You might think me wee bit loony for asking. But, what if I shared my “secret” for successful long rides with you? You might, like me, be tempted to push the distance and time envelope just a bit farther. And, you might even find, as I did, that, as long as you are having fun, it really doesn’t take that much of an additional effort to dramatically increase your cycling distance.
Anyway, here goes, the secret to packing on the distance is as follows:
First, pick a beautiful day (weather-wise), pick a course that is new, fun, and that follows mostly un-crowded bike paths and few quiet roads going through some very scenic locales. Throw in some nice food, good conversation, great views of Fuji-san, and a couple chillaxed cruising dogs (see photo at end of post), and your ride will be a breeze! 😉
No I’m serious. In my humble and totally non-conventional opinion, pushing the envelope and, at the same time, having fun, has very little to do with the dogma around carb loading, proper hydration, strict training regimens, or optimized bikes and accessories. Those things are relevant and relatively important in a mechanical sort of way. But human beings aren’t machines. We are physically fueled by what we eat etc. However, we are motivationally fueled how we feel towards a particular activity. If we are feeling good, our motivational tanks are running on full.
The following is an example of how I recently, without much perceived effort, increased my max daily distance from 80 KM to 135 KM with very little planning or focus on the mechanics.
I have been doing regular weekend rides of 50-75 KM. I’m usually more concerned about the quality of the ride in terms of the scenery, the riding conditions of the route, and sometimes even the conversations that I have along the way. I do, however, keep track of my distance so that I can gauge my fitness level and determine what other rides are feasible in a day.
Knowing that I can easily bike 75 KM I decided to join one of the regular Half Fast Cycling Tokyo group rides. These rides take place every Saturday and Sunday in and around Tokyo and are a great way to meet new people and learn new cycling routes.
I decided to join a ride that was starting at 8:15am in Futakotamagawa and then heading up the Tamagawa River for about 20 KM, and then jumping over to follow a couple of the tributaries. There was to be a food break at about 35 KM, followed by a return to the place we started. So, total distance was going to be about 75 KM.
I actually started my ride from Kawasaki and thus logged 10 KM before the group ride even started.
I did get to the starting area a few minutes early and found that there was only one other biker, our ride leader, Ira. After chatting for a few minutes about our ride preferences, it became clear that it was just going to be the two of us on this ride. Ira then suggested that we “call an audible,” which is an American football expression that means to deviate from the plan or to “play it by ear.”
The new plan was to follow the original course but then once we neared the turn-around-point in Hachioji, we would now head towards Machida and then Fujisawa, and possibly farther. And, then instead of biking back, we could hop on a train for the return ride.
The ride along the Tama River was fun and easy as there are a lot of natural areas along the river. In fact, the farther we went the easier the ride became, as the paths became less crowded and the scenery got, well, more scenic. After some time we jumped over to the Asakawa River and then ended up paralleling the Yudonogawa River
After two hours we stopped for lunch at Food ONE in Hachioji to get some food and water. Ira turned me on to the pumpkin slices that are both tasty and energy rich. The store also has public restrooms for those that need a bio break.
Back on the bikes we did a little climb and then wound our way down through Machida and along a small river that I think named Asiahaha. This section was the fastest section of the ride as it’s slightly downhill and we had a good tail wind. Before long we were passing through Fujisawa and making our way down towards the beach at Enoshima.
We stopped for much needed rest and calorie refill that consisted of pizza and a couple of beers.
Feeling refreshed, we hopped back on the bikes and made our way along the coast to Kamakura. Ira decided to hop the train back home. But, I was enjoying the ride so much that I decided to just continue on back to Yokohama. All total, the ride was 135 km.
When I was got home and added up the distance, I was quite surprised, as I hadn’t felt like that it took much effort to go so far. In hindsight, I am sure that great scenery including perfectly clear views of Fuji during along much of the ride helped. Additionally, since the paths weren’t crowded we were able to carry on conversations during several sections as well. This always helps to keep my mind off how tired my legs might be getting.
In conclusion, if you are enjoying yourself you can probably always go a lot farther than you think you can. I really would NOT want to do the same ride on a rainy day or on crowded roads. But, the great weather, views, and route, made this particular 135 KM ride a breeze.