Dress for success
Having the right clothing is key to a comfortable ride. Before you set about cycling for several hours it’s worth investing in a pair of high-quality cycling shorts, a jersey and a good pair of gloves; surprisingly, the biggest source of pain on a long ride is often the friction on your hands. Wet weather gear is essential too – a waterproof gilet or jacket, a cap and overshoes are extras that can go a long way to making your ride more enjoyable. What’s more, these things will fold up small enough to fit into the pockets of your jersey.
Our Women’s 100 collection including jersey, bib shorts, bra, socks and cap will launch soon.
Check your equipment
Riding long distance on a bike that’s not working properly is frustrating and unnecessary. As a minimum you should check your tyres for wear, and lube your chain before you set out on any ride. Ahead of the day, a full bike service is vital to avoid dramatic surprises when you’re far from home or your destination. On every ride you should carry one or more inner tubes, tyres levers, a multi-tool and a pump (or some CO2 cartridges, although they’re hugely wasteful). And, if the thought of changing a tyre scares you to death, practise before you ride – there’s no excuse for not being able to fix a roadside puncture.
Easy does it
100km is a long way for any rider. If you’ve never ridden the distance before the best approach is to build up slowly, beginning with shorter distances. Setting appropriate goals and taking small but incremental steps is a tried and tested way of scaling up your mileage. Many of us save the weekend for our longest rides, but building one or two shorter rides into your week is important too. Entering a shorter event a few weeks before the Women’s 100 is a good way to check your progress.
Know what’s ahead
Rookie mistakes can make for a miserable day on the bike. Before you set out on any ride you should know the weather forecast and the profile of the route. If you’re starting early it’s very likely that the day will warm up, so the key is to wear layers that can easily be put on or taken off. And if you’re heading to the hills, a jacket or gilet is key – when the gradient goes up you’ll get warm on the ascent and cool on the way down.
Don’t go hungry
Nutrition is a number one priority. “The meal the night before a long ride is vital,” says ex-professional rider Julie Krasniak. She recommends, “a good plate of pasta, quinoa, rice, bulgur wheat or lentils”. Other tips include avoiding alcohol and overly fatty foods in the days running-up to an event. And you’ll certainly need to take some solid food with you for the ride itself. “Sports nutrition companies offer a wide range of products, but traditional food also has its place. Dried mango or papaya or nuts such as almonds are healthy and free of chemical additives. Fruit and almond bars are also stalwarts for snacking in the saddle. I’ve even been known to tuck a croissant in my pocket”, says Krasniak.
Drink, drink, drink
Professional riders take hydration very seriously and so should you. During any ride you need to replace the fluid that your body loses as you sweat. One way to do this is to use low-glucose energy powders, or sports drinks. High glucose, sugary drinks, “ultimately make you feel thirstier and cause your blood glucose levels to peak and then fall,” says Krasniak. Hitting that low is sometimes called bonking – you may feel weak, tired, light headed and even anxious. “You need to drink and eat right from the first few kilometres and drink before you start to feel the need because once you’re actually thirsty, it’s already too late. A coke during the last 15 kilometres will often work if you’re looking for an extra burst of energy and a clear head!”
Don’t go it alone
Riding with friends is much more fun than riding alone and it makes the challenge of 100km seem far less daunting. But it’s best to try and ride with cyclists of a similar level – there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re holding others back, or indeed feeling frustrated and getting cold because the pace is too slow. Cycling in a group also makes the miles tick by far quicker, especially if you all take a turn at the front of the group. If you’re not confident riding with a group then start by riding as a three or four. Many cycling clubs offer cycle training for those who want to learn group riding skills.
Have a plan
Everyone needs a plan when they are training for an event. Build up your mileage gradually until you’re hitting the kind of distance you need to ride, but be flexible and make sure your training suits you and your lifestyle – the rides in this guide can be done back to back on a Saturday and Sunday, or split across the week. If the weather turns bad during a ride don’t feel compelled to keep going, and if you miss a ride don’t worry. Never ride if you are ill or overtired – you’ll pay for it later.
This plan starts with the assumption that you’ve already got some base miles in your legs.
Five weeks to success
Visit our Women’s 100 hub to find a training ride near you