For both new and experienced cyclists, completing a long bike ride can be a euphoric experience. Hitting the two-hour mark is a significant accomplishment, but it may seem intimidating. However, it is possible for beginners to tackle longer rides with proper planning and preparation. By following some reliable tips, anyone with moderate fitness levels can feel more confident setting out on a longer ride.
Tips for Long-Distance Cycling
Use your pedalling power wisely
To preserve your energy during a long bike ride, it’s important to use your pedalling power wisely. While it’s tempting to go all-out at the start, it’s better to maintain an efficient gear that allows for a steady cadence and effort. Aim to keep your pedals moving smoothly and maintain a cadence of at least 90 RPM to avoid stressing your aerobic and muscular systems. While it may require patience, this approach will pay off later in the ride.
Fuel well and often
To maintain your energy levels during a long bike ride, it’s crucial to pay attention to nutrition and hydration before setting out. The amount of fluid you need may vary depending on the temperature and intensity of the ride, but as a general rule, aim to drink one bottle per hour. While you can add supplements to your water, plain H2O is what your body needs to sustain your effort. Additionally, make sure to eat regularly during the ride, taking a few bites every 20 minutes or so.
Opt for a carbohydrate-rich and easily digestible option.
While bacon and eggs may be a great post-ride recovery meal, it’s best to limit protein and fats before heading out. These nutrients take longer to digest and can be taxing on your body during the ride. Instead, focus on replenishing your glycogen stores by consuming whole grains and fruits before your ride.
Break your route down
To tackle the mental challenge of a long bike ride, break your route down into manageable segments. Focusing on each segment individually can help you stay motivated and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Develop a plan for each segment and be willing to adjust your goals if necessary. Remember, it’s okay to reassess and regroup if your energy levels dip or if unexpected obstacles arise.
Focus on RPMs
When faced with hills and winds during your ride, it’s important to stay calm and focused. Instead of fixating on speed, concentrate on maintaining your RPMs. Don’t hesitate to shift into lower gears to keep your wheels moving. Keep in mind that the wind will eventually shift and work in your favor, providing some relief.
Prevent aches and pains
To prevent aches and pains during longer rides, it’s important to move your body periodically. While leg pain is common, other areas can also become uncomfortable if neglected. To avoid this, change hand positions frequently, shrug or roll your shoulders, and stretch your legs by standing up and dropping one pedal to straighten your leg. Hold for several seconds before switching legs.
Don’t underestimate the power of the mind
Cycling is a test of both mental and physical strength. Your state of mind and body come with you on the bike, which can lead to feelings of frustration or defeat. Before heading out, commit to generating positive energy. Appreciate your surroundings, acknowledge the health benefits of cycling, and challenge yourself to reach the next rest point. Remember, you have the power to overcome negative thoughts and keep your mind focused on the ride.
Expect the best but be prepared for the worst
Although positive thinking is beneficial, longer rides carry an increased risk of incidents. It’s crucial to be prepared for potential issues by carrying the necessary gear. This includes equipment to fix at least two flat tires, a mini tool, a cell phone, identification, and some cash for emergencies. Remember, it’s better to have these items and not need them than to require them and not have them on hand.