Do you want to increase your hours in the saddle and ride longer distances but aren’t sure you’ll stand the pace? Read on…
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1. Pace yourself
Riding for an extended distance usually means having to slow down your average pace. This may feel unnatural, especially if others are going off hell for leather, but you don’t want to burn out too soon.
Take the first 15 minutes steadily until you’ve warmed up and after this do your best to keep your efforts below your lactate threshold, or around 80 percent of your maximum heart rate — the level at which conversation is hard to sustain.
2. Eat regularly
Your body won’t be able to sustain extended hours in the saddle without fuel. A big bowl of porridge is good one to three hours before you start. On the ride eat soft, easy to digest foods with quickly absorbable carbs, such as bananas, jelly babies, jam sandwiches or energy gels.
Aim to consume 1g of carbohydrate per kg body weight per hour. And keep hydrated. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, take a gulp every 20 minutes and aim to drink at least 500ml every hour.
3. Comfort first
On longer rides you need to be even more aware of the body parts that might become uncomfortable. Use chamois cream and never try out new bib shorts for the first time, as you really don’t want to discover a chafing seam when you’ve got six hours of riding ahead of you.
Similarly, don’t use new shoes. And if you get any numbness on shorter rides, try out shoe inserts or adjusting your cleat position and see if this helps (again, try this out before the long ride).
4. Build it up
If you regularly commute by bike, then you probably have enough leg strength and experience to do a ride that amounts to the total of your weekly riding, with little difficulty.
So, for example, a leap from regularly riding 15 miles a day to trying 75 miles on a weekend is achievable. But don’t try 200 miles if you’ve only done 20 before. Gradually build up your mileage by 10 miles a week, more if you feel able. But include recovery days or you’ll soon run out of steam.