When I returned from Spain, people at work asked how much I rode. When I said “about 33 hours over 8 days” (not counting the first day’s 45 minute spin), the common response was “I can’t imagine riding that much.” A few other cyclists even said that.
It does sound like a lot, but having done a number of these kinds of weeks now, my experience is that it’s quite amazing how quickly your body adapts. This is true for multi-day races like Superweek also. After the first couple of days you think there’s no way you can continue doing it, but then at a certain point it switches and you feel like you have to do it. Your body doesn’t feel right if you don’t go out and ride (or race).
I understand why the Grand Tour racers go out and ride for 3 hours on the race’s “rest days”. They feel worse if they don’t ride.
Coming back home, I had a full day of travel where I couldn’t ride. The next day though I was back outside again, riding for 2 hours. Then every day since then. Not at the same volume or intensity, but I wouldn’t feel right not riding (both mentally and physically).
I’m sure it helps that I have been riding for quite a few years now, and have built a pretty good base of fitness. I don’t think I’d tell a beginning rider to go ride 30 hours in a week. But I think even beginning riders can do a period of increased volume.
There are a couple of secrets to it: you have to back off the intensity to what you can ride every day. I’ve learned what happens when you ride too much at too high an intensity: you dig hole that’s hard to climb out from.
The other secret is that when you don’t have to work and can just ride, rest, eat … well, you can ride a lot more. So I just need to figure out how to solve that problem of needing to work.