5 TIPS FOR LONG DISTANCE CYCLING

Toffee Insurance
4 min readJan 21, 2021

As a cyclist, there’s nothing like a long ride to bring a sense of accomplishment, for beginners and seasoned pros alike. Now if you’re relatively new to the sport or have yet to attempt anything longer than two hours, there’s no need to feel intimidated; successful, long-distance cycling often comes down to strategy and planning, and not just fitness.

1.PROTEIN ALL THE WAY!

Post-ride protein and healthy fats are great for recovery, but a heavy breakfast won’t do you any favours while on the bike. Protein and fat take longer to digest, and during especially rigorous rides, your body will be focused on fueling your heart and lungs, not digestion. So instead, top off your glycogen stores with whole grains and fruit. Try whole-wheat toast with a little almond butter and a banana-and-berry smoothie.

2.PEDAL SMART

If you want to last long on a ride, you can’t go all out right from the start. That includes pedalling in an efficient gear — one that isn’t too hard and won’t fry your legs. Opt for a slightly easier gear with a higher cadence versus one that’s lower because the pedals are harder to turn over.

3.USE THE RULE OF THIRDS

If a long ride still seems overwhelming, divide it into three more or less equal distances and have a plan for each of those segments: “The first segment should feel easy, just spinning along. During the second, you should start to feel your muscles working. If you have any jam left, show it in the last third. Nothing screams “rookie” like jumping away on the first climb only to bonk and need to be babysat to the finish,”

4.THE TREACHEROUS PATH TAKEN

Sure, it seems obvious, but the fact is you can’t always replicate race day in your training. Hills and wind are the scourge of many a rider, so when faced with one or both, don’t panic. Just drop as many gears as needed and focus more on maintaining your RPMs than your speed.

5.BODY GUIDES THE MIND

Cycling is a relatively low-impact sport … on your legs. But over the course of 50, 60 or 100 miles, you’re going to feel every bump on that road through your hands, shoulders, neck and butt. Invest in a good pair of padded shorts, and change your position and posture as needed to relieve pressure on certain areas of your body.

Provided you’ve been training, your mind’s more likely to break down than your cardio. It’s easy to feel frustrated or defeated when you’ve been biking for 25 miles and are only 1/4 of the way done. Push negative thoughts out of your head by focusing on the road in front of you, enjoying the scenery or singing to yourself — anything that’ll keep you going.

There’s no doubt these moments come to challenge even the most hardened of riders, and how you cope will largely define the success of your ride. So be prepared and accept that how you deal with the suffering will make a huge difference to your overall success during your epic adventure.

Before setting off have a good look over your bike to make sure everything is in working order. Do the tyres look ok, do they have any tears in them? How are the gears, are the chain or chainrings worn and do they need replacing? Don’t skimp on having your bike immaculate, as mechanical failures have been the death of many an epic challenge.

Remember to consider the spares you’ll need to carry for such a ride as well. Easily forgotten are extra chain links, a gear cable and some spare brake pads, amongst all the other essentials needed to keep you riding in the event of an unfortunate mechanical error.

It’s a classic saying and one you’ll have heard many times before — fail to prepare, prepare to fail. In the world of ultra-long-distance cycling, the chance of something going wrong with your equipment inevitably increases as you’re spending longer on the bike. Consider Cycle Insurance as a MUST HAVE when you head out for such rides. You never know what awaits you!

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