No matter what route you’re riding, plan to budget your energy throughout the ride so you can finish strong!
- Be sure to warm up, start easy and build your effort later in the ride. A good way to do this is to stay off the big chainring in the first hour except on long downhills. Alternatively, if you wear a heart rate monitor, stay in a low intensity zone range (i.e., 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate) the first hour.
- Pedal at a cadence or RPM that is both comfortable and manageable. You want to strike an economical balance between your aerobic strength and muscular strength. Don’t spin too easy a gear that you bounce in the saddle or your pace (speed) drops way off. On the other hand, don’t mash too big a gear and use up energy you’ll need later in the ride.
- Eat early and eat often, before you actually get hungry. Assuming you’ve eaten before the ride (you should), eat an energy bar or gel every hour. You’re burning lots of calories, so keep your engine fueled.
- Similarly, drink early and drink often. Take a big sip every 15-minutes. If you need a reminder, use your watch or timer function on your computer. Another way is to take a drink every time another rider in your group does. Proper hydration is critical to prevent muscle cramps. If it’s hot, aim to finish a bottle every 1 to 1.5 hours.
- Don’t spend a lot of time at the rest stops or support areas. Sure, the volunteers are friendly and it’s fun to socialize with other riders, but plan to spend no more than 10 minutes off your bike at a time. Your legs will get tight and your body temperature and heart rate will lower to a resting pace. So take a break, but keep it brief. Fill up your water bottles, eat a snack, do a few stretches, then get back on your bike and finish strong!
Remember to keep it fun! The Star City Gran Fond is a ride, not a race. So, if you’re over-exerting to stay with a group, let them go and find another group that’s riding at a pace better-suited to you.
Most importantly, smile and enjoy your ride!