<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1500983526874120&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Rider Advice: 15 Training Tips for First-Time PMC Riders

Published Date:   June 04, 2024

Topic:   Training & Nutrition, PMC 2024, PMC Rider Advice Series

Who better to help prepare new PMC riders for their first PMC than alumni riders? We recently asked some alumni for their advice on topics from training to fundraising to PMC weekend experiences. This is the second collection of their advice (read the first one here) – stay tuned for even more tips leading up to PMC weekend!

15 Training Tips for First-Time PMC Riders

We asked some PMC alumni riders, "What is one piece of training advice you have for someone who has not done a long-distance ride like the PMC before?" PMC riders reflected on their first rides and shared advice on physical, mental, and nutritional preparation. Read on for their tips as you get on your bike this spring and summer.

1. Train by Setting Goals

barb-epstein-advice"Set weekly goals. Start with shorter rides and gradually increase your mileage each week. Aim to build up to your target distance over time to avoid overtraining or injury."

– Barb Epstein, 35-year PMC rider; captain of Team Erica’s Entourage

2. Practice Riding Water Stop to Water Stop

lee-mulligan-advice"Water stops are roughly 20 miles apart. Do 20- to 30-mile training rides. On Saturdays, maybe throw in a longer one. Keep in mind, if you can do the 20, just string the water stops together and you got it."

– Lee Mulligan, 10-year PMC rider; PMC Living Proof

3. Learn to Work Through Discomfort

jeff-lynch-advice"Do at least one long ride that's 65-70% of your longest PMC leg. You don't have to do a lot, just one or a few. Use those rides to learn how to sit in the seat that long and to figure out your hydration and nutrition. It's never been about the fitness or endurance, it's always about working through the discomfort on a long ride."

– Jeff Lynch, 9-year PMC rider; member of Team CRUS11TOUR

PMC Rider Advice Series Powered by M&T Bank

Together We Can: This series highlighting advice from PMC riders, for PMC riders, is powered by M&T Bank, the co-presenting sponsor of the Pan-Mass Challenge.

4. Don't Avoid the Heat

doug-crossley-advice"Ramp up your miles and be sure to get out on some hot days in order to experience the ride in some heat. Last year was two days of absolutely perfect weather, but it is not always like that!"

– Doug Crossley, 15-year PMC rider

5. Practice Riding in Groups

alan-cantor-advice1"Find group rides through clubs and/or bike shops. There are usually riders at all levels so you won’t be alone. Remember that the group in the PMC will be much larger than any training ride and you must train for that."

– Alan Cantor, 32-year PMC rider

6. Focus on Time in the Saddle

jane-lewis-raymond-advice"Time in the saddle is more important than actual miles. Build slowly and add in hills – they are a secret strength weapon."

– Jane Lewis-Raymond, 16-year PMC ride; member of Team PHAT Tuesday

7. Prepare Mentally

dan-flaherty-advice"It's about comfort: mindset and physical. If you are comfortable riding a series of 25-mile legs both physically and mentally, you'll be fine."

– Dan Flaherty, 17-year PMC rider; Captain of Team MFS

8. Eat Enough Calories While Riding

stephen-frail-advice"Get used to eating on longer rides. The biggest mistake I made when I started out with long rides was not taking enough calories, and so I would bonk and cramp. I became quite fond of carrying pickle juice with me for cramps. Also, don't just drink water – start drinking Gatorade and/or water with performance salts after an hour in the saddle. Keep replenishing those salts that you sweat out, especially when it's warm and humid."

– Stephen Frail, 9-year PMC rider; Team Fidelity Investments

9. Don't Get Discouraged

elaine-lavelle-advice"There will be ups and downs; don’t be discouraged if you have a rough training ride! Stick with the long-ride training plan and it will all be ok when you get to PMC weekend."

– Elaine Lavelle, 8-year PMC rider; PMC Living Proof

10. Learn to Fuel on Long Training Rides

christopher-daley-advice"Make sure you understand how to fuel your body during training rides, especially the longer ones."

– Christopher Daley, 10-year PMC rider

11. Don't Just Get Your Body Ready – Get Your Bike Ready

jennifer-sweet-advice"Pay for a bike fitting because it will give you the most comfort on your bike."

– Jennifer Sweet, 6-year PMC rider


12. Mix Short and Long Rides Into Your Training

barbara-gross-advice"Build up your stamina (and your mental energy) gradually with at least a couple of short rides (20-30 miles) during the week. A long ride on the weekend is a good plan in June-July."

– Barbara Gross, 28-year PMC rider

13. Ride in All Kinds of Conditions

andy-macdonald-advice"Pick a 20-mile route and ride it over and over and over again, trying each time to ride faster than the last time. The more times you ride your route, the faster and more conditioned you will become. Also, be sure to ride in all kinds of weather – even rain – just so you get used to it. We never know what kind of weather we will get on the PMC weekend."

– Andy Macdonald, 26-year PMC rider; member of Team BELIEVE

14. Make Your Training Rides Fun

michael-reardon-advice"Remember that you don't have to do all the miles non-stop. Plan a route that takes you to a friend's house, coffee shop, or ice cream stop. Take a break, then get back in the saddle. The PMC is long but with all the rest stops, think of it as several 20-mile rides strung together."

– Mike Reardon, 12-year PMC rider; member of Team Cycle Keuka

15. The More Prepared You Are, The More You'll Enjoy PMC Weekend

bryan-widmann-advice"Prepare! The PMC is so much more fun if you are not an absolute wreck when you finish."

– Bryan Widmann, 22-year PMC rider; member of Team ROAG


PMC Weekend Training Guides

Use these USA Cycling training plans to prepare for your PMC weekend.

  • 30-Mile Training Plan: Use this training guide to prepare for the 25-mile Sunday PMC route.

  • 60-Mile Training Plan: Use this training guide to prepare for the 50-mile Sunday PMC route.

  • 100-Mile Training Plan: Use this training guide to prepare for the majority of PMC weekend routes, including the Saturday routes, two-day routes, Sunday routes to Provincetown, and Wellesley Century.

Find these resources and more at pmc.org/train.

Related Posts