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Charlie Livermore’s ESR training plan

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all our riders, as well as joins us in riding 500+ miles in July. Here’s what he has to say about training for the Empire State Ride. 

Hi everyone, Coach Charlie here.

I’m happy to announce that the 2022 ESR Training Plans are now available on the website.

The fitness and experience level of Empire State Ride cyclists is broad. As a coach, I’ve been challenged to provide the right advice for this wide a range of riders. The training load necessary for an advanced rider is too much for a beginner and the correct dose for a beginner will not help the advanced rider.  

In an attempt to better serve all of you I divided the group into separate categories and created three versions of the training plan.

  • Advanced Rider Plan
    The advanced rider plan is designed for cyclists that ride all year around and cycling is their primary sport. These cyclists can easily tackle the distance of the ESR. Their goal might be to ride the 540 miles at the highest average speed they can achieve every day or use the training stimulus of a big volume week to prepare for another event goal. The average speed of this group is generally in the 18-20 MPH range.

  • Intermediate Training Plan

    The intermediate rider plan is also designed for cyclists who ride all year around. These riders won’t have a problem tackling the distance, but it will be a significant challenge. The average speed of this group is generally in the 14-16 MPH range.

  • Beginner Rider Plan
    This group of riders are either brand new to cycling or usually start training in the spring and summer months just to prepare for the ESR. Average speed of this group is generally in the 10-12 MPH range.

The biggest difference in these plans is the start date and therefore the length of the training plan. For Beginners I stayed with the original 22-week plan since most of those in this category don’t have an indoor training option and can’t ride outside until spring due to weather conditions. The Intermediate and Advanced assumes you have an indoor training setup or can ride outdoors.

Before you begin, familiarize yourself with the Summary of the Cycling Workouts (Table 7.2) and the corresponding Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and Breathing Rate (BR) (Table 7.1). Understanding RPE and BR are especially important to ensure you’re working at the correct intensity of the prescribed workout.

For those of you who are looking for a plan customized to your specific schedule and goals, contact me for a free coaching consultation at

The Training Plans

Train Right

Whether this will be your first ESR or you are an experienced multi-day event rider you’ll benefit from following one of the structured training plans described above.

Preparing your body for the challenge of riding 500+ miles isn’t just about riding more. You’ll achieve a better level of preparedness with quality training over quantity. Anyone can do the Empire State Ride, even a time-crunched athlete can feel confident at the start line if they train right. It can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the sport, but if you follow the right training plan for you, I am confident you’ll be ready for ESR 2022.



Warmups can vary depending on the daily workout, but you want to do at least 15 minutes of conversational pace riding before you start any high intensity interval workout. The warm up period may be anywhere from 15-30 minutes, but it’s more important to focus on the precise execution of the intervals than getting in exactly 15, 20, 25 or 30 minutes of a warmup. For example, you can use your warmup to get to the best place on the road to start your intervals. For this reason, workouts will be listed with a total duration that is longer than the total time of the actual intervals.  After you warm up and complete the intervals, complete the remaining prescribed time of the at an easy endurance pace.




Intensity levels can be measured via Power, Heart Rate or (RPE). I prescribed all workout intensities based on (RPE). RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion. It’s a very simple measure of workload to determine how hard you feel you are exercising. In a training setting, the RPE scale is from 1-10 (1 being no exertion and 10 being a maximum effort). Each workout has an RPE associated with it to help guide you to the prescribed intensity. To use this scale, you need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with each workout. Below, Table 7.1 Workouts, RPE and Breathing Rate lays it all out.





Recovery Miles (RM)

Recovery Miles is exactly that. It’s needs to be very easy to allow you to recover from previous workouts. They’ll range anywhere from 40 – 60 minutes and should be substantially easier than Endurance Miles. It should be 2-3 on an RPE scale and have a frequency of 2-3 times per week.


Endurance Miles (EM)

This is the intensity that much of your riding time will consist of. Many people refer to it as their forever pace, but it’s also the time around your interval sets. Theses rides should be a 4-5 on the RPE scale and range from 90 minutes to 6+ hours. Your speed will vary with uphills and downhills but remember to keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) the same. Going uphill at the same speed requires more work, which can turn your Endurance Miles into Steady State quickly.

Tempo (T)

Tempo workouts are that pace between your Endurance Miles and lactate threshold. These workouts help develop a stronger aerobic engine by maintaining an effort outside of your comfort zone. They should be a 6 on an RPE scale and range from 15 – 45 minutes for each interval. Be very careful that you don’t let your intensity level get into your lactate threshold. It’s very easy to let it creep up, but faster doesn’t always mean better. You need to be able to sustain that pace for longer periods of time to get the best adaptation.

Steady State (SS)

Steady State are probably the most well-known of these workouts. They’re a very important part of training and are very strenuous. They should be done at or slightly below your lactate threshold at an RPE of 7-8. These intervals are shorter than Tempo because of the intensity involved. Each interval ranges from 8 to 20 minutes and has a 2-to-1 recovery ratio. A typical workout may look like 3×10 min with 5 minutes of active recovery between each interval.


Power Intervals (PI)

Power Intervals are short, extremely strenuous intervals that help develop your VO2max. They last 1 to 5 minutes at an RPE of 10. Warming up before these is even more important so make sure to get in 15-30 minutes of conversational riding before you start the intervals. The recovery period is 1 to 1, so 1-minute intervals have 1 minute of active recovery.


Here is the summary of the six key cycling workouts.




Fast Pedal (FP)

This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road or on an indoor trainer. The gearing should be light, with low pedal resistance. Begin slowly and increase your pedal speed, starting out with around 15 or 16 pedal revolutions per 10-second count. This equates to a cadence of 90 to 96 RPM. While staying in the saddle, increase your pedal speed, keeping your hips smooth with no rocking. Concentrate on pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top. After one minute of Fast Pedal, you should be maintaining 18 to 20 pedal revolutions per 10-second count, or a cadence of 108 to 120 RPM for the entire amount of time prescribed for the workout. Your heart rate will climb while doing this workout, but don’t use it to judge your training intensity. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the Fast Pedal workout with as few interruptions as possible, because it should consist of consecutive riding at the prescribed training intensity.


Rest Between Intervals (RBI)

This is the rest time between each interval. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBI period.


Rest Between Sets (RBS)

This is the rest time between sets of intervals. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBS period.



Here is a typical Steady State (SS) Interval Workout:


60min w/ 3x6min (SS), 3min RBI


All workouts start with the total time. In this case it’s 60 minutes. Within the overall time there is a specific interval set of three intervals. Each interval is 6 minutes long at the Steady State (SS) intensity and the rest between each 6’ interval RBI is 3’. The total amount of time of the interval set is 24’. So, what to do with the remaining 36’? Use some of the time before the interval set to warmup and ride the remaining time, less 5’ for a cooldown, at Endurance Miles (EM) intensity.



Now that you have a training plan and a basic understanding of the fundamentals, it’s time to get started! If you’re interested in learning more about a personalized plan, you can reach out to me at

Cycling safely when alone or in a group

Empire State Ride is a cycling adventure for those who commit to advance cancer research from the seat of their bike. To have the best possible experience, whether you’re riding across New York State or in your hometown, staying safe on the road is imperative.


Safety tips:

Make left turns from the center of the road or the left turning lane.

  • Do not cross the yellow center line regardless of the passing zone.
  • Cross railroad tracks at right angles to avoid getting stuck between the rails and the road.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink before you are thirsty during and after your ride.
  • Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin. Follow these five tips to find the right SPF.
  • Know your limitations.
  • Listen to your body. Take advantage of rest stops and lean on our team for support when you need it.

When riding in a group, your fellow riders will expect you to ride at a consistent speed and direction until you signal and communicate your change. Practicing cycling etiquette helps to eliminate crashes and injuries.


Cycling Etiquette tips:

  • Obey all traffic signs, signals and police officer instruction.
  • Ride as far to the right of the road as is safely possible, except to pass.
  • Use proper hand signals when turning.
  • Be aware of your surroundings — This adventure takes place on open roads. Motor vehicle traffic will be present. Headphones, iPods and radios are prohibited.
  • Wear a properly fitted CPSC standard bike helmet and appropriate cycling gear. A helmet must be worn at all times while riding. Find out how to properly fit your helmet here.

Now you are ready to take the open road and enjoy your Empire State Ride.

Additional resources:

In the meantime, here are a few more tools to help you familiarize yourself with basic cycling safety and etiquette. Enjoy these videos provided by the League of American Cyclists:

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