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Beginner Tips for Long Distance Cycling

For beginners and seasoned pros alike, nothing beats a long ride to give you a sense of success as a cyclist. There's no need to be scared if you're new to the sport or haven't attempted anything longer than two hours; effective long-distance riding typically comes down to strategy and planning, not just fitness.

Alex Stieda knows what it takes to finish a lengthy bike ride: with team 7-Eleven in 1986, he was the first North American to wear the yellow jersey of the Tour de France. Through his website,, he currently provides skill camps and tours.

Long bike rides do, of course, require a certain level of stamina, so concentrate on progressively increasing the distance and intensity of your rides. “Let's pretend your weekend ride is two hours long. Add about a half hour to each ride over the course of eight weeks, and you'll be ready for a century ride in two months,” Stieda advises.

He also recommends increasing the amount of time spent in the saddle. “Be sure to squeeze in another hour-long ride or two during the week,” he advises. When it comes to long-distance bicycle training, not every ride needs to be a quad-killer. Recovery rides are equally as important as workouts in terms of establishing your fitness foundation.

So you want to ride 60 km (or more) for the first time? Try our metric century workout routine, and you'll be amazed at the results.


Pedal Smart

“You give your aerobic and muscular systems a break by maintaining a cadence of at least 90 RPM,” Stieda advises. “Think of lifting a 20-pound bench press ten times instead of one rep of 200: you lift the same amount with less effort overall.”

Eat and Drink Lots

Nutrition and hydration are essential for sustaining your effort when out on a long bike ride. Depending on the heat and intensity of exercise, Stieda recommends drinking one bottle per hour.

“Don't worry so much about what you mix with the water; the most important thing is the water,” he advises. “Every 15 minutes, eat a bite or two of food—consistency is key throughout the day. If you're going to be out for more than two hours, make a pit break to replenish drinks and eat a snack.” (These raspberry bars are a hit with the crowd.)

Use the Rule of Thirds

If a long ride still sounds daunting, divide it into three chunks of roughly similar length and devise a strategy for each: “Just spinning along for the first portion should feel effortless. You should start to feel your muscles moving throughout the second.

Show it in the last third if you have any jam left.Nothing screams "rookie" like charging up the first incline only to bonk and need to be babysat all the way to the top, according to Stieda.

Watch the Wind

The wind can either be your ally or your adversary. “Roll easy if you start with a tailwind; you'll have a headwind on the way back. During windy sections, keep together as a group so you can take turns at the front working to shelter the others,” he advises.

Plan for Trouble

Longer rides increase the chances of something going wrong. Although your journey is likely to be uneventful, you should be prepared. Carry enough equipment to fix at least two flats, as well as a small tool, your phone, identification, and cash.

“I keep a $20 dollar in the insole of my shoe,” Stieda explains. He also advises adhering to the road code, which states, "Stop for any rider in need." One day, the good deed will return back to you.”

More Quick Tips

  • Long rides can cause aches and pains. Move to reduce them.

  • Change your hand placements on a regular basis, keeping your thumbs wrapped around the bar or brake lever for added security.

  • Shrug for 5 to 10 seconds to relax your neck and shoulders.

  • Reach one hand up between your shoulders for a few seconds on a clear stretch of road, then swap hands.

  • Stand up and take one pedal off the table so that your leg is straight. Allow your heel to sag under the pedal. Switch legs after 20 seconds of holding.


Editor: Jessica Coulon and Alex Stieda

Content Curator: Evelyn Chew

If you like to go cycling around Singapore with our positive and like-minded sports community, you can check out our telegram group: MOA Sports Club for more event updates.

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