You can’t prepare for every eventuality on the road, but you can ensure that you maximise the fun of your charity bicycle ride from day one by starting with a decent fitness base. Don’t just rely on the fact that you will get fitter as you tour – some basic training and preparation will help ensure that you feel comfortable and confident on your bike, and will help avoid any injuries as your body adjusts to long days on the bike.
The amount of training required will differ for everyone – nonetheless, whether preparing for a trans-continental epic or just a few days leisurely touring, everyone should have the following in mind when they prepare:
- Spend as much time as you can on your bike before your tour – ride to work, the shops, and on weekends. As a basic rule of thumb, you should be able to comfortably ride at least 75% of your target average daily mileage, remembering that you will be doing this on consecutive days on tour, with a loaded bike;
- Ride with your panniers fully packed: your bike is a different beast when fully laden and it will take time to get used to handling it;
- Train on the same bike you will tour with so that you are fully familiar with it…and make sure that it is set up correctly, particularly if it is new. This is crucial, and a good bike shop will help you if you are unsure;
- Check your bike in for a full service and if need be, replace any critical parts, like tyres, chain and cassette, brake and gear cables;
- Make sure you are able to perform common tasks yourself, like fixing punctures, replacing a chain and cassette, replacing broken spokes and cables;
- Even if you have toured before, finalise your preparations with an overnight trip (if need be, pitch your tent in your garden) – this will allow you to identify the things you have forgotten and eliminate any nasty surprises when you are on the road…like no batteries in your head torch or missing tent pegs. It will also help you identify what you don’t really need to carry