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How to make long rides better

We asked four riders known for long riding strength and general perseverance how they make pedaling for extended periods of time better. Read how Jack Thompson, Rebecca Rusch, Ted King and Olivia Dillon make more of every ride.
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Jack Thompson // Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Any long ride should start with thorough planning, especially when the ride is being undertaken alone. Carefully selecting the route, the re-feed points, the water refill locations and importantly the clothing you wear, will greatly impact the enjoyment of the ride itself. As the old saying goes…’failing to plan, is planning to fail!’

While the thought of a really long ride might be daunting to begin with, setting small goals along the way really helps to overcome the mental and physical challenge. For a 200km ride, you might set four goals along the route at 50km intervals. Music is a great motivator as is food. Try swapping out music genres or music all together, instead opting to listen to the nature that surrounds you as part of your journey. Similarly, reward yourself with good food along the way. It’s amazing what kind of motivation a good coffee and a fresh slice of cake can provide!

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Olivia Dillon // Homemade baked goods are part of the deal.

Some days I crave long solo rides where I get lost in my thoughts and don't count the miles or minutes going by. However, when I have the choice to ride with Tayler, that option of a shared experience is a no brainer plus homemade baked goods are usually part of the deal.

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Rebecca Rusch // Fuel is Fun

Plan ahead and have a safety plan: long solo rides are perfect for exploring your own back yard. But plan ahead…devise a route via maps at home. Maybe somewhere you haven’t gone or a connection you haven’t looped together yet. Get creative. Load the course into your phone or Garmin and away you go. Super fun to go new places you’ve never seen before, but not super fun to get lost out there. I also bring a Garmin InReach satellite device because I ride solo and out of cell range a lot. Be sure you have a way to communicate if something goes wrong.

Fuel is fun: Plan your nutrition for a multi-hour ride. I plan 200-300 calories and 24 oz of water per hour as a starting point. Keep on a steady schedule of fueling from the get go. If you fuel early and often, you’ll avoid the dreaded bonk a few hours in. Food makes you fast and makes a ride fun!

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Ted // Go out with goals in mind and carrots to chase.

I haven’t trained with formal intervals in years, but riding alone is the perfect time to enter a bit of structure into your ride. This will mix up the day, add intensity into an otherwise JRA-ride, and you’ll see improvement in your overall performance as much as you’ll see the time fly by. Structure can be literally anything other than “just riding along”. Try standing for a three minute stretch (180 seconds has never felt so long), pedal at a really high cadence, test out a low cadence. Mixing it up is the way to go.

Are intervals too much for you? Trust me, I get it. Do some exploring into segments and then go KOM hunting. Are crowns not in your grasp? Not an issue at all. PRs are a huge achievement unto themselves, so go out with goals in mind and carrots to chase.

The roads are as empty as we may ever see in our lifetimes. Cycling etiquette is perhaps more important now than ever. There are more cyclists on the road than ever and doing our part to show that we know how to be courteous and unobtrusive will go far in enhancing cyclist-motorist relations. Basically, despite the roads being scarce of cars, that’s not an invitation to ride in the middle of the road or ride three abreast. Don’t be left lane Larry.

Be prepared. Bring the tools and equipment you need to fix a flat and then another. Pack your pockets with nutrition (ahem, UnTapped) so that you don’t show up at your convenient store expecting a fueling refill only to find the doors closed.

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