That’s me in the background. My younger brother, Sean, is the fit triathlete to the left. To answer the question – I don’t quite know how to train for a bike race across the country.

I am a professor who spent most of my professional career behind a desk as a lawyer and, since going back to school to earn a Ph.D., teaching finance classes. But, without a little adventure, what’s the point, right? So I finally committed to the Bike Nonstop US, the 3,400 mixed-terrain cycle race across the United States. It starts four months from now, in late May.

Now what?

I have a colleague who likes to say that you can’t train to run a marathon by watching marathons on tv. Or by reading about running in a magazine. Or talking to friends about marathons. The only way to prepare to run a marathon, she points out, is to run.

To train to race across the country on a bicycle, you have to ride. A lot. I’m not sure how much riding is needed to prepare. But as much as possible is probably a good place to start.

When Peter Anderson, who won the TransAm bike race last year (another major cross-country cycling event), was asked about his preparation for the race, he said over the six months prior to the event, he simply increased his riding from 200 to 700 miles per week. It’s not as simple as it sounds.

I biked across Florida few weeks ago. And I have ridden about 367 miles in these first two weeks of the year. It’s not a bad start. But, much more is going to be needed.

I’ve broken my training down into three parts. First, I need to do long rides. Initially, I’m planning to do at least one, single-day, century ride (100 miles or more) each week in January. I’m planning to increase theses long rides through February, March, and April.

Second, I need to put in a lot of time with other training. Most of these rides will be on the indoor trainer, to avoid bad weather and log conditioning hours on the bike day-to-day. In January, I’m planning to do 100 miles per week on these shorter training rides.

Finally, I need to do strength training at least twice a week. I need to work on my core strength, my neck and back, and my leg muscles. I have access to a world-class fitness center at the university. I should be able to fit this work around my schedule fairly easily.

There you have it. I am not sure it will work. And I am confident, I will need adjust the schedule as we move through the next few months. But, it is a start.

But, something tells me this race isn’t going to just be a physical challenge. They say that ultra-endurance cycling is as much a mental game as physical. I’m going to need a good plan. Here’s my method for tackling this challenge.