5 tips for tackling a long-distance ride

What you need for an adventure ride from record-breaking ultra-cyclist Sean Conway

Get to know your bike before you set off

Sean Conway, the record-breaking endurance-adventure cyclist, talks us through the essentials you need for tackling a long haul ride.

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1. Break in your bike

Ahead of a ride stretching over days or weeks get comfortable with your bike, learn its nuances through training rides.

For my round-the-world trip I got a second-hand Trek Madone off eBay and made it my own. For my trans-Europe attempt I tweaked it a little, fitting electric gears — Shimano Ultegra Di2 — with a control at the end of my aero bar to make changing easy.

2. Do your strength work

I’m fortunate to have plenty of ‘endurance’ in me. I can ride for hours no problem, but I find doing hill climbs ahead of a long ride is great for building up additional strength and stamina.

When you’re carrying your own gear it’s easy to forget that you need that additional strength in the saddle.

3. Keep your mind active

It pays to have some mental stimulation along the route – something to motivate you on the tougher parts. For my European record attempt my vital stats and body reactions were being monitored for a scientific study, which kept me focused. Also updating social media with my progress and carrying messages from loved ones that I open every 1000 miles helps.

4. Time to reflect

I’ve customised my cycling gear with reflective tape and material to ensure I’m seen on the road after being hit by a truck while cycling across America. I’ve sewn reflective fabric into my arm warmers, stuck tape everywhere and I’ll cover my panniers with my reflective waterproofs when I’m not actually wearing them.

5. Pack for emergencies

I’ve put together a homemade toolkit with the tools best suited to my bike. Generic ones are fine but if you’ve adapted your bike make sure you can fix it easily when on the road.

I’ve got a first aid kit too with essentials such as caffeine tablets to keep me awake, paracetamol to ease the pains and a selection of plasters, just in case.

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Sean is supported by Yellow Jersey Cycle Insurance covering UK residents cycling worldwide