Thinking of Bike to Build? Here’s how to train for it
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 11, 2013 | 1410 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ZACK GASTON, an employee at Scott’s Bikes in Cleveland and an avid cyclist for 15 years, offered tips to people interested in training for Habitat for Humanity’s Bike to Build 20-kilometer (12.4 miles) ride. Banner Photo, DELANEY WALKER
ZACK GASTON, an employee at Scott’s Bikes in Cleveland and an avid cyclist for 15 years, offered tips to people interested in training for Habitat for Humanity’s Bike to Build 20-kilometer (12.4 miles) ride. Banner Photo, DELANEY WALKER
Six weeks of prime training separate even the newest of beginners from cycling in Habitat for Humanity’s Bike to Build event on April 20.

The event is separated into three levels: a 20-kilometer ride (12.4 miles), a 50K (31.07) and a 100K (62 miles).

These levels can also be called beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Zack Gaston, Scott’s Bike employee and 15-year avid cyclist, said beginners still have enough time to train for the event.

“If we are going to do the 12 miles, we are going to take whatever our max is and start there three times a week,” Gaston said.

The following week would see the mileage increased to six miles per training day. Riders will be completing 12 miles per training day by the fourth week.

“If you notice by the third ride in a week you cannot do your normal amount, then you need to back off and have an extra day of rest,” Gaston said.

If training began today, riders would have 12 miles down by the week of April 1.

Gaston suggested continuing to increase mileage once the goal has been met.

The fifth week could be dedicated to reaching 15 miles per training session. The sixth, and final, week would see a tapering of distance during training.

“If you have gotten to the point where you can ride 10 miles consistently, then complete 10 on Monday, five on Thursday and do the full 12 on Saturday [Bike to Build date],” Gaston said.

He said it is possible for a person who has only ever topped out at 10 miles to reach 12 miles. Two keys are hydration and pacing.

One suggested training schedule is staggering rides three times a week, on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. If the max is three miles, then attempt three miles on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

It is important to note training days are dependent on individual and personal schedules. Riding Monday, Thursday and Saturday may not work for some people. Another option is Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Stagger the days to allow time for recovery.

Training Monday, Thursday and Saturday will place your training in line with the Bike to Build set for a Saturday.

Gaston suggested exercising, not cycling, on off days.

“The biggest thing is the movement. If your body is sore, you don’t have to use the time on the bike,” Gaston said. “If the three miles typically takes 30 minutes, then the next day, walk 30 minutes.”

Continued Gaston, “Don’t just substitute [the walking] for cycling, but if we can get a fourth and fifth day of activity, then we are creating fitness.”

According to Gaston, the 12-mile ride normally takes anywhere from an hour and a half to 2 1/2 hours.

“Usually for under two hours all you need is hydration and breakfast about two hours before,” Gaston said. “If you want something because you feel empty, have a light snack 30 minutes before [the ride].”

A light snack can be a 90 to 150 calorie bar (energy, granola, etc.).

“It does not technically have to be healthy, you can still burn it clean,” Gaston said. “That is the nice thing about exercises. You burn whatever you put in your body.”

He said hydration is the No. 1 priority of someone on a 12 mile ride. Hourly snacks are not necessarily needed on a two-hour bike ride.

Food choice is especially important as cyclists increase their mileage.

Anyone interested in performing in the 50K or 100K should start watching their diet the Wednesday prior to the ride.

“Usually you need about three days prior to whenever you are starting to do long rides,” Gaston said. “If you know you are really trying to do a long ride on Saturday, then you need to be conscious of your fuel intake starting Wednesday. Most people want to fuel up Saturday morning, and it’s just not possible.”

Those interested in competing in the Bike to Build’s 10K do not need a special bike.

“You can ride any bike at 12 miles,” Gaston said. “It would be preferred if the bike had a 26 inch wheel size.”

Additional resources can be found by fitness sites like or (search “beginners”). also has a calculator to determine body fat, bmi, caloric needs, ideal weight, nutrition, pace and target heart rate.

More information on Habitat for Humanity’s Bike to Build can be found at Registration costs for the standard package costs $40.

Gaston said he will be riding in Bike to Build’s 100K.

“If you have 500 people paying entrance fees [and raising money] you could build someone a home,” Gaston said.