So you ride your bike and you like it. Now you want to ride your bike more? Maybe even race your bike for long distances? That's cool. Part of having fun while you race comes from being prepared. The other part includes glitter, dance parties, and unicorns, but we will save that for another post.
You get to eat real food.
Yes you read that correctly. Your snack game was instantly elevated when you decided to go long. Without the worry about running off the bike (we aren't tri-retired quite yet) your stomach can handle some heavier, more solid foods. And unless you went out like a buttered bullet chances are you are riding at a steady effort. Your lowered heart rate and intensity leaves more blood in your stomach to aide with the breakdown and digestion of food. Nutrition and fueling needs change significantly when one is riding longer distances.
You are going to want that nice saddle.
While you are emptying out your bank account for a nice saddle you'll want to make sure you sprung for the bike fit too. Making sure your bike fitter understands what you are training for is important. While a great saddle and awesome fit will help make you more comfortable, nothing takes the place of good ole' time in the saddle.
Your points of contact with the bike will need some attention.
Not just that booty, I am talking about your hands and feet too. Consider using a forearm and wrist developer for increased strength and to lessen your chance of developing nerve entrapment while riding.
Your feet are going to swell.
You might look like you're 11 months pregnant with triplets. Consider a back up pair of shoes that are at least one size larger than normal. Pack scissors too because there is a chance you will have to cut those suckers up when they are strangling your toes. If you ride for 12 hours with an average RPM (revolutions per minute) of 70 you have likely made over 50,000 revolutions of the pedal. That is the kinda work we reward with a foot massage.
You are going to want to hit the weights.
Think all you need are strong legs to be a good cyclist? Think again. Something has to be strong enough to hold that melon of yours up for hours. Lets not forget about the all important core muscles either. They are, after all, aptly named CORE for a reason.
This is a team sport.
While most races will give you just one finishers medal, we all know this is a massive team effort. Your "crew" are the selfless people who are going to help you get to your finish line unscathed (but not unchanged!). Ultra cycling is a competitive sport and people are trying to win, but rarely will you find an athletes crew that is unwilling to aide another rider or their crew when they are in need. Its what we do.
The world looks different from a bike.
There is something really attractive about ultra sports. The elusiveness of it, the thrill of your body doing things you were not sure it could even do. Being awake when you should be asleep. Riding at night and hearing noises you don't get to ever hear. Your perspective is different when you pass by something on a bike. Your perspective will change when you finish something you didn't think you were capable of doing.
Want more specific tips on fueling for races, strength training, tips for crewing and more? Follow the horn and stay tuned....