So on Saturday I took part in the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. This was the biggest challenge I had undertaken this year and possibly ever! So for those of you that don’t know the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle is a 180km cycle around the county of Kerry. In its 34th year, this challenge supports a number of charities and attracts riders from all over Ireland and the world.
To begin with I do teach spin and apart from a 20km stint as part of a triathlon I had never cycled distance before. I was really excited and nervous about the challenge and I suppose that spurred me on. I survived despite the terrible weather, crashing on a corner and my partner in crime having some mechanical problems! Below are my ultimate tips for surviving the ROK (its what its affectionately known as!) or any long cycle.
- Get the right gear: Assuming you already have the bike and a helmet, there are some bits of gear that will make the ride more comfortable. A cycling jersey is not essential but very handy for storing phone, ID, money and food in the back pockets. Up until a few weeks before the cycle I didn’t have bicycle shorts and as soon as I invested and started my long training cycles it made such a difference! Also get chamois cream (it prevents chaffing), trust me you will need it!
- Train: To be honest I should have planned a little better for ROK 2017. I only entered a few weeks before the cycle and really didn’t give myself enough time in the saddle. You need at least 8 weeks training with increasing long cycles to make it an enjoyable day. Start with 30km rides and work up to 120km. Don’t forget to taper in the week up to the cycle to ensure your legs are fresh for the main event!
- Create a checklist: This is something I do for all events but is especially important when you have to pack extra equipment or you are racing away from home. On the start line there was a woman who forgot her helmet and she had to borrow runners. Thius also includes bringing brekkie, with a start time of 6am it was unlikely we would find a cafe or shop open. Overnight oats are ideal here and you can find the recipe here
- Prep the bike: The night before in our hostel, I packed my bike with two water bottles, race number, puncture kit and checked the pressure in my tyres.
- Prep yourself: I put my bank card, mobile and cash in a zip lock bag for one of the back pockets on my jersey. In the other I packed energy gels, jellies and a granola bar. These were handy snacks to have but in truth there is loads of food available.
- Prepare for the worst: This is where having cash on you is king! I crashed coming into Waterville and a new tyre and tube cost €20 from the event mechanics without the cash we would have been stuck roadside unable to pay the friendly chap! A light rain jacket rolled up and stuffed in a back pocket was very helpful when the weather conditions were less than ideal.
- Pace yourself: This might seem like an obvious one but its important to remember. Most people complete the cycle in 10-11 hours plus breaks that is a long time to be in the saddle for!
- Fuel properly: All that food and energy gels won’t help you if you get dehydrated. I kept two bottles on the bike one with water and one with lucozade aim to drink a bottle every hour and don’t worry there is plenty of water stops!
So there are my top tips for longer races. Whats your next big race or cycle, let me know! And as always, if you have any questions just pop them in the comments and I’ll try answer them!
Stay healthy X