Recommendation for back to back 12 week training plans - Belgian Waffle Ride and the like

All – Looks like there’s some existing advice on back to back training plans for ultra-long distance races, but I would like a recommendation for a 12 week plan to complete prior to the 12 week 200 mile gravel plan. I’m training for the Belgian Waffle Ride and plan on training for 24 weeks. Last year I logged 3.5k miles, 120k feet; this year will top out at 5k miles; 200k feet. The last 2yrs I did 12wks of structured training in the winter/spring using Cycling Weekly’s old “Winter Faster” plan.

I’m new here and just finished the Full Frontal after following Sufferfest’s week of prep guidelines. I did the test on a Kinetic Roll and Roll. Based on the 4DP, my is FTP=231, MAP=282, AC=348, NM=730. My NM power is 1,100W outside - my trainer bike does not have a power meter so there’s a bit of drop off somewhere between my legs and Kinetic in ride power extrapolation. Nevertheless, GvA says that’s good enough to be called a Rouleur. Weekness is repeated efforts.

My question to those who’ve done well in this event, and the coaches, is - can you recommend a training plan to do prior to completing the 200 mile gravel plan?

Hopefully this is enough information to get me started. Gratsi!

Hi @AdamS! One thing that I might suggest is to have an off week, or at the very least 3-5 days completely off and just easy rides the other days) in between 2 different 12-week plans…so starting 25-weeks out is my first suggestion.

That being said, there are a few different options that could work for you for the first 12-week plan. Specifically the Metric Century and Century plans would both work quite well, as would the Mountainous/Hilly Gran Fondo plan. Both the Century and Mountainous/Hilly GF plans will have bigger week volumes in the 10-12 hour range, while the metric century will be more 9-10 hours in the bigger weeks. The All Purpose Road plan would also be a slightly lower volume plan, similar to the Metric Century plan as a 4th option.

Depending on your goals and time availability, that would probably be the biggest reason that I would suggest one over the other. For that first 12-weeks, I wouldn’t say that more is better. Especially if the BWR is going to be a big challenge for you, then you’d be better off leaving a little something in the tank in your first 12-weeks of training. Also, I would again suggest to keep a week off in between the two 12-week plans - maybe scheduling a little vacation without your bike for that week would be a great idea to consider!


Thank you Neal! I really appreciate the advice - and, yes, I was wondering if a break would be in order at some point. The BWR will be a struggle, so a lower volume winter plan is probably a good idea. Thanks again.

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All – Thought I would follow up on this as I am nearing my first race of the year (and first race ever). Going big - Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder. 360mi, 34,000ft - 5day stage race. Dang. So, originally I inquired on plans to get ready for the Belgian Waffle barf-o-rama but that got bumped to mid-July. I was wait listed for OTGG but got in. I’m adding this info mostly to show the prep I felt necessary for these monsters.

So, here’s the prep that I have done. 2018 was basically off the bike - not riding much at all. 2019 - 3 month structured training using a free plan found on the Cycling Weekly site - Jan-Mar. 3,500miles that year (started toying with the notion of entering the BWR). Same plan in 2020, 5,500miles (BWR cancelled). 2021 switched to Suf - all in now.

Started in early Nov on the Metric Century intermediate with strength, yoga, and mental add-ons. BWR got bumped to July and I got into OTGG so I had 8 addt’l weeks to prepare. Took a week off as recommended. Then did a 4 week FTP block and yoga with volume rides added on the weekend, because the 200mile gravel plan recommended riding 7hours + per week. Took another week off and then got sick. So basically 2 weeks off. Then did a week off unstructured riding. Then I started the 200 mile gravel with intermediate yoga. Missed only two workouts and those were on recovery weeks. First week of 200 mile was brutal. Very difficult to maintain power. But came around and here I am. Frostbite in Jan. Numbness in right arm. Runners knee. All battled, recovered - rode through the pain. Purposely scheduled outdoor rides during the most uncomfortable conditions to train my brain/body to get used to being uncomfortable.

Used time structured eating for 6 weeks and have lost 10 lbs since January. Power has been maintained. Currently 3.15W/kg 20min, 3.92W/kg MAP, 5.23W/kg AC, 13.87W/kg NM, 170 LTHR. Started at 2.75W/kg 20min, 3.36W/kg MAP, 4.16W/kg AC, 8.7W/kg NM, 174 LTHR. Note my sprint was probably skewed low due to wheel spin on my old trainer (Kinetic R+R). New trainer is TACX Neo 2T.

Last big ?? are the fueling/hydration during these crazy events. Fortunately Neal posted Boswell’s and a Suf coach’s hydration and feeding plan for UNBOUND. So, now I have that to lean on. Thanks Coach. Have to say that the mental toughness program is outstanding, and that doesn’t take anything away from the cycling and yoga and strength - all of which are top notch. Big takeaway from everything is that if one has an accurate 4DP profile, Suf is absolutely the best at pushing to absolute limit without going over. “Do As Your Told” and you will not over train. Very very impressive. Thank you Suf for giving me the tools needed to get into the form of my life, at 45 years of age!

Big thanks to Coach Neal for reaching out and personally responding to my first post. Humbled and honored, still. And knowing that the Minions will be double whipping me as I climb up those step rocky grades is comforting, so so comforting. We are never alone Sufferlandrians!

Currently enjoying my taper, relaxing, and soaking my legs in a cold bath. The last preparations for the Hell of the PNW (my words) and Hell of the West Coast are in process. Almost time for glory, honor, and a lot of vomit!

Peace and love my fellow Sufferlandrians - may the pain be with you!


Awesomely done! :clap:

Did you see this?

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Thanks @ErickT! Yeah, just read that article. Super helpful.

It’s encouraging to see a pro using an off-the-shelf SUF plan and winning. :goat:


Dang, that was a monster, Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder during an historic heat wave. GPS registered 118F on the last climb. 5 days, 350 mi, 34,000 ft. Done and done. Finished 29th out of 60 in the masters category and 89/162 overall. About 100 souls DNF. Biggest day - 90miles and 10kft. We crossed the mighty Cascade Range twice, on dirt, rocks, and in sand.

Pro field featured Pete Stetina, Eddie Anderson, and Sarah Sturm as well as most of the Giant Factory Team. Allison Tetrick and Barry Wicks were riding amongst us mortals enjoying the experience. Barry did the whole thing in adidas sneakers and platform pedals. Beast!

Thank you Sufferfest for providing the tools to get me in form. Belgian Waffle Ride - one week from tomorrow. Feeling confident!


Congratulations! That is an awesome awesome achievement.

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Final addition to this thread. …The 2021 Belgian Waffle Ride (California) was a B.E.A.S.T. and I have finally have come to grips with what amounted to a very rough day on the bike. A super fast start had me in the red for 2 hours off the line and definitely contributed to the 4 hours of cramps later as I tried to ‘catch up’ on electrolytes. I was literally off my bike every 15min to stretch during a 2 hour portion of the race. I’d start with the backs of my legs and then my quads would cramp. Several ambulances went up Black Canyon to pull out the those who were in very bad shape. My Element Bolt topped out at 120F with an average temp of 90F.

A downpour 3 hours before race time made for some very greasy roads early in the technical start and I was nearly taken out twice in the first 40 miles. I felt like I had to start fast or risk not having a wheel to follow later. I brought numerous groups up to the next wheel - poor racing strategy when things are full gas. I did climb well when I wasn’t cramping and finished without flatting, crashing, or having mechanical issues.

I trained way too hard (Metric Century, then 4wk FTP block, then 200 mile gravel plans - all with a week off between plans) for the result earned - but, that’s bike racing. Sometimes you have an off day. Race time - 10h:58min:59s good for 352/553 overall and 87/141 with 92 non-finishers in my age group.

In hindsight, I probably could’ve used another week between the 350mile and 35,000ft Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder and the BWR. I had some pop in the legs, but after that level resource depletion, also in very hot weather, indicated that I should’ve managed the fluids and electrolytes better during the BWR, and my CNS was probably still cooked.

Still, many positives to be recognized here. These were the first two races I have ever done and I was basically on the couch in 2017 nursing what I thought was a rotten knee from multiple injuries (currently I have no right ACL and am missing 80% of my right knee cartilage). Early in 2019, I was a phone call away from booking a knee replacement. I asked the orthos if there was any more damage that could be done and they said no. So I said f*it, I gonna start riding again. I just rode through the pain. After a cumulative 14,000 miles from 2019 to present, I am pain free, sitting at high school weight (dropped 40lbs in 3 years), and have never been more fit. That, my friends, is SUCCESS. Time to start thinking about next year. Tell you what, more gravel racing is my future. That is FUN FUN FUN.

Until next time, fellow Sufferlandrians. Thank you for your support and feedback!


Congratulations. AWESOME achievements and thanks for inspiring us.


Thank you Craig. I hope earn knighthood soon!

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With what you’ve just done you just need a little bit of KoS specific preparation (Prep plan highly recommended) and you’ll be at the Castle in no time!

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Congratulations! I read that you trained too hard. If you had to do it all over again, would you still have picked the 200 mile GG plan? I am doing a similar event with almost the exact same power profile that you have. It was like reading a post I had written :grin:

I have 26 weeks and was going to go with Century (or All Purpose Road) - off week - 100 mile GG. From your experience, would that have worked a little better? The 200 mile plan just looks huge for a race that is a good bit less than that. BBS has me finishing in roughly 9 hours.

If any of the coaches are listening, I can’t find any detail info on the individual plans to help me make a selection. Volume, % split of high/med/low intensity, focus area (low gear, surging, sustained power, etc). That would be pretty helpful.

Hey @jasonb ,
Each plan will be tailored to your rider type and weakness. You choose the volume you can handle, the mix of intensity density is going be a bit less than 20% over the whole plan with a mix of what you need during the event (low gear, surging, sustained power, etc) They key is your training availability and your recovery to absorb the training. Sounds like you are a good candidate to have a chat with a coach. If you look at the various plans available, you can preview each one based on your selections and see which one(s) would fit best for you. Hope that helps.


@jasonb Thank you! It was epic, no doubt. Both races were so different - except for the heat. They had that in common. And it was blisteringly hot. Mt. Sufferlandia hot. After more reflection and conversation with more experienced riders, the heat, and poor racing strategy, played a huge role in my excessive suffering.

As to your inquiry, yes, I would pick the 200 mile plan again but would do more yoga and strength training with a low (4hrs) to moderate (7hrs) cycling load in the preceding 12 weeks. (Note that the volume in the 200 mile plan has dropped after the move to SYSTM.) I’m a big proponent of reverse periodization (I work 50hrs/wk) and to make full use of our modest power profiles, we need to transfer as much of that power to the pedals as possible. To me, that means core strength and flexibility.

So, that’s what I’m doing this year. Here’s the plan:

  1. Full Frontal. Week with Neal. Week with Ian. Strgth1. (complete)
  2. MAP block (weakness), strgth1, adv yoga (in process).
  3. Unstructured week. Pro rides, random suffering. Start strgth2.
  4. AC/NM block (strength), strgth2, adv yoga.
  5. Unstructured week. Pro rides, random suffering. Strgth2.
  6. Full Frontal.
  7. Building block based on weakness.
  8. 200 mile gravel, strgth 3, adv yoga.

I’ve got my gravel stage race booked (5d, 350mi, 35,000ft) and will mix in some short gravel races during my 200mile plan.

I hope this helps. It’s all a grand experiment. Try to have fun with it and keep the life stress low. Oh, and ditto what Spencer said, you gotta nail the recovery. Cannot be emphasized enough.

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