Fitness to Ride

So the clocks have changed, the weather will soon be improving and we are ready to climb back on the bike for a longer run or even a trip abroad.

I bet there will be some time and attention on the state of our tyres, bike maintenance, maybe even a service for the machine, but what about YOU, the rider? Are you fit and ready for a longer run?

I copy below some hints and tips, some of which I use, that can help and are worth some thought as we enter the biking season:-

1. Try to stay fit and keep in trim. If you do, it will help with endurance and recovery time after tough days. In a nutshell, fitness reduces fatigue.

2. Stretch yourself. When you’re riding any kind of distance, you’re using different muscles from ‘normal’ life. Learn some stretching exercises, especially for the neck, knees and legs. Just a simple touch your toes, back stretch or upper torso twist really helps I find.

3. Mental fitness - this is crucial. You need to concentrate harder in unfamiliar conditions which is tiring and stressful. Getting used to long days of riding helps you relax and use less mental energy. If you’re in a ‘state of alert’ you expend a lot of mental energy and can become exhausted fast.

4. Heed the warnings. If you’re riding off-road on dirt or gravel you’ll tire quickly and your arms will ache from hanging on to the bars.

5. Experience riding in the rain. If you don’t you’ll tense up and use lots of energy.

6. Stop to go further. Give yourself a break, to recover. Definitely don’t try to ride through a difficult patch to get it over with as quickly as possible. If you do, you could make a mistake that will be costly.

7. Plan your day. Allow extra time for unforeseen delays and plan for breaks too. That way you won’t feel under pressure.

8. Prepare your kit properly and choose gear that will prevent you getting hot, cold or wet. Riding regularly in the run-up to a trip will help you assess riding kit.

9. Self-assess. Are you tired after a big night? Are the conditions going to be tough because of flooding, snow, ice or sand? Are you stressed because you can’t find your phone? If yes, take a step back and don’t set off when you’re feeling ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

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