Riding extra-long once a month is a great way to help maintain your form - but it involves a bit more thought than just hopping on your bike. Here are the answers to the three most common questions I get asked.
How long should I ride?
Do an extra-long ride once a month - something over five hours in the small ring with good cadence and low heart rate. This will help you to maintain your base fitness which will be handy come Spring when you start training for big events like the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. It's a much smarter option to the common mistake of cramming mileage post winter.
On weeks when you're not doing your extra-long ride, aim for 80-100km and remember - consistency is key.
What intensity should I ride?
Awhile back I took a group down to Thames. We cycled via Kopu Hill which was 165km and rode 135km back the next day.
Those with good cadence who regularly snacked did better on the way back than those who rode in too bigger gear and didn't eat often enough on day one. Pushing big gears loads muscles with tension and slows recovery.
Keep your cadence high and intensity low. Your long ride should feel easy and not leave you sitting on the couch all afternoon, absolutely knackered.
What should I eat?
Get into the habit of eating little and often. On a long ride, I like to graze every 20 minutes to get the carbs in. The rule of thumb is for every kg you weigh, you need that in grams per hour - a 75kg person would need 75g of carbs per hour (1 x gel = 25g; 1 x banana = 25g; 1 x 750ml electrolyte bottle = 25g).
Start eating and drinking early on a long ride. If you're riding for seven hours, you'll need to drink a bottle an hour. That can be difficult but it's imperative to prevent dehydration and assist recovery.