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 ConsumerLabs.com, 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 Amazon.com 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.