Get ready for Ride Day with our top tips
You’ve banked the miles and you’ve bought your gear – and Ford RideLondon is almost here! To help your ride go like clockwork, follow our top tips on how to prepare for the big day.
Increase your carbs
If you’re taking part in Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 – and set to be in the saddle for several hours – we recommend fuelling up on carbohydrates about 12 to 36 hours before the event. Foods like rice, pasta, potatoes, bread and even fruit are great options, and try to eat these in place of proteins where possible. Avoid eating too much fibre or fat before your ride, too, as this can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort as you cycle – which you could really do without.
If you can, eat your largest meal the day before the event at lunchtime rather than in the evening, as this will give your body more time to digest it. You want to reach the Start Line feeling fresh, not too full!
If you’re taking part in a shorter ride such as Ford RideLondon-Essex 30 or FreeCycle, there’s no need to stock up quite so heavily on the carbs before you cycle. Eating wholesome, nutritious foods you are familiar with in the days before the event will serve you well.
A good night’s kip is key for restoring your energy levels and repairing sore muscles. If you’re struggling to settle (and perhaps contending with a few pre-ride jitters), try applying a few drops of lavender oil to your pillow or take a bath about half an hour before you go to bed. Block out as much light and noise from your bedroom as you can too.
Sleep well and both your body and your mind will be raring to go come Ride Day!
Prepare your morning meal
Try to eat something about two hours before you ride – carbohydrate-rich foods such as porridge with a banana, or a bagel or toast with peanut butter and fruit juice are good ideas. Go for tea or coffee for the caffeine boost too if this is part of your usual morning routine. The most important thing is not trying anything new on Ride Day, as it could upset your stomach.
Check your bike
Your bike might suffer a few knocks and jolts on the way to the event, particularly if you’re transporting it in a car. To make sure your bike is in good shape, here’s a non-exhaustive pre-ride checklist:
- bang the saddle with your fist from left to right to check it doesn’t move
- grab your handlebar, with the front wheel clasped between your legs, and push it up and down and side to side to check it doesn’t slip
- check the chain is not derailed
- give the tyres a squeeze to check they’re still fully inflated
- spin the wheels, checking for brake rub. You might have to re-centre the brake calipers to remedy any issues
If you’re worried about your bike and its roadworthiness, get it checked out by a qualified bike mechanic or expert.
Expect rain or shine
Although it isn’t always reliable, check the weather forecast before your ride so you can plan what clothing to bring with you. Your best bet is to bring a bit of everything – most importantly, sunscreen, a waterproof layer in case of rain, and other light layers in case it is chilly. It’s easy to remove these layers and tuck them in your pockets should you need to mid-ride.
Stock up on energy
If you’re taking on one of the longer event distances, fill your pockets with tried-and-tested energy products before you set off – these could be gels, bars, sweets, flapjacks, or anything else you’ve used in training.
Even if it’s not particularly warm on Ride Day, it’s vital that you keep hydrated during your ride. Be sure to carry a bottle with you and make use of the water refill points along the route.
Wind down gently
Ten minutes of easy cycling after your ride, coupled with some stretches, will help minimise muscle stiffness. Although it might be the last thing on your mind after an event like Ford RideLondon-Essex 100, it’s also a good idea to go for a very easy cycle the day after your ride, as this can in fact speed up your recovery.
Post-ride refuelling is a must. Tuck into some protein for muscle recovery and carbohydrate to boost your energy, ideally within 20 minutes of completing your ride if you’re planning on exercising again within the next couple of days. Otherwise, make sure you have a nutritious snack or meal within two hours of crossing the Finish Line – something that really takes your fancy after your cycling efforts on the road!