Training for a cross country bike trip in Locust Valley, NY is insane.You might as well sign up for the Olympics because the only consistencies in the terrain are hills, hills and more hills. In fact, one day, okay, every time I bike, really, while on search for the perfect Escher route (think stairwell that never ends and you keep walking down or biking down hill in my case,) I finally caved. It doesn't exist. Every sailing trip down a long hill is a corner turned to an incline of epic proportion. With the occasional three second plateau. And no matter how many times I tell myself, "Think Roller Coaster," I can't shake the fact that my pedaling legs do not have any electric current running through them. So the self-talk therapy works better when I just count one. Two. Three. Foam. Pedal on or you won't see home.
Hubby and his team are the crazy, I mean, brave fellas who are not just biking for fun and exercise. They plan to leave the hills of NYC behind, fly out to Seattle next summer, and spend the month of July 2015, biking back to New York. This feat will require close to 115 miles a day, lots of pasta, and a GOpro camera to capture the beauty of America as the team whizzes by on wheels.
Me. I'm in charge of the SAG crew. My job doesn't officially start till next June. But I want to show my support of hubby's mid-life crisis, I mean, AMAZING goal of fighting human trafficking and child poverty, by striving to bike 3000 miles before the team begins their coast to coast trek. These are few tips I've pocketed during my spinning around the valley. If you can relate or if you have something to add, please comment below.
TOP TEN TIPS to Summer Biking
1. Water. Don't forget to drink before, during and after your ride. And if you're biking monster miles, plan a route that gives you access to a water fountain where you can refill your water bottles. Think parks, beaches, and the friendly pizza shop where you get takeout once a week. They know you. They''ll let you refill. Just leave your bike outside the shop.
2. Sunblock. Even if you're biking in shady areas. At some point, the sun will hit your face and contrary to popular belief, you cannot outrun or out pedal the sun.
3. Bug Spray if you're biking during dusk or dawn before you start. There's nothing worse than a nagging mosquito that nips at your heels while you're slowing down on a grueling uphill. Each swatting attempt to kill the little bugger only slows your ride more. And you could fall. Try restarting from zero on an uphill. Grrrrr.
4. Speaking of bugs, on a downhill, keep thy lips sealed. No matter how much you want to squeal or scream for joy or feel the wind on your teeth, resist and seal. Else eat bugs. Plural. And bees are the worst. Personally, I also squint if I"m not wearing shades on a downhill. Because a bug in the eye is also annoying and hello? Visually hazardous.
5. If you suspect that rain is in the air, bike close to home, perhaps doing laps around the block so you can get home safely if a downpour turns into a storm and you're better off walking your bike than wiping out on the slippery roads. Riding in light rain is refreshing, especially on a hot summer day, but make sure you have lights to keep you visible to drivers.
6. Speaking of lights, wear a light on the back of your helmet and one on your handlebars. And light or bright colored clothing. Be visible. Be safe.
7. A note on road rage. Even if, and it will happen, a driver cuts you off as they speed by in their car, don't freak out and try and chase them down. Generally speaking, they can run you over, hurt you with the simple weight/size advantage of their vehicle, and I don't know about you, but my first choice for a skin tattoo does not include tire marks. In other words, let it go.
8. A note on gear and general protection of your skin. Buy biking shorts. They have extra padding for you tush that as you miles increase, your tush will thank you for the shock absorption. And there's also this amazing product called BUTT''R made for chaffing prevention on skin areas that experience friction during a ride. Think any part of your skin that rubs against the bike or itself and apply before biking. Your skin will love you for the TLC. And the better you feel afterward, the more likely you'll bike again the next day.
9. Endurance also has a direct correlation to stretching. You don't realize how much your muscles in your back, legs, arms, neck and abs tighten as you pedal away. Every minute you spend stretching before and after biking will add hours of more enjoyable miles to your fixture. This tip is not just for the older bikers. Protect your muscles while you're young too. Youtube is great for ides on stretching your hams and quads.
10. Finally, if you have to spit while biking, spit fast and far. There's nearly nothing as gross as being hit by your own spit. Well, maybe being pelted by someone else's spit.
BONUS: Carry your phone with you. The MapMyRide App is a great way to track you miles and your weekly progress. And don't forget your ID. If you get a flat that can't easily be repaired or if you fall and you're unable to bike home, it's nice to be able to contact someone. BUT if your phone goes off while you're biking up hill, DON'T answer it. The person can be called back. The momentum you lose by stopping on an incline cannot be recovered. Turn the corner, pull off to the side of the road, and take the call. And it seems silly to say, but you really shouldn't be texting while biking or trying to take pics of the cool scenery unless you have a hands free device like a GOpro Camera! That's all for now.
I"m sure there are plenty more tips that can be added, so don't be shy. Add away! And on a fun note, the BIKES ARE IN! THE BIKES ARE IN! The bycycle manufacturer, GIANT, has sponsered the C4C team and is offering the cyclists bikes at a 50% discount. Thank you Road Runners of Glen Cove, NY for helping make it happen! But the cost of the bikes and gear is still close to $1000 per biker. Please consider supporting the team in the initial phase of fundraising with their Iniegogo Campaign. Thanks, Everyone! Stay Safe. And Happy Summer Spinning.
And you? Have any Summer Biking Tips for us?
Rajdeep Paulus is an Award-Winning author of Young Adult Novels Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones. She likes to bike, swim, kayak and \\ her Sunshine and four princesses. She can also drive a mean, 27 foot RV and looks forward to heading up the SAG team for C4C2015.