If you are gearing up for your first long distance cycle ride or race then we have a few simple tips that can help you to prepare and be a pedalling pro in no time.
Practise makes perfect.
You can’t ride your bike to the shop a couple of times a week and then expect to easily ride for an entire day. You need to put in several weeks of training and gradually build up the distance that you are able to cycle for.
It can be hard to fit in an increased amount of exercise around your busy day, so be realistic about planning your training. Plan shorter but more efficient rides, cycle for an hour but at a constant quick pace. Sessions like this will help you to increase your fitness and mean that you will get the most out of shorter periods of time. Alternatively you can try interval cycling, such as high speed for three minutes followed by 15 minutes of moderate pace.
Don’t fight the hills.
They will happen, don’t avoid them. The more you train on hills the easier you will find it on the main day, plus it will help you to find out which gears work best for you when pedalling on an incline.
Not literally, but you should experiment with different riding positions that will help you to feel comfortable in bad weather situations. Many riders find it easier to get through patches of bad weather by making themselves more aerodynamic, such as by riding with their elbows tucked in close to their body.
Pump some iron.
Training on your bike is a big part of being race ready, but you can also add weights in to your weekly routines. Using free weights and kettlebells can allow you to work on large muscle groups and strengthen your core.
Find out what foods give you the most energy and stick to them, plus don't forget that what you drink is just as important as what you eat. On race day it is easy to be distracted and let yourself become dehydrated, which can lead to feeling tired, weak and unwell. If your ride will take you longer than an hour to complete then it is best to drink sports drinks as they are full of electrolytes (a.k.a the salts that you will have lost in sweat.)
Get your head in the game.
Cycling long distances can be tough mentally so set yourself small goals that help you to break down the day. Also remember to get lots of sleep in the weeks leading up to the main ride as this will not only help your body to repair physically, but it will help to keep you mentally refreshed. If you struggle falling asleep at night then try to avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the hour before bed.
Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or this is your first big ride, just remember to keep pedalling and enjoy the day! Cycling is a great way to keep fit and to enjoy the outdoors, so have fun.