Unlock the Secrets of a Successful Long Bike Ride: How to Prepare Like a Pro!

Author: Kier

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If the open road and the thrill of the wind in your hair are calling to you, it may be time to learn how to prepare for a long bike ride. Whether planning a solo ride or joining a group of cycling buddies, proper preparation is the key to smashing your long-distance cycling goals.

In this article, we’ll explore the essential aspects of long-distance riding, including route planning, bike maintenance, nutrition, and safety. So grab your helmet and tighten those cycling shoes because it’s time to race into this handy guide on long-distance rides.

Key Takeaways: How to Prepare for a Long Bike Ride

  • Plan your route carefully, considering factors like distance and safety. Have alternative routes in mind.
  • Conduct a thorough bike check before your ride to ensure it’s in optimal condition.
  • Dress appropriately so that you can stay comfortable for long periods.
  • Stay hydrated before, during, and after your ride. Don’t forget to fuel up on snacks as well.
  • Pace yourself and listen to your body to find a sustainable rhythm
cyclist riding Mallorca

Plan Your Route

Preparation is key when planning your route for a long-distance bike ride. You’ll want to start by researching maps, online resources, and cycling apps offering bike-friendly route information. Komoot is a good choice for finding new routes.

Pick a route that suits your experience and fitness level, and plot your route using a combination of main roads and scenic paths. That way, you can combine enjoyment and safety.

Want an idea of a route’s difficulty and how long it may take to ride? We can use Komoot’s statistics to check the ride’s Difficulty (Easy, Intermediate, or Expert), Duration, Distance, and Elevation. Here’s an example of a ride in Gran Canaria.

komoot ride information example

Since you’re going for a long-distance ride, it may be worthwhile to consider whether your route has rest stops and other “facilities” – a coffee and cake stop is essential!

You may also want to consider the distance of your route, elevations, and road conditions to ensure it’s the best route.

Of course, it’s always good to be prepared! So make sure to have an alternate route “in your jersey pocket” in case of unexpected changes.

a cyclist riding up hills

Check Your Bike

Before going on long-distance bike rides, checking your bike and ensuring it’s in optimal condition is important. Firstly, you’ll want to check the tires for any signs of wear or damage and then adjust the tire pressure.

Then, you can check the brakes to ensure they’re engaging smoothly and that the brake pads have sufficient life left.

Next, you’ll want to examine the chain for proper lubrication and tension.

Remember to inspect the gears for smooth shifting; you may have to charge your electronic shift batteries these days!

Make any necessary adjustments to your gravel or road bike before you leave. You may also want to take a short test ride to make sure that everything feels comfortable and functions well.

One of the secrets on how to prepare for a long bike ride is to check your bike

Dress Appropriately

Choosing appropriate clothing for long-distance cycling is crucial for comfort and performance. It may be helpful to start with a moisture-wicking base layer that helps to regulate your body temperature.

Since you’ll be riding long distances, you’ll want to invest in a decent pair of padded bib shorts for extra cushioning. Ideally, you’ll also have a lightweight, breathable cycling jersey to keep you cool and dry.

You don’t want your feet to ache midway through your long ride, so try to pick out a pair of comfortable cycling shoes with decent cycling shoe insoles and ones that deliver efficient power transfer (clipless is best if you are used to them). You can pair them with cycling socks for extra moisture control, too.

Lastly, a well-fitting helmet and cycling gloves (if they are your thing) can make your experience much more comfortable. So be sure to pick those up before hopping on your bike.

closed up shot of cyclist fixing sleeve

Hydrate and Fuel Up

Proper nutrition and hydration are key for maintaining energy levels during long bike rides. Ideally, you’ll want to begin by drinking enough water well before your ride and continue to drink water throughout. Add an electrolyte tab to the bottle if it’s a warm day, and you will likely sweat.

You should always carry water and hydration packs on long rides to avoid dehydration. But be sure to have easy access to them!

For long-distance cycling, you’ll want to pick a route with sufficient rest stops to refuel and rehydrate. Pack energy-rich snacks like energy bars, bananas, and trail mix for a steady source of carbohydrates.

cyclist drinking water during morning ride

Pace Yourself

A successful (and enjoyable) ride starts with knowing how to pace yourself. You should already have a good understanding of your current fitness level. This will give you a good base to work from when you’re setting your long-distance riding goals.

No matter your fitness level, it’s always best to start slowly and gradually build the intensity as your body warms up. You should also avoid going all-out in the early stages to avoid wearing yourself out too quickly.

Long-distance rides are all about maintaining a steady pace at moderate intensity, so take it easy on yourself!

cyclist on proper form

Stay Safe

Your safety should always be your top priority when you’re preparing to ride long distances. Of course, basic safety always starts with wearing a helmet to protect your head. You can also make your clothes more visible to others by wearing bright, reflective clothing.

If you’re driving on any main roads, obey traffic rules and signals and drive in the same direction as traffic. Be vigilant of your surroundings, identifying any potential hazards in your path.

It’s crucial to carry identification and tell someone about your ride and the estimated return time if you plan to ride long distances alone. These days, allowing someone to track you by either your bike GPS computer or your phone is a simple option.

side view of a road cyclist stopped by a pond

Train for the Ride

Training properly before a long ride is essential for building endurance. Remember to start slowly when you train, and increase the duration and length of your rides over time. It may be helpful to include interval workouts and cross-training activities like yoga, swimming, and strength training to boost your overall fitness.

Remember to listen to your body and give yourself time off for rest days. This will help your body to recover and lessen the risk of injuries or overtraining. It’s also important to be consistent if you want to see results, so establish a training schedule and stick to it.

Here’s our guide on training for a Century Ride.

Reflect on the Experience

Once you’ve completed your ride, take some time to reflect on the experience and celebrate your accomplishments. You can use this time to think about what went well on your ride and areas of improvement for your next one.

You can also evaluate your strategies and use your experience to adjust your methods to keep leveling up your skills! For this reason, having a journal or tracking app can come in handy.


What to eat before a long bike ride?

For sustained energy release, go for complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread or oatmeal. Fruits, particularly bananas, are an excellent choice due to their fast-acting carbohydrates and potassium content, which help maintain muscle function.

It’s essential not to neglect hydration, so drink plenty of water or consider a sports drink to replenish electrolytes. Aim to consume your meal 2-3 hours before the ride to allow for digestion, or if eating immediately before, opt for something light and easy to digest.

How can I prevent injuries on a long bike ride?

Before your ride, you should always ensure a proper bike fit and practice good riding techniques. Of course, you can prevent injuries by taking breaks and stretching, but training beforehand is crucial to lower the likelihood of getting hurt.

How do I recover after a long bike ride?

After a long bike ride, you ensure you’re hydrated and eat a balanced meal within an hour of ending. You’ll also want to get enough sleep and stretch your muscles to help speed the recovery process up.

What essential gear should I pack for a long bike ride?

The most important gear you should take with you on a long ride includes:

  • Food and water
  • Spare tubes, a tire pump, and a multitool
  • A patch kit
  • Sunscreen
  • A first-aid kit
  • A cell phone and money (in case of emergencies)






Photo of author


Kier focuses on improving all things bike, and is always looking to take his ability to a new average (hopefully a higher one!). When not on the bike Kier is normally downing coffee and cake.