Sometimes its not about the destination. Sometimes its about the things you do and see along the way.
What's Great about bike camping is that anyone can do it. Trips can range from long to short. You can camp, cabin or hotel and the pace is not a race. You can even do a portion of your trip on the train or have the train as an optional back up plan. You are also not limited to the type of gear you have.
The trip distance, type of bike and the places you want to visit, are really all up to you. But if you want to see the State Parks of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area and go on an all-day weekend bike adventure, you are going to have to travel farther. Most bike overnights from Chicago are around 50 to 75 miles in one day.
But Holy smokes! 50 miles! I’ve never ridden more than 10 miles and definitely have never done an overnight ride. OK. Let’s break this down a bit. Here are Six Tips to travel farther so you can visit some very cool places and gain an awesome story to tell. State Parks, Breweries, Adventures... here we come!
Tip #1 -Pace Yourself and Ride Steady
Young teenagers usually ride their bike around 10 miles per hour when they're cruising the neighborhood with their friends, by going a little faster than that, 12 mph, which is about the average speed for an average bicyclist, you'll be surprised at how far you can actually go.
Do the Talk Test, if you can't hold a conversation in complete sentences while riding then you're probably riding too fast. Relax, enjoy the ride and pedal forward.
For long rides, go at a steady pace. If you go hard on some of the route, then ease up, then go hard again, you'll burn yourself out before the end the trip. Holding a steady pace gives you enough energy to ride the entire first day plus the second day. It's easier to briskly walk a mile than it is to sprint a mile, so remember to distribute your energy evenly over the course of the day and over the course of the trip.
Tip #2 -Strech and Break
Aches and pains can crop up during long rides. To minimize them, move.
Tip #3 -Build up Endurance and Distance before the big trip
The best way to physically train for a long cycling trip is to take a long cycling trip. Your practice rides should eventually reach 75 percent of your planned longest day. Sitting in a bike seat for the whole day takes getting used to, so...
Build up your miles and time spent on the bike. If you're new to cycling start by doing 20 miles at a steady pace on the flats and build up to 40 or so, then move it up again, when you can do 50 without in bothering you - you will be able to do a 70 mile or more bike adventure.
Tip #4 -Have a Back up Plan
But dang! What if I get half way along, and I just can’t take it anymore!? My brakes, my gear shifter, my knees have just quit on me. My butt hurts something fierce. Now what? Well, throughout the ENTIRE Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area, you are usually between 1 to 15 miles away from a bicycle friendly Metra Train which you can quickly toss your bike on and get back into downtown Chicago or Home in a little over an hour. There are also a density of community bike shops along main routes. So put some band aides on those rusty knees and gear shifters and push along the next few miles to the bike mechanic, to the comfy train ride home or better yet the finish line.
Tip #5 -Prepare and Ride Ready
Always do your pre ride check before going out. Do the simple ABC ride check- Air, Brakes, Chain. Check your Air tire pressure. check that your Brakes work, and check the Chain to make sure it's lubed. If it has been awhile since you took your bike out or are not familiar with bike maintenance, bring your bike into the local bike shop to have it tuned up. Ask questions while your there, and have them show you the simple "ABC ride check". If you're mechanically inclined, pick up a small basic "bicycle repair book" for future use.
An adventure is not a dress rehearsal but you don't want any surprises on the day of your trip—everything should be tried and tested on your preparation rides: all food, all drink, all clothing, all gear. Nothing should be entirely new or specially added or changed for the big day. So go out and test ride your equipment at least once. If you just had your bike tuned up, take it out for one or two rides after its maintenance check—even with the best care, sometimes things need readjusting.
Prepare your own abilities too. At the very least, learn how to carry out the most fundamental of repairs: fixing a flat tire. Always carry the tools and parts necessary to carry out a basic field repair (e.g. spare inner tube, tire lever, pump and a tool to take off the wheel). Even if don't know how to change a flat tire, still carry the gear/tools to do so. What's nice about cycling culture , is its camaraderie, a passing fellow cyclists will stop to help you change your flat tire if you need help. Make sure to watch, so you'll learn how to do it on your own for next time.
Tip #6 -Nutrition. Eat right
Every rider is different in terms of how they exert energy and digest it, but as a general rule of thumb- Snack granola bars every 30 minutes to every hour. For Hydration, it's better to regularly sip than to gulp your bottle of water. Drink a bottle of water every hour. Listen to your body and stay away from heavy greasy foods. Fishy fats are good at the end of the ride. They help lube your joints and provide long lasting energy stores. Bananas give you added boosts of energy and keep your muscles flexible. Carbs to re-up your energy levels. Protein at night to restrengthen. Gummies, candies and blueberries for quick boosts.
Post by: Andrew St. Paul
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