Physical, technical, and mental preparation
People are often shocked when I tell them about my plans to bike home instead of just jumping on a plane. One of the first questions that usually comes up is, “How do you even train for that!?”
Being a PE teacher, I have a fairly good base level of fitness with a few triathlons here and there, but I am far from a professional athlete. The beauty is though, you don’t need to be one to complete a long distance bike tour such as this. You can look at day one of the bike tour as day one of your training. I think most people will be able to quite comfortably ride 40km in a day, and this is an entirely respectable distance for day one of any trip. As the days and miles tick by, our bodies will adjust to the rigours of putting in long hours in the saddle. Our legs will become stronger and average speed will begin to creep up.
That’s the plan anyway! We will see how it goes on the road.
I did however, complete a number of practice rides in preparation for this trip. It helps me to use an app like Strava to track my distance and speed. More than improve my physical fitness, they allowed me to fine-tune the set up of equipment that I would be taking with me.
On one of my very first practice rides, I went out with only one back pannier backed. The bike was terribly off balance and I immediately learnt my first lesson: make sure the weight is evenly spread across the bike.
Other useful insights to come from my practice rides were make sure not to overpack the frame bag. If it bulges out to the sides, it would impede on the pedal stroke, which puts undue lateral stress on your knees as you attempt to avoid bumping into it while pedaling.
A few of my practice rides involved pitching the tent and cooking a meal on my camping stove — skills that I had learned previously but were very rusty! I also spent time watching youtube videos and familiarising myself with the various parts of the bike and how to fix them if something went wrong. I think this type of training is even more important than the physical side. Hopefully I’ve done enough to deal with any problems as they arise on the road.
The final bit I’ve done in the lead up to this trip was try to prepare my mind. I scanned through blogs, studied maps, read books, and watched all sorts of youtube videos — anything I could find that was related to bike touring.
This helped settle any nerves I had about the trip, knowing that I wasn’t the first and what I am attempting to do is relatively less challenging in comparison to what some people out there are doing!
If you’re curious, check out some of the websites and inspirations I’ve come across: