If you’re looking for a new form of physical fitness that combines exercise, fresh air, and the great outdoors, long-distance cycling is your best bet. If you know how to ride a bike—and, fortunately, you never forget—all you need is a bicycle made for long hauls, a few pieces of equipment, and an adventurous spirit. If you hear the open road calling to you, put yourself in a place where you can hear it—the seat of a bicycle. Get started with these long-distance cycling tips for beginners.
Get the Right Bike
Touring bikes can run anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. For a beginning rider with no plans to wing over to Brittany and enter the Tour de France, you can be a happy weekend rider with a bike costing no more than $500 to $1,000. Consider exactly how far you plan to go, for how long, and what sort of terrain you face. An overnight ride is far less punishing than a months-long trek. Doing a little online research and talking about your plans with experienced cyclists online should point you in the right direction, so to speak.
Like any sport, long-distance cycling has its safety gear. Not as much as, say, downhill mountain biking, which requires body armor on top of everything else. But there are a few indispensable pieces that you simply must have. Your helmet is your best protection against the very real possibility of head injuries and brain damage, should you take a spill or be hit by a car. When cycling, performance sunglasses cut down on glare and protect your eyes from dust and debris. For comfort’s sake, invest in some padded biking shorts to reduce chafing, as well as a jersey or top made of wicking material to keep sweat away from your skin. The rest is up to you. Pack as if you’re going camping (but pack lightly) because you probably are at some point in the journey.
Hold on There!
Eager as you are to go on your first day trip or century—a bicycle ride of 100 miles—you need to ensure your body is ready for it. Those first few miles might be easy, but after a time, as your muscles pump and your bones push, you’ll start to feel every inch of the road. Professional cyclists advise building toward the big ride. Every day, take an hour-long trip somewhere. Slowly increase your time in the coming months. It gets easier, but the hard part is doing it every day.
A Few Adjustments
Before you become a small speck on the horizon, here are a few last-minute long-distance cycling tips for beginners. Be sure to properly adjust your bike to your body. The bike professionals at the shop can help with this. Check the wheels, gears, and chain before you go anywhere, making sure they’re properly inflated and adjusted. Finally, keep your eyes peeled and your spirit of adventure sparked!