Whether you're a first timer or an old hand, we've got training tips to get you through whatever ridiculous cycling challenge you've set yourself.
Our top 5 tips for beginners
1. If you haven't got a bike, get one. If you've got a bike, ride it.
Sounds stupid, and very much is. But if you're not using your bike on the regular, then you'll never build up that crucial bikeability.
If you need help getting hold of a bike, we've got some splendid machines over in our online shop!
Cycle to work if you can (and even if you suspect you can't), cycle to the shops, cycle to the pub (maybe get the train back).
Wherever you're going, you've got the chance for some free training miles.
2. Ride with friends!
You don't have to join a Lycra fetish club, but riding with other people is a sure-fire way to make training more fun. You'll also probably learn race skills from more experienced cyclists.
Plot a fun route using online tools like Sustrans
3. Look after your bike.
With all this cycling, your bike is inevitably going to suffer. Don't worry - it's not broken. Almost everything on a bike can be tuned up and returned to box-fresh condition - our bike shop is proof of that!
So if you can hear your chain rubbing, the gears grinding, or your brakes squeaking - don't ignore it. Take your bike to your friendly local bike shop or community bike workshop and get it fixed.
It won't hurt you to learn some basic mechanic skills while you're there. One of the joys of cycling is becoming more independent, and that means when things go wrong too!
4. Learn what works for you.
Some people love wearing Lycra. Some people swear by energy gels. Try them by all means, but don't feel like you have to do exactly what Chris Froome does.
What's important is that you feel comfortable on your bike and that your body is in the best possible shape to ride really far, as fast as possible.
If that means jam sandwiches stuffed down your shorts, so be it.
5. Enjoy the ride!
What you're doing is wonderful and we'd hate for you to suffer through it from start to finish. By all means suffer a little bit - pain is weakness leaving the body, after all.
But remember to appreciate the fundamental fact that, as well as getting super fit, you're also raising loads of money to help refugees get cycling. And that is absolutely brilliant.
Taking it to the next level...
1. Get the right bike.
Different rides call for different bike setups. Is the route off-road through the mountains, or is it 250 laps of a velodrome? Find out and choose your bike wisely. Trim any excess weight from your bike: lose the mudguards, your pannier rack, and perhaps consider carefully how many gears you need to get the job done.
2. Get the right kit.
If you don't already, consider using clipless pedals that will increase your pedalling efficiency by allowing you to pull up as well as push down. And, yes, perhaps now is the time to invest in some padded Lycra. PRO!
3. Set yourself a training regime.
The preparation you do on the bike will very much depend on your starting level of fitness and on the type of ride that you've entered. There are some great training plans for all levels on the British Cycling website
. Don't forget to include stretches - particularly for the chest which can take a battering when hunched over the handlebars for hours.
4. Test ride the route.
Take a spin around the course. Where are the danger points? Where can you let loose on the flats? Where should you conserve your energy? Where are the water stations? If you can, find someone who rode the event last year and ask them what they found most difficult.
5. Whatever you do don't enjoy the ride.
Only kidding! But if you are going for a crazy fast time or taking on some sort of ridiculous superhuman feat of endurance, then do still remember to smell the roses. Sometimes the fates will conspire against you - punctures, hailstones, a crash up ahead - so don't lose sight of the main reason you're doing this: to raise big dollar for The Bike Project!
Race Prep Checklist
- Check your bike at least a week before race day. If you're not sure, take it to your local bike shop for a check-up.
- Make sure you have a set of Allen keys, a puncture repair kit, tyre levers, a spare inner tube and a pump in case of emergencies. And that you know how to use them!
- Check the weather forecast and pack suitable race clothes - without forgetting about the journey there and back. Don't forget sunglasses if there's the slightest hint of the yellow stuff in the sky!
- Make sure you have enough food and drink to last the course - and for refuelling afterwards. Don't depend on feed stations: you might miss them, or they might only offer gross stuff that doesn't agree with you.
- Remember to pack whatever you need for the race: bib number, registration details. Double check any emails you've received from the organisers.
Finally: good luck - we're all cheering you on!