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Top Tips (Part 2) for your first Ride25 cycling adventure

Cycling Blog

Top Tips (Part 2) for your first Ride25 cycling adventure

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June 6th, 2014

Tricia Bacon is one of our Ride25 riders who has already completed her first 2 Ride25 legs and is about to embark on her 3rd leg from Geneva to Milan. Here are her top tips (part 2) designed for those of you who are about to embark (or thinking of booking) your first Ride25 cycling tour… There is some really useful stuff here – both for beginner cyclist and seasoned pros, and if you would like to read her Top Tips (part 1) please click here.

Yorkshire Grand Depart route - cycling photosTIP NUMBER 6 – Get a peloton or find a partner

You may be intending to ride with a friend and that’s great. However sometimes due to fitness, speed, and how everyone rides on the day you might find you ride with others you don’t know and they will love it too. I would always advise you never ride alone as you might need help with punctures etc and it’s more fun as well as being safer in 2 or more. Recently up in Harrogate on the Yorkshire Grand Depart in April,  Gary and I hooked up as riders very early on and stayed together until the end which was great and really motivating for us both. And I’m looking forward to seeing you again Gary next week! We also created a peloton with 5 others in the last 25 miles (thanks to Nick, Adrian, Adam, Marcus and Jules) which was so good as each of us took it in turns to be at the front and we stayed close on the rider in front’s back wheel and with the drafting it made it easier. I went up alps d’huez a few years ago applying a similar approach where another rider (Kevin) and I agreed to stay together and each of us took it in turns to be in front knowing we were a similar level having cycled in a group together for the week. It worked and was very motivating.

TIP NUMBER 7 – Use your small cog at the front

You may have a Compact, Double or Triple bike but I won’t and can’t get very technical. But, you have a small and big cog at the front (or 3 cogs on your triple) and I highly recommend you using the smaller cog so you don’t pull too much on your thighs. I know over the years I had tended to stay in my large cog whenever I could but then found being able to ‘spin’ my legs a little more meant I could cover the miles with the legs feeling as exhausted. Jen Allum – you also advised this on the Chilterns ride last year which was a great help so thank you. I also still watch what gear others are in and still ask lots of questions and would encourage you to do this too.

Yorkshire Grand Depart route - cycling photosTIP NUMBER 8 – ‘Dance’ on the Downhills

I found the downhills very scary at first in the Alps as so long and sweeping and I was advised to ‘dance’ with the breaks! This was such a great tip and as a cautious rider downhill I move my hands on to my dropbars before the downhill starts so have more control of the brakes than on the tops. I then work lightly on the brakes alternating each hand so that I’m not slamming on the brakes which I did start doing  particularly on the corners which isn’t good, particularly in the wet.  Keep your hands moving as I have had numb hands from long descents and if in doubt stop and take a little break. Also, on the corners always try to look ahead and where the road is going rather than focussing too much on the few metres in front of you. And one more tip, as you go in to a corner or the road curves always lift the knee up so you are leading in to the corner with that leg.

TIP NUMBER 9 – Go commando…

And invest in Chamois cream.  I never knew it wasn’t the done thing to wear knickers under your shorts as Sally my roomie pointed this out to me as I was getting dressed for my first weekend road cycling in North Wales in 2008. The ‘do you/don’t you’ question still creates must debate… I have never worn knickers underneath my shorts and it’s worked well as there’s no rubbing with layers and that’s more the norm. But, don’t change something at this stage would be my advice if it works for you. And invest in Chamoix cream… Again I haven’t used it but know people that swear by it and both as a preventative of chaffing and getting sore as well as a cure. And my advice would be to pack a pot just in case…. This isn’t the time to be dreaming of what you don’t have. And it will get easier on your bottom as the days progress but depending on how many 5 hour + rides you have completed will mean you will love your padded shorts and maybe that cream all the more.

DSC_4635-copyTIP NUMBER 10 – Enjoy and Mind-over-matter will kick in too

And be aware of the miles with your milometer that is a must to keep your mind focused on where you are at, what more you need to be eating and drinking,etc.   You may be experiencing some trepidation as well as adrenaline and excitement. You are about to experience the most epic adventure. I think I have laughed and cried on all the trips… And arriving in Geneva last year brought tears to my eyes. It’s such a feat of camaraderie and the people you meet at the start of the trip are so different to those at the end… You will love it but there will be times you wonder if you can keep going (you can…)… If you will make it (you will…) and your determination will get you there! Your body will surprise you just what it is capable of and your mind will kick in… And chant Pain is weakness leaving the body! Good luck and enjoy!  We are on our way to Sydney!

P.S whilst my motto is ‘the support van is not an option….’ I have surrendered and got in (just the once!) and know that we all have our limits …

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