Whether you’re gearing up for your first century ride or metric century ride, preparation is key to enjoying yourself and making it over the finish line.
After cycling for more than a decade what I know for sure is that my ride starts well before I clip in. To help you prepare for your first big ride, and ensure you love it enough to saddle up for a second, I’m sharing my 7 tips for preparation.
- Yesterday matters
You might be riding on a Saturday, but preparation starts on Friday. Carbohydrate loading the day before a ride maximises the energy stored in your muscles, and can give you a two to three per cent improvement on your ride. Whole grain pasta, rice and cereal, as well as sweet potatoes and Greek yoghurt are good sources of carbohydrate that won’t have a negative impact on your stomach in the middle of the ride.
- BYO mechanics
When you’re in the middle of your ride you’ll likely be in the middle of nowhere. Chances are there’s no one around to help fix a blowout if disaster strikes. Make sure you pack two spare tubes, a multi-tool and a pump. Nothing ruins a ride more than mechanical issues.
- The most important meal of the day
Breakfast is not overrated. Not only does a good breakfast provide your body with nutrients and energy, it also fuels your brain and improves awareness and coordination. Before a big ride I’ll often have a Huon Hot Smoked Salmon omelette to fuel my body with nutritious and lean proteins. I also try to eat water dense fruits like berries to get as much hydration pre-ride as possible.
- Start out easy
Don’t go gung-ho in your first few kilometres. Start out at an easy pace and listen to your body. Are you feeling good? Do you feel you can go faster? You’ve got a long way to go, don’t push yourself too early.
- Set mini-goals
When you’re mapping out your ride it’s a good idea to set intermediate goals. Long rides can be long – especially if it’s your first. Working towards a park, a small town, or just the top of a really big hill can reward you with small wins until you achieve the end goal; the finish line.
- Pack snacks
Your body can’t absorb carbohydrates at the same rate as it burns them. I could not stress enough the importance of replenishing your fuels as you go. Light sources of energy like gels, protein balls and energy bars are great for on the go, and fit nicely in your jersey pocket. You want your body to source energy from carbohydrates – not your muscles – so the key is to eat before you’re hungry.
- Be a water hoarder
Hydration is everything. If you’re thirsty it means you’re already dehydrated. On long rides, particular on hot and humid days, it’s important to drink constantly. I’ll normally drink up to four bottles of water on these occasions. Try setting 15 minute alarms to remind you to hydrate. You can also add electrolyte powder to your water to replenish your body’s salt from sweating. To maintain energy levels you can also add carbohydrate powder to your water – and the electrolyte powder helps the body best absorb carbs.