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Your Longest Ride Ever!

aka Going Long

As the year goes by, you will likely find yourself getting stronger than ever on the bike and wondering just how far you could actually ride in a day. Here are some tips for you to consider if you are going to try to break your own personal record this year. 

We will start the discussion with a great video about long rides from GCN. It is 7 minutes long and stresses 10 very important topics, but hey, we are talking about longer rides so you've got to expect that we are going to give you longer videos!  

  1. Carb loading
  2. Start off slow and steady
  3. Don't go over your threshold level
  4. Fuel your body from the start
  5. Mental State and Focus
  6. Intermediate goal setting
  7. Slip streaming - aka drafting
  8. Pack your spares and tools
  9. Dress correctly
  10. Aerodynamics

Ok, now that you have watched the video and understand the Top Ten, here are a few other items that the Committee thinks are helpful for you to think about when you go out to tackle your personal record!


Before the Ride

  • Check the route out thoroughly if you can, scope out the stops and stores, where are the climbs, shade, bathrooms, etc. Some people like to drive the route or use RWGPS to "see" what they should expect.
  • Talk to an experienced rider that has done several long rides and ask them about their experiences. Talk about the possibility for fatigue and how it affected their decision making. (If you make it to the bottom of the article, you will see some names of those that went long last year on Depot Day or Ride the Dog.)
  • Be prepared for multiple flat tires - take an extra tube and CO2 cartridge if you are on an unsupported ride.
  • Don't wear anything new on your "contact points". No new shoes, gloves, or saddles allowed! Maybe the most important contact point is your butt. Weeks before your ride buy the best pair of padded cycling shorts you can afford and break them in. 
  • The same concept goes for your food - don't take food that you haven't tested out on a ride.
  • Find a partner or two to ride with, the conversation and drafting will help. Let them know you are going for your personal record. If they are better riders than you, so much the better. If they like Gilligan's Island and can talk about their favorite character or episode for an hour, even better. 
  • Become a weather nerd, or better yet ride with a weather nerd. 
  • Pack light if there are pre-arranged supply stops. If you will have organized rest stops, or you are gong to be back at your car every 25 miles, you won't have to overpack water, food or tubes. 
  • Practice drinking from the side of your bottle before the event so when you get bone tired at the end of your ride you can still see where you are going. 


During the Ride:

  • Stay loose, relaxed, move your hands around, relax your shoulders, bend your elbows slightly, and don't forget to breathe.
  • When something goes wrong, deep breathing helps you relax. Oh my, look at the size of that %^&* hill up ahead. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
  • Divide your ride into segments. Get through the ugly middle, to get to your second burst of energy. Segment #1 you should keep a comfortable pace, on #2 you can increase the pace slightly, on #3 give it a bit more effort if you can, and save a little something for segment #4. There is no need to set a brisk pace early as your goal is to break your personal distance record. You can go for a speed goal on your next long ride.
  • If you get a chance to stop by your car mid-ride, changing into a fresh jersey gives you a boost.
  • Often riding in a large group makes you feel very safe in the pack. Remember there will be cars around and as you get tired your decision making may not be perfect. Let your riding partners know if you are starting to feel the distance get to you so you can take a break. See the classic photo below from the 2012 Depot Day Ride showing you one way to take a break.
  • Avoid energy gels until closer to the end of your ride. Also avoid caffeine and sugar until after you are fatigued and have covered most of your distance.  Remember don't try your first energy gel pack ever on mile 90....
  • If you tend to cramp up, make sure you have something to help. Many people swear by pickle juice or yellow mustard. Seriously.
  • Pack an indulgent snack for about 3/4 of the way through. Macarons and Expresso M&Ms rule! Thinking about your treat for 30 or 40 miles makes the time fly. 
  • Know where you are - if you are alone and don't see anyone else get out the map.
  • When the odometer goes over your personal record, whoop it up a little bit and let everyone know that you made it!!! 


After the Ride:
  • After you finish your first long ride, take a photo of you and your riding partners to commemorate your big effort.  
  • Eat the food and beverages you packed and left in your car.
  • You will need to get some glycogen in your body so go for some fruit juice, a recovery shake, or chocolate milk. Refer to the Hydration article from last month. 
  • Get sugars into your body within the first 20 minutes of stopping.
  • Change your clothes...


Riders that went 100 miles or more at Depot Day this year can help you out with ideas and encouragement on Ride the Dog - talk to Norm, Peggy D., Wynn, Jan, Randy, Jose', Pat P., Sue S., Emily, Ron, Deb and Eva.

If you are interested in even more information, here is one final video from GCN about tackling your first 100 miler. We hope you get to "Go Long" this year and set your personal record this year!

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