There’s little that can beat the beauty and simplicity of cycling, but you need to prepare well so you have a stress-free ride says Deepthi Velkur.
A good long ride with the fading sun warming your back and the cool wind in your face is probably one of the most gratifying cycling experiences there is.
Amateur and relatively seasoned cyclists alike, dream big of achieving the “century ride”- a distance of 160.9km (or 100 miles). There is nothing quite like the feeling you experience riding through the most scenic locations on two wheels. Despite the tired legs and weary back, you put in that little extra to discover new lanes, explore new places and create new memories on each ride.
As you start preparing for that long-distance ride, I would like to put out a couple of words of caution –be prepared!
Any such endeavour requires you to have great stamina, thorough planning, and strong mental courage. This can be achieved through high-level endurance training (core, flexibility, and muscular strength) as well as building your aerobic and lactic acid capacity that will help tackle those long gruesome rides effectively.
I have a few simple suggestions that will be of help to make the most of your rides.
Set clear goals:I have mentioned this is in several of my articles and I cannot stress the point enough – setting small and realistic milestones always comes in handy in achieving your end goal. It is equally important to re-visit your goals every few weeks and make alterations till you achieve what you’ve set out for.
Training week: For endurance cycling, building your base fitness is important. Your training regimen should include interval training two to three times a week, strength building exercises every other day and stretching post training to improve flexibility and stiffness.
Build your aerobic threshold by going on long rides at a steady and low-intensity pace twice a week. Going the distance is all about endurance and that is in finding an optimal pace – keep your threshold level at approximately 75% of your maximum heart rate. Invest in a good heart rate monitor to get a more precise reading.
Beat bonking: Start with a good breakfast that includes lots of carbs and less protein especially on training or event days. Carry enough food and water with you on your ride and adjust your intake of food depending on how far out you plan to ride.Eat that little something one hour into your ride and every 30-45mins thereafter. Refueling with a drink or meal containing 1:4 ratio of protein to carbs will speed up recovery by quickly replenishing glycogen stores to avoid the dreaded bonk.
A pair of good padded shorts: Cycling is fairly a low-intense sport and over the course of 80, 95, 160 kms it is not that your legs will tire out but you will begin to feel every bump on the way through your neck, shoulders, hand, and butt. Investing in a good pair of shorts with lots of padding and by changing your posture and position every now and then, helps relieve you of aches and pains in certain areas of the body.
Mind over matter:Unfortunately, it is our mind that usually gives up first. Imagine how frustrating it is when you have been riding for a while and covered 1\4thof the distance. Fear not, train well and push negative thoughts away – just focus on the ride ahead. Going on long rides work best with a group of friends as you tend to go faster, conserve energy and focus better.
Divide the distance by two: No matter what distance you’re aiming at covering, the best approach is to divide the distance as two halves. The first half is usually easy and will seem like your spinning along while the second half will have your muscles working hard. During this half, please do not forget to refuel when required. Push yourself harder this time to achieve the best results.
Watch the winds and foresee trouble: Winds can favor your ride or work against you. If you start out with a tailwind, roll easy and you’ll face with the headwind on your way home. When riding in a group, stay together during headwind stretches as each of you can take turns at the front sheltering the ones behind. Carrying emergency gear on your ride comes handy if you need to fix anything on your bike.
Adding a few of these tips in your preparation will bolster the training and help you achieve a comfortable, satisfying ride. Have fun!