Here’s our second installment of a series of handy two-wheeled tips written by cycling journalist Hannah Reynolds, offering advise on everything from nutrition to cycling technique.
Hannah has been guiding for Skedaddle for a good few years now and is one of the masterminds behind our popular St Malo to Nice journey. Alongside enjoying France’s best croissants on a regular basis (not jealous at all) she can be frequently found on our road cycling holidays across Europe. Having been the fitness editor at Cycling weekly for 15 years, she is also the author of three cycling books: France en Velo, Get on your Bike and Fitter, Faster, Further; so it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about the world of cycling. Now, let’s jump into this weeks topic, which is all about getting fit for your upcoming cycling holiday…
Getting fit for your cycling holiday will help you to make the most of the trip and have more fun!
Once you have booked your cycling holiday it’s time to think about preparing yourself for it. The fitter you are the more enjoyment you will get out of each day’s ride; you will have more energy in the evenings for sight-seeing and enjoying the local cuisine and you will recover better overnight ready for the next day.
Getting fitter doesn’t have to mean an arduous and serious training plan. For most cycling holidays specific training isn’t necessary however ensuring the daily distances are well within your capabilities will mean that you remain fresh enough to enjoy the stunning scenery and interesting culture around you. The first step is as simple as spending a bit more time on your bike.
Find out the typical distance you will be expected to ride day to day on your trip. If this is not a distance you are already comfortable doing on a regular basis, then it’s time to build up your mileage. Try adding as little as 10% to the distance of your longest ride once a week so that over 6-8 weeks you can cover the full distance. You don’t have to be able to ride it all in one go as on a trip there will be regular stops and of course the infamous Skedaddle picnic.
Day to Day riding
When you are on a cycling holiday the challenge is riding comfortably day after day. Once you are used to the daily distances it is worth getting in some practice doing back to back rides. One easy way to incorporate this into your week is to cycle to work. The distances don’t have to be the same as you will do on the tour but it will help your body, brain and bottom to get used to sitting on a saddle and pedalling several days in a row. If you are short on time you will improve your fitness more with several regular short rides a week instead of just one long one.
We’ve already mentioned your bottom, saddle discomfort is no joke, making sure you have decent padded cycling shorts and your bike is correctly fitted should prevent any pains in this area. Regular riding will help you to get used to your position on the bike and strengthen your muscles, particularly those of your torso, neck and shoulders which can start to ache after a long day’s ride if you are not used to your cycling position. Learning some stretches for cyclists can also help during your preparation and whilst on your holiday.
There are few cycling trips where you can avoid hills altogether (and for those who seek pancake flat riding, we recommend you check out our Holland trips) but climbs are not to be feared, the stronger you are the more you can enjoy them. Believe it or not, some cyclists even deliberately seek out the toughest climbs on our mountain challenges. You can prepare yourself for hills even if you live somewhere completely flat, the key is to pedal continuously at an effort level that leaves you feeling slightly out of breath. If someone asked you a question you would only be able to answer with one or two words at a time. To accustom your legs to the strain of pushing up a gradient use a harder gear and a slower cadence of around 60 rpm, so you do one complete revolution of the pedals per second.
Slowly building up your cycling fitness with regular rides before your trip is much better than jumping in at the deep end with a full week of riding if you are not used to it. It also gives you a chance to find out what foods and drinks you enjoy whilst you are cycling to fuel your ride. Don’t forget, it’s important that you learn to drink plenty of fluids while on your bike, particularly if your trip is in a hot climate.
TOP 5 SKEDADDLE TIPS:
– Build up the distance of your long ride by no more than 10% per week.
– Short rides done regularly is better for your fitness than the occasional really long ride.
– Ride back to back days to get used to life on tour.
– Learn some stretching and strengthening exercises.
– Practice riding for 5-20 minutes at an effort level where you are slightly out of breath.