So you’re thinking about joining a cycle tour with Escape Cycle Tours?
Taking one of these once in a lifetime trips across the beautiful and awe inspiring terrain of South Africa will give you the chance to see some of the most scenic parts of Southern Africa. You can enjoy cycling through national parks, across mountain ranges, or even enjoy a gourmet or wine tour, if you’re looking for something different and with a tasty focus! But are you physically and mentally ready to take part in a cycling tour? It’s not just about packing your compass or making sure you have a repair kit on hand for that surprise flat – being in top shape is as crucial for yourself as it is your bike. Here are a few hints and tips for getting prepared.
Increase your Fitness Levels
Anyone can enjoy a cycling tour: whether you’re a fitness fanatic, have moderate fitness levels, or even if you’re a non-cyclist whose only exercise currently involves lifting the television remote control! But if it has been a while since you last took any exercise, or indeed since you last rode a bike, you should do some light preparation to increase your fitness levels before you attempt to undertake a cycling tour for the first time. Start at least a month in advance of your trip and begin by getting out on your bike every other day. For your first trip just go for a spin around the block, then gradually increase your mileage slowly, to avoid injury or over exercise. Your aim is to increase your fitness levels and create a good stamina base so that you find your cycling tour enjoyable, rather than hard work. As your cycling progresses you should also attempt to increase and develop your cadence – that’s the speed at which your legs rotate, also called your rotations per minute (RPM). To develop your cadence you should select the gear that feels most comfortable when you are cycling on whatever gradient. You’re aiming to achieve an RPM of between 60-70.
Focus on Nutrition
Bicycle touring is an endurance activity, and with any such activity it’s essential to have a good nutritional plan, as well as a good fitness plan. According to Glyco Energy, it’s important to find the right supplement for sustained energy when you’re exercising: one without sugars, to ensure that you get the energy boost you need but without the inevitable crash that accompanies a sugar high. One of these energy drinks is a good thing to carry on your training rides with you. It’s also important to ensure you carry, and drink, plenty of water. An hour of moderate cycling can burn between 550-700 calories (depending on your weight and the intensity of your ride), so if you’re hopping on your bike for a full day’s ride then you’ll need to ensure you’ve eaten adequate calories to sustain you for the ride. And during your ride it’s important to listen to your body: stop to eat and drink whenever you feel the need to refuel and start feeling hungry or thirsty. This will prevent any fatigue cause by dehydration or low blood sugar levels. Remember though, that fat should account for 30% or less of the calories you consume daily, so even though you need to increase your calorie intake and refuel regularly, you still need to ensure that you’re eating the right things!
Don’t Forget to Stretch!
Finally, once you’ve completed your days cycling, it’s important to remember to stretch, so that you’re adequately cooling down the muscles you’ve been using all day. Hopefully this will leave your muscles less achy and more prepared for getting back in the saddle for another long ride the following day! Obviously because cycling is such a leg-centric sport, it’s important to stretch you calf muscles, quads and hamstrings after every ride. But don’t forget your lower back, and your arms and shoulder blades too. Leaning over your bike holds your upper body in the same position for a long period of time, and if you don’t stretch this out it will leave to stiffness and aching muscles in your upper body by the end of your cycle. For your last exercise of the day, lie on your back and elevate both of your feet. This stretch will increase your circulation and is a great exercise for the revitalisation of your body and mind: a perfect way to finish a fun and challenging day’s cycling!