Long distance cycling is something beginner cyclists may not be very prepared for. You will face new challenges everyday on the road, and you will not be ready to meet most of them. Before taking perch on the saddle, here are some things no one tells you when you start cycling.
1. The Hills are Unavoidable
Road cycling will have you on unfamiliar terrain sometimes. The contours of the earth do not have exceptions to cyclists. You will love the flats and downhills, yet cycling up hills on your route will be inevitable. When you start cycling, accept that you cannot go as fast as you may wish and change the gears down as much as is necessary. Long distance cycling is about maintaining your cycling cadence, so hit the hills with a positive attitude.
2. It is Really Tough on Your Body
Being on a bike is fun, the rides with friends and the scenic countryside views you get come at a cost. You will get tired, feel discouraged at some point, and often be pushed to your endurance limits.
Cycling results in physical exertion of your whole body. You might think that only the legs will feel the effects when you start cycling. Your whole body will feel the demands of cycling. Cycling does not get easier, you only manage to do better speeds as you gain more experience and get fit.
3. Cycling is Not as Physical as It Is Mental
Well, there is the physical end of cycling but it ends with grabbing the handlebars and pedalling. It is the mental aspect of cycling that really gets to you. You must find the strength to go the last few miles of your cycling route every time.
Sometimes, you will find yourself wondering if it is worth anything and consider turning back. Focus on the positives and push out negative thoughts. Anything that will keep you going is fair game.
4. You will Buy a Lot of Cycling Kit
No one tells you about cycling kit before you are a cyclist. Once you have a bike, be ready to buy loads of kit. It never gets enough. Cycling wear, gadgets and better parts for your bike will always be beckoning to you. You might find your wardrobe has more cycling kit than normal clothes. That should not worry you; it is part of the culture.
5. You Will Eat More While Cycling
Short routes are fine to tackle with no spare nutrition. You will get plenty of that when you are back home. On long rides, eating and staying hydrated will be must-do. For every 2 hours you are cycling, refuelling becomes a necessity.
Easily digestible energy foods and gels should feature prominently as well as electrolyte-laced drinks.
Carry enough water with you for those long trips. Energy bars and gels end up being your diet. They do a good job of keeping you going on long rides, but go slow on the gels as they cause you trouble when taken in large quantities.
6. No More Protein-Heavy Breakfasts
The slowly-digested proteins you love will become a thing on the past when you are a regular cyclist. A heavy breakfast will do you no favours when you start cycling. On exerting rides, your body wants energy for your lungs and heart, not a tough task digesting food. For your morning energy boosts, go for fruits and whole grain. They top off your glycogen stores very well.
7. Losing Weight Will not be Easy
Cycling for fitness is a sure way to shed off the extra pounds of weight you have. However, it does not come easy. Short high intensity rides are the surest bet to help you lose weight. Long rides require you to rehydrate and eat.
Weight loss due to cycling will be gradual, not big sudden drops. It might take some more time than you thought to see a difference on the weighing scale.
8. You Will Come to Crave Cycling
Cycling will eventually hook you. The commitment required in cycling builds up gradually as you enjoy the quiet moments, freedom and endorphins you get from cycling. The fun trip never ends and you will find yourself craving a cruise every now and then on your bike.
Do not let these challenges deter you from starting cycling. Buy that first bike with gusto and get down to it. It is great that you now have a heads up on these things no one tells you when you start cycling so you know how to deal with them. When the time comes, hit that route you have always wanted to cycle with a smile on your lips and enjoy.