Few things feel better than setting out on a ride with a couple of weeks of unscheduled time and thousands of miles ahead of you. Just remember that a long trip places different demands on you that putting around town.
Here are a few pieces of advice that will help you keep that positive vibe.
1. Be realistic. Don’t plan two solid weeks of 800-mile days. Riding should be fun. Set goals you’ll enjoy, not endure. On good, twisty back roads, 250 miles a day can be a lot.
2. Work your way up. Don’t take on a 600-mile day if your normal riding is 3 miles to the diner for a patty melt. Work up to longer distances gradually.
3. On the seventh day, rest. On a long, multi-week trip, include at least one non-riding rest day per week. Keep your schedule loose so you can enjoy opportunities that arise unexpectedly.
4. Beware of dehydration. Wind, sun, hours on the road, it’s easy to dehydrate. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty and have a headache to drink. Chug down water or fruit drinks whenever you get the chance. Avoid caffeinated soft drinks, coffee or tea because they’re diuretics that can actually contribute to dehydration. On long rides, consider carrying a hydration pack on your back or in your tank bag. One of these can allow you to keep your fluids up while you ride.
5. Fuzzy thinking is a warning sign. If simple decisions, such as whether to stop for gas, become difficult, take it as a warning sign. Dehydration, hypothermia, hyperthermia, fatigue or sleepiness could be clouding your mind. Stop, identify the problem and address it.
6. Rest stop? Don’t just sit there. If you’re spending hours sitting on the bike, use your stops to move around, get the blood flowing and stay limber.
7. Avoid untested gear. We all like buying stuff, but picking up new boots, a new seat or new luggage just before a big trip isn’t smart. Brand-new gear could be uncomfortable or even dangerous if it upsets the handling of your bike. Don’t start a long trip with anything you haven’t tested or broken in.
8. Pack light at lunch. Double cheeseburger, fries, milk shake and apple pie? Aside from the caloric implications, eat all that at lunch, and you’ll feel sluggish and sleepy all afternoon. Eat light and healthy at breakfast and lunch, and save your larger, oof-inspiring meal for when the day’s riding is done.