Thanksgiving Challenge and Training Tips for Cyclists

Depending on your work and family schedule, you might have a few days off during Thanksgiving Week, or you might be fortunate enough to take the whole week off

Thanksgiving Challenge and Training Tips for Cyclists

Maybe you’ll be one of the millions braving the airports and highways, or perhaps the party is coming to you instead. I’ve always seen the week of Thanksgiving as a great opportunity to sneak in additional time on the bike, and here are 8 ways to make the week better.

Ride a Turkey Day Event

Just like communities have a lot of Turkey Trot 5k and 10k running events, there are plenty of themed group rides and races during the week and weekend. If you’re traveling and have access to a bike, these group rides are a convenient way to find a good route in a new city. If you can’t travel with your bike, consider renting one from a shop at your destination.

Ride to Dinner

This is one of my favorite ways to incorporate a big ride with travel. If your family is driving across town or a few hours to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, put your nice dinner clothes in the car and plan ride your bike to dinner. If your destination is a bit farther away than you want to ride (like a 6-hour drive…), then plan your route from a convenient drop off point along the way. If you’re not a huge fan of sitting around all afternoon with your relatives, this is also a good excuse to arrive later and get right to the good part… Thanksgiving dinner!

One additional benefit of riding to dinner, or just riding locally in the early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, is that the roads are empty. The opposite is true the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday. If there’s a day this week when you should ride indoors or take a rest day, Friday would be a great choice.

Create a week-long challenge

Over the years, I have issued specific Thanksgiving Challenges on this blog, and I think holiday-themed fitness challenges are a good way for people to set short-term goals that enhance their overall fitness and performance. Rather than construct one challenge for everyone, here are a few ways you can create the one that works best with your schedule or goals:

- Consistency: Aim to ride every day from today through next Sunday. The time and distance are secondary if this is the challenge you choose. You’re after consistency and the commitment to maintaining a routine.

- Distance: Mileage-based challenges are best for cyclists who aren’t going to incorporate other exercises into their week. The distance you choose should take the kind of riding you’re doing into account. If you’re only riding on the road, you can most likely cover more miles in a reasonable number of hours than you can on gravel or single track. No matter what you choose, aim for 1.5 times your normal weekly volume.

- Energy: For cyclists working with power meters, you can create a challenge based on kilojoules. Again, take a look at your normal weekly training kilojoules, and multiply by 1.5. Although calculations for caloric expenditure aren’t entirely accurate, athletes who do a variety of activities (cycling, mountain biking, cross training, hiking, etc.) can get reasonable data to use for setting a caloric expenditure goal for the week.

- Time: This is a great way to set a goal that takes into account different types of riding as well as other activities. If you normally train 8 hours a week, try to train for 12 during Thanksgiving Week. All types of exercise count.

Ride while Thanksgiving dinner is in the oven

If your house is the destination for Thanksgiving dinner and you’re doing the lion’s share of the cooking, consider doing your food prep early and scheduling a ride while the bird (or whatever your main dish will be) is in the oven. This strategy can be particularly useful for people who get stressed by the process of cooking and preparing for a house full of guests – even if they are treasured family and friends. The idea isn’t to take you away from the gathering if that’s where you want to be, but it’s an option to consider if you could really use a break before company arrives or you would benefit from the stress relief of a workout before spending an evening with your crazy uncle.

TrainRight Membership comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee!


Gran Fondo Guide fans, click on the image above and get TrainRight Membership for a 14 day no obligation trial. TrainRight Membership comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Protect your sleep routine

To avoid reaching next Sunday totally exhausted, make sure you protect your sleep routine during Thanksgiving Week. Try to avoid staying up late the night before traveling. If you are traveling across time zones, stay awake and get some sunshine if you arrive during daylight. If you arrive at night, keep your activities low key and leverage the fatigue from travel to get into bed and go to sleep. If you normally wake up at a specific time, try to maintain that schedule. And even though you might stay up late with friends or relatives one or two nights, try not to burn the candle at both ends all week.

Minimize grazing/mindless eating

Thanksgiving is a holiday that revolves around food, so you’re going to be surrounded by it all week. Try to maintain your normal eating behaviors, in terms of when and how much you normally eat, even if the foods change a bit because it’s the holidays. In other words, if you normally eat breakfast, have a small mid-morning snack, a light lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and then dinner, continue with that pattern instead of eating non-stop from 9:00am to 9:00pm.

Eat what you want during Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner comes once a year, nothing you eat or avoid eating is going to make a significant difference in the long run. If you are being conscious of (but not obsessive about) your eating behaviors the rest of the week, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and the people you are with. Adding the pressure of eating a certain way or avoiding specific foods isn’t necessary.

Ride indoors or off-road on Black Friday

If you decide to create a consistency challenge and aim to ride every day from today through next Sunday, I recommend riding on the road on Thanksgiving Day, and riding indoors or off-road on Black Friday. Roads are empty in the late morning and early afternoon on T-day, but roads are packed with inattentive and rushed drivers on Black Friday. Best to ride gravel or mountain bike that day.

If you manage to increase your weekly training workload during Thanksgiving Week, congratulations! Be sure, however, to consider both your training workload and the fatigue from traveling and lost sleep when you make training plans for the following week. In order to leverage the good work you do in this coming week, you have to rest and recover.

About CTS

As it has since 2000, Carmichael Training Systems leads the endurance coaching industry with proven and innovative products, services, and content. And the results speak for themselves; no other coaching company produces more champions, in such a wide variety of sports and age groups, than CTS.

For more information, please visit:

Tag: cts
Jan 25 2022 - NEWS: Cycling Group Rides: How to Stop Getting Dropped
Jan 20 2022 - NEWS: The Benefits of Caffeine for Cyclists
Jan 14 2022 - NEWS: 3 Best Indoor Cycling Workouts Under 60 Minutes
Jan 08 2022 - NEWS: New Year Goals: Sneaky Weight Loss Tricks That Work!
Jan 06 2022 - NEWS: Why Short Intervals Work for Improving Performance
Dec 23 2021 - NEWS: Cyclists’ Guide to Creating an Annual Training Plan
Dec 16 2021 - NEWS: Scott Mercier: Winter Training Tips from a Retired Pro Cyclist
Dec 09 2021 - NEWS: Best Cycling Workouts for Building Aerobic Endurances
Dec 01 2021 - NEWS: 2022 CTS Training Camps & Bucket List Events Are Filling Up Fast!
Nov 25 2021 - NEWS: Practicing Gratitude at Thanksgiving – and Year-Round
Nov 23 2021 - NEWS: Thanksgiving Challenge and Training Tips for Cyclists
Nov 18 2021 - NEWS: Winter Cycling: Training Outdoors Effectively, Safely, and Comfortably
Nov 12 2021 - NEWS: 3 Best Climbing Workouts for Sustained Power, Surges, and Accelerations
Nov 10 2021 - NEWS: Cycling Training: Making Intervals Longer vs. Adding More Intervals
Nov 04 2021 - NEWS: The Benefits of Caffeine for Cyclists
Feb 21 2022 - EVENT: Tucson Spring Training Cycling Camp
Mar 14 2022 - EVENT: Santa Ynez Spring Training Cycling Camp
May 04 2022 - EVENT: Brevard Road Cycling Camp
May 08 2022 - EVENT: Golden State Epic 2022
Jun 01 2022 - EVENT: Milan-San Remo Race Experience
Jun 28 2022 - EVENT: CTS Athlete House Camp Feat. Pikes Peak
Jul 19 2022 - EVENT: CTS Athlete House Camp Pikes Peak July
Aug 10 2022 - EVENT: SBT GRVL Cycling Camp
Nov 01 2022 - EVENT: Mallorca Fall Cycling Classic