Here are the top five things to know about long distance riding that I’ve discovered in my riding. These are things I personally learned about long distance riding, that are helpful to the beginner. Going on century rides takes some preparation in advance, but the feeling of accomplishment is very rewarding!
1. Do your homework!
Long distance bike riding isn’t something you just jump on your bike and do without some training. Before you attempt a metric century, or century ride, do some shorter rides first. Try 10 or 15 miles, and see how it goes. If everything is fine, then you can gradually increase the mileage.
2. On a long ride, the main thing that might hurt is your seat.
You need to put time in the saddle to get your rear end in shape. Okay, if you overdo it on the hills, maybe your legs. If you’re used to doing half hour rides, unless you do them every day, a six hour ride is going to hurt. Also, your neck and your back are going to get very tired. It really makes a long ride more enjoyable, if you work up to it.
3. Pay close attention to hydration
This is very important. Even if you aren’t feeling thirsty, force yourself to take a drink at least every 20 minutes or so. If it’s a hot ride, even more often. If you’re getting dehydrated, the first thing you may notice is leg cramping… believe me, I’ve been there. Carry a couple of large water bottles or a camelBak, and use electrolyte powder or tablets in them.
4. It’s as much a mental challenge as physical
When you are on a long ride and you’re tired, and the SAG wagon rolls around to see how you’re doing, it’s very tempting to bag it and take the ride. Don’t do it ( unless you are really feeling ill)!!! You will regret it immensely after the ride is finished. Slow down your pace if necessary, but keep going. You’ll be glad you did.
5. Eat high carbs before and during the ride
Breakfast before a long ride is not the time to eat a high protein meal. It will feel like it’s just sitting in your stomach. You need the carbohydrates to supply you with quick energy, and I even recommend eating a high card meal the night before the ride. Long well organized rides will have stops along the route where you can take a breather, refill your water bottles, and get some high carb snacks. Don’t skip these stops!! Take advantage of the food; if you feel yourself getting hungry on the ride, it’s too late. You’re already energy depleted. Eat something as soon as you can, and take it easy for awhile.
Now that you know a little more about long rides, and are fired up to try them out, check out some of the upcoming rides!