7 Tips to Improve Your Cycling Long Distance

If you are planning to do a long-distance ride, regardless of whether it is 20,50,100,200km long, these tips will differently help you cover more miles with much less effort. All 7 things helped me a lot through the years of cycling and that I consider being the most important especially for longer rides, so let’s start.

1. Start Slow

As soon as you hop on the bike, you are very motivated for the ride that is in front of you, people normally tend to cycle a lot faster those first few miles. You are probably full of energy, ready to start a new ride and reach your destination as soon as possible.

But what I suggest is to start slow, the last thing you want to happen to you is to lose all your energy at the beginning of the ride and then struggle to finish it. So start slow and then you can gradually raise the speed if necessary.

2. Lower Gearing

I was surprised how many people do not change their gears at all or do it poorly, which is a big mistake. Because gearing can make a huge impact on your ride, especially long term. These are some tips on how and when you should change your gear.

When the terrain is flat it’s recommended that you pedal at a cadence of around 70-100 RPM which is usually the gear in which you normally cycle.

You want to use your gears to maintain your cadence despite the terrain you are riding. So for example, if you are cycling uphill you want to select an easier gear so you can maintain your cadence. I personally love to cycle in slightly easier gear throughout the whole ride, and that way save some energy so I can cycle for a longer time and also cover more miles.

3. Load whit Carbs

Before starting your ride you want to fuel yourself, and it’s very important what you are going to eat before and during the ride. Any sort of carbs is a no-brainer for these situations where physical activity is required.

Before the ride, you can eat any meal that has lots of carbohydrates around 50-90g is a great spot. This meal should keep you going for around 1,5-2,5 hours before the next snack.

During the ride, you can carry all kinds of food on your bicycle. This is the list of things that I prefer to bring whit me during my rides.

  1. Banas (my favorite)
  2. Energy bars
  3. Energy gels
  4. Nuts
  5. Sandwiches
  6. Chocolate

Your belly should be full for at least one hour after eating one snack. A few small meals are always better than one big meal, so make sure to eat them regularly, every couple of hours or so.   

4. Proper Body position

This is one of those things that can easily be fixed but have a lot of impact on your ride in general. You can become more aerodynamic without spending any money. Simply lower your body on the front ends every time you go into some higher speed, so less of your body will take the wind. It means you will cycle faster whit the same amount of effort.

One more tip is to change the position of your hands throughout the ride. If your hands are in the same place for too long it might cause numbness which is not good at all. So, change the spot where you put the hands every now and then whenever you remember, it’s not that big of a deal but it is good to know.

5. Good bike setup

Before every ride especially long-distance ones you want to make sure that your bike is set up well. That every part is working properly and that you always have basic tools whit you on the bike.

Surely, you need somewhere to store water, food, tools, a tent, clothes, and other stuff depending on where are you going and how long will you stay. The most popular types of bike bags are panniers, frame bag, handlebar bag, saddle bag…

It is important to spread the weight, no matter what kind of bag you use, not all the weight needs to be at the end of the bike or vice versa. Additionally, if all the weight is closer to the center of the bike, it will be more stable and it will be much easier for you to cycle.

I personally use a GPS computer on my bike, it’s not necessary but it can help a lot whit measuring speed, distance, average speed, navigation, etc.

6. Training and good Rest

Training is also very important if you want to improve and cover more distance each time you ride. Instead of training just a few days before the ride, you should train at least 2-3 weeks in advance. And the key thing that I found most effective when it comes to training is consistency.

This is what I would do if I had to prepare for a long ride right now.

For example, If I have 14 days to prepare, this is kinda what it would look like  

DaysType of exercisekm(miles)/per day
1ride a bike20(12.4)
3ride a bike30(18.6)
5 ride a bike 40(24.8)
7 ride a bike 55(34.1)
9 ride a bike 70(43.4)
11 ride a bike 100(62.1)

This is what I would do, it’s that simple. Just rest and ride a bicycle. That is what I found that works the best for me. I think that’s because I gradually increase kilometers while also having enough rest days and mussels have enough time to recover.

7. Clip Pedals

If you want to take your cycling game to next level you should consider buying one of these pedals. Ask any professional cyclist and they will tell you that the best investment you can make is a pair of good clip pedals.

They will make your legs feel much more connected whit a bike and your feet are less likely to slip off a pedal. Numerous studies have shown that these pedals increase overall efficiency and sprint power by up to 10% which is pretty significant especially for longer rides. 

Bonus Tips

These are some bonus tips that I think are also worth mentioning.

Planning the ride can be very helpful, not exactly for covering more miles, but for other important things. Before every ride, you want to plan every small section of it. Where you will take breaks, fill up your bottles, etc. Then you can cycle in peace.

The right Mindset is as important as the physical side of things. There are a lot of methods out there on how to improve your tolerance to pain and how to endure when it is hardest. But for that, I am going to write a separate article.

Drinking a lot of water is also very important for your overall performance during the ride. Especially in the summertime, you want to take at least 2 bottles of water and fill them regularly. You can also add an electrolyte to your water to bring back the minerals that you lose through sweating.

Listen to your body if you are not feeling good enough to continue the ride, just stop. Don’t push over your limits because you can cause a nasty injury that will take days for you to recover.

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