As a cyclist, there's nothing more fulfilling than taking your bike for a long ride outdoors. Now, if you're relatively unseasoned compared to others or have yet to try anything longer than an hour, then there's no need to feel intimidated about it. A successful long-distance ride always involves proper planning and strategy to make it work-- and not just your fitness.
Although every pro cyclist would agree that long bike rides require a specific level of endurance, you can always work on it at your pace as you gradually build the intensity and distance of your rides. So, if you spend two hours every week on your bicycle, you can add about 30 minutes to each trip over eight weeks. In that way, you can surely get yourself ready for a century ride. Adding more time to your bicycle rides can help you train for long-distance cycling.
As a beginner cyclist, we know that you want to survive your first 50-mile ride. So, to help you reach your goals, here are a few tips that can help boost your endurance.
Joining long bike rides is as intense as any other physical activity. That’s why you need to fuel yourself with enough carbohydrates to help your body store enough glycogen to last you for at least 90 minutes of hard labor. If you’ll be doing it, ensure that the key races will last longer than 75 minutes. Meanwhile, races that last for 90 minutes will require on-bike fueling while those that last for 36 to 48 hours will require you to consume up to 10g of carbs per kg per day
Here is a sample diet that you can do for a 70kg athlete:
A bowl of oatmeal (60g)
One banana (25g)
A tall glass of favourite juice (25g)
Two slices of bread with jam (45g)
500ml smoothie ( bananas, mango, pineapple ) (40g)
Four slices of bread with any of your favorite filling (50g)
Slice of apple pie (35g)
One can of cold lemonade (35g)
Watermelon smoothie (20g)
Cereal bar (30g)
A large bowl of pasta with sauce (80g)
Three slices of bread (50g)
Two glasses of juice (35g)
Two Chocolate muffins with jam (70g)
500ml smoothie ( banana, blueberries )(40g)
Total: 630g (equivalent to 9g per kg/ day)
So that you can achieve the best results, it’s best to periodize your carbohydrate intake for your entire race-preparation training block. You should also carefully plan what you eat instead of gorging on sweets and starchy meals. Overeating will only cause you to bloat and negatively affect your performance.
Foods such as rice, sugary cereals, potatoes, jams, and pancakes are perfect if you want to increase your carbohydrate intake. If you’re not into these meals, then choose foods that can provide you with the highest level of carbohydrates in the smallest volume possible.
Aside from loading yourself up with carbs, you also need to think about the gears that you need to wear for the event. Wearing a bike jersey is perfect, especially if it’s made of light material. Wearing one can stave off even the worst of elements and can easily fit in your back pocket when it’s hot.
Although bike shorts may look weird on a road bike, there are ones that have inbuilt padding that can help you feel comfortable even on a long ride. So if you decide that Bibs and Jerseys are not for you go with padded shorts. When wearing bike shorts, ensure that it the right panel construction, padded liner, longer- cut legs and leg gripper and the right waist style.
On the other hand bib shorts are the go to choice because of their comfortability. Believe it or not, but you can get faster with a well fitted bib and jersey set, because you become more aerodynamic and have less wind resistance.
Thermal underlayers are also perfect, especially if you’re braving the winter roads ahead. Cycling tights can cover the entire legs and often includes weather-resistant front panels. If you want to layer it, you can mix it with some tights and knickers, too. Meanwhile, others choose a cycling jacket to keep themselves warm, especially when it’s raining.
Wearing the right shoes and socks is also a must, especially if you want to get a grip on the trail. For rainy rides, wearing either shoe or toe covers can ensure that your toes will stay warm for the entire ride. Meanwhile, bike socks made of merino wool can help wick away perspiration and dries fast. It’s a perfect pair of foot warmers for any unexpected storm.
Other accessories items that you can wear are caps and arm/leg warms, which are perfect for winter rides. These pieces of clothing can help you get insulated even in the coldest of season. You can also wear gloves with short-cut fingers to help provide your hands with a little warmth.
Pedal Smartly- If you want to make sure that you last long on your first 50-mile ride, you need to reserve your energy as much as you can. Going all out from the start will only drain and fry your legs. So, choose a slightly easier gear that has higher cadence instead of selecting a lower one because the pedals are more difficult to turn over. If you maintain your cadence to at least 90 RPM, you're not going to strain your legs.
Get energized- When you're out on a long ride, it's best to eat and drink lots to sustain your energy. You need to drink at least one bottle every hour, depending on the effort that you exert as well as the heat. A much better option is to have an electrolyte-rich drink to get you going throughout the day.
Aside from getting yourself hydrated, it's also essential to take a bite or two every 15 minutes to get the right nutrition. Remember that consistency is crucial when it comes to long-distance riding. So, if you're out for longer than two hours, you need to plan a stop on a corner so that you can refill your bottles and grab a snack.
Remember that achieving long-distance travel is about endurance. You need to work at your own pace and gradually increase it as you go. If you can still talk with your fellow cyclists, then the speed isn't probably a concern. If it becomes a struggle to even complete your sentences without sucking in a lungful of air, try to slow down a little and relax.
You can try dividing your ride into three equal distances and have a plan for each segment. The first part shouldn't be difficult since you're just spinning along the trip. But once you reach the second part, you should start feeling your muscles aching. Although it can be discomforting, put all your energy to the last third until you reach your goal.
As with most activities, long-distance bike rides are fun when done with friends. Not only does having a company make your trip more enjoyable, but it can also help you when dealing with the brunt of the wind, too.
Sticking to a group can help everyone face headwind stretches as each takes a turn at the front. Once your turn is over, you can ask one of your friends to get to the friend. Doing so allows everyone to maintain their pace as a group and help them conserve their energy.
You'll never know what's going to happen while you're on the road, especially during long rides. That's why you should get yourself ready regardless of what might happen while you're on the road. At a minimum, you can put all the tools that you need to fix your bike in your seat post bag. Don't forget to charge your bike lights the day before, no matter if you ride day or night, extra safety is never too much. You should also have your cell phone fully charged, too. Also, never forget to bring some cash, as well as your ID.
Sitting for hours can cause you to experience small aches and pains as you maintain your upright position for the entire duration of your ride. So, remember to change your riding position now and then to make the trip less discomforting. You can try moving your hands from the top of the bars to the hoods so you can flex a few of your muscles. Also, try to stand occasionally so that you can stretch your legs.
Aside from taking your bike out for a ride, there are other ways to help build your resistance for the upcoming long-distance cycling. One way to do it is by concentrating on your leg muscles by making lunges while holding onto free weights. Do at least 50 repetitions for each leg to develop your performance. You can also use leg machines that have weights similar to the amount of resistance that you need while you pedal.
You need to learn how to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. When you get stressed out, you tend to breathe raggedly, which can distract your pedal stroke.
If something unexpected happens, such as a mechanical problem or a strong headwind, focus on your breathing, and try to relax for at least a minute.
Lastly, you need to get a bike suited for long travels. If you haven't had a chance to have a professional bike fit before, then now is your time. Speak with a shop mechanic and tell him that you'll be doing long-distance biking. A typical bike fit for ultra-distance values comfort more than aerodynamics. So, it might feel a little different than usual.
You need to pay close attention to your body's points of contact and see if there is any discomfort around these parts. Using a bike that isn't meant for long rides would only feel uncomfortable, painful at most.
Training for a long bike ride requires tedious planning and a couple of endurance exercises. You need to prepare yourself both physically and mentally to finish it successfully. Remember to get everything ready the night before so that you wouldn't be cramming the day of your ride. Most importantly, relax and enjoy everything.
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