You have been cycling for a long time now and have grown to really enjoy it. You have vacation coming up, so you decide to travel. But, this time you’re going the distance on your cycle. Your mind is set on a long distance bicycling vacation but you need to know how to get ready for the upcoming adventure you are excited to go on. This article is aimed at helping make your pre-ride training and planning easier and the ride as hassle free as possible.
PLANNING THE RIDE
- RIDE TYPE - The first and most important part of preparation, is deciding the type of ride you want. By the type of ride, we mean, whether you are doing it self-supported or you will be travelling with a support vehicle alongside you, and the duration of the ride. If you are gone for a shorter duration of time, say a day, you will have to carry less equipment and gear than you would have to if you were gone for weeks or even months.
- ROUTE - The next thing to work on is your route. Once you have a destination in mind, you will have to chart out the best possible route for you to get there. To do this, you can use a map, google maps or an online variant is suggested for it’s convenience. Keep in mind the terrain when you’re mapping out the route. It is always better to start out with smaller distances and increase the distance gradually. Note down towns and cities on your route for an idea of places to stop for rest, replenish your supplies and get food.
- PLAN HALTS - If you are cycling over multiple days, it is suggested that you don’t cycle during nightfall. Plan your route in such a way that you manage to get to a place where you can either camp or get some kind of accommodation to rest at for the night before you carry on, on your ride, the next day. These rest halts will be beneficial to you as well, it will help re-energise your body and give your muscles some time to repair and relax. You will feel stronger towards the tiring end of your ride with regular rest.
GEAR AND PACKING
- GEAR - You will need to carry spares for your bike on the ride, especially if it is over a period of multiple days or weeks. It is suggested that you carry a puncture kit, tyre levers, at least one spare tubes for your tyres, brake pads and brake cables. Also, carry a portable pump and a mini tool kit. Make sure you know how to use all of this to fix your bike, if something should go wrong.
- CLOTHING - Wear comfortable clothing on your ride. Padded cycling shorts is of utmost importance. It is important to keep a few pairs of properly padded cycling shorts or pants with you on your ride. The amount of clothing you carry will entirely depend on the duration of your ride, but remember to carry only what you need. Clothes can be washed out and reworn during the course of a longer ride. Extra clothes add to the weight you carry which will just slow you down. Carry and wear gloves. Gloves will prevent your hands from friction against the handlebar. Choose your clothing depending on the weather in the areas you are going to be riding through. Carry a jacket or warm clothing layers if you are riding in the cold. Full fingered cycling gloves are available in the market and will keep your hands warm in cold areas. Always wear brightly colored clothes or a reflective jacket while you are riding. Especially on highways and during times of low light and visibility. Always wear a helmet.
- PACKING - Pack your clothes, gear and additional food that you may be carrying in your saddle bags. If you are carrying two bags, balance the weight between each bag so that it is equal and doesn’t tip the bike to one side when you ride. Pack with some order so that you remember where you put what and don’t have to unpack everything each time you need something. Carry only things you consider essential to your ride. Avoid extra weight.
PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES
- Always be prepared for emergencies. Keep some money with you, in a pouch under your jersey or under the soles of your feet, just in case you lose your things on your ride.
- Keep your important documents, such as your ID, passport, bank documents and anything else you may be carrying, on person at all times. Carry only what is necessary.
- Carry something with you that has your essential details such as your name, an emergency contact number and your blood group on it. Keep this in an easily accessible and visible area.
DURING THE RIDE
- BREAKFAST - Always eat breakfast before you start your ride. Fuel your body with carbohydrates before you start out for the day. This will help you keep up your energy levels. Never skip breakfast, doing so is like beginning the ride with exhaustion.
- WARM UP - It is suggested that you stretch your body and warm it up before you get on your bicycle for the day. A few stretches and some light on the spot jogging should do the trick. It will warm your muscles up and prepare them for the long day ahead of you.
- SET AN EASY PACE - Pace your ride. You will have a lot of energy in the morning and want to speed your way through the day. But, do start out at an easy pace and maintain that. Doing otherwise could result in an energy drain by mid-day leaving you struggling with the last leg of your ride for that day.
- BREAK REGULARLY - Take regular breaks while you are riding. Depending on your distance stop every 30 kilometres, this will give your body a little time to relax and rest. Stretch during these breato ease up your muscles. Take this time to check your cycle and the tyre pressure.
- HYDRATION AND FOOD - Keep a stock of quick and easy-to-eat food with you while on the ride. Eat something small (a few dried fruits and nuts, an energy bar etc.) every half an hour to avoid getting exhausted. Do not wait to get hungry to eat. Drink a couple of sips of water every 10 minutes. Don’t wait to feel thirsty before you drink water. Keep your body well fuelled and hydrated for a strong ride. Carry and drink electrolytes every half an hour or hour to prevent extreme dehydration and energy drain.
- POST-RIDE - Once you have reached your destination for the day, make sure you drink lots of water and top your body up with at least a bottle of electrolytes. This will aid in repairing your muscles for the next day’s ride. Eat a hearty meal of 4 portions of carbohydrates to 1 portion of proteins. If you are riding the next day, get your things in place for the next day, go over your route for the next day, check your bike once and most importantly… get enough rest!