Photography: Nick Kova
The only thing better than a great cycling adventure is one with friends.
On the 20th of July, women all over the world are invited to ride together as part of the Rapha Women’s 100. Last year, over 4,000 women worldwide organized, trained for, and completed rides of 100k to celebrate women in cycling. These rides aren’t races. In fact, they might not look much different from other rides you would plot out with friends on the weekend — maybe just a bit longer. This year Strava hopes to help make this celebration an even bigger event.
Nutrition, hydration, equipment, training and routing all take on a greater importance when going for a longer day in the saddle, so to ensure you are prepared and have a spectacular time, we’ve put together a guide to help you conquer 100k. Check out the following tips so that you can complete this challenge with confidence.
Set a Goal.
100k might be the longest distance you’ve ever ridden a bike. Even if it’s not, setting appropriate expectations and taking small but marked steps is an important part of reaching your goal. Establish smaller weekly goals to increase distance and mileage, which will help you build towards your milestone. If you’re a Strava Premium member, you can use the weekly mileage goals and track them in your feed so that you stay on target. You might find surprises along the way, like meeting new friends to ride with, riding your local routes faster than ever, or even helping a friend who is new to cycling reach new heights on their bike.
Have a Plan.
Don’t be overly ambitious or restrictive in your planning or training; the objective is to ride 100K and have fun while doing it. Planning for your ride means not only preparing your mind and body for what you’ll encounter when going for your goal, but also preparing logistically for what could happen on your ride. Learning how your body feels, what you need on the bike, and when or where you need it most are important bits of information that will help you to think ahead and will ensure your ride goes off without a hitch. Know where you’ll refill water, refuel, or take shelter if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Adventures on a bike are fun, but adventures on a bike are all the more fun with friends. Not to mention, having others to train and ride with will encourage you to push harder, ride faster, and go further than you might otherwise ride on your own. Hunt down a local ride by inquiring at bike shops and with clubs in your area or go to the Women’s 100 page to find a ride. Or, if you can’t find a local organized ride, create your own by inviting friends and others to join you. If you wish to open it to the public, register it here. Choose cyclists that are of a similar ability level so that you can help to push each other and cover the terrain as a team. Even if you don’t know each other well when you begin riding, you’re sure to create connections and enjoy great conversations when you share a passion for cycling.
Know Your Route.
Before you head out, know where you’re going and what to expect. How much climbing do you anticipate? Are there technical descents? Is the distance long enough to complete 100k? Why not try a new route or extend a familiar ride? You can easily plot out your journey with the Strava Route Builder, a tool to create, save and download cycling routes to your phone or GPS device. Strava uses real athlete data to recommend the best roads around the world; you just pick a start and end point as well as many key points along the way to plot your trip. When finished, you can share the route with friends so they know what to expect too.
Check Your Equipment.
When you’re setting out for a long day’s ride there’s nothing worse than having a mechanical problem, so having the right equipment when you’re out on the road is important. We suggest carrying the following items:
one or more inner tubes
a small pump
a couple of CO2 cartridges
a CO2 pump
a pair of tire levers
a small allen key
and a small amount of cash money for emergencies
Do you know how to change a flat tire on your bike? You should. Take a couple of practice runs before you roll out. It’s also good to check your tire pressure before each ride; this can help prevent pinch flats. If you need it, a complete tune up is never a bad idea if you haven’t been riding a ton. Small technical difficulties reach new magnitudes when you’re far from home or your local bike shop.
When packing for a long ride, pack lightly but mindfully. Hopefully you won’t need any of the essentials you’re carrying, but if you should need something, you’ll be very thankful to have taken the time to pack properly. In your jersey pockets, for rides over 3 hours, it’s a good idea to bring a small cap, a sleeveless jersey or gilet/vest in case the temperature drops, arm warmers for chilly descents or inclement weather. Don’t forget to pack some of those favorite snacks. And, of course, you’ll not want to leave the house without wearing a helmet, comfortable cycling shorts, gloves and eye protection.
Eat, Drink, Play.
Failing to care for your body by properly fueling and hydrating — both on and off the bike — is like giving yourself a flat tire on your ride. On your training rides, practice eating and drinking to learn what sits well with your stomach. It’s good to know how much fluid your body needs and how many calories you like to consume to feel at the top of your game. Nutrition and hydration are different for every rider, but typically, you’ll want to finish an entire water bottle each hour and be eating a little something to go along with it. Proper nutrition is enough to make or break your day and experience.
Eating as you ride is important to keep up your blood sugar, but staying hydrated is even more important than taking in calories. If you’ll be riding in warm weather, or if you have a healthy sweat going while you ride, it’s wise to carry a hydration drink with some sugar and salt to replace the nutrients you’re sweating out on the saddle. Choose a product that sits well in your stomach and mixes easily. Once you’re riding, always drink before you think you need to, and be sure to drink frequently (every 15 minutes or so).
The way you fuel your body off the bike is also important, especially the meals you eat the night before and the morning of your ride. Make sure these meals are delicious and healthy and full of the nutrients your body needs to perform well. You can save the splurges for after your ride! Consider adding a healthy serving of pasta, quinoa, or rice and including proteins on your plate. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated at these meals as well.
Be Confident and Have Fun.
You’ve prepared to go big, so get out there and prove you can. Having self-confidence, trust in yourself and knowing your limits is key when facing a new challenge. Remember your training and keep your thoughts positive. Ride safe, smart, and in tune with your body. If you’re riding comfortably and feeling good, you’ll have a great time out there — Enjoy it!
Be sure to take photos and share them with the hashtag #Womens100.