So, you’ve got your beautiful new electric bike and after a few spins around the neighbourhood you're itching to go further.
That's the beauty of an ebike. You can do some pretty decent distances even if you aren't in tip top shape.
If this sounds like you and you haven't done much long-distance riding before then charge up (full charge - tip one 😜) and here are a few tips to help you enjoy going further and further.
Quick Read: Pre-Ride Bike Checks | Electric Bikes Brisbane
Some tips for long bike rides:
· Fuel your Body
· Pedal Smart
· Watch out for Wind
· Rule of Thirds
· Anticipate Trouble
Fuel Your Body
As with any other physical activity, you will get the best out of your ride if your body can keep up with the pace. The key here is hydration and nutrition. and this becomes particularly important in summer or if heading out for two+ hours of strenuous riding.
The amount of fluid in your body that will need constant replacing will depend on the intensity of your ride, the day’s temperature, and your physiological needs.
Since it takes a bit of time for your body to make use of the fluids you consume, timing will significantly impact your hydration. For those really long rides eg a full day, be well hydrated before you head out. The rules of thumb are to sip on 350 to 500ml of water four hours before your ride. Then, two hours before riding, sip on another 350ml.
During your ride, make sure to rehydrate constantly. In cooler weather, the general rule of thumb is to consume 350ml per hour. The figure can go up to as much as four times that amount in sweltering weather.
Water plays a crucial part in rehydrating the cells of our body and regulating our temperature. People sweat at different rates, so it’s most important that you listen to your body.
Aside from eating healthy in general, ride-specific nutrition. Most important if you are doing intense rides that push past a couple of hours and get your hear rate really going and/or make you sweat a lot. In this case its handy to have some electrolyte replacements to hand and also some extra energy food.
There are plenty of sports energy drinks available and also electrolyte tablets thats easily dissolve in water (my preferred option, particularly ones with magnesium added to help avoid muscle cramps). Adding a bit of table salt, about a quarter teaspoon for every 500ml will do well to replenish minerals lost with your sweat. Other notable sources of electrolytes are bananas, coconut water, and milk.
Sports bars and gels can be your go-to source for fast-digesting carbohydrates. Carbs are broken down by the body into sugars and fuels our cells for further exertion. Natural sources that you can easily bring along your ride are bananas, sweet potatoes, and berries.
The primary distinction electric bikes have against traditional bikes is the motor. And while with efficient motors to assist with your pedalling, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you no longer need to pace yourself.
If you’re to last the entire duration of your planned ride, you can’t push all-out right from the get-go. Familiarise yourself with the gears. An easier gear with a higher cadence will take a lesser toll than lower gears, despite being pedalled slower.
Experienced bikers will advise you to maintain a cadence of 90 RPM. At this pace, you’re giving your muscles and aerobic systems a break. The rationale behind this can be alluded to lifting a 10kg backpack ten times as opposed to lifting a 100kg backpack once. You’ve lifted the same amount of weight but with less overall stress on your body.
Watch out for Wind
With the wind behind your back, you’ll require less effort pushing forward. But keep in mind that during your way back, if you take the same trail, that same wind will be pushing hard from the front.
If you’re in a group, take turns being at the front to break the wind for the rest of your buddies, like how birds fly in a V shape. The lead breaks the tension of the air to make it easier for the rest of the group, and they take turns taking the tip of the flock.
Rule of Thirds
Breaking down a long trail into three segments can help you pace yourself. Take the first segment relatively easy to ensure that you reach the second leg even before your muscles feel the burn. If you do this right, you’ll have enough leg power to soldier on through the last third of your trip.
As the cliché goes, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. As rides get longer, the chances of something going wrong increases. At a minimum, your group should have enough gear to fix flat tires twice, appropriate tools, a mobile phone or two-way radio, identification, and cash. I
If you are new to the longer rides having some tools to hand to help adjust your bike set up are particularly important as distance may highlight where tweaks are needed. For example, to raise your seat height or adjust your handlebar angles.
This preparation is not just for yourself and the people you are with. Who knows when you might run across someone who might be needing your assistance.
To minimise aches and pains from your long ride, keep changing your position.
- When on a clear path, take this opportunity to stretch one arm between your shoulders, then do the same for the other hand.
- Stand up on one pedal to stretch your leg. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat with the other side.
- Periodically change your hand positions.
Your next big challenge - an overnight or longer trip
If you enjoy cycling and love how easy and fun an electric bike makes it then why not consider an overnight trip, or even longer? Welcome to the wonderful world of bike touring!
For more info read Touring Tips from Bike Packing Pros where we have gathered first-hand tips from some of our experienced Electric Bikes Brisbane customers.
Ready To Ride?
Knowing that you’re well-prepared for a long ride will let you enjoy the adventure much more. If you’re looking to ride with a group or a club, check out Electric Bikes Brisbane’s EBB Owners Club and some ride ideas from our customers on our EBike Rides and Tours page.