Long Distance Rides Can be a Daunting Prospect
The definition of ‘long distance’ is an ambiguous one, and will always be completely different depending on your ability, fitness and free time. Nevertheless, getting on the bike with a particular milestone in mind can be a mental challenge just as much as a physical one, but there a few better feelings than pushing your body to its limit while the tyres beneath you eat up miles of gravel.
While you may have already achieved a distance you are proud of, getting comfortable is easier than trying to better yourself. With that in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for those looking to increase their cycling distance and achieve a ride you’ll be desperate to share.
Selecting and Packing the Essentials
Snacks for the Journey – It is absolutely vital to stay energised along the way. Before setting off, opt for a high carb, high protein breakfast such a porridge, eggs and fruit. Bringing snacks with you on your challenging adventure will also keep you fuelled throughout the day. For example good cycling food ideas include flapjacks, energy bars, bananas, and caffeine gels. Also, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated with water and energy drinks – replenishing fluids lost through sweat is essential in keeping the muscles working.
Suitable Clothing — When it comes to clothing, the most important thing to do is to plan what you are going to wear in advance. Check the weather forecast so you know what to expect. As a rule of thumb, however, opt for tight fitting clothes; baggy tops and outfits will act as a flag and slow you down significantly, while also making an already difficult physical activity that much harder. As always, waterproof gear for a wet ride, while shorts and sun cream for sunny, warm rides!
Long distance biking is a challenging, physically demanding sport. Days can be spent cruising through spectacular landscapes, but you’ll most likely be focused on the relenting full body exercise. Don’t let this intimidate you though. With some simple training suggestions at hand, you will soon be riding your bike for miles on end. Why not check out some of our many ‘training tips’ articles published over the past few months to get you started.
Pace yourself and Listen to Your Body – As you approach long distance biking for the first time, take it easy on your initial base sessions. Despite your ambitions to hit specific targets from the outset, it’s very important to make sure you are not overdoing it. If you start experiencing saddle sores, knee pains, and other feelings of discomfort, don’t carry on pedalling.
Stop, have a rest, and recharge to avoid unpleasant and unnecessary injuries. Do not fall into the trap of speeding through the first miles – it will take you a fair while to reach the level of fitness required to undertake such a ride, and going too fast will cause you to burn you out quickly.
Prepare Mentally – It is crucial that you stay focused along the way, deciding how to handle the more difficult moments of your ride. One way to prepare yourself mentally is to study the route, learn the hurdles and judge the intensity as you approach. This will give you a good idea about what awaits you – whether that is challenging terrain or nice flat roads.
Selecting a Route or Event
Start local, trekking on road you are familiar with and distances you can incrementally improve on to build up to longer and longer distances. Once you feel ready to take on another challenge, there are some fascinating tours you can sign up to in which to put your new skills to the test. Let’s browse some of the exciting British events taking place in 2022:
Winchester, Hampshire (March) – With two routes to choose from (101 miles or 44 miles), you can opt for the hilly tours that best suit your long distance biking abilities.
Tour of Wessex (early June)-Split into three stages, this quintessential countryside ride in the heart of Wessex will take you three days to complete. Cycle throu lanes while taking in the region’s history and tackling its curvy paths.
Dorset 300 (mid-June) – Fancy a 300km trip around Dorset? Both starting and finishing in the town of Sherborne, you can start your tour as soon as the sun rises around 5 am.
Welsh 500 (mid-August) – Two days of pedalling through the Brecon Beacons and Cambrian Mountains: what better way to enjoy your new hobby? Take a 500km ride and cycle through mesmerising valleys.