How To Prepare For Your First 100-Mile Bike Ride (EXPERT ADVICE)

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It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner cyclist or have been cycling your entire life, the joy and excitement of your riding your bike in the open air is exhilarating. It could be heading out with friends for a long ride along the ocean cliffs or smashing the KOM all by yourself; cycling is a sport that benefits everyone

I have been riding and coaching professionally for nearly twenty years, and cycling is in my blood. Whether it’s an epic climb through the Japanese mountains where I’m lucky enough to live or a casual group ride with friends, I absolutely love cycling.

But the one ride I enjoy the most and the one ride that excites me the most are those longer epic rides over 100 miles. When you head out on a long-distance ride, it requires much more than just turning the cranks over for 7 or 8 hours; as a matter of fact, it requires an entirely different skill set compared to other rides you may do. 

Things to consider, like planning your route, ensuring your nutrition is dialed in, and assuring you have a backup plan, are just a few factors you need to consider before your first long ride. 

If you haven’t completed a 100-mile ride, it’s tough to describe the feeling once you’ve finished. That first beer, when you get home, tastes amazing, and the feeling of accomplishment gives you great pride and a sense of empowerment and motivation to go and do it all again. 

In this article, I will cover three of the most important factors to consider when planning your first 100-mile ride:

  • Preparing Physically
  • Essential gear and equipment and
  • Nutrition 

So regardless if you’re planning a massive 1-day 100-mile ride or heading out on a 3-day bike packing trip, the tips and tricks outlined below will help you stay safe on your ride and, most importantly, enjoy it and make it memories that last forever.

How To Prepare For Your First 100-Mile Bike Ride

Physically Preparing For Your 100-Mile Ride

Over all the years I’ve been coaching, you would be amazed to learn just how many cyclists do not plan for their trip correctly, yes, even experienced cyclists. Because everyone can ride a bike, most people think it’s easy, and it is; but there’s a big difference between riding your bike around the block with your kids and riding 100 miles.

The vast majority of cyclists believe that just because they’ve been riding for years and years and have even completed 50-mile rides, they can just hop on their bike and easily complete a 100-mile ride, but they’re wrong; it’s not that easy.

One of the easiest ways to prepare your body for the upcoming ride is to slowly increase the distance you ride each week. If you’re lucky enough to commute to work, this could be as simple as taking a longer route to and from work, adding 5 to 10 miles total. This way, you prepare your body incrementally for the physical and mental challenges of a 100-mile ride. 

Similarly, you can add an extra hour or two to your training schedule over the week, which will also start adding up to some extra quality time in the saddle. Incrementally increasing your workload is an excellent way to boost your fitness and reduce the chance of injury at the same time.  

Personally, I ride on weekdays for between 90 and 180 minutes, with my longer rides of 6 and 7 hours on the weekend. Sunday, I will typically have a recovery day where I perform stretching and some recovery exercises to prepare my body for the next big week of riding. 

long distance ride japan river

Must Take Gear On Your First 100-Mile Ride

Before you jump on your bike and start pedaling like crazy, there are a few essential pieces of gear that you won’t be able to go without. These items will help to keep your journey safe, fun, and stress-free, well, hopefully.

Some of the essential items you’ll need are:

  • Your phone
  • Your wallet or cash (always take cash and coins)
  • A good quality multi-tool 
  • Sunglasses and suncream
  • A puncture repair kit 
  • Appropriate clothing, including a rain or wind jacket just in case
  • A spare charger 

Other things to check before you start riding are:

  • Your tire pressure.
  • Both front and back brakes.
  • Make sure your lights are also charged and working before you leave
  • Ensure your gears are all synced and double-check your helmet.

Lastly, always remember to take some ID just in case something unfortunate happens, which we pray it doesn’t. 

long distance ride in japan

Nutrition Is The Key To Any 100-Mile Ride

Fuelling with the right food and drinks is the last but probably the most important piece of the 100-mile puzzle. Like your phone, you need to start fuelling correctly before your ride even starts; generally, that means the night before. 

I have been the head advisor for two international sporting bodies, so I understand nutrition’s critical role in peak performance. But it doesn’t have to be rocket science and complicated.

  • Be sure to drink one bottle of water or sports drink every hour
  • Eat as often as possible but keep the food light
  • Rice balls, gels, gummy bears, and energy bars are preferable

On longer rides, I typically take peanut butter and jelly sandwich with me (plus plenty of gummy bears!). These foods work well because they give you plenty of quick and sustained energy to get you through your ride. 

Generally speaking, most people can consume roughly 60 grams of carbs per hour, but again this will take some time to experiment with and see how your bost reacts. Some cyclists struggle to eat on the bike, while others can consume more than enough; it’s just a matter of trial and error to find what works for you. 

Quick Wrap Up

So there you have it. Everything you need to know to make sure your very first 100-mile ride is safe, fun, and successful. Remember to emphasize your nutrition and ensure you are prepared mentally for the inevitable challenges of a 100-mile bike ride.

Also, you need to double-check your route is planned correctly and that you have a safe and sound backup plan just in case something does go wrong. Ensure your phone is fully charged so you can make calls or message people if you get into trouble.

Lastly, cycling is supposed to be a challenge but never forget that cycling is FUN. If you’re tired and your bum is sore from all that riding, take a break, have a coffee and a donut to lift your spirits, and keep riding!

Brenton Barker

Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Delaware and was the former Head Advisor for the Japanese Government's Sports Science Institute. Brenton currently consults with several Professional Athletes and clients in Self- Accountability, Health, and Goal Orientation.

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