Whether it’s your first cycling challenge or you’re an experienced event cyclist, there are some important tips for riders to consider before any event.
Long-time cyclist and cycling coach Sheree Hughes, from Cam’s Cycle Coaching in West End, has done her fair share of endurance cycling and wanted to share her training tips for riders taking on a Smiddy challenge.
When training for multi-day events, Sheree says there are three key things to think about—cycling skills, weight and a training regime.
“Skills are so important,” Sheree said. “If you’re skilled on your bike, you’ll be confident. And if you’re confident, you’ll be more efficient.
“Consider things like balance, pedalling powerful circles, being relaxed, appropriate bike handling and emergency braking.
“Also, test if you’re able to ride with one hand so you can eat, drink and signal safely while riding.”
Sheree also highlighted the importance of managing weight before an event.
“When it comes to weight, some riders make the mistake of focusing on small things, like having a light bike or carrying less water.” But given we’re the heaviest thing on our bikes, Sheree advises that’s the best place to focus.
“It can be tricky to balance your nutrition between what you need for fuelling your riding and managing your body weight, so I recommend seeing a Sports Dietitian to help get your balance right.”
Thirdly, Sheree reiterated the value of a good training regime and preparing your body for the rigours ahead, adding that older riders should see their doctor before embarking on a challenging event for the first time.
“You shouldn’t just jump on your bike and do an event,” she said. “If you’re over 45 and haven’t done a ride before, get a doctor to check you over and get their OK first.
“Riders don’t always look at what they’re going to be doing on a ride. They may have a top line idea, but you need to understand it and train accordingly. For example, thinking about hills or how many hours.
“You need to train for multi day events by doing some back up rides and get your body used to the feeling before the event.
“A great way to get help with this is to join a training group, book some one-on-one time with a cycling coach or get a friend to do the event with you.”
Sheree also said it was valuable for new riders to familiarise themselves with the basics of riding in a peloton.
Less confident riders may look down a lot when riding in a group.
“Don’t forget to look up to broaden your visual field and expect the unexpected. When you look up, you see everyone in front of you and can anticipate what might happen.”
Get the right bike and the right gear
If it’s your first event, even knowing what bike to ride can be a big question.
Sheree recommended taking the time to learn as much as you can about which bike is right for you.
“You won’t enjoy riding if the bike doesn’t fit properly. Get to know the people in the bike shop, get measured up and be prepared to wait for an order—it’s worth it.
Too many people buy a bike without doing enough research, which Sheree says can lead to problems like not being able to reach the brakes.
“Also make sure you have all the gear you need, like the right clothing. Lycra is there for a reason—it’s the most comfortable for riding.”
After all that pre-event preparation, Sheree suggests a pre-event bike service to check for safety.
“Get your bike serviced and road-worthied. Your tyres might be worn from training and you don’t want to go into your event without knowing your bike is ready.”
Lots of sleep!
Although we always think about being well rested the night before the event, it’s the nights before that we should also be focusing on.
“Make sure you get lots of sleep in the nights before an event,” said Sheree. “You might be too nervous the night before, so extra sleep in the lead-up is a really good idea.”
And most importantly—have fun!
“I like to think of the event itself as a ‘ride‘ or ‘event’—it’s not a race. It’s about you and your goals for the event.
“Remember why you’re doing it in the first place and enjoy it!”
It’s always easier to pump up your training when you have a goal—check out the 2016 Smiddy events and choose your challenge today!