“I want to ride my bicycle” Freddie Mercury used to sing, backed by his renowned rock band. It’s a sentiment that many can relate to. Our routines have changed drastically in the past 18 months or so, forcing us to spend most of our time indoors. But it is still fundamental for us all to inhale some fresh air from time to time. What better way to enjoy some outdoor exercise than a bike ride?
With the breeze blowing in your face and beautiful greenery unfolding before your very eyes, riding a bike is always a cleansing and freeing experience. Why not go the extra mile? Whizzing around your neighbourhood is fun, however, you may want to challenge yourself a little more. To do this, give long distance biking a go! If you love to pedal, long distance biking has all it takes to become one of your favourite hobbies.
As with everything, long distance biking requires a lot of practice and exercise too. This is particularly true if you are trying it out for the very first time. With this in mind, we have put together a succinct beginner’s guide to long distance biking. From training and gear tips to recommended British races you can sign up for, this article will provide you with some introductory advice to slowly help you get on track.
Let’s not beat around the bush: long distance biking is a challenging and physically demanding sport. It can fill your days with spectacular landscapes and incomparable full body exercise, but it’s certainly not a walk in the park.
Don’t let this intimidate you though. With some simple training suggestions at hand, you will soon be riding your bike for miles on end. Here are a few tips:
- Pace yourself and listen to your body – As you approach long distance biking for the first time, take it easy on your initial sessions. Despite your ambitions to hit specific targets from the outset, it’s very important to make sure you are not overdoing it. If you start experiencing saddle sores, knee pains, and other feelings of discomfort, don’t carry on pedalling. Stop, have a rest, and recharge to avoid unpleasant injuries. Moreover, try to be as strategic as possible. As the name of the sport suggests, you will be cycling a long way and for a very long time. Do not fall into the trap of speeding through the first miles. In fact, going too fast will burn you out quickly, so you won’t be able to travel so far.
- Prepare mentally – Not only is long distance biking a physical challenge, but it makes for a mental workout too. Indeed, it is crucial that you stay focused along the way, deciding how to handle the tough and difficult moments of your ride. One way to prepare yourself mentally is to study the map and learn the hurdles of your route. This will give you a good idea about what awaits you – whether that is challenging terrain or stunning scenery!
- Cycle with fellow riders – Many cyclists dream of going on a solo adventure. You can explore the paths you wish and you can take as long (or as little) as you like. However, if you are a beginner, it may be better to find a group of fellow riders to take on the challenge together. Not only will they be able to help you in the event of unforeseen problems, but you can also motivate each other as you pedal along. Hop on your electric bikes and build up your stamina as a team!
- Eat and fuel up – It goes without saying that long distance biking requires a lot of energy. If you ‘live to eat’, you will appreciate this tip. Make sure to have a good breakfast before adventuring on your bike all day. Empty stomachs will certainly not go a long way, so indulge in a hearty breakfast!
With some training and preparation tips under your belt, it is now time to take a quick look at what equipment you should have on you when you jump on your bike. We want to ensure that you have all the gear… as well as all the tips! Here are some essentials:
- Snacks for the journey – In line with our last training suggestion, it is vital to stay energised along the way. Bringing snacks with you on your challenging adventure will keep you going. Before beginning your journey, work out what food suits your body when it’s exercising – some snacks may actually end up being counter-productive. That said, some good cycling food ideas include flapjacks, energy bars, bananas, and caffeine gels. Also, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated with water and energy drinks!
- Suitable clothing – When it comes to clothing, the most important thing to do is to plan what you are going to wear in advance. Check the weather forecast so you know what to expect. On the whole, however, opt for tight clothes – baggy tops and outfits will act as a flag and slow you down significantly, while also making an already tough physical activity even harder. Moreover, to increase comfort, you may want to consider throwing on some padded shorts. After all, you will be pedalling for a long time!
- Beware of the sun – Sunny weather and warm temperatures are your friends when it comes to long distance biking. Nevertheless, it is always worth taking some sun cream on your ride too. As you climb up hills and mountain roads, sun rays can become particularly strong. Protect your skin to avoid sores and aching burns – long distance biking is challenging as it is!
Routes and tours
If you are a complete beginner, you should spend around 12 to 16 weeks training and strengthening your aerobic system. Once you feel ready to take on another challenge, there are some fascinating tours you can sign up to in which to put your new skills to the test. Let’s browse some of the exciting British events taking place in 2022:
- Winchester, Hampshire (March) – With two routes to choose from (101 miles or 44 miles), you can opt for the hilly tours that best suit your long distance biking abilities.
- Tour of Wessex (early June) – Split into three stages, this quintessential countryside ride in the heart of Wessex will take you three days to complete. Cycle through byways and quiet lanes while taking in the region’s history and tackling its curvy paths.
- Dorset 300 (mid-June) – Fancy a 300km trip around Dorset? Both starting and finishing in the town of Sherborne, you can start your tour as soon as the sun rises around 5 am.
- Welsh 500 (mid-August) – Two days of pedalling through the Brecon Beacons and Cambrian Mountains: what better way to enjoy your new hobby? Take a 500km ride and cycle through mesmerising valleys.
What are you waiting for? Mount your electric bike, strap on your helmet, and get riding! We hope this beginner’s guide will provide you with the essential tips you need to take on the rewarding challenges of long distance biking.