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When the Going Gets Tough: 10 tips for Overcoming the Hard Road and a Long Journey

Riding Your Bike Far and Long is a Tough Endeavor

N ot all riders are blessed with a natural gift to ride miles and miles. For Some there is a steep learning curve and the point of this article is to give you ten tips on how to manage the effort when things get tough.

 

Keep in mind that this article assumes that you have been training at least 100 miles a week.  Assumes you have done your best to keep your nutrition dialed in.  Assumes that you have done a professional bike fit and have the saddle you prefer and use the appropriate equipment for your ride.  Also, these tips are in no particular order they are equally helpful on their own.

 

1. “Stay in the Present Moment”

Long time ago I read a book by Eckhart Tolle called “The Power of Now”.  It is perhaps the perfect book for any person to read but an even better read for an aspiring Ultra Endurance rider or a long distance tourist.  When a difficult moment presents itself, take a step back mentally and instead of focusing on the pain or discomfort, remind yourself why you are out there.  Once you have gained awareness of the why, then begin appreciating the sights, the sounds, the feelings.  Don’t focus on being short of breath.  Instead appreciate that you have the gift to be able to push yourself to the point that your breath is leaving you.  It’s a philosophical shift, and many a time I have used this technique to change my scope of what I was currently feeling.

 

2. “Suffer Silently”

Long time ago  I read a book called “The Four Agreements” by Don MIguel Ruiz.  Without going into too much detail, the book gives you a blueprint on how to approach life successfully.  The first agreement talks about having Impeccable word.  So when you’re feeling down, keep it to yourself.  If you’re suffering, keep it to yourself, sometimes speaking out loud about your current ill feelings only adds power to the emotion.  As well, if you tell yourself you can’t do something you for sure won’t do it, instead, create a vision of being successful and if you’re at a low point, don’t vocalize it, instead refer back to number one and push through.

 

3. “Eat/drink something sweet”

Sometimes your feelings are just your bodies way of communicating a need.  I find when I get a case of the quits, that eating something sugary and sweet will make those feelings disappear.

 

4. “Slow it down”

There are times that the only real problem is your pace.  Your exceeding it, your stretching beyond it.  Sometimes the answer to keep you going is to slow it down and maybe even stop to smell the roses for a moment.  A nap can do wonders for recharging your physical and your mental battery. 

 

5. “Avoid the Stops”

Yes, I know I just said that sometimes the answer is to slow it down and maybe even take a break, but I have found through experience there is a fine line.  Sometimes a break is the answer, but sometimes a break can just ruin you.  It can make keeping going tough.  So there is another school of thought that recommends that instead of riding at 90% of your limit and taking numerous break, instead ride at 70% effort and stay moving more consistently.

 

6. “Keep it light”

Be it mental, and physical keep your mood light, keep your gear light.  How fast and how long you can travel ultimately boils down to your power vs your weight.  Avoiding overpacking can make a huge different in your physical performance, at the same time avoid mental overpacking, avoid heavy thoughts and feelings, it all adds up.

 

7.”Speed is sometimes the right answer”

Sometimes what you do need to do is go fast.  Speed breaks up the monotony and sometimes it’s exactly what you need to find success.  If you finish quicker it gives you more time to rest.  My advice is let the course tell you how fast you should go.  Sometimes the course will lend itself to speed, and sometimes it will lend itself to patience, through experience learn to use the natural terrain to help you accomplish your goal.

 

8. “Don’t bite off more then you can chew”

The way to accomplish a huge ride or distance is to break it up into little pieces.  Don’t ever say to yourself, I have to cover 80 hard miles in 6 hours.  Instead, say to yourself, I wanna finish this next dirt section, or I only have 3 miles till I get over that peak, little goals and tiny celebrations will help a rider chip away at the bigger picture and sometimes the picture is too big to embrace in one gulp.

 

9. “Keep it real”

The worst thing you can do is overestimate your ability.  The best way to do this is when figuring out how far you wanna go or how far you can go, factor in breaks, restocks and possible mechanicals in all your calculations.  But, be honest with yourself about your current level of performance at the moment, keeping your goals real will help you succeed when the going gets tough.

 

10. “Be Flexible”

I always  have a plan (A).  But I also always have a (B) goal a (C) goal and a (D) goal with each goal a little easier than the previous.  I like to leave myself plenty of room to feel good about what I did that day, by having more than one goal for the day

 

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is ride enough and be in good enough physical conditioning so that it becomes harder for your mental fatigue to initiate since physical fatigue becomes a non factor.  Get out there and ride that bike fully loaded as often as you can to keep your core strong and keep your fitness level in check for the actual day that you go on your trip and to better align your actual ability.

 

 


About the Author

Karlos Rodriguez Bernart is The Naked Indian, an Ultra Endurance Racer and Long distance off road Tourist. He is also the creator of several long distance off road routes in the state of Florida, and the owner and operator of Singletrack Samurai Productions.



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