Your adventures aren’t only about showing up. The paths you walk will demand more of you.
Think of bike touring as an example or a metaphor. No matter what adventure you’re planning, you need to be holistically prepared. You’re an complete human being, not a pair of legs.
On a long bike tour, you could be in the saddle for 4-6 hours most days. And I want you to have some energy left to enjoy yourself when we get to our destination.
Biking takes its toll on your back, your arms, and your joints. You have to build those up, along with your legs.
I’m not a trainer or a physical therapist, but here are a few basic principles that will help you.
Don’t push yourself. Don’t torture yourself. But you should always give yourself a little healthy challenge.
Think three months ahead, and aim to be a little better, stronger, and faster than you are today.
This means going just the slightest hair’s breadth beyond what’s easy or comfortable today.
Focus on pre-hab
A big part of your training should be about preventing injury. Work on your core and your back. Get really disciplined about warmups and stretches.
Include a lot of movements and exercises that you won’t do on the bike. Running, jumping, push-ups, pull-ups and burpees should be a foundation. If you have time, throw in some acrobatics, yoga, or martial arts. You’ll thank yourself later.
Your muscles are like armor when they are toned. They can hold your limbs in the right position and prevent things from being wrenched the wrong way. Strong muscles help you snap back from a twist or a fall. Take care of all of them.
Also give yourself plenty of easy days to rest, recover, and grow.
Use your untapped resources
If you haven’t already been using this secret, you might be surprised at the immediate boost you get in power and stamina.
Most people rely on their quadriceps when they bike. But all your quads really do is straighten your legs. The other part of the equation is in your gluteus maximus--your butt.
There’s a lot of muscle down there, and it rarely gets sore or tired. Think of this as the main force, driving each leg down like a piston. The quads are just assistants.
If you’re not sure how to engage your glutes, stand up and pretend you’re kicking a soccer ball that’s behind you on the ground. This will give you the feeling, and then you repeat that when you’re riding.
If you’re not literally thinking about a bike tour, this principle can still help you. What untapped resource is right in front of you (or behind you in our case), that you can start to use immediately?
Yup, you gotta do it. Hours of biking, several times a week. Maybe you already do this. I don’t do enough of it.
First, get solid on all the other principles. Use your butt, challenge yourself, and get in the habit of exercising all those muscles that you don’t think you’ll need.
But then, once you’ve done that, get on your bike and ride. As much as possible.
Get used to riding, have fun riding, and get used to having fun riding.