You don’t need to be a track star to go on a long-distance bike ride. Even a regular daily cyclist can easily endure a day-long ride; all you need are the right bike tools and other essentials to aid the journey. To complete a long ride of 100 kilometres and above, you need comfort on the saddle and optimal energy levels to keep up with the peddling.
Here are four essentials that will ensure comfortable and safe long rides:
- Choose the Right Bike
Riding long distances is not the same as a daily commute. On a long-distance ride, comfort and pedalling efficiency are far more critical than high speeds. Additionally, particular importance needs to be given to individual parts of the bike like the stem, gear cassettes and handlebar.
Choose a bike with not too low a handlebar setting; a low handlebar causes pain in the lower back, shoulder and neck as the ride day progresses. Meanwhile, the bike you choose should have good low gears with a wide-ratio cassette, as this will ensure that you do not burn out on uphills during the hot afternoons.
- Tools and Spares
It is absolutely crucial to carry spares and tools on your long ride. Having a basic understanding of bicycle mechanics and repairs will save you a lot of money and hassle while on the road. The most crucial spare to have in your inventory is a quality puncture repair kit. The kit should include a correct valve type spare innertube. Along with the tube, you should have puncture patches; you can switch to self-sealing patches over traditional patches to save space and ease of use. Besides that, keep two quality tyre levers to make the repair work slightly hassle-free. You should have best stem-mounted smartphone bike mounts.
Meanwhile, do not forget to carry a mini air pump to inflate the tyres. Depending on space availability, you can choose to go with a long pump that fits the frame or a floor pump. Carbon dioxide cartridges can also be a handy option.
Additionally, carry a small tool kit with Allen keys and Torx keys recommended for your bike. Along with it carry a screwdriver and chain splitter. An absolute lifesaver would be cable ties, as it is a temporary fix for various unexpected breakdowns.
- Choosing the Right Outfit
A knit fabric close-fit jersey would be the best choice for a long day of riding. These jerseys ensure that the sweat is well wicked and doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable during warm afternoons. A specialised cycling jersey will have multiple pockets and ventilation zippers. Also, with the jersey, add lycra padded shorts, as this will allow you to paddle longer without sore bottoms.
Choose mitts with padding at strategic locations in the palm region. This padding, combined with good quality bar tapes, will ensure maximum comfort for your palms.
Carry a pair of tinted sunglasses for a daytime ride to avoid harmful sun glares. And, do not forget to carry a pair of clear glasses for the evening ride; this will keep bugs from hitting your eyes.
Always have a windproof jacket with reflectors for protection from chilly winds and maximum visibility for the traffic on the road. Generally, these jackets can be folded into your pocket so they won’t take up too much space.
Cycling shoes are highly recommended because, unlike regular shoes, cycling shoes have a stiff sole which allows maximum pedalling efficiency and comfort. Regular shoes have shoelaces that may get entangled in the chain and can be very dangerous for the rider.
- Snacks and Liquid for the Road
Keeping your energy levels high and staying hydrated are the most important factors when it comes to long-distance riding. Carry a large refillable bottle of water and electrolyte mix. Hydration packs can be a great choice too, but they may cause slight discomfort due to weight during a long-distance ride.
Carry snacks that can give you a quick boost of energy. Snacks with simple carbohydrates are the best choice, like bananas, granola bars, energy bars or a protein bar. Stick to simple food when on the road, and do not indulge in greasy, fatty food as it will hamper your ability to ride longer distances.
A long-distance ride needs adequate preparation. With the right bike tools, comfortable outfit and energising snacks and drinks, you can ensure that you can easily cover the distance you never thought you could before. Finally, before leaving on a long ride:
- Ensure to inform family and friends about your whereabouts and keep location and tracker on at all times. If you are an absolute beginner at cycling, it’s best to increase your mileage gradually.
- Do a few trial rides to get accustomed to all your pieces of equipment and bike.
- Do not introduce new, untested elements on the ride day; stick only to components and gears you understand well.