How do you stay comfortable, move efficiently and prepare for the unknown on really long mountain bike rides? Below we add our tips for moving fast and light on the mega rides. These are not bikepacking tips but there is some crossover. Most of these tips also apply to road cycling.Before Your Ride
- Load your road in your bike computer or GPS. Make sure you are able to follow it. Practice following the GPS track. If you have the process dialed, you'll just a few minutes each hour navigating. If you are still working out the kinks, you'll spend hours getting lost and stopping to see if you're still on track. For example, you may want to change gloves to ones that are easier to take on and off while riding or go fingerless.
- Double check you have all your tools and maintenance items (see checklist below)
- Pre-hydrate 24-36 hours before the ride
During The Ride
- Use a bike phone mount for your phone or a bike computer. There are a lot of intersections on most long rides and often they are not marked. You'll want a way to quickly access your phone to follow the GPS file. Here is how to load GPS files on your phone. We recommend a small external battery to make sure your phone/GPS is charged.
- A lightweight filter like the Katadyn BeFree, Steripen or drops like the Aquamira Water Treatment Drops can save you if you or someone in your group is running low. Most people underestimate how much water they need on long rides.
- Start early. You'll not only avoid crowds, you'll avoid the hottest part of the day. You will appreciate having to pass far fewer hikers. And hikers will appreciate that, too.
- Don't stop. It's much better to have a slower pace you don't have to stop at. It's all about "time in saddle" or "time on bike". If you feel the need to rest a lot, slow down your pace. Use a top tube bag like the Roswheel 121468 so you never have to stop to eat. A top tube also holds an extra battery for recharging your phone. A heart rate monitor can help you find that pace you never have to stop at.
- Carry at least 200 calories per hour of riding and eat every hour. It can save time and hassle to remove some bars from the wrappers. If you bring gel packs, carry a tiny ziplock bag to put the empties in as the spent packets often leak. You can also use an old bar wrapper.
After Each Day
- Get out of chamois ASAP
- Clean bottom with baby wipes. Get rid of the sweat and grime. Next, put a nice lather of A&D ointment (used for baby rashes) overnight and you will wake up refreshed and ready to ride!
- Clean chain
Gear Checklist for Long Bike Rides
- bike phone mount or bike computer: if you don't have one, you'll spend hours getting lost and pulling your phone out of your pocket
- Water filters - Katadyn BeFree is awesome or carry iodine/chlorine pills
- Spare tubes and chain repair. We like Tubolito because it's a third the weight of most tubes.
- Top tube bag - the Roswheel 121468 is a great bag because it's small enough to be out of the way but holds 4-7 bars or gel packs. You can easily grab bars without stopping. And it's cheap. We also like the Revelate Designs Jerrycan but it is expensive and doesn't hold that much.
- Backup battery for your phone or GPS - since it's so important to have a phone to navigate the tricky spots of the trail, we highly recommend bringing a tiny backup charger like the Anker PowerCore+ mini. Also, read these tips on how to save battery life on your phone
- Lightweight charge cube
- A Good Chamois
- Chamois Buttr. Lots
- 200+ calories per hour of riding
- Energy drinks added to your water whenever possible
- Pump and/or CO2 (go with 40g canisters), tire iron, chain repair tool, and links
- Lightweight headlamp like Nitecore NU25 just in case (bring a burlier light if you know you're riding at night
- Paper map
- Superglue and sidewall cuttings from an old tire, they work inside or out, and sealant does not affect the glue.
Optional Gear to Bring
- Derailer Hanger
- Light multi-tool like the Gerber Dime