PREPARING FOR A SEASON
OF LONG RIDES
There is nothing worse than having a bike-related mechanical issue when out on a long ride. Anyone who has cycled for a long time can relate to this problem – the awful call to someone who does not want to spend an hour coming and collecting you from the side of the road. While breaking a chain, wheel, or derailleur is out of a cyclist’s control, you should be self-sufficient when it comes to flats or other bike problems that a well-stocked saddle bag can fix. I always leave the house with two tubes, a pump, tire leavers and a multi-tool. These five things are usually enough to get me through any of the training rides.
Unless I am at a training camp or racing, most of my rides above 100 km include a coffee stop. I like to use a destination to break up the ride and refuel. It is definitely a ritual with most of my riding friends, and I have a soft spot for some good coffee and a pastry. No matter the distance, you can’t go wrong with a coffee stop to break up the ride. Next time you are mapping out a ride, check out some of the towns your route goes through and see if there is a local spot worth a stop. Not only does stopping for a quick coffee on an easy day keep me going, it becomes an essential part of my 200-plus km rides when fuel stops become necessary. My favourite kinds of riding loops cover long distances, so they often include a few great local spots.
One of the most beneficial, and sometimes overlooked, tools for tackling a long ride is the fuel you bring with you. Ensure you have a drink mix that meets your needs and some snacks that will keep you going. If your long effort is a full-distance simulation, you’ll want to carry as much of your fuel with you as you can. I always try to take an energy drink with me for rides longer than 90 minutes and when I am riding longer that two hours, I bring along some food.
There is no better time to give some longer rides a try than in the summer months. With the days getting longer and the temperatures rising, challenge yourself by adding some longer efforts to your schedule. There is nothing better than hitting 100 km and it’s more satisfying to hit that 200 km mark.
Sean Mackinnon won two bronze medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto in the team pursuit and individual time trial.