Riding short distances is fun and very convenient since you’re close to home but nothing can replace the sightseeing of a long bike ride.
Long bike rides aren’t any different, but if you don’t know how to prepare for a long bike ride, you might be in trouble.
As fun as it sounds, no cyclist should jump on a bike and go straight for a long bike ride. I am not talking about the preparation of your saddle bag, food, drink, and other items.
I am talking about the physical preparation for your, probably first, long bike ride. Now, everyone has different abilities, and while 50 miles is a lot for some people, someone is trying to achieve 100 miles.
Therefore, in this post, you will find the best tips that will help you even ride out a Gran Fondo which is about 100 miles long.
6 Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Long Bike Ride
Build Up the Capacity
As mentioned earlier, no one can jump on their bike and go straight for a long bike ride. Instead, you should get on your bike and ride quite often to get in the routine.
Once you are comfortable with your bike riding routine, start increasing the distance gradually.
The worst thing that can happen if you don’t prepare adequately is burning yourself out too quickly. What’s even worse is that you will have to be baby sitted until the end of the ride by your group which is even more embarrassing.
The best way to build up the capacity is to increase your long rides by 30 minutes. Doing a combination of endurance training and high-intensity training will definitely help you build up the capacity relatively quickly.
Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
When you’re on the road, your diet is a direct fuel source and the better you fuel your body – the more you will be able to go.
Of course, by diet, I don’t mean for you to lose weight. Simply pay attention to what you eat on the road.
Also, it’s worth to mention that it’s all about the quality rather than the quantity. The best way to eat well on the road is to eat a lot of carbohydrates.
I can’t express how important it is to stick with the food you’re familiar and you’ve tried before. You can leave food experiments at home since the last thing you want to be is hungry.
Hydration isn’t only important during the ride, but also before and even after the ride. Staying hydrated is simple and yet it’s overlooked by most cyclists.
Also, don’t worry about the amount of water you drink. It’s all about the frequency. Taking at least a mouthful about every 10 minutes is good.
Get a Proper Bike Fit
In order to be the best and stay at your best – you have to be comfortable, and that’s something you can’t be unless you are properly fitted to your bike.
You shouldn’t try and fit the bike. The bike should always fit you. Of course, you can do your own bike fit, but I find getting a professional fit a very good investment.
This way, you won’t have to spend hours playing with your saddle height, changing stem lengths and such stuff – yet get straight to the point and get it done where you know it’s 100% right.
Dress According to the Weather
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but most cyclists make a mistake of grabbing their favorite kit and taking the bike on the road.
When you’re going for a long ride, you’ll be gone at least a few hours. Weather can change, and if you ride very long distances, even a change of location can affect the weather.
Also, you never know when that rain might hit, or even snow. Trust me, if you’re riding to the mountains, you never know with the snow.
When you aren’t sure what to wear, dress in layers. This way, you will be able to undress if you get too hot.
Know the Route
Knowing the route definitely helps in terms of knowing the distance, difficulty, and basically the route itself.
Of course, you might want to have a look at the location and things you might see & visit, but what I find to very helpful is knowing the difficulty (ascends & descends) of the route.
With apps such as RideWithGPS or MapMyRide, you are able to easily map your route and see helpful stats.
What most cyclists don’t know, especially cyclists that are new to riding long distances is that by keeping the cadence of at least 90 rpm, you are able to give your body an aerobic and muscular system break.
This way, you will be able to rest even while you’re cycling.
Bonus Quick Tips
If you thought this was useful so far, great – but I have plenty of quick tips left that will help you ride your long bike rides like a boss.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to change hand positions. Keeping your hands wrapped around the bar or fingers at brake lever for security for too long will make your joints, hands, and fingers stiff. It’s something you definitely don’t want in cold weather, trust me.
We all feel some sort of pain or ache on the bike, especially the long bike rides. If you don’t – wait until your longest bike ride so far. To relieve the neck shoulder which is quite common among cyclists (even if you are professionally fit for your bike), shrug for 5 to 10 seconds.
Standing up on your bicycle is one of the oldest tricks but it’s the most efficient one to help yourself when you feel sore in the back, bottom, and even legs. No, you don’t look childish doing it, and yes, you should do it for about 20 seconds and enjoy the rest of your ride.
Not knowing how to prepare for a long bike ride is very common and it’s nothing to be embarrassed by – and since you’re here, just know that you’re in a good place.
With these tips, you’re all set and ready for a long ride. Just remember, you can’t jump straight on the bike and go for it, thinking you’ll figure out everything on the go.
Give yourself time, improve your capacity, pay attention to your body and stay safe on the road!
Cover photo from Flickr by reid.neureiter