How to cycle 100 miles without feeling broken
On Sunday, I cycled 100 miles in one day. The day after I could actually walk around without feeling too much pain. In contrast, the last time I cycled 100 miles I thought I’d never walk without pain again. So what did I do differently? Here are my top tips for cycling 100 miles and not feeling utterly broken afterwards.
1) Find two big, strong cycling men (or women) – and learn how to draft them.
My cycling buddies were Dave “The Boy” and Ali “The Campervan Converter”. They are both bike fit, strong and uncomplaining. They knew I’d be the weakest link on our cycle and so they very kindly took the front of our cycle trio for pretty much the entire 100 miles. I know, I should be ashamed that I didn’t go at the front for more than about 10 miles of downhill but I didn’t want to hold them up and I did want to get home before the next day. I could not have found two better men to draft. Thanks guys.
2) Stop for big snacks and meals.
This was meant to be an enjoyable day of cycling, not a “smash the 100 mile time trial” race. When we needed to stop for chocolate bars we did. We also took in a long coffee break in the morning, a decent lunch (not cake but a proper meal with chips) and another stop for tea and cakes in the afternoon. These stops were great for fuelling and also a good laugh so the outing never felt like a chore but a fun day out. All too often I have attempted a long cycle with just a few gels, cereal bars and a quick cake stop and I have usually hit the wall later in the bike ride.
3) Build up the mileage
Because I hate cycling in the cold and wet I didn’t do a great deal of bike riding over the winter. I also hate the turbo trainer so I ran a lot more in winter. Come May I had still only cycled about 20 miles in one outing. Since then I have been slowly building it up. I have added a longer bike ride at the weekends and one or two shorter outings mid-week. I have also kept up the running so I am not exhausting one set of muscles. My shorter bike rides are hilly and full-on. The longer rides are more leisurely and chatty. When cycling the 100 miles I felt as though my legs could cope with the distance.
4) Cycle with chatty people
We couldn’t always double up to cycle, but where we could we did – and we talked. First The Boy and Al Campervan cycled and chatted. Then I chatted to The Boy. Then I chatted to Al C and then we swapped about some more. When we could we cycled three abreast and chatted. The chat helped me to forget the distance and the miles went by so much quicker.
5) Keep your bike in good order
My old bike had dodgy gears and made me cycle a bit slower. My newer bike is in good working order and much lighter. I look after this bike and so it means I have access to a full range of gears.
6) Save something for the end
The guys chose to use an energy gel to get them through the last 20 miles. After all, they had been pulling me around all day so I don’t blame them. I was lucky to have something left in my legs because I’d taken full advantage of the drafting. We also rode at a good steady pace all day so we all managed the 100 miles without totally bonking.
7) Choose a good route
We headed from Drymen, to Crianlarich and back to Drymen. The route was varied, scenic and not too madly hilly. I hadn’t cycled this exact route before so it was new and ever-changing. We were also lucky not to be faced with major headwinds or torrential rain (for once).
8) Keep smiling
On previously rides I have let my blood sugar levels dip too low. I’ve ended up grumpy and ratty. This time I maintained my fuel well and kept smiling. The guys and their funny chat kept me smiling, too. Smiling while cycling is so much better mentally than grumping and cycling.
9) Be inspired
Watching the Tour de France is surely enough to get you out there and on your bike. I’m not a Tour addict but I do love the action and drama, and I take lots of notes on how to draft!
I am looking forward to my next long bike ride. I hope it’s as good as the 100 miler at the weekend. Thanks to The Boy and Al Campervan for a great day out.