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How to prepare for your first charity cycle ride

Victoria Hazael's picture
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If you have signed up for a charity bike ride and are worried about what lies ahead, here's a handy guide to help you achieve your goal.
Guildford Challenge Ride
Training for a charity bike ride is the key

Too many people turn up at the start line of a charity bike ride unready for what lies ahead.

In order not to disappoint all the people who have sponsored you, you need to be prepared. Preparation is the key to rising to the challenge, achieving your goal and, most importantly, enjoying your first charity bike ride.

If you need inspiration, don't forget you are raising vital funds for a great cause and your bike ride will be helping others. If you'd like to raise money for CTC you can via CTC's Justgiving Page.

If you are taking part in an organised charity ride then there is not a lot of organising to do other than prepare physically and make sure your bicycle is road worthy.

The week before the big day

Bike: Check that the saddle height is correct for you and make sure your bike is in a road worthy condition. Make sure your tyres have got plenty of tread and check them for flint and other sharp objects you may have picked up while out training. Bring a puncture repair kit, a spare tube, tyre levers and a pump with you.

Check that your brakes work, that the cables are not frayed, and that the brake blocks still have plenty of life left in them.

Check that all your gears work, especially the lower ones, if the ride is over a hilly route.

If you are not mechanically minded, it might be a good idea to take your bike to your local cycle shop for a check-up or a qualified local cycle mechanic. Do this in the week leading up to the charity ride as if it's left to the last 24 hours before the event, you might not have a bike to ride.

What to wear

Clothing:  Wear the appropriate clothing for the conditions.

Check the weather forecast during the week leading up to the event and bring a change of clothes for afterwards.

It is better to have layers of clothing as this will keep you warm and dry; and if you get too hot you can peel away a layer at a time.

If rain is forecast, bring a waterproof jacket that can fold easily into your back pocket.

A good gauge is to be prepared for either 5 degrees C warmer or cooler as it warms up throughout the day, the wind picks up or a rain shower arrives.   

                                                     Cycliing gillets

What to eat

Bring enough food and drink to get you round the course - this also applies to charity events which advertise feed stations. Don’t depend on the feed stations as they might be poorly stocked or offer nutrition that doesn’t agree with you.

This is one other aspect of the ride you can practise prior to your big event. Try different drinks and foods to see what agrees with your body and makes you feel good. One of the all time great mistakes is to try something new and find it makes you feel ill during a bike ride!

One good marker along the way is to check you have drunk a bottle of liquid each hour.

Fuelling is about staying ahead of the game - don't wait until you feel hungry or thirsty as by then it's too late and it can be very difficult to restore your equilibrium. 

Lastly, bring some food for afterwards and start the refuelling process as soon as you finish. Protein or milky drinks are great to take after the event as they repair damaged muscle fibres.

                                             

Charity bike ride training plan training

If you have long enough before your charity ride, it's a great idea to cover the distance at least once prior to it - that way you will know that you can complete that distance and you can guage how much nutrition you require.

If you are new to cycling, slowly build up to the distance. Speed is not important, but distance is. Start off riding for 30 minutes, and increase the time each week to what you can manage. Don’t do too much too soon. As your ride time increases, remember to drink and eat during the ride and immediately afterwards.

If the charity ride you have planned is hilly, be sure to ride a hilly route in training as riding uphill can use a lot more energy than riding on flat roads. Developing your own personal style of climbing hills - be they short or long - is good to do in advance of the event.

A typical training schedule for a beginner may look something like this:

 Week 1:

Monday          Day Off

Tuesday         30 mins: Easy effort. You should be able to hold a conversation.

Wednesday   Day Off

Thursday       30 mins: Easy effort. You should be able to hold a conversation.

Friday             Day Off

Saturday        10-15 miles on flat roads (if possible) Easy effort.

You should be able to hold a conversation as a guide to pace.

Sunday          Day Off

Week 2:

Monday          Day Off

Tuesday         45 mins: Easy effort.

Wednesday   Day Off

Thursday       30 mins: Easy effort.

Friday             Day Off

Saturday        15-20 miles on flat roads (if possible) Easy effort.

Sunday          Day Off

Week 3:

Monday          Day Off

Tuesday         45 mins: Easy effort.

Wednesday   Day Off

Thursday       45 mins: Easy effort.

Friday             Day Off

Saturday        20-25 miles on flat roads (if possible) Easy effort.

Sunday          60 mins: 20 easy warm up/20 min steady (you should be able to talk in short sentences)/ 20 min easy cool down.

Week 4:        

Monday          Day Off

Tuesday         60 mins: Easy effort.

Wednesday   Day Off

Thursday       45 mins: Easy effort.

Friday             Day Off

Saturday        30-35 miles on flat roads (if possible) Easy effort.

Sunday          60 mins: 20 easy warm up/20 min steady (you should be able to talk in short sentences)/ 20 min easy cool down.

Please note, this is just a sample training plan - everyone has a different amount of time available to exercise and is starting at their own level of fitness. You will soon get a feel for what works for you and how it fits into your daily routine.

If you'd like to train with others, why not join your CTC Local Group. There will be lots of people to give you advice and help you along the way.

You might also be able to find others doing the same charity bike ride as you on the CTC Forum events page.

Getting a place

Apply for a charity bike ride  well in advance to avoid disappointment, especially if you are planning on taking part in a popular event. The majority of charity events have a limit on the number of riders that can take part due to insurance reasons and police advice.

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