3. What’s the best substitute for a long ride when traveling?
The first thing to realize is that there is no direct substitute for an endurance ride, or run for that matter. Therefore, the goal is to do what you can do, which will help you progress to your goal. While a certain amount of endurance riding is needed, there is no need to try to do it on the road. Your goal is not to accumulate a certain number of long rides; it is to prepare to perform in your event. There are several ways to get there! The key is intensity.
While traveling, it is likely that you will have limited time, and training load is always an index of the volume (time) and the intensity, so if time is restricted, focus on intensity. For my athletes needing to travel, I prescribe short and very intense sessions. Do multiple intervals of 30 seconds to two minutes, with limited rest. You will be operating at a high percentage of max, and the workout will be painful but short. It is by no means a substitute for endurance, but a valuable training tool that accomplishes much in a short time. Once you return from travel and have recovered adequately (a part that many ignore), you can focus on returning to endurance-specific training.
Matt Dixon is an exercise physiologist, former professional triathlete, elite coach and the owner of the San Francisco-based coaching company Purplepatch Fitness.