- Gears will make your life easier. Practise changing gears to
ensure that you achieve the correct balance. Lower gears are better for climbing, middle gears are best for smooth and flat terrain, and the high gears are best for cycling downhill or traveling at high speeds.
- You can’t predict the weather and it may rain during your cycling challenge. Practicing during the rain and wind is a valuable experience; it will increase your strength and help you to prepare you mentally.
- It’s important to keep hydrated. You won’t want to keep stopping on your challenge to have a drink so practise drinking from a water bottle whilst cycling.
- The cycling on our trips is mainly undulating; however there are some tough climbs. Practise cycling up and down hills as well as off road to help you prepare.
- 1 hour of quality workout in the gym is worth 2 hours out on the road, but the interior gym experience does not prepare you to physically ride a bike through the air in the outdoors.
StretchesBefore you start doing anything please observe this cardinal rule:
You should only stretch warmed up muscles - so before you do any of these stretches please do a light warm-up first. Don’t stretch too far, all you should feel is a slow pull, never any pain. Never bounce, always stretch slowly. People with old injuries or bad backs should be especially careful whilst exercising and stretching.
- Quad Stretch – Quads are one the most worked muscles of a cyclist’s body. Start on all fours with the soles of your feet against a wall. Place a blanket underneath the knees if this is uncomfortable. Take your right knee off the ﬂoor and place it against the wall with your toes pointing upwards on the wall and your shin against the wall. Slide your knee down towards the ﬂoor, making sure that the shin and knee are in contact with the wall at all times. Re-arrange the left leg so that the sole of the foot is now on the ﬂoor. The left shin and thigh should be making a 90-degree angle. Take at least ﬁve breaths. This is an intense stretch. Gradually take your hands off the ﬂoor and on an inhale, place your hands lightly on your left knee.
- Glute Stretch - A cyclist’s glutes are also sure to tighten, especially if you’re doing climbs. Tight glutes also often mean a tight lower back. Sitting on a chair, have the sole of the right foot on the ﬂoor in line with the right knee. Place your left ankle on and just beyond the right knee. Keeping the spine as long as possible, inhale then fold at the hips on the exhale, bringing your torso over your left shin. Take at least ﬁve breaths. As you relax into the stretch you may eventually be able to place both forearms on the legs. The right forearm rests on the inside of the left foot while the left forearm is placed at the front of the right knee (over the left foot).
- Hamstring Stretch - Another good one to balance out the leg stretches. Tight hamstrings can lead to a tight lower back…so it should help out with that as well. Stand with feet 1 metre apart. With legs straight and hands behind your back slowly bend forward at the hips keeping your back straight and your head up. You should feel a slow pull in the muscles at the back of your legs. Hold for 10 seconds, stand up and lean slightly backwards to relieve any tightness in your back. Repeat this 3 times. You should feel a gentle pull but no pain.
ExercisesA good idea is a circuit of machines giving aerobic workout e.g. rowing, cross-country skiing, stepper / climber, exercise bike.It is important to just use your own body weight in the early weeks. The idea of the circuit is to complete each exercise then move onto the next.
If you want to increase your strength then do less circuits but with more weight/resistance on each exercise. If you want to increase your endurance then increase the number of circuits you do and do not use weights at all.
Once all exercises are completed, (i.e. one circuit), you then go round the circuit again 3, 4, or 5 times. You can also increase the number of repetitions for each exercise from 20 to 30, 40 or 50 depending on how strong you’re feeling. It is essential you stretch before and after the session to keep your muscles loose and long, not tight and short.
- 1 – Calf Raises: Stand with your feet together, about an arm's length away from a wall. Your fingers should just be touching the wall for balance. Raise yourself slowly onto tip toes and then slowly lower. Repeat 20 times.
- 2 – Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your hands on your hips. Keeping your back straight and your head up slowly lower yourself so your knees are bent 90 degrees. Then stand up so your knees are almost (but not quite) locked straight. Repeat 20 times.
- 3 – Step ups: Using the bottom step of a staircase or low bench, start with your left foot on the step and your right foot on floor. Stand up straight on your left leg and bring your right foot up to next step above and then lower your right back down to floor. Repeat 20 times. Change to having your right leg on the step and repeat.
- 4 – Leg extensions: Sit on a high sofa/bed/bench with the backs of your knees just on the edge and your feet hanging down. Lean back with your hands behind your head for support. Keeping the backs of your knees on the surface, slowly lift your left foot up so your leg becomes straight and ten lower it down again. Repeat 20 times. Change to your right leg and repeat.
- 5 – Leg Raises: Lie front down on a mat or soft floor with your hands under your chin. Keeping your left leg straight slowly raise it six inches off the floor and then slowly lower it again. Repeat 20 times. Change to your right leg and repeat.
Most people taking part in charity events should be increasing their endurance before they start thinking about increasing their strength. If at any time during any of the exercises you feel faint or dizzy you should stop immediately and seek medical advice.
DietWhat you eat when you start to train will impact on your energy levels both during exercise and at rest. Initially while the training is at a low weekly mileage it would be best to concentrate on eating in a regular pattern and trying to reduce your daily intake of saturated fats. This includes less fried foods and dairy products as these will counter any training you start to do.
As your mileage increases it would be worth trying to ensure that at least one meal a day is high in carbohydrate; this is the product that once stored in your system will give you energy. Carbohydrate is found mainly in the form of potatoes, bread, pasta and rice and so is easy to base any meal around. Combined with this increased intake of carbohydrate must also be a good mixture of vitamins and minerals found in fruit and vegetables. Fruit in particular is an ideal food for training on because it is high in fructose which also provides energy as it is more easily absorbed from the stomach than other sugars (such as insulin obtained through eating chocolate). Energy drinks are often used by cyclists and runners who are involved in more strenuous exercise than walkers and therefore using up more energy.
Fluids are another area in which you will have to increase your intake as you will start to lose more from your system by sweating; this is simply combated by drinking a lot more. You can also increase your energy levels through the intake of isotonic drinks or concentrated fruit juices, some people find these work very well and the psychological effect by itself is often enough to make them worthwhile. If you intend to use these on the event itself it is a good idea to get your body used to them while training.