It’s almost time for that first long bike ride of the season. Before you roll out on a massive bike ride or gran fondo, here are a couple of key things that you should be thinking about so you have the ride you want instead of the ride you want to forget.
Know the Route
We use the route as the box within which we’re going to operate simply because it determines a couple of key things. How long it’s going to take you, what the conditions are going to be like when you get there and how hard it’s going to be in terms of elevation and logistics. Those three elements combine to create the experience of what that long ride is.
Bonus Resource: How to Plan a Route Online Using Strava, Ride with GPS, and Google Maps
Solve for the Ride Not for Your Fitness
If we know that the long ride that you’ve planned to do is going to take you four hours or five hours or eight hours — you have a duration of time that you need to solve for. Here are the key elements to consider.
Nutrition. What are you going to eat and drink across this bike ride to make sure you can be successful? And more importantly, will there be opportunities on that ride for you to refuel and stay on point second?
Pacing. How are you going to pace this century ride? Is this a gran fondo that’s going to be competitive with friends or is it a long ride you’re out for just picture-taking and loving nature? Or is it a long ride with a time goal? Are you going for a fastest known time or something similar?
Those elements determine the effort at which you’re working. For this to work correctly, the nutrition and the effort must intersect.
Safety. The route that you’re taking — is it a lot of main roads? Is it completely off the beaten path? How can you ensure that you will be safe as you compete or complete this event?
This is a huge part of the equation. We think about long rides. It’s one of those background, subconscious kind of stress level things. And we’re not so worried about. If you’re in a sort of well-developed or well-populated area, but as you head off the beaten path you have to be prepared.
Get Equipment Ready
In addition to those key elements above, you also need to make sure that your equipment is ready to go. Give your bike a once-over, making sure all your devices are charged – from your bike computer to your electronic shifting!
Now you can move on to the supplies. The first long ride of the year just takes a lot of mental power. You want to make sure that the tubes you have for your tires are the right stem length. You want make sure that you’ve got that extra sealant if you’re tubeless. ‘
You should make sure that you’ve got the lights and all the flashy things on top of your bike. Don’t forget the new tires in case your trainer wore them down.
Schedule a Fake First Long Ride
One of my key tips to you is just to schedule a fake long ride the week before your real one. This way you can go through the process of what it would be like to pack everything together, to go out for that ride.
I literally walk around my garage with my helmet upside down like a shopping basket, filling it with all the items I need. CO2 cartridges, food, salt pills, a copy of my driver’s license in a Ziploc bag, my backup a battery, my sunglasses. All of this goes into my helmet.
I now have seven days to fix any missing or broken things, as opposed to trying to fix it in the morning of your long ride!
What Is Your Early Season Long Ride Preparation?
If you have ideas or thoughts for us, please leave comments here or on the YouTube channel.
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