Give your bike a serious check-up a week before the event. It’s best not to count on bike mechanics to be available along the route for emergency repairs.
If you find your neck hurts after an hour ride or that your butt is sore or your hands go numb, it means your bike is not fitted perfectly to you. Don’t wait until start time to get some advice on proper positioning. It may simply require lowering your saddle (if your hips are rocking) or raising your stem (if your neck hurts).
If you are riding 45 mile on the day, 2 pounds off the bike will mean more enjoyment on the road. You won’t need your rack and saddlebags, unless you can’t eat what’s offered enroute or expect miserable weather. (For example, overnight bags are carried by the MS sag wagon.) Leave that child carrier at home, unless, of course, you are bringing the baby! The lightened load will make you feel like a child playing on a bike again.
Slow cycling around the start area will help loosen cold muscles, if you didn’t ride over to the event. If free massages are provided before you ride, give it a try!
An approved bike safety helmet is mandatory (for sponsors; liability). If you don’t have one already, get one that fits snugly, has plenty of air vents to keep you cool and wear it. Adjust the straps so that a V forms just under your ear when buckled. Keep it level on your head, not back like a skullcap.
You will warm up as you ride so it is best to feel a bit cool at the start. A wind-proof vest is smart protection that can easily be carried.
Although charity tours are not races, some people do ride them fast so do NOT position yourself near the starting line unless accustomed to 15-23 mph pace. Stake out space further back in the pack. (You can usually tell the speedsters by the skinny-tire, expensive-looking racing bikes with tiny pedals.) If you have a child in a carrier attached to your bike, wait at the back of the pack for safety’s sake. The actual start might be tricky because of the crush of cyclists trying to move at once. Keep one foot on the ground and step your bike forward until you have enough clear room to pedal properly. Don’t be in a rush. A fall here could cause a pileup and injuries.
You CAN go farther than you think. Even if you have never done 45 miles before, you can always ride one-third further on event day.
keep a steady but comfortable pace and conserve your energy at the beginning. The adrenalin rush at the start is normal – hey, it is exciting – but try to curb your enthusiasm. It is NOT a race. If you couldn’t get any friends to ride with you, don’t panic. Eventually the pack will thin out and you will find other cyclists going at your speed. A little chat and you’ll find yourself in your own pack. Once in the company of other cyclists, you will no longer notice the wind. A pack ride is always faster because the rider in front of you blocks the wind. Do take your turn at the front in the wind, but don’t overdo it.
If you are puffing, slow down and wait for the next group of riders to reach you. They may be more your speed. Remember to enjoy the ride. Take time to talk to your new cycling companions. You don’t have to worry too much about traffic, the routes are generally well monitored and some are even closed to vehicles for safety. However, don’t forget to look behind before pulling out to pass others and don’t ride so close that you touch the wheel of the cyclist ahead or you will crash.
Portable bathroom huts, water and medical assistance are normally available at rest stops along the route. Take five to ten minutes to catch your breath and have some water and some orange slices. Look around at the whirring wheels, brightly colored jerseys and bikes. This is fund-raising in action and you are part of it! However, don’t linger too long or your muscles will start to stiffen.
After you cross the finish line, enjoy your achievement. Not only did you finish but it was for a worthy cause. Stretch a little to ease any stiffness and get the blood flowing to all body parts again. Get out of sweaty clothes as soon as possible. Stretch. Eat something with complex carbohydrates and a little protein within 30 minutes of finishing – it will help your recovery. Stretch. You get the picture; the more you loosen up now the less you will ache later.
Stay around awhile for the official ceremonies, entertainment and draw prizes and food! You’ve earned it!
Tips for Cycling in Charity Rides – Women’s Cycling, Canada