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When you are tackling a long distance cycling ride, whether it is a ride to the next town or a charity challenge London to Paris bike ride or one of the many charity challenges UK organisations hold throughout the year, there are a few obstacles that you will need to consider along the way. Being prepared for these problems will ensure that you can face them more easily and be more successful in your long term bike ride.
Here are some of the major options that cyclists are faced with on a long distance journey:
Cars on the Road
One of the main dangers is being hit by a vehicle when riding on the road. Sometimes you might find yourself on a busy road with not much of a hard shoulder and very little room for cyclists. It is important to make sure that you are wearing the appropriate safety gear and reflective clothing and that you are riding on cycling paths rather than on the road whenever possible. If you must share the road with the cars, make sure that you are riding defensively and that you are very aware of what is happening around you. Don’t listen to music on your headphones while riding your bike, it’s too dangerous because you can’t hear cars approaching.
When cycling for long distances there is also a risk of saddle sores, which is when the skin of your inner thighs, buttocks and nether regions becomes rubbed raw from contact with the bike seat. To avoid this is it important to make sure that you are in the right position and that your bike has the right fit. Also, a good pair of cycling shorts is also important. Keep everything clean down there to minimise irritation and the risk of infection and use mild antiseptic cream on your skin.
A long distance bike ride is a considerable physical challenge and along the way you might find yourself getting very exhausted and fatigued. You can keep your energy up and prevent fatigue by ensuring that you eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water. Make sure that you are aware of your body’s limits while you are training and that you don’t push yourself beyond them. Take a break every now and then if you need to, so that you can replenish your energy and feel better.
What happens if you blow out a tire or snap a gear while you are on the road? Having bike issues can really slow you down on your long distance journey, so make sure that you can deal with them when they come up. It is a good idea to have a puncture repair kit with you and a few bike repair tools so that you can fix your bike even when you are on a road in the middle of nowhere. Also, every time you stop for a break you should give your bike a good inspection, so that you can spot any issues before they arise.
Getting a leg cramp can be a very painful experience and it can really slow down your cycling. Researchers don’t know exactly why we get leg cramps, but there are a few theories. The first is that leg cramps are caused by simple dehydration and loss of electrolytes due to sweating, although there is very little medical evidence to support this. Another explanation is that leg cramp is caused by neuromuscular fatigue, which is due to repetitive use of the muscle. That fatigue contributes to a breakdown in the normal neuromuscular pathways that control the movement of our muscles. This can be caused by inadequate conditioning, increased intensity, increased duration, hot or humid environments or a decreased supply of energy.
In order to reduce the risk of leg cramp it is important to stretch before you ride, which will increase the range of movement and help your muscles to work more efficiently. Also, strength training is helpful as it will increase the power and efficiency of your muscles.
It is also important to know your “threshold” and to avoid cycling above your limits, as pushing yourself too far will contribute to neuromuscular fatigue.
These are just a few of the major obstacles that face cyclists when they are on long distance journeys such as charity events, as well as strategies for dealing with these obstacles.