mine is 450 miles in the 24 hour UMCA championship this July) and note on the calendar two weeks before this event. This is the last long weekly training ride before the event. Take 10% off of 450 miles and that's how long that last training ride should be. 405 miles! Now, go back another 7 days and take 10% off 405 miles. Do this every 7 days until you are to the present week. This weekend goal for me is a little over 200 miles. I did 190 this past Saturday. Luckily the Brevet series I'm in conveniently fell right in line with the training miles I needed to stay on track.
So, that, in a nutshell is what I'm currently doing to get faster and ride longer!