Pay Attention to Recovery
All the time on the bike puts a real overload on your body. If you don't work on your recovery your body will remain in a broken-down state and you won't be able to train effectively nor ride well. After a ride:
- Be sure to drink enough non-alcoholic beverages after a ride. Weigh yourself before and after a ride and for every pound you've lost drink a pint of fluid.
- Eat high-quality carbohydrate to replace the muscle glycogen that you've burned and eat a salty snack if you have sweated a lot.
- Elevate your legs to get the blood flowing. Stretch after the ride to loosen up tight muscles and continue stretching most days while you train.
Focus on Short-Term Goals
An ultra-distance ride always has at least one mentally tough section. For me it's the ugly middle. I start out fresh and excited by the ride and then I start to get tired. It's a long way to the finish and I can't imagine riding that far! Finally, I can smell the barn and my energy revives. In between is the ugly middle!
When you get to the ugly middle don't think about how far you have to go. Focus on just riding to the top of this climb...or the next 10 miles...or the next rest stop. Bite off and chew one chunk of the ride at a time.
Practice pacing yourself on your long rides. You should always be able to talk! Even on the climbs you should be able to talk in short sentences, although not sing or whistle. Learn to expend your energy evenly throughout the day rather than going too hard and then fading.
Learn Not to Stress Out
Learn to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. When you get too stressed, your breathing tends to get ragged, which disrupts your smooth, efficient pedal stroke.
If something unexpected happens such as a strong headwind, mechanical problem or upset stomach, just focus on your breathing and relax for a minute or two. Then ask yourself "How bad is this really?" "Is this something in my control (fixing the mechanical) or something I'll just have to put up with (the headwind)?"
Since you like riding your bike what could be more fun than all day in the saddle! You'll meet new riders and perhaps riding partners. Take a few business cards to exchange. You'll experience the flow of the day from early morning until early evening. You'll have a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you finish. Follow these suggestions and you'll have a great ride!cycling event.