Just How Do You Prepare For A Long Cycle Ride?
Here are some top tips to make sure you are fully prepared to put your body to the limit. Here 15 tips to best preparation for a long cycle ride of 100 km or longer.
1. Build up your resistance
First and foremost the biggest preparation for a long cycle ride is to make sure your body is in a good enough condition to be able to deal with long distances. If you are body isn’t accustomed to riding long distances, and you jump in and do a monster ride your body will be incredibly sore. It’s important to build up your endurance. Say you were a complete novice at long riding, it’ll take several months to get into shape to best tackle a 100 mile ride.
Start with shorter distances and build up the time you spend on the bike. Remember also people it’s time spent on the bike rather going out all guns blazing and destroying yourself.
Vary training by mixing flat terrain with hill climbs will greatly improve your fitness. Here is an example of a training schedule to look at.
2. Refuel regularly
Depending how fast we cycle, we burnt between 600 to 800 calories in a single hour. That is serious drainage of our body’s resources. It’s important to eat and drink often, we recommend every thirty minutes on the bike to replenish the nutrients which have been lost.
Make Sure To Have:
- 2x 500ml bottles of water
- Energy Bars (Most energy bars contain 250 calories)
- Energy Drink Sachets – On average 20 calories in each sachet, effective way of replacing the lost electrolytes
- Caffeine Gel – Useful for a sudden boost when riding gets tough
3. Saving your Energy
Endless you are riding competitively, there’s no need to push yourself. There’s nothing worse than being completely knackered within the first stage of the ride. Leaving energy in reserve for the latter part of the ride or hills that coming up, is always a good idea. A good barometer is being at comfortable speed to hold a conversation is a good pace to be at.
4) Riding With A Partner
Having a partner or group of people along for the ride has two big benefits. Psychologically, it makes it easier. It takes your mind of how tired you are feeling, helping out each other getting to the end is certainly rewarding. Secondly, the more of you riding, the more protection you’ll create from the wind. Taking it in turns to ride at the front is the best way to do it.
Carbo-loading is perfect preparation for a long cycle ride as it delays fatigue by increasing glycogen levels in your muscles and liver.
The standard amount of glycogen we have in our bodies lasts for an activity of up to hour and half. Anything else you need to be thinking about carbo-loading. The classic saying I’ve hit the wall is when you have run out of glycogen.
Carbo-loading is all designed to make sure your glycogen stores are topped up enough so that your muscles can perform to their potential.
Starting two days before your ride is optimum, and resting during this time is the best thing to do. 7 to 12 grams per 1 kg of body weight.
6) What Should You Eat Before a Long Cycle Ride?
60 kg person you would aim for 10 grams per kilo. You would need 600 grams of carbs.
A typical day of carbo-loading for 60 kg person. Repeat this twice, 48 hours before your ride.
Half a litre of milk
Half a litre of juice
Rice/Potatoes and Fish
Piece of fruit
3 cups of pasta
1 and half cups of custard
7) Using A GPS
A long distance bike ride can get very demotivating. To mitigate against this, I’ve found using a cycling computer really helpful. Getting stats on heart rate, speed, distance and average speed is really motivating. It also gives you something to aim and beat for the next time you go cycling.
8) How Do You Pace Yourself On a Long Bike Ride?
Making sure your cadence RPM is around 90 is best for long distance rides. It’s scientifically proven that at this level, you are working your muscles and aerobic system at the most efficient level.
Selecting the right gear is crucial in maintaining the right cadence. Choosing the right gear before you take on an incline, is best for the bike and smoother on your body.
The best way is to take 15 second interval, and every time your hand is tapped by your knee at the top of the pedal stroke count. 15 = 60 RPM , 17-18 = 70 RPM. 20 = 80 RPM , 22-23 = 90 RPM , 25 = 100 RPM , 27-28 = 110 RPM.
9) Check the weather
Picking the right day to ride is sensible preparation for a long cycle ride. There’s nothing worse than cycling solo into a strong headwind uphill. But heck what about about downhill with a tailwind, I guess it works both ways!
Group cycling is best for fighting against adverse weather conditions.
10) Plan For the Worst Case Scenario
You never quite know what will happen. Getting a flat in the middle of nowhere is a real possibility. It’s best to be prepared, especially on those long rides out into nowhere.
What to bring on a long cycle ride:
- Two inner tubes
- Puncture plasters
- Alan key (Multi-tool)
- Bike oil for the chain
- Bike pump
- Cash, ID
- A towel
- Head torch
- Sun cream, leggings and a face cover to protect from the sun.
- First aid kit
11) Last Minute checks
12) The Bike set up
First and foremost, for those long rides getting the right sized bike is really important. For help on getting the right sized frame, check out your local bike shop.
The saddle height is the big one to get right. Too high and it won’t let you pedal with your full power on the downstroke. You’ll be reaching and this causes the pelvis to overtly turn and twist which in the long term will lead to back problems.
If on the other hand the saddle is too low, you aren’t maximising the energy you are using to pedal and puts pressure on the knees.
13) Clothing To Take On A Long Bike Ride
Having a mix between comfort and functionality is perfect preparation for a long a long cycle ride.
How do you choose the right helmet for you? There are so many choices in the market and here are some pointers. Spending more on a helmet generally speaking means you’ll get something much lighter. Secondly you should get more ventilation making it a more comfortable and cooler ride. This will depend in what climate you’ll ride in, as the warmer the weather the cooler you want your head to be.
As more and more money is being spent on helmets by manufacturers, they are also getting more aerodynamic year on year. Ask your local shop for advice on helmets which offer the least air resistance.
It’s certainly more comfortable with padded shorts. There is lots of choice in the shops, so find the best one for you. Find out here a review of the best ones.
Bugs and the wind are pains for any cyclist. The best combat to fight against this, is a protective pair of sunglasses. Allowing your skin to breathe is important as well. A good quality cycling jersey will help those hot summer rides more bearable.
A good quality pair of cycling shoes will allow you to generate more power as you cycle. We advise that the fit and function of the shoe is more important than the weight. Also bear in mind ventilation and also how easy it is to clean the shoe.
14) Being Visible
Being visible is crucial, especially as light starts to fade. Investing in good quality bike lights, front and back is essential. Making sure there are reflectors including a high-visibility vest is advisable.
You can get wet very quickly if there isn’t any cover available. Having a good quality rain jacket will make this more bearable.
15) Riding Frequently
Regular riding is the best to improve your stamina and fitness is ideal preparation for a long cycle ride. Incorporating riding into your week, whether that being cycling to work or making time in the evening for that 5 or 10 mile ride will soon make dramatic increases to your endurance.
16) What To Take If I’m Cycling and Camping?
Depending on the amount of things you want to bring, either just fix the back panniers or fix the front and back. They should be relatively easy to fix, if you are having trouble ask your local bike shop for help.
Bear in mind that not all bikes have the potential to fix front panniers endless it’s a fully equipped touring bike like the surly.
These are really useful for attaching the tent and anything too large to fit inside the bike bags.
Having the opportunity to cook your own food provides you flexibility and independence to not worry about getting food as the night starts to draw in. For some ideas on the best camping stoves check them here.
To keep the weight down, I opted for a one man tent. Here is a review of the best one man tents.