How to go ultra on a bike
My recent outdoors column in the Sunday Mail revealed the top tips for going ultra on a bike. I asked one of the authors of a new book, Ultra-distance Cycling, Dominic Irvine for his top tips for riding further and longer.
You can see the pdf of my column and read the full copy below.
Top tips for long-distance cycling
Ultra-distance events are among some of the greatest challenges a cyclist can face.
Riders spend hundreds of miles and many hours in the saddle battling the elements and overcoming both physical and mental hardships.
What was once considered a sport only for elites the is now far more common among amateur cyclists.
Today thousands of dedicated riders cycle up to and more than 100 miles on ultra-distance rides every week.
Some ride to meet personal challenges or enjoy longer cycling tours, while others take part in long-distance events and races.
A new book, Ultra-Distance Cycling, offers a host of practical guidance for riding ultra distance.
One of authors, a record-breaking ultra-distance cyclist himself, Dominic Irvine, reveals 12 of his top tips for riding further and stronger.
Planning for ultras
Google Street View is one of the most useful tools for the long-distance cyclist planning a route because you can check whether roads are suitable for cycling. The on-line shows whether it’s a busy arterial road, an unsurfaced track or a quiet B road.
Find out where the bike shops are. If your trip is over several days, find out where the nearest bike shops are to your route and their opening times. It’s stressful enough if something goes wrong with your bike, let alone trying to find a shop to help you.
Learn some basic mechanical skills and carry the basic kit to fix repairs. A puncture, a broken chain or even a snapped spoke need not stop a ride if you have the skills, tools and spare parts with you.
Buy membership of a bike rescue scheme, which is the equivalent of the AA service for bicycles. They won’t fix your bike but they will come and pick you up and drop you at a train station. This is a great comfort blanket on those longer more remote rides.
Riding ultra distance
Take food that you will look forward to eating. Sports bars and gels serve a useful role, but you will tire of their sweet taste when on a long ride. In contrast, a jam sandwich or fruitcake will do the job just as well and is much more enjoyable over a long period. Also remember to eat small amounts of food often.
Wear good quality padded shorts or bib tights and use chamois cream. Re-apply it mid-ride and before you begin to feel uncomfortable.
Keep pedalling. When you are tired you will think up many excuses to stop but you should try to keep rolling. It is better to ride more slowly and keep eating up the miles than to stop and start.
“Nothing lasts forever” is a great mantra to say to yourself when grinding into a horrible headwind or uphill.
Be comfortable. That really low handlebar setup that looks just like the pros is no good if after a few hours your back and neck aches. Get your bike set up so it’s as comfortable on mile 100 as it was on mile one.
Dress for the weather. Bad weather is no reason not to ride but make sure you have spare clothing with you so you do not get cold or wet.
After the ride
Take stock of what worked and what didn’t during the ride and make sure you try to improve on it next time.
Rest up. You’ve ridden a long way, so enjoy the moment before you then plan your next adventure.
* Ultra-distance Cycling: An Expert Guide to Endurance Cycling by Simon Jobson and Dominic Irvine is out now published by Bloomsbury, priced £18.99 or £14.99 eBook.