Prepping for Your First Big Bike Trip
There are several reasons you should hit the road on a bike. It’s amazing exercise that can help improve your joints, build muscle, burn fat, and work your cardiovascular system. The endorphins released through exercise can help stave depression, but the brain benefits don’t stop there. A study conducted at the University of Illinois found that cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus region of the brain. The hippocampus is responsible for long-term memory, and deterioration of this region is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Once you start cycling, it’s easy to become a fanatic. Before long, novice cyclists begin planning their first big cycling expedition. Whether it’s trekking up and down a mountain or going the distance on the open road, preparations for the mind and body are necessary.
Photo via Pixabay
Clear the Decks
A lengthy road trip via bike negates the opportunity to answer work texts and phone calls, but this is a good thing. While your expedition isn’t necessarily a true vacation, it’s time away from the office, which is essential to recharge your batteries and to reduce stress. This is critical for everyone, even small business owners. Implement a strategy to delegate whatever you can, alert clients or customers to your absence, update your vacation responder in your inbox, and push meetings to a few days after you return. This trip is going to take everything you have, and leaving work behind is a key element to your success.
Getting your mind in shape for your bike trip is just as important as getting your body in shape. The exhaustion that comes with your upcoming challenge requires mental stamina. You have to be able to tell yourself you can do this, you can keep pushing. Practicing meditation leading up to your trip can help you learn to focus on your breathing and clear your mind, making it easier to get through those inevitable difficult moments. Many athletes also use affirmations as a way to boost their mental stamina and accomplish their goals.
Before your expedition you’ll need to improve your diet in a few ways. The increased activity means you’ll need an increase in calories to properly fuel your body. When weight training, be sure to eat extra lean protein to build muscle mass that will make each push easier. The night before a big cardio session, go ahead and order that spaghetti bolognese. Carbo-loading helps maximize the amount of glycogen (an important fuel for your body) stored in your muscles. Developing a meal plan ahead of time can keep you on track so you can go faster, longer.
You are bound to experience various physical discomforts riding your bike. Athletes often experience pain in their joints, chafing, nausea, headaches, cramps, numbness, and pain in their quadriceps. Training leading up to your trip will help lessen these symptoms when you’re actually on your trip. Be sure to vary it up with weight training and cardio, but also be sure to ride your bike on terrain similar to what you’re about to face. After workouts, stretch properly to care for your muscles and even indulge in a sports massage when you feel you need it.
If you have to buy new athletic wear in preparation for your trip, be sure to purchase items several weeks in advance to break them in. Now is also a good time to replace any gear like your helmet or gather accessories like a cycling cap or headband. Sites like Headsweats offer a range of performance headwear and apparel so that you can enjoy one-stop shopping. Remember the importance of packing light, so do some dry runs with your pack if you’ll be riding with it on.
Your safety is paramount, so have a plan for emergencies in place before you embark on your journey. Have your bike tuned, and prepare a safety kit with everything you will need in case of an injury. It’s also important to protect your home if you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time. Secure your windows and doors and put fresh batteries in fire detectors. Hire a trustworthy house sitter or let your professional security company know where you are going and for how long. Nothing ruins a good trip like coming home to a bad surprise.
Your first big bike expedition is an exciting endeavor. You are going to be challenging yourself mentally and physically and overcoming obstacles. Preparing yourself mentally with meditation and affirmations can keep your head in the right space when the ride gets tough. Properly fueling your body while training and before the big trip is essential if you’re going to make it. Finally, ensure your own safety and the safety of your home just for those worst case scenarios. Do this, and your first big bike trip will be a smashing success.
By: Stephanie Haywood
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