Top tips to ride a tonne
It’s amazing to see so many cyclists on the road - in fact outside my house it’s like the Tour de France! However, it’s got me thinking, ‘do any of the riders want to ride a tonne?’
Doing a 100-mile ride is great way to test your endurance and the benefits you will get from this are off the chart.If you are looking to ride your first tonne or if you have done it a few times, these tips may come in handy:
1. Ensure you have all the kit
Yes, having the right kit is key and it may seem like an obvious thing to say. You will need padded shorts (trust me these are key) a lightweight jersey or waterproofs depending on the weather. If the temperature is below 16 degrees wear trousers, you must cover your knees below that temperature. Wear gloves for grip and to help with the vibrations as being on the road for 6-8 hours will affect your hands. Obviously, you will need a helmet, and in case you need to pop into a shop for food or drink during these times, take a face mask and hand sanitiser.
You will need a tonne of water or isotonic drinks to get you through. I have been in the situation where I felt absolutely drained mid ride and I did not have any fluids on me, it’s an awful feeling. My personal preference is to have a hot cup of water prior to the ride and then try and cram in 750ml of fluids before I set off. If you have been on a 50miler and felt yourself flagging at the 40-mile mark you are dehydrated or see below.
3. Eat right, eat well
In case you didn’t know, I bloody love food… For me, the night before a massive ride it is heaven! You do need to think about what to eat though because cramming a massive pizza the night before will do you more harm than good. Try not to eat anything too salty or full of processed cheese as it will add to your dehydration and make you sluggish. Personally, I go for a basic pasta dish of about 100g pasta and some veg. On the morning of the ride I have a porridge with honey and currants as a slow energy release. Back in the day when I was learning how to push myself for miles and miles I’d just have a Lucozade and a McDonalds which is great if you are in your early 20s but I couldn’t do that now! In fact, my first major ride was from Lincolnshire to Nottingham and I had a bag of Haribos and a bottle of Lucozade Sellotapedto my bike! Try and get some flapjacks in you and don’t be tempted to cram in a Big Mac!
4. Ensure the bike is fit for the job
Back in 2011 I attempted a Land’s End to John O’Groats ride on a 2tonne (slight exaggeration) mountain bike which was way past its best (not an exaggeration). I rode it to Paris the year before and it was broken then, so a rusty chain, rickety bearings and a seat which was from the 80s probably was not the best idea. Ideally wash your bike the night before, I find “Muc-Off” is the best cleaning product and make sure you clean your cassette and chain. Once this is done you must re-lubricate your chain and if needs be, calibrate the gears. Double check your brakes as you do not want to find out they aren’t working when you are going at 30mph down a hill…
5. Ensure you are fit for the job
You will need to do some training; most people won’t get on a bike and cycle the full century. Start off by seeing how far you can go in 2 hours.If you are near 30 miles then you are on the right track. Next up, can you do 60 miles in 4.5 hours or less? If so keep pushing and you will get there. There are loads of training guides online to help you but as a rule of thumb you want to be aiming for at least 15mph average to get the century done before nightfall. If you have aches and pains on longer rides, your bike may not be the right size for you or your position is all wrong so check that.
6. Ride with someone
In terms of safety this is a good thing, but in terms of getting some PBs this is also key. I found myself averaging 14.8mph on my last 100-miler on my own but with a group I am pushing 17mph average. You have to be mentally strong (or mad) to be able to cycle that far solo; in fact, when I cycled solo to Rome in 2016 I ended up talking to my bike!
7. Get some Chapeau Cream
I am not even going to go into why, you will thank me for this tip though
8. Plan your route prior to your Grand Départ
Sounds obvious right? If you are going to do some local loops so 33.3 miles x3 for example, then double check the distance is correct before setting off. If you are going from point A to point B which is say 50 miles away from each other and then heading back on yourself, ensure you have inner tubes and rehydration points in mind. If you are doing a full 100 and stopping somewhere ensure you have a comfy place to sleep. I usually do my endurance rides at a 100miles a day stopping off in a field with a sleeping bag. You don’t get a lot of sleep that way but after a day or two when you are that exhausted you do sleep well. Also, ensure there is a point for you to charge your kit whether its your sat nav or phone in case of emergencies.
Hate tan lines on your face from sunglasses? It’s a small price to pay to not have your eyes covered in bugs, or worse losing an eye because a bee flew into it while you were doing 30. Last year I was a bit lazy, didn’t wear shades and then I had to go to hospital a few days after the ride to get a bug removed from my eye. It wasn’t fun.
10. Wear sunscreen
For all the reasons Baz Luhrmann mentions- if you don’t know the song,Google it!
Not a lot of people can do this trek so fair play to you for even trying; it’s a hell of a thing to do. You will have an incredible time I promise you. The best finish to a 100 miler I have ever had was rolling into Madrid last year seeing ending at the Bernabeu after 12 days on the road from the new Tottenham stadium.