Every competitive cyclist can probably relate to the feeling of effortlessly gliding through the first half of a long ride only to lose strength later, but there are tricks for keeping your energy up. Here is a look at how to avoiding fading out at the end.
Tips for Keep Your Energy on a Long Ride
- Save your strength: On a certain level we all know this, but it can be a hard psychological battle when you see others pushing themselves from the beginning. Just remember that you have a limited amount of endurance in those quick-twitch muscles. A jolt of speed now will cost you one at the end of the race. Conserve the muscle strength you think you’ll need to power through the last stretch.
- Practice pacing: The standard advice is to try to keep yourself at about 70 percent of your max heart rate during a long ride. Try using a heart monitor to practice exerting yourself at that level. This will help you stay in the habit of balancing performance with endurance.
- Hydrate regularly: Don’t forget to stay hydrated. The rule for centuries and other long rides is to drink a full bottle of water every hour.
- Don’t wait to start snacking: If you don’t snack on a long ride it’s going to get really hard really quickly. If you gorge later in the ride, that can also be a huge problem. Don’t wait to start snacking. Starting consuming around 150 calories per hour after the first hour.
- Hold back a little: It’s usually not a good idea to burn all that energy struggling to stay at the front throughout the race. It’s ok to hang back, especially in the beginning. Your position at the start has little to do with your overall performance.
- Alternate positions: Sitting the same way the entire ride with wear out your supporting and balancing muscle groups. Alternate to give those muscles a rest.
Any athlete will tell you that the true secret to surviving a long ride happens before you even start. You need to put in the time while training. Knowing a few tricks, however, can give you an edge on the day.
Frederick M. Dudek is a San Diego personal injury attorney and cycling enthusiast with a passion for empowering victims of bicycle accidents and other forms of injury.