Perhaps there are very few activities that are more physically demanding than long-distance bike riding. Unlike other sports that are done and over within a few minutes, or an hour or two at most, long-distance bike riding can stretch for hours, even days before you can reach the finish line. In fact, given the gruelling nature of this activity, claiming athletes just see the top prize as the proverbial icing in the cake. For them, what is more important is managing to endure the entire course without giving up.
It takes just as much effort and strength of will to train even before embarking on this kind of activity. You need to be adequately prepared before plunging yourself head on into this physically and emotionally draining endeavor. If you have plans of training for a long distance bike ride yourself, here are some things to keep in mind:
Begin by beefing up your body’s resistance. Long-distance bike riding, or even just simple biking, demands a lot from your legs and glutes. These are the parts of your body that you should pay sufficient attention to. So for your legs, you can do stretching. You can also perform squats to strengthen your muscles.
Secondly, design a graduated training methodology. This means that you do not start out with a heavy training routine. As with all things, you should start with what you can perfectly do. Over time, increase the difficulty and length of the trail you need to take. The key is that the degree of difficulty of your training should increase over time and not the other way around. This way, you get your body used to progressively difficult training, thereby giving it a chance to adapt.
Part of graduated training is testing out a variety of trails. It’s not all the time that you can ride on an even trail. Challenge yourself by biking on hills or any terrain with an upward slope. This will prove to be useful when you do interval training.
In interval training, you subject yourself to a period of intense physical activity, followed by an even period of rest, and then back again. It’s a way of training your body, particularly your lungs, to get used to intervals of strenuous and restful activity so that your body does not get shocked by a change in the intensity of activities. This is because in long-distance bike riding, it’s not huff-and-puff all the time. There are also parts of the trail that are relatively easy, which you can use to take a rest.
In all your training activities, make sure to listen to your body. Refrain from wearing yourself out if you feel that you have reached your limit. This is exactly the reason during your training; it is important to check your heart rate. Note that your training should be functional and viable, not lethal.
Another great way to prepare yourself is by joining bike race competitions. While these activities are normally lesser in scope as opposed to the usual long-distance bike races, they still make for good practice. By joining, you get yourself accustomed to the pressure and mental stress that usually come with competitive sports. The more you get used to these things, the easier it becomes for you to manage your own training for long-distance bike riding.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, psych yourself up for the battle ahead. This is probably one of the least mentioned reminders when it comes to training for a long-distance bike ride. Most, if not all, focus on the physical aspect of the training. However, as you will later see, it takes more than physical stamina and resistance to withstand the rigors of a long-distance bike ride.
Think about how athletes normally place great emphasis on mental focus to be on top of their game. Without focus and mental sturdiness, you will more than likely give up easily or not have the strength of will to carry on even in the face of challenges. When your mind wills it, it is going to happen. Conversely, if your mind says it can’t be done, then you’re just essentially resigning yourself to the probability of failing.
How do you then keep your mental focus in check? There are a couple of ways on how you can go about this. One of these is by joining organizations or groups of long-distance bike riders. These people share a mutual passion for the sports and, therefore, make a great support system. You can relate your anxieties and doubts to them if you have any, and they can share insights and tips on how they have managed to overcome theirs.
Long-distance bike riding is by no means easy. It takes a lot of physical strengths and mental focus to finish the entire course. If you wish to engage in this activity, you should be mindful of the proper way of training for a long distance bike ride as indicated in the steps above.