How to prepare for a long bike ride

Whether you are an avid cyclist or looking to take your hobby to the next level with a long bike ride, you may be wondering how to prepare. In this article we explore how to prepare both yourself and your bicycle for a long ride. 

There is something different about long distance cycling that gives you a sense of freedom you don’t get from your cycling commute to work. This may be due to the fact that a long ride requires different skills, preparation and dedication. What’s more, a long distance bike ride is particularly rewarding both mentally and physically. 

How to physically prepare for a long ride

In order to successfully complete a long distance bike ride, one of the most effective ways to prepare is to ensure your body is physically ready to face the challenge. Here are some ways to physically prepare for a long ride:

1. Build endurance

The first tip is a fairly obvious one, any long distance sport requires a significant amount of endurance. To build up your endurance you need to commit to building it up over time and gradually. The best way to do this is to slowly add a little bit extra to your workout or cycle trip each week. For example, if you regularly cycle for an hour each week, add half an hour to each ride every week. This will slowly and effectively build up your stamina.  

Dig deep to power through-you can do it.

2. Keep eating and drinking

In order to safely complete a long ride, it is important to keep your body well fueled. A good rule of thumb to ensure you remain hydrated is to drink a bottle of water every hour and if it is a hot day we recommend drinking even more than this. It is also equally as important to stock up on snacks such as a banana, nutrition bar, snickers or sandwiches and take a bite or two every 15 minutes. This is to ensure that your body replenishes the energy it uses as fuel. 

Food is fuel.

3. Pace yourself

Another way to physically prepare for a long bike ride is to pace yourself, you don’t want to wear yourself out early on and not be able to complete your ride. Listen to your body, it will tell you what you can and can’t do. For example, if you are seriously panting, this means that you might be pushing yourself too hard. Pacing yourself involves avoiding quick acceleration and slowly powering through. 

Distance cycling is like a marathon not a sprint.

How to prepare bike for a long ride

It is all well and good preparing your body for a long bike ride, but if your bicycle isnt in the right shape, all of this preparation may go to waste. There are some key ways to prepare your bike for a long cycling trip and simple repairs you can learn to ensure you fix your bike in the event of something breaking. 

1. Make sure brakes are working properly

Give the brake levers a squeeze to check the brakes are working correctly. If you notice a slightly more spongy feeling with hydraulic brakes, they might require bleeding.

2. Check tyre pressure

Over time, tubes and tubeless setups will inevitably start to lose air. You should therefore check your tyres' pressure. Optimising tyre pressure is essential from a performance perspective to lessen rolling resistance and enhance comfort. The force preventing your tyres from rolling along the ground is known as rolling resistance.

More energy will be lost due to the tyre casing deformation and friction between the tyre and the road if your tyre pressure is too low. Pinch flat punctures are also more likely as a result. Your bike will start to shake over cracks in the road surface if your tyre pressure is too high since the tyre will be so rigid, which will be uncomfortable and waste energy.

3. Carry tools and spares

It’s always a good idea to carry some tools and spares along with you. If your bike breaks during your bike ride, you may not be able to continue cycling for the rest of the journey. Here is a list of some cycling essentials we recommend you bring on a long cycle ride:

  • Allen key
  • Tyre levers
  • Spare inner tube
  • Type patch
  • Pump

If you don’t want to carry lots of tools and spares with you, there are some preventative actions you can take too. Although for the safest results we recommend applying the preventative action as well as carrying tools and spares. 

  • New tyres, tubes and rim tapes.  
  • New brake blokes/pads
  • New gear and brake cables.
  • New cassette and chain

If you are unsure how to maintain and repair your bicycle there are plenty of YouTube channels and blogs dedicated to showing you exactly how. The best YouTube channel is Cycle Maintenance Academy who have created videos and blog posts guiding you through cycle repairs and maintenance in simple to understand and easy to follow steps.