Ride Further: Top tips for taming long rides!

Did you make a resolution to ride your first 100-miler in 2020? Want to be able to hit the trails for longer? Or maybe you need to commute further than you used to?

Hitting new mileage personal bests isn’t just about how fit you are, but how well prepared you are and how you tackle the ride itself, as well as a few simple things which can make a big difference!

Check out our guide to help you ride further and have more fun in 2020!

Pacing

This is key! Needless to say, you need to pace yourself well to be able to ride longer than you’re used to.

Try splitting the ride down into thirds.

In the first third, you want to go a lot easier than you think – you may want to consider using something to prevent you going too fast. If you have a bike computer, set an appropriate speed, heart rate or power ceiling that you don’t let yourself go over.

If you don’t have a computer, no problem, just make sure you’re never excessively out of breath, and you at no point want to be thinking ‘this is hard’. If you’re with a buddy, make sure you can easily hold a conversation with them.

Think of it as going at about 4/10 effort.

How you approach the middle third depends on how the first third went.

You may think you’re ready to push on a little – if you do, err on the side of caution. Go a little faster than the first third, but again, set yourself a ceiling that you don’t go over if you use data.

No computer? Just make sure that you are never breathing excessively hard. The effort should still feel relatively easy. It’s far better to go a little too easy at this point and then give it all you’ve got at the end!

Aim for a maximum 6/10 perceived exertion.

In the final third, you can start to push on as hard as you feel appropriate, but don’t go crazy! Over a long ride, just a few minutes of riding too hard can make you hit ‘the wall’ where you totally run out of energy and feel like you’re grinding to a halt.

When you get into the very final section of the ride and are confident you can get to the end safely, then empty the tanks!

Nutrition and Hydration

What you eat and drink before and during your ride can be crucial to your success.

The key thing to remember when considering your nutrition is that carbs are king! A long bike ride is the time to ditch any low-carb protocol you may be following. Carbohydrate is your muscles’ primary fuel source, and you need to make sure that the fuel tank is full.

The night before a big ride, it’s wise to have a carb-heavy meal. This doesn’t have to mean a huge meal with three main courses and two desserts – just make it slightly larger than normal with a focus on good quality low GI carbohydrate such as brown rice, sweet potato, or pasta.

There’s no need to ‘carb load’ multiple days in advance, but if you’re going on a particularly long ride (say 6 hours or more) it’s wise to ensure all your meals the day before are carbohydrate-heavy.

The morning of the ride, again, get your carbs in! No need to go crazy, just think of it as a little top up of the feed you had the night before. It’s also worth including a decent portion of protein in the morning as this will give you a good slow-release fuel and support muscle function. Eggs, yoghurt, and nut butter are all great for this.

Great options for breakfast are oatmeal with yoghurt, or poached eggs on toast (avoid fried eggs that morning to help the meal digest easier). Check out more favourite breakfasts at our blog – The Best Breakfasts for Bikers!

During the ride, you want to eat little and often to keep those carbohydrate stores full.

For a ride of over two hours, you want to aim to eat around 60g carbohydrate per hour.
Not sure what 60g carbohydrate looks like? An average-size banana typically contains around 20-30g carbohydrate, and a flapjack or energy bar is typically around 40g carbohydrate. Other great on-bike snacks include dates, PB&J, and, of course, cake!

We find it best to have a little something every 30 minutes or so, i.e., two snacks of 20-30g of carbs per hour.

You also need to ensure you’re well hydrated before the ride, and that you keep drinking during the ride. Depending on temperature and preference, you should aim for 500-1000ml fluid per hour. Our Water Bottles can hold 680ml, so think one or two bottles an hour. Easy!

You can pick up our Insulated Water Bottles HERE

Starting fresh and prepared

Aim to have a few days off the bike before your big target ride. A few days of quality sofa time will allow you to top up your tanks with energy and ensure that your legs are nice and relaxed and fresh.

Equally important to ensuring you’re rested, the time off the bike will give you a little spare time to prepare. Put the time to use by figuring out your route (see below), ensuring you have all the necessary kit, and checking over your bike.

We prepared a video covering a quick routine for checking over your bike, which you can watch here.

It’s always worth giving your bike a more thorough check over too, if you have time. Follow our full safety check guide to ensure your bike won’t fall to bits when you’re far from home!

Routes

Needless to say, don’t take the hilliest route you can find! Keep it flat so you can clock up the miles relatively easily. Similarly, check the weather forecast to identify if there’s going to be a lot of wind and what direction it’s going to be blowing.

When you plan your route, try to ensure it takes you near some train stations for if you feel the need to bail out. Part of the worry of a ‘big ride’ is nervousness about finishing it – but knowing you have a ‘Plan B’ can help you relax and just enjoy the ride. Another alternative for a ‘Plan B’ is by riding in a big circle so that you’re never too far from home – meaning you can easily cut it shorter if you need to.

When you plan the route, try to ensure you pass a few places where you can stock up on supplies if you need to. And it needn’t be a fancy café – just a gas station is enough if you need some emergency water and sweets!

TOOLS!

No matter how well prepared you are on a ride, you need to be prepared for every eventuality – punctures, random mechanicals, slashed tires. You don’t need to carry too much to cover all bases though.

Check out the basics that we carry on every ride with our guide here

Great tools to see you through a long day on the bike include:

17-in-1 Multi Tool

Fix up loose bolts and adjust your bike fit on the fly with this portable tool kit.

CO2 Inflator

A quick and effective way to get your tires up to pressure if you get a flat tire.

Mini Bike Pump

Even if you carry a CO2 inflator, one of our light and compact bike pumps will serve as a great back-up.

Tubeless Tire Repair Kit

Riding tubeless? We suggest you carry this tiny repair kit for just in case the sealant fails!

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