Lessons from Dartmoor to make cycling easier

March 29, 2015

It’s not so much about size, but style. Vast distances can be covered by bike. Our ride isn’t a race. However there’s something to be said for pace and strategy when it comes to approaching each day.


An incredibly efficient vehicle, you feel that speed when you whoosh downhill or race along the flat. It’s also easy to keep going the distance before you know you’ve possibly overdone it.

We had a great training weekend in Dartmoor National Park. Up and down, and up and down again. If it was flat it would have been boring. Elevation and depth evoke the contours of our soul. The highs and lows of life.


The marriage between man and machine is a beautiful symphony of movement and senses.  Seeing, smelling, hearing, sweating, cursing, and delighting as you pass through the landscape.


The streams and open moorland. The granite Tors jutting out from the earth like bones of giant’s long forgotten. The Grimspound neolithic stone circle, reminders of people past. The song of the skylark, the voice of spring (the bird is Red Listed, a category of conservation importance – red being the most urgent). The indifferent ponies, the wooded folds between hills, and the sheep wrecked land, Dartmoor is a dramatic place.


The weekend training ride ride was a great opportunity to meet each other and travel as a group. This blog is a brief recap of some of things to keep in mind as we embark upon our adventure.


Eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty. Our bodies are our engines. We must feed them well and accordingly. We can’t stress this enough.


In terms of distances I find it really usefully, mentally, to break down such daunting figures as 50, 60, 70 miles into smaller numbers. Dividing the day’s ride into segments can really help you get a grip of the challenge ahead.


Take two minutes to do some basic stretches. Straight off the bike at the end of ride, or when you’ve set up your tent, or when we’re standing around slapping each other on the back. Your legs will thank you for it the next day.


And little things like wearing sunglasses to avoid squinting as using those eye muscles is surprisingly tiring; and stuffing your ears with cotton wool so those whispering winds don’t exasperate you.


Like so much of what we do it’s an attitude. Machinations of the mind in the form of a self styled mantra can be a really useful part of any long distance cyclist’s training routine. Of course, we’re going to *do* the end to end but i find repeating the words “I am going to cycle Land’s end to John O’Groats” really helps me. Use your own words, say it in your own way. Repeat it until it enters the marrow of your bones. These mental push ups are a mighty help and a good style of the mind for those long distances. Here’s to the Brake the Cycle End to End.



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