Dont lose friends before you have made them: Preparing for 100km

Guest Blog post by @mooleur:

I've been asked by the lovely True Cycling folks to give a few tips on how to prepare for a 100km ride. This is a great subject as 100km is one of those distances that some people often take too lightly in respect of preparation. Some folks will be fit enough not to think too much about it, some folks will find it daunting and hard. Equally, though, all can quite easily ruin a good day out by not preparing appropriately.

The most common issue amongst almost all cyclists going for a long distance ride is not fuelling adequately. Whether it be from not eating the right breakfast to not taking on the right amount of food throughout the ride, we all at some point overlook the requirement to fuel. My first tip would be to make sure that you eat a well balanced, carbohydrate rich tea the night before. Nothing too heavy and certainly not steak and chips. Something Italian usually works, even pizza (not takeout pizza, try making your own!). For breakfast, you need to take things seriously; you will need plenty of complex, slow-release carbs so go for something like porridge – you can't go wrong. Add a splodge of jam in there for sugars. Before you leave for the ride try having a couple of bananas too, oh..and of course..good coffee!

Throughout the ride you want to look at taking on solid fuel around 1-2 times an hour, and liquids every 10 minutes at least. Whether you're doing 50k or 200k it doesn't matter, work on time rather than mileage. There are plenty of products on the market for cyclists that make eating on the go really easy, like high sugar and high carb bars and gels. These are fine but for a lot of people they don't sit well on the tummy. If you'd rather something a bit more wholesome, take some flapjacks or jam sandwiches with you (yes, these will squish up, but they're perfect!). For a quick hit, something like Jelly Babies (my favourite) or Haribo.

Make sure you drink well too, if you just take water that’s fine but make sure you take on board enough food to compensate for not having any spare nutrients in your liquids. Personally, I would recommend taking at least a magnesium/electrolyte rich sports drink with you, preferably with calories but that totally depends on your preference.

So that's food, the most important bit! So what's next? Assuming you've done plenty of training and are feeling fit enough to make the journey, the next step is ensuring you are well equipped for the trip. Make sure you keep a heads up on the weather on the day, if it's forecast inclement weather take a rain cape and pack it into your jersey pocket. If it's going to be cold, take some armwarmers and a baselayer. Don't forget your feet too, the first thing to be affected by colder or rough weather will be your toes – make sure you're wearing a good comfy pair of socks and maybe wear some overshoes. There are all sorts of accessories you could probably use, the best thing is to research what you'll need dependent on the time of year and then make your judgement call based off that. It's all common sense but it's easy to overlook the weather in favour of packing light! that must be everything, right? WRONG! You know what's worse than puncturing on a long ride in the middle of nowhere? Not having anything to fix your puncture with! Don't be “that guy” or “that girl” that has to ask for a spare tube, you'll end up owing plenty of people coffees and beers with that sort of lazy attitude! Checklist for on the day; mini pump, inner tube (at least one!), tyre levers, even a small puncture repair kit. Make sure your tyres are pumped up well before you leave to avoid pinch flats during the journey, oil your chain and make sure your rims are free of brake dust and your brakes nice and fresh. Turning up to a long group ride with a knackered out bike is a sure fire way to lose friends before you've made them. Look after your steed well and it will surely reward you with comfort, freedom and speed. 

Two final big pointers from me – long distance can be hard on the bum – get well slathered up with that chamois cream before you leave, your nether regions will thank you. Also, take a mobile – you can buy plastic wallets to keep your phone in which are available from pretty much every bike store. In the event of anything going wrong it's important not to risk getting stranded.

Just remember, don't take anything for granted – be it how you dress on the day, your own fitness, what you eat and even the condition of your bike. Write yourself a little checklist of all the things you want to take, and even pack your jersey the night before so you know you haven't forgotten anything. 100Km is a very do-able distance, as long as you make sure you are prepared.

I've done long distance the wrong way many times, and equally done plenty more the right way – if you have any questions about how to prepare, feel free to tweet me - @mooleur