How to Prepare for Your First Long Distance Bicycle Ride

Planning a long distance ride or going on an organized tour? Here are tips from Vision Quest Coaching’s Jason Schisler for how to prepare:

Cyclist Taking on a Long Ride

Before the Ride:

Our calorie intake is one of the most important parts of a long ride and will help to maintain energy levels. Be conscious of your diet, which foods are beneficial to consume and when. During training, focus on eating:

Lean proteins, fruit and veggies

  • Lean proteins like beans and fish
  • Healthy fats like nuts and avocados
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables

A common misconception leading up to a ride is that you need to consume a significant amount of carbohydrates before the big day. Schisler says heaping plates of pasta just aren’t necessary.

Pro Tip: a few more carbs the night or two prior aren’t a bad idea, but make sure to get a good night’s rest. For breakfast, include some simple carbs and a bit of protein like oatmeal with fruit and nuts or a small plate of pancakes and scrambled eggs.

During Ride

During the Ride:

Cyclist Consuming Gel

Cyclist having an energy gel

You will start with about 2000 calories worth of stored carbohydrates and fats.
Feeling fatigue due to low energy levels is a key signal that you need to replenish calories.

Aim to consume 100-200 calories per hour. A good rule of thumb is to pack one energy bar, gel packet or the like for every hour of biking. Store your food in an easily accessible area such as a frame pack to grab on-the-go.

Pro Tip: Low-intensity riding will burn more of the stored fat. as you start working harder, you’ll start dipping into your carbohydrate reserve. Your nutrition goal during the ride is to replace some of the lost carbohydrate calories so that reserve doesn’t get too low.

After the Ride:

After Ride

With the end in sight, a rush of adrenaline will carry you over the finish line. Completing the ride will be a great feeling. Now is the time when carbohydrates are king. Carbs are quickly absorbed into the muscles to help assist in repair. Simple carbs like fruits and breads are easily digested, so start with these. Then introduce a small amount of protein like yogurt.

Pro Tip: Don’t wait too long after you finish to consume simple carbs, like fruits and breads, followed by a small amount of protein like yogurt.

To Read All Five Tips, Get the Guide





Jason is the Director of Coaching for Vision Quest Coaching. He has personally taken part in many different cycling disciplines and helped hundreds of athletes prepare for their own personal endurance journey.


Sara Chars is a World Bicycle Relief volunteer blogger. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota and currently works as an Art Director at Tiger Oak Media. In her free time, she enjoys trying new restaurants, learning about other cultures, and exploring her surroundings by bike.

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