All-out Effort

Shorts shift

When you’re riding long distances, your closest friend should be the seatpad of your shorts. Treat it accordingly, ensuring that both you and your shorts are cleaned meticulously after every ride. Failure to do so can lead to infection, and that means time off the bike.

Gear you go

Check your gear ratios. Is the cassette right for your style of riding and the event you’re doing? Would a larger sprocket help you climb a little easier? If you are thinking of changing then give yourself plenty of time to make the swap – first checking whether the derailleur is compatible with the intended ratios. Bear in mind that this could mean getting a new chain as well. Needless to say, it’s as well not to make such changes to your gearing the day before your big ride.

Laminate list

Make a checklist of ALL the things you might need. It's worth laminating this and keeping it in your kit bag. And just a small point: having made your list, do refer to it when packing…

Smooth tweaks

Check the indexing of your gears to make sure that all the changes are smooth, tweaking the adjusters where necessary. Ensure that you do this a few days prior to your target event.

Bottle washing

Wash and sterilise your drinks bottles regularly, particularly if you’ve been using recovery drinks/energy products and the like. It is worth looking for bottles with a cap to cover the spout, although this will make drinking en route a little more awkward. This helps to keep the spout protected from road grime and other unpleasant substances that transfer from the road to your bike and to your mouth – such as manure.

Ready brake

Check your brake pad alignment to ensure you have better and safer braking. The blocks should be slightly toed in at the front so that the block closes on the rim correctly and doesn’t cause any squealing. This correction will improve performance and should give you more confidence when descending both in training and on event day.

For soothe

Applying ‘saddle cream’ to the seat of your shorts should cut down friction and soreness. This tends to be very personal, though, and you need to find out what's the appropriate cream for you. There are several proprietary unguents available, but petroleum jelly – like Vaseline – is often useful. A coating of an antiseptic cream containing cetrimide will prevent infection occurring.

Sun safe

Even in the UK the sun can be quite fierce at times, so remember to apply sun protection, not forgetting to coat your neck, nose and ears as well as exposed limbs. Don’t forget your sunglasses either; these will protect your eyes from dust and insects as well as glare.

Mitt must

On longer-distance events your hands can take a hammering, so a good pair of close fitting cycling mitts are a must. As well as cushioning the hands when you’re holding the bar, they will reduce the chance of grazes should you have an accident.

Route recce

Study the route ahead of event day. It isn’t unheard of for direction signs to have been removed. Even the best modern instruments can fail, or even suggest going the wrong way. And don’t simply rely on following other riders, because they may be lost too. (There’s even the chance that the cyclists you’re following aren’t even riding the same event!)