Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rise of the Centurion

Adding another milestone: our Dahons have crossed the 100km mark twice
The common road cyclist had long argued: "How can you go further with your small bike ah?"
Skeptics tend to say things they do not comprehend.
If you have the skills and physical prowess, you can do long distance with a single-gear bike.
Even some three-speed bikes have done the distance.
One example of a long-distance touring cyclist was a German dude who rode his Bike Friday pocket Crusoe around the world.
The bicycle is fitted with a Shimano Nexus 8 and its now being displayed at Bike Friday's factory in Oregon, USA.
This guy had proven that you don't folding bikes with excessive gears to see the world.
Getting started on a century ride itself is an achievement.
Whether you make it or not, that's a different story.
What's in play here are two things: mental strength and physical abilities.
Once you hit the road, the mind would be the first to breakdown when you are faced with hardships along the way.
Second thing is your body. In many ways, a million things can go wrong.
So, before starting on a long-distance haul, be sure that your body is conditioned to the rigors of pedaling hard and far.
A few key factors also plays a role. Here, I break it down for easier digestion:

1. Know your bike.

# Its important for you to understand the capabilities and the limitation of your bicycle. If you want it to take you from one point to another, make sure its roadworthy and always make it a point to know on how to maintain your ride as well as recovering it on the move.

2. Stay in shape.

# You don't just walk out of a bike shop and ride it for 100km. No sir, it doesn't work that way. The best way to prepare is by doing strength and endurance training. Not two are the same and if you want to get your legs in shape to take the punishment, climbing hills are the best option. The other is endurance. You can sprint, but can you keep it up? Going the distance can come in many forms. Some routes are filled with undulating terrain with long slopes. A combination of climbing with endurance can put you down if you are not physically prepared.

3. Be prepared.

# This is my favourite motto. I always use it to train my Boy Scouts. Like I said earlier and I would say it again: A million things can go wrong. So, when you embark on a long journey, be sure that you are equipped with an emergency kit for your bike and yourself. 

* Its simply appalling to know that some people don't even carry a bike tool with them. And at the end, they simply have to wait to thumb a ride on their downed bike. You can build your own recovery kit and its good to have a tool that can be used to repair your downed bike. Chain cutter, magic links, patch kit, a torx and hex wrench - all these comes in handy.

First aid kit
* Common things like cuts, abrasions and minor injuries can occur. Now, packing a First Aid Kit can be a hassle of you can't stash it. I ALWAYS carry on my bumbag and Camelback hydration bag. If you hit the road in a prolonged journey, be sure to pack your medication.

*Spare tubes are a must. If you travel more than 500km, a spare tire would come in handy. 

Tire protection
*When my life depends on it, kevlar-lined tires have saved my ass on several occassions. I had no fear cruising through the road shoulder and sand. This protects the tires from being punctured by road debris. 

That said, another reason to train for such an endurance ride is touring places that demands great distances.
When you pack and haul, its a different story. 
A heavier bike means more power to pedal. That's why conditioning is important.
If you are new to the distance, set your goals by starting light (10 - 20km) and gradually increase the distance and at the same time, cut the timing shorter.
There are some good applications that can help achieve this and if you own a smartphone, these are available for free.
Lastly, completing a century ride opens the door to many other things. And one way to enjoy such a ride is to do it at your own pace...
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