Now that you’re looking forward to a 30, 60 or 100+ mile bicycle ride, these five coaching tips will help you reach your goals; from having a fun day on the bike, to finishing towards the front of your age group.
Comfortable bike fit
We are all different shapes and sizes. Our inseam, torso, and arm length measurements mean some bicycles will fit us better than others. First, ask yourself, ‘Do I like getting on my bike? Does it feel good?’ Whether your answer is affirmative or hesitant, do yourself a favor and get a professional bike fit at your local bicycle shop. At a minimum, ask experienced riders for feedback on your cycling position.
Why does bike fit matter? A proper fit on a bicycle means being comfortable riding for hours at a time, the ability to handle the bicycle for control and safety, and ensures efficient pedaling dynamics for power output and longevity.
In advance hydration and nutrition
It’s impossible to give actual food suggestions when there are a variety of ketogenic, paleo and vegan athletes lining up. So instead, the fundamentals are as follows. Staying hydrated and sustained with nutrition is part of an everyday active lifestyle. Observe what your body needs to eat and drink on a daily basis to provide sustained energy and stick with these same habits working towards race day, having a substantial breakfast more than an hour before any big ride. Consume food and water early and often to avoid hitting a wall on your longer training rides. Drink 1-2 bottles of spring water or RO water with added electrolytes, and the equivalent of two bananas (200 simple calories) per hour while cycling on longer rides. Supported events have plenty of water, sports drink, fruit and other foods available so make sure to eat in advance and during. Happy eating means happy riding!
Training rides that simulate the event
Learn out about the road surface, distance and elevation profile. For assurance, train by practicing on hills of different gradients. Many cycling events, like the Giro di Paso travel for 30 miles or more without any stop lights, so if you’re used to riding in the city, you’ll want to find a road where you can practice an endurance pace - a steady pace you can hold for more than an hour. Discover your pace that is not too easy and not too hard. This will improve your speed over time. Practice with intervals of higher speed and then recovering at your current endurance pace. Your longest training ride should be at least 60% of the race day distance. Start easy and build. Too much too fast can cause pain. Stay within your capacity while still pushing constant improvement.
Training rides as described imply that you’ve tested all your gear so there are no surprises on race day. Ask your local bicycle mechanic to do a once over on your bike during the 10 days leading up to the event, leaving time to make any needed repairs. Install any new tires with enough time to test them before race day.
Practice bunch riding
On the event day, thousands of cyclists share the same roads. This is good news for the prepared! By leveraging the physics of the peloton traveling through space, aka, a group of cyclists riding together, one can travel further and faster while saving up to 40% of energy. How to be prepared: practice bunch riding! Reach out to a local cycling club and let them know you would like to learn bunch riding. Feel free to ask a fellow cyclist on the road if you can practice riding together and experiencing the draft phenomenon. A few main tips for drafting cyclists are to hold a steady line, use hand signals and voice to point out obstacles, protect your front wheel, and when you can do those things, take turns doing the harder work at the front.
On the night before race day, relax knowing you’ve already done the hard work in training. This way you can fall asleep trusting that you’re in good shape to enjoy the ride. If Perhaps you’re reading this the night before, with no prep time - just go have fun and remind yourself how glorious it feels to ride a bicycle.
Come join us for the 2016 Great Western Bicycle Rally! We've got you covered with massage, support and recovery stations.