All you need to know to get you started
Training doesn't need to be hard and horrible. It's basically just making sure you go for a good number of bike rides before coming on a tour so you're comfortable in the saddle, know how to use the gears, and don't spend the first few days sore and struggling.
Training will massively reduce your stress leading up to the challenge, increase your belief that you can do it, and make the whole experience much more enjoyable. Cycling is fun, that's why we do it right?
Whilst you don't need to turn into a lycra clad nut over night, you may soon find it's actually mighty comfy, so don't be surprised if you're soon a padded shorts convert waddling around like an adult baby.
Whilst its not necessary to be a pro-cyclist or anything of the like to come on one of our tours, you will definitely need to do some training. You'll need to be heading out on rides at least 3 times a week in the run up to the challenge (check out the 'Make it Happen' section below) and there are a few important things to consider other than just fitness. You'll be in the saddle between 7-10 hours a day. so you'll need to do a few big rides to get used to the feeling and making sure you have a comfortable saddle (padded shorts will become your friends). You'll also need to make sure you're able to take one hand off the handlebar at a time for signalling or for drinking water. These training rides are a great chance to test out what food and nutrition you can handle on a ride. You're be amazed by how much you can eat when cycling, we'd recommend dried fruit and nut mix or flapjacks to power you around. As the old cycling adage says 'eat when you're not hungry, drink when you're not thirsty'. If you're on a hill and feeling weak and the pangs of hunger, its already too late and you could experience...the bonk! Bonking is where your blood sugar drops due to not eating enough or keeping hydrated, you'll feel dizzy and light headed and will need to sit on the side of the road until you're able to get some food down you. This will probably be the end of your ride for the day so keep that adage in mind as bonking is best avoided!
Like many things in life, your experience cycling can be a reflection of your internal state, so it's important to get our minds working for us. Cycling is a great movement meditation, helping you feel calm, free, and with a good rush of endorphins to boot.
It's important to make the time for training and come up with some methods to counter your negative self-talk that leads to procrastination. We've come up with a few tried and tested strategies for success in this blog post.
It's also crucial to include long rides in your training routine for the sake of mental resilience; cycling in all weather when you're tired can be testing, and often the hardest part of a long day will be a mental barrier. Write yourself out some positive phrases to counteract yourself when you're flagging on the road, build a good mind-set, and it will be incredibly rewarding.
Cycling isn't the only challenging aspect of the tour. It's worth considering how comfortable you are in large groups, how much you enjoy camping, if you're experienced or willing to cook in a group for large numbers, how much of a morning person you are and how accustomed you are to doing exercise day in day out. Don't let doubts in any of these areas put you off but it's important to consider them or it could be quite a culture shock.
Making it happen
It's time to get yourself a plan. Be organised and keep a training diary, it's a great motivator to be able to look back over your progress. Create some 'stakes' or positive peer pressure to help keep your training consistent. A great way of doing this is by joining Strava, adding us as a friend here, and uploading your training rides through the mobile app.
We've created a few training rides on Strava for you to enjoy and get you out on the road. Set up an account, download the mobile app and click through on the routes below to navigate. Or if you have a Garmin click the links below to download the GPX files:
- 52 mile ride from London to Brighton click here
- 50 mile round trip from London to the National Trust's beautiful Knole Park in Kent click here
Some have found galloping around in lyrca an excellent training tool
Weekender in Dartmoor
Taster and training weekends
Escape the city. stay at an inspirational eco project, cycle through some the UK's most beautiful National Parks. These weekend mini and micro adventures are open to all, whether you've signed up for a tour this year, been on one in the past or are considering coming on one in the future.