Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a professional to tackle long distance cycling – you don’t even have to have much experience! Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of some of the more important elements of such a trip. On this note, here are the top tips that you should follow for a smooth long distance cycling journey:
1. Build Up Your Endurance
If you have been cycling for years, it is easy to imagine that covering a bit more distance shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, you may be covering 40 to 60 miles each week. When you think about it, though, being able to break up this distance into smaller segments can help you quite a bit.
This is largely because you get to rest in between your rides. You may spend hours in between either sitting down or engaged in another task completely. With a long distance ride, however, you will spend hours on your bike with no reprieve.
This is why according to Hunter Allen in Cycling Weekly, you should try two different training approaches. The first is where you go on increasingly long rides. This will help with stamina and staying on a bike for longer periods.
The other involves medium length rides where you change up the tempo. Here, you ride with a speed that requires at least 90 percent of your power. Do this for around fifteen minutes at a time. Then, slow down for a period until your heart rate is back to normal. Then, kick it up to maximum power again.
Continue like this for the duration of your ride.
2. Find the Right Gear for You
While you are building up your endurance, you should use this time to figure out which gear is most comfortable for you. On long distance cycling trips, don’t worry about opting for an easier gear. Doing this actually helps you to complete your trip more efficiently.
After all, the last thing that you need is to have to make too much effort to push the pedals. Doing this will only sap you of energy, slowing you down. And, it will make for a less comfortable ride too.
Therefore, experiment and figure out which gear is easiest for you to work with. Then, as long as you are on a flat road or surface, stick with it!
3. Work On Your Posture
With shorter rides, you will not feel the effects of poor posture as much. When it comes to spending hours on a bike, without rest, you are definitely going to regret not learning the right way to sit on a bike.
Here are the top things to keep in mind:
First, keep your elbows bent and relaxed. They should be tucked into your sides. Doing this will take stress off your shoulders and hands. At the same time, this position will allow you to absorb the impact of any potholes or other obstacles in the road.
The next point to remember is to keep your knees in line with your foot. If you ever find your knees facing outwards, turn them inwards so that they are moving directly above your foot. This will help you to avoid knee pain now and later on.
Somehow when you are on a bike, your shoulders will automatically move up to your ears. Unfortunately, this only creates stress and tension for your shoulder. What you need to make sure of is that your shoulders are relaxed at all times. Do yourself a favor and keep checking their position frequently.
Another thing that appears to happen when you are cycling is that you become hunched over. However, it is important that your back is as straight as possible. This will provide you with stability. Furthermore, when you are going up a hill don’t arch your back backwards. Instead, keep it straight.
4. Invest in a Good Bicycle
If you are new to long distance cycling, then there is a good chance that your bike isn’t really equipped for longer journeys. Therefore, it is a good idea to consider buying a new bicycle, one that can help you tackle the road ahead.
This is especially important if your bike is pretty old. The last thing that you need is for your bike to give out in a remote area.
Consider this bike an investment – one that is not only going to carry you safely and comfortably on this trip as well as many others. Conrad Kühn from cyclingglobal.com breaks down just which bike brands you should add to your list.
If you are looking for an excellent road bike, then Tommaso Bikes is your top option. In case you are looking to balance quality and budget, then Fuji bikes is your go-to brand. In the event that price isn’t an obstacle, then Orbea Bikes can be included as well.
5. Plan Out Your Trip
If you imagine that simply glancing at a cycling map app or Google maps will be enough to prepare for your trip, think again! Even if you are headed out onto fairly straightforward, flat roads, it still doesn’t mean smooth sailing for you. It is important to know exactly what to expect.
This means taking a close and careful look at digital maps, complete with real-time photos. This will give you a better idea of what kind of terrain there is. You will also have the chance to make a note of eateries, rest stops, shelters, etc.
It is also a good idea to check out other cyclists’ accounts of that routes as well. They will be able to provide interesting insight and can add a warning or two.
6. Prepare Yourself Mentally
Last, but certainly not least, it is important to prepare yourself mentally. It is easy to get caught up in the physical aspect of the journey and not think about the mental one. However, when you are on a seemingly never ending road, the experience can become quite unnerving.
You can find yourself getting bored or your mind may begin to wonder. If you aren’t careful you will feel mentally numb after a while. Therefore, you need to get into the habit of bringing yourself to the present.
Enjoy the scenery around you and take note of various features. If there are other cyclists or vehicles around, make sure that you concentrate on where they are at all times. And, when you need one, stop and take a break.
These are the top tips to remember when headed out on long distance cycling. They will work to make the journey safer and much more comfortable as well. Heed them well!