What You Should Know About Long Distance Cycling

Exercise is one of the best – and cheapest- anti-aging antidotes. — Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.

I am on my sixth month of loving my biking hobby and getting ready for trying out the next level – long distance cycling. I’ve just biked within the city – in parks, to my workplace, or to smooth terrains just a few miles from my neighborhood.

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My friend has been cycling long distances for over a year now, so here I am sitting with him, listening to advice about the tips and tricks to avoid injuries and to be well-equipped even before I start. He obviously is wiser and smarter now,and he says that the long distances have pushed him to learn tons about biking, including body mechanics and the importance of hydration and nutrition.


Below are some of the things that he shared with me, some pieces of advice and information that other cycling enthusiasts and I should know about.


  1. You’ll Always Encounter The Hills

The hills and the erratic winds are things you don’t see in the short distance bikes that you do around the city. So prepare yourself so you won’t panic when it’s there. Your first hill will be quite daunting, but don’t turn away and go home yet. Focus. Drop those gears when necessary. This time, RPMs are more important than speed.


  1. If You Think Your Legs Will Hurt The Most, Think Again.
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Yes, cycling is high-impact, but it doesn’t tremendously affect your legs, contrary to what we think. The legs are constantly in motion when pedaling, but the pain will be felt more on the parts that are maintaining a fixed position for stability – the back, hands, neck, butt, and shoulders. So be conscious of your time spent biking and take a few minutes to rest and change positions. This relieves the compression forces placed on the above-mentioned body parts.

An hour on my bike gives me the same aerobic high I used to get from running. — David Ludden Ph.D.

  1. Don’t Think About Not Eating

I’ve biked for an hour without food,and I survived – not even very hungry after. But when you’re on the bike for five hours, you will need fuel for energy. You’ll need sufficient nutrients to replenish what energy and water you lost. You don’t only have to be hydrated,but you also have to eat something healthy – carb-rich – to avoid passing out suffering from hypoglycemia. The 20-milers are so different than this type of cycling – keep that in mind.


  1. It’s Mental As Much As It Is Physical.

If you’ve undergone training for these long rides, then your brain would be the most vulnerable to breakdown compared to your body. The training will develop your strength and resilience, but you’ll have to battle against the negative thoughts that are running through your mind once you feel that you can’t do it after half of the goal. So you’ll have to focus and learn to appreciate the backdrop of your journey. Perhaps that will help you move forward.


  1. Forget About The Breakfast Of The Champions.
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You can probably eat your favorite bacon, hotdog, and eggs after your 25-mile ride, but before that, never have a heavy breakfast. While you’re riding the bike, your body will concentrate on providing fuel for your lungs and heart, not on your stomach. So don’t eat too much protein and fat – they are not easy to digest. Go for the whole grain cereals and fruits. Munch on that whole wheat bread paired with a sweet banana smoothie.

…if I don’t honor my actual level of ability, and I let myself speed downhill, I might lose an opportunity to build endurance and strength. — Sara Gluck, PhD, LCSW

  1. Long Distance Cycling Addiction Is Possible.

The training you’ll go through and the hours of riding your bike five times a week take a lot of patience and commitment. You could just spend the weekend lying on the bed or watching movies at home. Or you could not do anything at all. But because after the hardships you go through, you become better everyday, and you learn to appreciate your efforts, which is why you’ll keep on going and aim for much higher. You might even dream of being the best long distance biker of the year!


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