Perhaps there are very few activities that are more physically demanding than long-distance bike riding. Unlike other sports that are done and over within a few minutes, or an hour or two at most, long-distance bike riding can stretch for hours, even days before you can reach the finish line. In fact, given the difficult nature of this activity, claiming the top prize is just seen by athletes as the proverbial icing on the cake. For them, what is more important is managing to endure the entire course without giving up.
It takes just as much effort and strength of will to train even before embarking on this kind of activity. You need to be adequately prepared before plunging yourself head-on into this physically and emotionally draining endeavor. If you have plans on training for a long distance bike ride yourself, here are some things to keep in mind:
Begin by beefing up your body’s resistance. Long-distance bike riding, or even just simple biking, demands a lot from your legs and glutes. These are the parts of your body that you should pay sufficient attention to. So for your legs, you can do stretching. You can also perform squats to strengthen your muscles.
Secondly, design a graduated training methodology. This means that you do not start out with a heavy training routine. As with all things, you should start with what you can correctly do. Over time, increase the difficulty and length of the trail you need to take. The key is that the degree of difficulty of your training should improve over time and not the other way around. This way, you get your body used to progressively tricky training, thereby giving it a chance to adapt.
Part of graduate training is testing out a variety of trails. It’s not all the time that you can ride on an even trail. Challenge yourself by biking on hills or any terrain with an upward slope. This will prove to be useful when you do interval training.
In interval training, you subject yourself to a period of intense physical activity, followed by an even period of rest, and then back again. It’s a way of training your body, particularly your lungs, to get used to intervals of strenuous and restful activity so that your body does not get shocked by a change in the intensity of events. This is because, in long-distance bike riding, it’s not huff-and-puff all the time. There are also parts of the trail that are relatively easy, which you can use to take a rest.
In all your training activities, make sure to listen to your body. Refrain from wearing yourself out if you feel that you have reached your limit. This is precisely the reason why during your training, it is essential to check your heart rate. Note that your training should be functional and viable, not lethal.
Another great way to prepare yourself is by joining bike race competitions. While these activities usually are lesser in scope as opposed to the usual long-distance bike races, they still make for good practice. By joining, you get yourself accustomed to the pressure and mental stress that usually come with competitive sports. The more you get used to these things, the easier it becomes for you to manage your training for long-distance bike riding.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, psych yourself up for the battle ahead. This is probably one of the least mentioned reminders when it comes to training for a long-distance bike ride. Most, if not all, focus on the physical aspect of the training. However, as you will later see, it takes more than physical stamina and resistance to withstand the rigors of a long-distance bike ride.
Think about how athletes frequently place great emphasis on mental focus to be on top of their game. Without attention and psychological sturdiness, you will more than likely give up easily or not have the strength of will to carry on even in the face of challenges. When your mind wills it, it is going to happen. Conversely, if your mind says it can’t be done, then you’re just essentially resigning yourself to the probability of failing.
How do you then keep your mental focus in check? There are a couple of ways on how you can go about this. One of these is by joining organizations or groups of long-distance bike riders. These people share a mutual passion for the sports and therefore make for a great support system. You can relate your anxieties and doubts to them, if you have any, and they can share insights and tips on how they have managed to overcome theirs.
Long-distance bike riding is by no means easy. It takes a lot of physical strength and mental focus to finish the entire course. If you wish to engage in this activity, you should be mindful of the proper way of training for a long distance bike ride as indicated in the steps above.
Stealing a bike is an easy crime. Parked and left out in the open, bicycles have few and mostly breakable defenses; hence it is quite easy to get away with lifting one. In reality, a seasoned thief would only need a few seconds to nick a bike off the street, especially if it is not attached to anything. It’s as good as one’s valuables left unattended for any crook to take. Bicycle thieves certainly make the most of this low-risk, high-reward crime, stealing and selling two-wheelers as a whole or having their parts stripped and sold separately.
What makes the problem even worse is the fact that bicycle theft is not a priority crime amongst police departments. Even though almost half the active cyclists today have had their bikes lifted at one time or another, police often fail to pursue suspects and recover their stolen property. As a result, bikers become more discouraged to report similar incidents. Thus, the rise in more theft.
All Locked In
There are plenty of bike owners nowadays, so it is no wonder that bicycle theft is such a prevalent crime. Bike riders, however, need not worry because there are simple measures on how to prevent bicycle theft. For starters, the most important thing is a lock.
Whenever a bike is parked, it should always be secured with a lock. Not just any lock, though; it is best to use high-end U-lock devices. Fact is, the majority of stolen bicycles were either unlocked or had low-quality locking devices such as lightweight cables which can easily be cut using shears in a matter of seconds. For the best protection, use a high-quality U-lock that is keyed, and not with a combination. Even though this type of lock is more expensive, it is worth the cost if it means avoiding replacing a stolen bicycle.
Knowing how to lock a bicycle safely is equally essential. Merely locking the front wheel to the bike lock may result in having the rest of the bike stolen with only a single wheel left behind. As much as possible, lock all free parts of the bicycle and pay particular attention in securing the wheels and frame to the rack. There are a couple of ways to do so: either remove the front wheel and lock it with the rear wheel around the frame or use a U-lock on the frame and the rear wheel with a connecting cable or chain to the front wheel. Better yet, use two U-locks to secure both front and rear wheel. For added protection, make sure that the seat is also secured to the bike frame using a chain and/or a locking screw.
Use That Rack
It is best to use bicycle parking racks rather than attaching it to a tree or a fence. Bike racks are often located in places where there are a lot of people and where theft rarely occurs. If there is no bike rack around, find a pole or a parking meter that are secured firmly to the ground. However, do not lock the bicycle in a sidewalk or a railing where it will most likely be a blockage and could be a possible cause of accidents.
Another important rule is never to leave a bicycle locked up outside overnight. If unavoidable, chalk up a few cash and use lockers or rooms available near the location. This could also work for those using expensive bikes in daylight which are always heavily targeted by thieves. As much as possible, use a cheaper bike whenever parking outside.
Registration is Key
Because bikes are easy pickings for crooks, registering it as a preventive measure is crucial to locating it and ultimately getting it back. More importantly, registration is equivalent to proof of ownership. If the bicycle is recovered and the suspect is caught, the thief will be released if the bike is not registered.
Bicycle registration means having all identification details of the bike kept in a file. This can be done effortlessly online. The information necessary includes everything from the purchase receipts to its manufacturer, serial number, model, and color, to any other personalization that will distinguish it (e.g., markings, stickers). Another important detail that should be added to the file is a photograph of the bicycle.
Additionally, writing an emergency contact information inside the seat or within the handlebar will also help link back the bike to its owner. Being proactive is ultimately one’s best defense when it comes to a rapidly growing and seemingly undeterred crime such as bike theft. Knowing how to prevent bicycle theft, in other words, is best done with one’s hand gripping the handlebar.
Such a vast and diverse land America is, no doubt. If you intend to hit the road and see the whole of it, then better make sure that it’s not just a spur-of-the-moment decision — do plan ahead. Remember, every major trip starts with a plan. Here are six tips to guide you when planning a trip by car across America.
Choose who to ride with
Seeing the rest of the United States is no one-day tour. It will undoubtedly take time, and you will be in the confines of a car for the majority of the day, hence picking the right travel companion/s is a sensible decision. There are different kinds of travelers with their own set of preferences so if you can’t imagine being with a particular type of traveler for a long time, don’t invite them along. More importantly, be absolutely sure that the people you go on a road trip with are those whose company you will enjoy best. Most likely, you will create unforgettable memories during this journey. Whether it be your family or friends, you’d want special people in your life to share these with.
Pump up your Vehicle
Planning a trip by car across America means readying your car to be taken on an awful lot of driving for more than a week’s time. Such exhaustive drive will undoubtedly take a toll on your vehicle and could result in it breaking down right in the middle of the road. To avoid such catastrophe, have your car checked thoroughly before your road trip. A critical step not to be missed is an oil change. Additionally, make safety checks on the critical parts of your car, such as the brakes, battery, tires and spare tires, belts and hoses, windshield wipers, headlights, brake lights and fluid levels.
Take care of the itinerary blues
The outcome of any road trip depends on how epic an itinerary is. With so many sites to see, crossing an entire continent would require at least three weeks, so set aside this time and make sure all your companions are ready and available for the date. The next step is figuring out what places you would like to see and what route you should take to get there. Mix your destinations by exploring both cities and historical sites, as well as breathtaking landscapes. Figure out how to reduce driving time to six hours at most, and maximize sightseeing. Inject some zest in your itinerary by occasionally taking scenic byways and county roads instead of major highways.
Making an itinerary for traveling the entirety of America can be exhausting and you have to do quite an extensive research beforehand. Get a good overview of the continent first and from then you can focus on specific places you want to include in your voyage. Use Google Maps to find the shortest routes between each landmark you want to see. You can also navigate the United States better by checking online reference sites and reading stories and reviews from people who have already done it.
Know where to hit the sack
Even if you will be taking turns behind the wheel, a whole day of driving and sightseeing is grueling, thus the need for maximum recovery time at night. Target places you will be stopping at each night – whether they are motels, hotels or campgrounds – and make reservations before your actual trip. Also, determine your rest stops and dining options once en route. Trying out local cuisine is a wonderful way to truly enjoy your travels.
Budget, budget, budget
Don’t forego budgeting when planning a trip by car across America. A road trip need not be costly but it is vital that you carry money with you for lodging, food, gas bill, toll fees and admission fees for attractions you want to visit. Estimating the total budget for your travels will minimize the risk of running out of funds later. Also, set aside a small portion of your budget for souvenirs and emergencies. You’ll never know when you’re going to need it.
Bring just the right road trip necessities
Stocking up on your essentials during your travel might save you from a whole lot of hassle. For starters, pack clothing that cannot only be mixed and matched easily but can also be quickly washed and dried. You’ll want to bring some detergent as well for your laundry. Of course, do not forget the snacks and water, preferably stuffed in a cooler, as well as toiletries and other travel gears. If needed, stash some cooking tools like matches, charcoal, tongs, and spatula. Pack light as much as possible to maximize leg and elbow room in your car, but make sure that you still have everything you need. Lastly, before heading out make sure to bring your favorite tunes, some pillows, and blankets for your comfort while traveling. For extra safety, make it a point to bring an emergency kit containing a first aid kit, flares, jumper cables, flashlight, and batteries.
America’s highways are flanked by food establishments that have offerings that are marketed to practically every possible type of traveler on the road. But if one is taking the roads less traveled or is traveling abroad, those conveniences may not be readily available. If you’re taking a quick trip, “hanger” (the specific type of angry that comes from being hungry) isn’t a problem. But for longer trips, hanger can really hurt the experience. Here are some tips on making sure you don’t Hulk out because of hunger:
Prepare snacks with long shelf-life
The last thing you want when you’re hungry is to pull out the snack you prepared only to find out it’s gone bad. I usually have a trail mix of dried fruits, nuts, and cereal. They keep long, and unlike dried meats or candy bars, they don’t make me really thirsty. Drink too much, and well, that’s a whole different problem.
Avoid foods you know your tummy may not agree with
This should go without saying. If you know that cheese is going to send you to the bathroom after 30-40 minutes, avoid packing some for the trip. Yes, even if you know there will be pit stops along the way. You can never be sure about how clean the comfort rooms there are, so avoiding it altogether can help you avoid unpleasant situations.
Avoid anything that’s potentially messy
I love chocolate and am often sorely tempted to mix in some dark chocolate bits into my travel trail mix, I never do. Even if you’re super careful and mindful of what you’re doing, sooner or later, you are bound to get chocolate on something, be it your clothes, camera, or phone. If it melts or can spill you may want to think twice before packing it.
Always bring extra
Even if you’re traveling alone, packing extra is still a good idea. Delays happen; whether you’re stuck at an airport or traffic is bad, the chance of your trip taking longer than expected is a reality. Having extra snacks with you means you can fight off your hunger without worrying about running low later.
Do you have any favorite travel snacks? What’s your favorite travel mix recipe?
While there are a ton of apps and websites to help us plan our trips and find amazing deals, we unfortunately still don’t have anything to pack our bags for us. Thus, packing for a trip remains to be one of the more daunting parts of travel. While the bag you’re packing will change depending on your trip, there are some universal travel hacks you can use to make packing for any trip a lot simpler
Higher frequency needs more accessibility
Before packing, sort things by the frequency of use: the more you’re sure to use something on your trip, the more accessible it should be. For me, this usually means keeping my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and first aid kit near the top, followed by situational use items like jackets or scarves so they’re easy to grab when needed.
Ziplock bags are your friend
Regardless of the trip I’m taking, I’ve found that it’s always a good idea to bring re-sealable plastic baggies of different sizes. One bag usually contains my bathroom stuff while another one or two contain snacks. I also usually keep one or two larger ones in the case in case my socks get wet and hanging them up to dry isn’t an option. When you know that there’s a possibility of bad weather, bringing plastic or waterproof bags you can use to separate your wet clothes from the rest of your baggage is always a good idea. This goes double for traveling abroad, as there may not be any laundromats available for a quick spin in the dryer.
When in doubt, check YouTube
While websites like WikiHow can provide steps for a lot of different packing methods and techniques, sometimes seeing how it’s done is a lot more helpful than reading each step. YouTube offers a veritable treasure trove of videos that show you how to fold, roll up, or package your clothes for any type of bag.
Do you have any packing techniques you’ve mastered over the years that you’d like to share? Be sure to check out our contact page for details on how to let us know?
While traveling alone can be fun, I personally love to travel with friends and family from time to time as well. The problem with traveling with a group is that most of the time, planning falls to just one person. It’s important that somebody take charge because if nobody does, the trip is almost guaranteed to fall apart. If you’re reading this, then this task is probably often delegated to you.
While planning for a group can seem daunting, it can be made easy by keeping a few things in mind and laying some ground rules for the group. Here are my two main steps:
Establish the organization of the group
When out with your friends hanging out at the local Starbucks or having dinner out, a purely democratic approach is the best way to go. When traveling, however, especially for trips that will take the group out of familiar settings, having a clearly designated leader is a must. This responsibility usually falls to the most experienced traveler of the group (who is also usually the one planning the trip).
Coming to an understanding of this before the trip even begins is important as it will prevent arguments given there’s an agreed leader to have the last say on decisions.
Remember that you can’t please everybody
Trying to come up with an itinerary that will make everyone completely happy is virtually impossible. On one hand, the reason you’re traveling as a group is for shared experiences. On the other hand, there may be some activities not everybody may be up for. Not everyone wants to travel miles and miles just to go to a museum or a park.
The key here is to find balance. What I often do is present a list of the possible areas of interest at each destination we’ll be visiting and see how many people want to visit each. The ones that have the interest of the majority get tagged as group visits, while I also allocate “individual time” for members of the group to split up. Just remember to make it clear that people have to meet back up by a certain time!
What are your ground rules for your travel groups?