Distance Cycling, Your Complete Guide For Long-Distance Rides

23 Apr
Distance Cycling by Hughes and Kehlenbach

Distance Cycling

How long is your average bike ride? Are you satisfied with your current distance or would you like to be able to ride a lot farther? My average bike ride is a metric century (60 miles) and I don’t think it is any big deal. However, I’ve met a lot of cyclists who think a 20 mile bike ride is major accomplishment. In my opinion anyone who can comfortably ride 20 miles is capable of raising that to 60 or 70 miles with just a few weeks of preparation. If you want to learn how to become a long-distance cyclist then you need to get a copy of Distance Cycling, a new book by John Hughes and Dan Kehlenbach.

The main focus of the book is preparing cyclists to ride a century (100 miles). Like nearly every other person who has read this book has lamented, I wish a book like this had been available when I started cycling. Everything I know about distance cycling I had to learn the hard way. In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog was to keep people from making the same mistakes I’ve made over the years.

Distance Cycling starts by helping you define your goals and offers practical guidance for baseline conditioning. It also introduces you to the concept of prehabilitation, i.e., “recognizing the potential for injury and implementing specific exercises to prevent problems rather than trying to repair the damage afterward.” This section alone is worth the price of the book!

The section on “Fueling the Distance Cyclist” will probably change the way you eat on a bike forever. Too many people take up cycling “to lose weight” and starve themselves while out on the bike—then come home and “pig out.” Once you learn to properly fuel up you will find longer rides a lot easier to handle.

In addition to the proper nutrition you also need the right equipment, and this book will help you select the perfect gear for the type of ride you are planning for. Cycling-specific clothing can be expensive, so it is best to have some knowledge of what you need before you walk into a bike shop to try on clothing.

The training schedules suggested in this book are excellent, and they spend of good deal of time explaining the need to take plan time off the bike to help with muscle recovery. Near the end of the book they offer additional information for randonneuring and ultradistance riding.

While I highly recommend this book, there is one point that I do disagree with, i.e., the single paragraph dealing with vitamin supplements. Hughes and Kehlenbach are opposed to taking supplements, and even though they are experts in distance cycling I respectfully disagree with them on this point. Do the research yourself and see what works for you. If you are want to find out if your supplements are worthwhile, based upon current medical research, I would suggest you look at, an independent laboratory that tests the potency and quality of nutritional supplements.

Distance Cycling is a 259 page paperback book and retails for $20, but you can find it on for around $13. This book is published by Human Kinetics and was printed in the United States. I put this book in the “must buy” category for anyone who wants to tackle distance cycling.


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25 responses to “Distance Cycling, Your Complete Guide For Long-Distance Rides

  1. aleksledocteur

    April 23, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Reblogged this on THEMANALEX and commented:
    For all those who likes road cycling and long distances :)

  2. aleksledocteur

    April 23, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Great post. Thanks. My major ride was something more than 110 miles. The feeling after is great.
    Hope I will improve this distance soon.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      aleksledocteur — thanks for the note! Long rides always leave me feeling great and wanting more.

  3. hughonabike

    April 23, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    Distance, It’s all relative. I just finished a 60 miler and I,m dead. Last week after 60 miles I was OK, well not dead. Difference, the Climbs………..Today’s climbs were steep and went on forever, ergo, I’m dead but mildly satisfied……..Must go now and pig out…….!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 23, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      hughonabike — went don’t have many big climbs in my area, but riding into into 30 MPH headwinds accomplishes the same thing. Long-distance cyclist Jill Horner calls headwinds “the hills you never ride down.”

      • hughonabike

        April 23, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        lucky for me there is very little headwind where I live now. Once in Scotland I cycled down a steep hill and the headwind actually stopped me and started to push me backwards up the hill! I didn’t do many miles that day!

  4. scorpioscott

    April 23, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Loved the review so much that I have gone ahead and ordered it on Amazon straight away.


    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      scorpioscott — I am sure you will benefit from reading the book, but I am not sure your Spam Cycling Jersey really reflects the attitude of the authors (I like the jersey, but not the Spam product itself)

  5. scorpioscott

    April 23, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Reblogged this on Scorpioscott's Blog and commented:
    I have gone ahead and ordered this book already. I’m hopin it’s going to give me some tips for coping with some of the challenges I have set myself for this year…

  6. bikevcar

    April 23, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I’ve done a handful of 100 mile rides but am currently preparing for a multi-stage event – 330 miles over 3 days. Having never done anything like this before I must say my training ‘programme’ is loosely based around doing as much and as often as possible. Maybe I need to check out this book. Thanks

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 23, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      bikevcar – I used to almost every day, but I finally realized that distance cycling requires some time off the bike — we break down muscles on a hard ride and build them back up on rest days.

  7. essiep

    April 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    On nutrition- I find the meal the night before is crucial. Every so often, I have a crap ride and get home wondering why it was so hard, only to remember what I ate the night before. Should have had pasta instead of noodles- that sort of thing.

  8. Forrest

    April 23, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    My rides tend to be in the 50 mile range lately, but those are 50 mountain miles. I don’t know if I get extra credit for that or not.

    The main thing that limits how far I’ve been able to go, is that my neck and the tops of my shoulders get sore after a few hours in the saddle. If I go long enough, it feels like they’re on fire, and, after that, I start looking for bridges to jump off. It isn’t a fit issue – I’ve had my bike fit several times – I think I’m using some of the muscles out of proportion, or maybe I have bad bike posture in some subtle way. I don’t suppose the book has a section on something like this…?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 23, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      The book does mention riding position some, but it sounds like a little deep tissue massage before a ride would do wonders for you!

  9. elizabethhoward1

    April 23, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    It would be awesome to ride that far. I am thinking 20 miles is good for me right now though! Great book though. I will mention it to my hubs :D

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 23, 2012 at 11:08 PM

      Elizabeth, if you can ride 20 miles I’m certain you could ride 40 within a few weeks! You husband will love the book!

  10. Diane

    April 24, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    our little island country borders around 80 miles and we all feel like dying afterwards. i guess we challenge ourselves by riding tiny wheels in the tropical weather? lol.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 24, 2012 at 12:51 AM

      If you are on an island in the tropics I’m sure you have to deal with a lot of humidity. I’d rather ride 50 miles in the snow than 50 miles in high heat and humidity any time! Hot and humid days just drain my strength too quickly.

  11. velophileaustralia

    April 25, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    I think I might buy this book. I am planning for a month-long tour in Europe in 3 months time. I currently struggle to ride more than 40km in one day without hurting myself (still nursing a sore knee from last weekend when I cycled only 100km over 3 days). I’ll need to be able to smash out 80km+ each day for 4 weeks straight while on tour so time to get myself in order!

    PS- Thanks for checking out my blog! I really like yours, great to see some other like-minded folk out there contributing to the pool of knowledge for the benefit of others.

  12. kevinmayne

    April 25, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Enjoyed the review. It looks like the book is a good complement to Simon Doughty’s “Long Distance Cyclists’ Handbook” which covers the next set of distances up – from 50 miles all the way up to the legendary 1000 mile plus challenges. Simon was dreadfully injured by a crazy driver some years ago and like many in the community I like to see his book mentioned because every sale helps.

    Thanks for liking my blog too – good to have the bloggers who are not just interested in cycle lane design in touch with each other.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 25, 2012 at 3:12 PM

      Thanks for the note about Simon Doughty’s book — I’ll have to order a copy

  13. luckytiff

    April 29, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    Added this book to my wishlist/reading list! Thanks for the suggestion for long rides over onmy blog. I accidentally deleted your comment! Happens when I do it from my phone

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 30, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      luckytiff, I’m sure you will enjoy the book. Editing on a phone can be a pain!


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