Cycling is great cross-training for Nordic skiing. And, just like a ski marathon, a long-distance road ride is a great way to maintain your fitness and challenge yourself during those months you can’t be on your skis.
Katie Lindquist, elite Master’s competitor in Nordic skiing, road biking and mountain biking and cycling, and Nordic ski coach offers her top 10 tips for your long-distance cycling adventures this summer:
1. Get Your Bike Checked Out
Get your bike checked over by a mechanic, including the tires, rim tape, drivetrain, spokes, rims and brake pads, and tighten all bolts. Prevention is cheaper than a costly repair, especially if you’re well into a ride and need a rescue!
2. Switch to Bigger Tires
If you haven’t already made the switch to a bigger tire, now is the time. A 25-28 mm tire is more durable, more comfortable, and is typically faster due to better control and a bigger contact patch.
3. Join AAA
Not only will they assist you with auto roadside emergencies, but they will also come get you if you’re riding your bike and get stranded.
4. Think in Time, Not Miles
Anyone can ride a sub-six-hour century in the Midwest, but in the Colorado Rockies, on a ride covering over 7,000 feet of climbing at elevation, you need to pace, eat, drink and enjoy! Be prepared to spend 7-10 hours on your bike by spending seven or more hours on your bike when you train. A prepared body starts with a prepared mindset!
5. Get Some Rest
Get a good night’s sleep TWO nights before the actual ride. Yup, do not worry about the night before and the restless sleep you will most likely have. That is nature’s way of making sure that you are prepared, wake up and have everything you need. Let that bad night of sleep roll off your shoulders. You are prepared because you focused on a good night’s sleep earlier in the week.
6. Eat Real Food
Eat food, real food. Rice balls, mini burritos, cheese sticks, fruit and good old PB and J sandwiches will power you much better than a commercial energy bar typically held together with raisin paste and apple pectin. Both are hard on the gut and get old quickly. I still use commercial bars when I need to, but real food is so much better and cheaper!
7. Use Chamois Butter
Chamois butter is your friend, once it’s on. Like sunscreen, it always seems like too much trouble to put on, but your skin will appreciate both sunscreen and chamois butter applications, even during the ride!
8. Keep a Steady Intake of Calories
Bonking is NOT certain death. In fact, you can typically rally from that dizzy, fatigued feeling within 5-10 minutes just by eating. Eat, drink, eat some more, and soon your mood and body will feel better. A cyclist can burn up to 600 calories per hour of riding, and we typically eat a gel an hour or maybe ½ a bar. That’s only 100 calories. It’s easy to do the math on how quickly a cyclist can get into a deficit. During a long ride, it’s not the time to diet. The point is to enjoy riding, not feel awful and then avoid riding altogether. Cut calories at other times in your day, not while riding!
9. Measure with Fun
Keep track of your rides by fun factor: folks you rode with, how you felt, goals reached. Objective measures are more interesting and keep you motivated and hopefully enjoying the ride. Mileage, body weight and speed can motivate some, but not everyone. If it’s not working, try something different!
10. Equipment Check
Make sure you have a working bike, tool kit (with spare tubes, patch kit, tire irons, wrench set and $20 cash), a helmet, good sunglasses, gloves (I prefer full finger, no padding), cycling clothes, high-visibility socks, sunscreen and chamois butter. Leave your day-to-day life at home and enjoy the ride!