Clear Icon
Search Icon
Clear Icon
Search Icon

How to Ride Long

Completing a long ride will fill your confidence cup to overflowing, but how do you work your way up to one? Here's everything you need to dream, plan, and execute your longest ride ever.

New Kid on the Block

Ready For a Big Day Out?

Here’s the thing: there’s no one definition for “long ride.” For some, a long ride goal will be taking their current 30-minute pedal around the park and ramping it up to an hour. Do it! For others, it’ll be building from 20 miles to 30, with a goal of tackling a 50-mile charity ride this year. And while we’re focusing on the longer end of the spectrum here, these tips can be applied to all kinds of riding. Here are four New Kid Know How topics on how to plan and ramp up your miles.

  1. Build Your Long
    Getting your body ready to go long.

  2. Grub and Gear
    What to eat and pre-ride checklist.

  3. Crush the Ride
    Strategies for your longest ride ever.

  4. 100 Mile Training Plan
    Dream bigger with a century training plan.

New Kid Know How

Build Your Long

You’re ready to commit, but where are you going to ride? And how is your body going to handle it? Before you get cracking on your Big Day Out campaign, we’ve compiled a few pointers that’ll help you gradually build up to your longest ride ever.

Listen to your body

Your new passion to ride gets us so stoked, but a word of warning: the biggest source of injury in new riders is too much too soon. Gradually build up week-over-week by adding distance or time, and then give your body a chance to catch up with your rampant enthusiasm. The key word here is "gradually"—your butt and legs will thank you for it.

Map a Short Loop

When you’re just starting out, one easy way to start riding longer is to plan a short loop that’s reasonably close to where you live. Make it repeatable—that way you can add "just one more" lap, yet still be within easy distance from home should you need to bail. Increase your speed and intensity as the weeks go by, and in no time, you’ll be bragging about how you’ve improved.

Think Big(ger)

When you have the hang of it, and you’re riding distances you wouldn't have dreamed possible weeks ago, perhaps it’s time to consider something that will take you way out of your comfort zone? Challenge yourself by setting a destination goal. For example: “In eight weeks, I’m going to ride out to Stony Point Lighthouse and back.” Eight weeks! Better start planning and training for that.

"Gran Fondos and charity rides are popular Big Day Out goals. They often have multiple distances to choose from—just pick a distance that makes you a little nervous. Rule of thumb is that most cyclists will be able to complete a ride that’s three times the distance of their average training ride without struggling too much."

Grub and Gear

New Kid Know How

It’s common to feel nervous when you’re contemplating your longest ride ever. You’re challenging yourself to do something you’ve never done before—go you! But you’re worried. Maybe it’s too ambitious? Maybe you won’t be able to finish it? First off—you can do this. And second—a little bit of planning goes a long way. Here are some tips on gear and fending off the dreaded “bonk.”

Argh! What should I eat?

  • If you’re riding less than an hour, you don’t need to take food—trust us, you’ll be fine.

  • For rides over two hours, bring along some ride snacks. The best kind of ride snack is one that fits easily into a jersey pocket—a banana, a gel, or a bar. Eat something about 45 minutes into the ride, then maybe every 20 to 30 minutes after that. Take a bite or so—just enough to keep your body fueled and the bonk at bay.

  • Drink often. A good rule of thumb is one bottle-per-hour, and on really hot days, drink more. On rides over two hours, plan a refill strategy. Some people will also add hydration mixes into their water, but be aware these can cause some issues. Trust us. You don't want your Big Day Out to be the day you discover your body really doesn’t dig the “Mega Awesome Sugar Rush Head Kick Power Boost Hydration Mix,͟ so try stuff in training first to see what works for you.

Long Ride Checklist

  • The Route:
    Make a turn-by-turn cue sheet for yourself, or use a mapping program like Strava or Ride with GPS to load the route to your map-enabled cycling computer.

  • Check the Weather:
    Look at the weather for the day of your ride and plan to dress accordingly. Chance of rain? Stuff a packable rain jacket in your pocket or wear a camelback to carry essentials.

  • Emergency Contact:
    Who are you going to call if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew (Which you haven’t, but just in case)? Let them know they’re on the hook.

  • On-bike Gear:
    Take flat supplies—at least two tubes for a long, long ride—and a multi-tool. Don’t know how to fix a flat? Learn here.

  • ID, Cash, and Phone:
    Put it all in a little plastic baggie to keep it together—it’ll also keep your phone dry if it rains. And your phone is not just for calls—take photos on your Big Day Out.

  • Food:
    As above, stick with stuff you’ve tried on rides before. If you do "bonk," use your cash to buy snacks at gas stations or cafés to bring yourself back to life.

  • Sunscreen:
    Take care of your skin. If you’re going to be out for a long time, consider taking some travel sunscreen with you for reapplication.

Crush The Ride

New Kid Know How

Your Big Day Out is here—it’s time to ride long. You already know what you’re going to eat, and what your goal is, and now you just have to enjoy getting through it. Here are a couple of strategies.

Pedal Smart

Don’t start charging out the gate from the first minute. Ride at a comfortable pace. Use your gears, and if you’re doing an event, don’t get caught up in the adrenaline of the start.

Stay Loose

Relax during the ride. Keep it loose and ride with your elbows bent and your shoulders and arms relaxed to help absorb road shock. Move your hand position periodically—from the hoods to the tops of the bars, and even to the drops if you want—to mitigate any niggles while riding.

New Kid Know How

100-Mile Training Plan

While your Big Day Out can be any distance you dream of, some of you will be looking down the road at the months ahead and declaring: “I’m gonna ride a century.” Kilometers or miles, this is an epic achievement. Here’s one potential training plan for a 100 miler that should see you through, but you’ll find plenty more online, too.

Workout Types

Rider’s Choice:You should take at least one rest day per week—where you do no physical activity—for one of these days. Many people will take the day after their long ride for this. Use the other Rider's Choice days for yoga, strength training, or easy spins.

A Fast Ride:Riding fast once a week helps build endurance—seriously. We’re talking about intervals here. Aim for four to six hard efforts during your workout. Make those efforts 30 secs to 2 mins long, with rest in between. Search online for interval suggestions.

A Steady Ride:This is a ride that’s not at full gas, but is a mix of a few longer efforts during the ride, at about 80-85% of your flat out. Or to put it another way, ride hard for a couple of longer spells, but don’t blow yourself up.

A Long Ride:You're actually building two types of fitness on a long ride—physical and 'saddle fitness.' Train your body to spend hours riding in the saddle. Each week adds more time and miles. You’re going to crush this

Did you Hundo for Fundo?

Worth It Will Do

Centuries are awesome—that’s why we added it as a goal on our Worth It Will Do bucket list for 2018. If you’ve completed a century, you deserve the “I Hundo For Fundo” badge, available from the Instagram Stories sticker option (search Worth It under "GIFs" and they should pop up). Did you know there’s a printable list with all 30 Will Do badges to earn, now available for download? Once you’ve done your century—go see what else you can aim for in 2018.

Terms Used in This Article:

BONK: Sometimes on a long or hard ride, you forget to eat. This causes a severe loss of energy. To bonk means you’re totally spent on a ride. Eat something!

GRAN FONDO: An entry-fee event, typically with multiple distance options with anything from 25 to over 100 miles or kilometers. They usually offer swag, food, and good vibes, too. Mostly casual, but fast folks line up at the front.

HOODS: On the corners of your handlebar, there are rubber hoods that cover your brake levers. Riding with your hands there is a common and comfortable handlebar position.

DROPS: On typical road handlebars (the curly ones), you’re in the drops when you place your hands on the lower, or curved, part of the bars. You can still work your brakes from this position.

HUNDO: A century ride—one that’s either 100 miles or kilometers. A 100km ride is also called a "metric century."

TOPS: A handlebar positon whereby your hands are on the top, straight part of the bars.