When it comes to fundraising events, there are few more effective than charity cycle rides. Exposing oneself to a terribly exhausting ordeal is normally sufficient to persuade one’s friends and relatives to dip their hands into their pockets – particularly if the cause being represented is a good one.
Cycling outdoor hundreds of miles over a period of many days is something requires extensive preparation and planning. At the same time, it’s something that requires the right equipment. If you’re going on a professionally-organised charity event, you’ll have the luxury of a safety net – there will be medical assistance on hand if it’s required, as well as an ample supply of food and water. That said, there are a few items that’ll make the trip easier – and that’ll help you to look back on it with pride once you’ve crossed the finish line.
Of course, one essential item for a long bike ride is the bike itself. But not all bicycles are created equally; some are lighter and sturdier than others, some have superior gear systems, some just feel better. Whichever your budget allows for, be sure to spend time practicing on your bike before setting out – you want to be familiar with it before embarking on a long trip.
You’ll need to ensure that your bike is the right size, too. A bike that’s slightly too big or small might cause you to waste a great deal of effort, and diminish your chances of finishing. In the former case, you’ll be moving your legs much more than you need to in order to keep your pedals moving. In the latter case, it’ll be impossible to keep a steady rhythm.
Of course, if you’re to go out cycling, you’ll need to protect your head. The vast majority of serious cycling accidents occur as a result of cranial trauma, and so this humble piece of technology is by far the most effective piece of safety equipment a cyclist can own. What’s more, any reputable events company is going to insist that you wear one.
All cycle helmets must conform to a basic level of safety, and so you can be sure that you’ll be protected even by the cheaper models. What you’re getting from the more expensive helmets is usually a reduction in weight, and improved ventilation. Both will make things a great deal more comfortable – and that’s something you’ll appreciate when you’re traversing an enormous distance.
Food and Water
Whilst your food and water will likely be provided for you, it’s sensible to take a little bit just for yourself. Take something that you’ll be able to eat while in the saddle, like a selection of energy bars. Don’t bother taking something that’ll be crushed in your bag, or that’ll create a mess when you try to eat it. Sandwiches, burritos and fruit salads are all overkill. A Tupperware box full of chow mein is right out.
Your bike should come equipped with a water bottle and a matching cage. These usually come strapped to the frame of the bike itself. If it doesn’t, then be sure to secure yourself one as a matter of urgency.
Mobile cameras like the GoPro have achieved something close to ubiquity in cycling circles. And it’s easy to see why – they’re relatively inexpensive, durable, and can be affixed to the front of the handlebars in order to provide a close-up view of the action. With the help of a camera like this, you’ll be able to record every moment along the way – from the exhausting to the exhilarating.
We might hope and pray to the gods of cycling that our ride goes off without a hitch. But when you’re exposing a piece of machinery as intricate as a bicycle to such a protracted ride, it’s almost inevitable that some level of mechanical failure will rear its head. The last thing you want is for your bike ride to be interrupted by engineering after having put yourself through all that training. You’ll therefore want to take all the tools you need to cope with any problems. The tools required for your bike are often highly specialised – so get yourself a set of lightweight cycling tools to take with you. You’ll be grateful of them when disaster strikes!
The best way to safeguard against disaster is through regular maintenance. Get into the habit of checking your bike’s components to see that they’re in working order, and with identifying potential problems before they occur.
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Images credit (under CCL) by order: Vera & Jean-Christophe