It’s what we train for and always aim for, yep the Big One.  Whether it’s a 50 or 100 mile sportive event you like the look of.  I’ll share my findings along with tips and tricks to help you get through the event.

London to Paris

You’ve spent the last six months maybe even a year trying to ride this event, the one that you won’t be beaten by.  I know I’ve been there and I know exactly what it feel’s like.

When I told my loving wife I was going to ride sixty miles in one go she laughed, followed with “yeah right”.  Six months later I rode sixty miles, I then said I was going to ride from London to Paris.  This was followed by “why, are you stupid”, I then went on to ride London to Paris and blitzed it like a gentle Sunday ride.

All this aside that doesn’t mean every ride is different, oh no in fact the build up and prep are the very same.  However the day of the ride is where you need to take control and remember everything you have been doing building unto this event.

So whether you’re riding fifty miles or one hundred miles the way you ride it can make all the difference.  I’ll try and share a few tips and tricks I picked up making sure I completed the event and enjoyed it along the way.

del on hills

Assuming you’ve been training well over the last few months and you’re big ride is closing in there’s one really important tip I’ll start with.  No matter how big a ride it is you’re doing it’s always worth building up to or close to the distance your wanting to achieve.

Two weeks before the event drop the miles down to the shortest rides you started with, ten miles is a safe distance.  Now when you drop these miles back try and do this distance either every other day or 3 – 4 times a week.  Then on the last week drop it back to once mid week and then stop, don’t think you need to be riding all the way up to the event.  Rest is as important as riding is and I have always found having a week off or doing a steady ten miles makes all the difference.

What you eat the week before is also very important, everyone thinks you need to carb up two weeks before.  The fact of the matter is though your body will only hold so much, after that you’ll end up over doing the carbs resulting in a pointless diet.

The week before I’ll eat a variety of eggs, red meat, chicken, rice, potato’s, pasta and fish.  You can prep it how you want but try to avoid the take aways, they consist of way to much salt for you and can have a negative effect.

I’ll also make a load of flapjack from oats and honey for the following days ride.  This is a great way of consuming some slow burning carbs, and if you think you don’t need to eat when you’re cycling then you’re wrong.  It’s suggested to eat as soon as twenty minutes into your ride, this is down to the energy your body requires and the amount you’ll be burning off when you start your ride.

Don’t forget to make sure you have enough fluids for the ride, there should be filling stations around the ride but take some money just incase there aren’t.

On the evening before the big day I’ll do a number of stretches, legs arms and back, followed with a nice warm bath.  Then off to bed for a good nights sleep,  it’s this bit that I struggle with and end up having a few beers.  This I might add is not a good thing to do the night before as the alcohol will cause the body to dehydrate before you even start your ride.  Then you’ll end up consuming double the amount of water you need and you’ll feel shagged by about halfway. At your own risk have a drink and if you do don’t moan all day cos your not really feeling it, Man up and suck it in nobody likes a moaner.

dragon ride
london 2 paris

Well it’s that day, the one you waited so long for.  The first thing you need to do is eat some breakfast, porridge is always a good start with that slow releasing energy.  Chuck in a few bananas and put some in you’re bag to take with you, wash it down with a nice coffee I’m more of a tea guy but coffee is ok for the day.

Once you’ve eaten have a little stretch and wait a second, there’s one really important thing you need to wait for and it could ruin you’re ride if it doesn’t happen.  You guessed it you need that morning poop, what ever you do you need to try and get this out the way sooner rather than later.  Don’t worry there’s usually toilets at these events but remember there’s going to be a lot of cyclists there all potentially with the same problem.

Once you have that out the way you’re ready, off to the event it is but don’t forget to take some spare clothes and a towel for after the event.  Some food or chocolate to eat on the way home may help but you know what you may like as comfort food.

When you get to your event you’ll need to sign in, this is a simple process but you’ll meet a load of cyclists now and its at this point I find the giggles kick in.  I’ll explain when you turn up you’ll see a load of bikes all over the place and cyclists wearing all the top kit, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see a cyclist turn up to an event in tatty kit.

This is what I call ’The Cock Off’, it’s here you’ll see those cyclists who wear all the gear and bring out their summer bike.  They’ll stand in line talking about how great they are and how fast they were going on the recent group ride.  You’ll look around and they might give you a little nod but don’t wait for it as there far to important to be wasting energy nodding, it’s these cyclists who don’t wave when you’re out on a ride.

No worries they won’t get in your way, sign in and get yourself ready, this is going to be a brilliant ride and you’ll nail it.  After all this is what you’ve trained so hard for, don’t worry about the cyclist who’s got the gear and a 10K bike.  It’s when you get to the start you’ll see everyone pumped up and ready to shoot of from the start.

Chill and relax, don’t feel like you have to fly off with all the others.  Take you’re time and ride at a nice steady pace, you’ll feel like everyones flying past you and that your going to slow, don’t worry this is what I call ‘Out the Blocks’.  You’ll see this at any event you go to, as soon as the officials say your clear to leave you’ll get a load of bikes wanting to get to the front.

Let them go don’t feel like you have to keep up with them, they won’t be doing that pace for the whole ride it’s just to look like there better than everyone else.  All you need to do is ride at you’re own pace and build up to a pace your happy with, it won’t be long till you’re passing those who set off at top speed and when you get to the first feed station you’ll see them panting and on the verge of bonking.

Make sure you fill you’re water bottles and get some food on board, don’t consume to much cake try and mix it up a bit.  The best feed stations have both savoury and sweet, this is the best way to fuel yourself.  If you have to much sugar you’ll end up dropping energy really quickly once you start off again, so try and vary the intake.

wells hill

Energy gels are a great invention but they can have a negative effect on you’re body.  You’ll know what I mean by this because you’ll get the feeling you want the loo, yep you’ll feel like you need a poop.  I have no idea why this is but I can tell you from experience it’s not good.

I try and keep the food intake to as natural as possible, bananas are great but one little trick I’ve found recently is Beetroot juice.  It tastes like crap but it really is good stuff, so I’ll have a glass in the morning about 30 mins before I ride and then I’ll take another one with me and have it at lunch time.  This ensures my energy levels will be sustained for the last part of the ride, even though I hate the taste the effects are brilliant so get a load of ‘Beet it’ in your cupboards.

When you’re out there covering the miles it’s always handy to try and bunch up, if you can join forces with another group of riders then brilliant but remember take your turn on point.  This way you’ll munch through the miles and also gain new friends along the way.

I know I mentioned the ones who have all the kit but there are loads who are like you and me, they just want to ride and have some fun along the way.  I’ve met some truly amazing riders out there on some of the toughest rides I’ve been on,  once you’ve worked out who the snobs are you’ll know they will not socialise with many others (unless there talking about themselves).

When you’re out on this epic journey don’t feel like it’s a race, go at the pace your happy with and over all have fun.  You may have a few hill’s to ride up or long arduous straights but the one thing you have to remember is, every mile you ride is a mile closer to the end.

When you get close to the end you’ll feel a steady urge of strength come from no where and it’ll carry you over the finish, I’ve rode loads of sportive events and it’s always the last ten miles I feel are the worst.  Like everything the one thing you need to try and train is your mind.  This is the most powerful part of your training and in the bigger picture the key to finishing.  If you can control the mind to forget about the pain and think about the finish you’ll fly all the way, hill’s are a good way of getting the mind trained and once you’ve mastered this you’ll be able to ride any distance you want.

London 2 Paris

When you ride over that finish line there’s a real sense of achievement that’ll flow through you’re veins.  Depending on the type of ride some may even get a little emotional, and why not you’ve just completed a big challenge.  It’s after you’ve finished and you’re getting changed that you need to take particular care.

Try and eat something with substance, ham and cheese sandwich or a bowl of noodles, even a nice bacon roll will help.  It’s at this point your body will be wanting to go into recovery mode, drink a recovery shake or what ever helps you feel better.  Some events have a massage facility that can help with you’re recovery but they aren’t the cheapest so I try and use the cold water over the legs.  This will help in stopping the lactic acids building up and making the legs ache like mad the following day.

Depending on the training you did and the way you stretched after the event will effect the way you’re legs feel the following day or even later in the day.  You’ll know when your legs are a bit sensitive when you try and walk up and down stairs, this is where I feel it but in a weird way I kinda like it and I know I’ve done that big ride I worked so hard to complete.

It’s recommended that you have a gentle recovery ride the day after or over the next few days, this is down to you really but the longer you leave it the heavier you’re legs will feel when you go out next.  Once you get into a routine you’ll be riding further and longer than you ever imagined.  One thing I must tell you though is that after any form of long exertion where you’re putting your body through some long levels of strain, this is when you’re most likely to catch an illness.  Make sure when you stop you keep warm, try and get out of the damp cycling kit as soon as possible.

I hope this has been of some help to you, I know some of it may sound a little hard but I’d rather you know the rough and smooth bits about the big ride you’re about to go on.  After all it’s probably the most addictive thing you’ll get into your mind, because once you’ve done 50 miles you’ll want to do 100 and 150+.  I know I’m there now I’d ride around the world if I could afford to take the time off.

Just remember its a great sport and its about enjoying it, as soon as you stop enjoying it you need to take a break.  If you meet some riders and there’s the token moaner you have two options, tell them to shut up or avoid them.  If you don’t they will ruin your cycling experience.  You don’t need to be around these people, ride with those who have fun and like a bit of banter.

See you on the next event, Stay safe and smile.