How to survive a 1,000 mile cycle ride in 10 easy steps

4th May 2011 by

This blog is cross-posted from Brake the Cycle, written by Liz and Matt.

So, it’s now the end of day 8 and we’re 550 miles into the trip, camped by a beautiful river in Kendal, at the start of the Lake District. Now, we can’t claim to be Lance Armstrong-calibre cycle touring experts but we have learned a few things along the way, which we thought we’d pass along to you. So we present, in no particular order, our top tips for making the most of a two-wheeled cycle adventure:

1. Bring chocolate. Lots of chocolate. And sugar. Lots of sugar. Especially on hilly days. Bananas are good too (and chocolate peanuts, and energy bars, and apples, and pink jelly babies, and blocks of cheese, and oatcakes, and sandwiches, and pastries…). Evening meals should pay homage to the great chickpea (or other good sources of protein) in the form of something warm or delicious like a curry. In general, eat twice or three times as much as you usually would.

2. After a few long days on the road, padded shorts will be your best friend. Three to four layers of padding are optional but recommended by some, as long as you don’t mind looking like the Michellin Man. A happy bum makes for a happy cyclist, trust us.

3. Don’t have a pint at lunch, no matter how tempting the pub and how sunny the afternoon. It will only make you sleepy later. Do have a pint (or two…or three?) at the end of the day.

4. Stretch consistently throughout the day. Roadside stretching is especially good since it also entertains the drivers passing by, and who doesn’t like to brighten up someone else’s day with a few lycra-clad lunges?

5. Water security is important. Don’t ever cycle with less than 2 extra bottles somewhere on your bike, or travel with other people who have lots of water. No matter how many fancy sports drinks you chug back, the humble tap water is the most refreshing drink of all.

6. Don’t bonk. Avoid bonking by adhering to point 1 and point 3, and possibly point 5. (According to some, bonking is cyclist-speak for when you suddenly run out of energy, usually when you’re about to cycle up a really big hill, and your muscles don’t want to work anymore.)

7. You’ll be spending at least 15 hours a day with the same people, so make sure you like your company. Boring people get very boring when you have to spend 8 hours pedalling next to them listening about cricket. Luckily, the Brake the Cycle group is very nice. Also none of them like cricket.

8. Love your bike. You and your bike will develop a very close relationship whilst on the road. You can nurture this relationship by lubing it up regularly before getting your leg over.

9. Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Be a Positive Polly or even an Uplifting Ursula. If all else fails, tell cheesy jokes.

10. In the end, remember that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that counts. It can be tempting to compulsively check bike computers to clock record speeds and watch the miles rack up under your wheels, but the real magic happens when you take your eyes off the road speed and look at the counties, villages, cities, countryside and countless sheep you’ll see as you pass by.

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