Inspired Adventures offers many opportunities to get on your bike and head overseas for your chosen charity. Training for a cycling trip is very different to training for a mountain treks, jungle adventures and marathons. This month we ask our past cycling adventurers what their top tips are as well as provide you with plenty of information to get confident in the saddle and tap into a multitude of resources.
CYCLING TIPS FROM PAST ADVENTURERS
Lou: Flinders Medical Centre Foundation Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2011
- Shoes: invest in a pair of Keen walking sandals. They’re great in wet weather, can be worn all day, and have plenty of grip for bike or ground.
- Clothing: a good pair of knicks (no undies!) and a cool scarf (to soak in water)
- Cycle computer: take one to hook up to your bike. It’s great for measuring downhill run speeds!
- Hydration: take Gatorade to put in water bottles; great for really hot days.
- Important: it’s not a race – it doesn’t matter if you are the last one riding, take your time and enjoy yourself
Emily: Save the Children NZ Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2008
- We trained quite well for it as I knew that for me to enjoy it I couldn’t be struggling everyday. So, we trained with the longer days in mind and as we built up, we also trained for several days in a row (so putting that bum back on a bike seat the day after a big ride was not so hard). I’ve always said that a big % of cycling training is just being used to being in that saddle! Read Emily’s full tips…
Amie: Flinders Medical Centre Foundation Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2011
- Don’t forget to take a look around you as you are riding and enjoy the moment and the scenery. Not too many people get the chance to see the Vietnamese countryside from the seat of a bicycle.
- A lot of bike riding is mental. But training is important. If you ride the maximum daily distance in training when it comes to doing the real thing you will know you have done it before and will be able to make it.
- Find someone of your ability to ride with. Even if you aren’t talking, it really makes a difference having someone beside you. Riding alone is lonely and makes the kilometres take forever!
- Have fun!
Rowena: Save the Children NZ Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2008
- A pair of cycling gloves – I’d never cycled with them in training on NZ roads but they were a tremendous help with the bumpy Vietnamese roads!!
- Sunscreen is a must – I still am haunted by the memories of two days cycling when I didn’t keep up with sunscreen applications and ended up with tan lines on my hands from gloves, on my upper arms from the cycling shirt, on my thighs from cycle shorts, and on my ankles from my socks. I was one seriously striped cyclist by the end of the trip!!
David: Northcott Disability Services Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2007
- Make sure your training regime includes regular rides at or near the length of the average day’s rides that you’ll be looking to make during your Vietnam odyssey (otherwise you might get swept up by the team bus…).
- Look for opportunities to do hill climbs in training because there’s some beauties along the way (but the downhills are fun!!!!!).
- Make sure that you’re not so focused on doing “the ride” that you forget to have fun and enjoy the pleasure of the great people with whom you’ll come in contact, in your team and along the way.
Andre: Save the Children NZ Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2008
- Make sure you do plenty of up hill training for the Hai Van Pass as it’s a long, slow hill climb (which nearly killed me!).
- Take 3 pairs of bike pants (knicks) and shop around for good socks.
- Be extra friendly to the support team. They look after you for 500+kms. Have a gift or tip for them at the end of the trip. Also, tip nearly everyone that helps you out.“Không, cảm ơn” is a nice way of saying “no thanks” with a smile.
- The food is amazing but buy water (don’t drink tap water). Drink plenty of it.
- It will rain but its not cold rain and it wakes you up.
- It’s not a race. Look around and take it all in. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and have an open mind about what you are going to see. Have a few songs to sing when cycling.
- Have plenty of cash for custom made clothes in Hoi An.
- Take a rugged camera with a good battery life and plenty of memory stick room. A laptop is not really necessary but is helpful.
Longy: Flinders Medical Centre Foundation Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2011
- Other than working up to longer rides, a big thing that people fail to do is select the right size bike. You need to get the seat height high enough so that it does not cause strain on your knees and hips. It can also lead to a sore back. A good cycling shop will be able to advise what is best. Good luck to all and remember to drink lots of water before and during the rides.
Noelia: Save the Children NZ Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2008
- Training: Cycle to work and do spin classes. But cycling with friends is a lot more fun. Get together on the weekend and set challenges to go further and harder each week. Cycling in the rain is good training too! If you train well, then you will enjoy cycling in Vietnam. Each day you cycle, it gets easier.
- Equipment: Get a nice comfy seat. Get pedals with straps or clip-ons; they save energy. A bike bag is very handy. Energy gels – you will need them to go up hill and to keep you going. Bring a bell (or horn) for your bike to play with when you wave hello to the kids.
- Clothing: something breathable not too hot. A thin and efficient waterproof jacket, although the plastic ponchos were reasonably good too. Bright shirts, lycra pants and plenty of socks!
- Other: Bring a good book for the overnight train and a pack of cards is also very handy. Also, plenty of music, camera memory and a spare battery.
Westy: Flinders Medical Centre Foundation Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2011
- Build up your riding ability gradually.
- If possible ride with some of your travel mates.
- Believe in your ability and remember the cause that puts you on the bike.
Hanh: Vietnam-based Cycling Tour Leader
- Prepare: by going to the gym and cycling at the weekend.
- Bring: your own helmet, water bottle and, if you are pro enough, your own pedals and seat.
- Note: Viet Nam is a hilly country, so you cannot expect any cycling day with no hill.
INSPIRED CYCLING TIPS AND ADVICE
Can I train for my adventure in a spin class? Yes and no. Spin classes are great to boost your fitness and stamina levels and are an excellent compliment to any training program. You can even train in your lounge room! However, we strongly recommend that you get on a real bicycle and feel the wind in your hair. You need to ride up real hills rather than simulated ones in a RPM class. Familiarize yourself with how to change gears and how to brake in all weather conditions. Have you tried cycling into a headwind and coped with cycling in the rain? Training outdoors is the best training you can do. It also gives you the chance to test out your cycling gear in real conditions. See video of cycling conditions in Vietnam…
Lycra: must I? This is completely up to you. Yes, it can look and feel weird at first. However, given a chance, lycra/spandex offers great comfort when cycling long distances. Shorts are referred to as ‘knicks’ and come with padding inside. A big appeal-factor is that the padding is in exactly the right place (to reduce soreness). Knicks are worn without underwear. Cycling shirts are great for keeping you cool and have convenient storage pockets on the back. You can get them in amazing designs to add colour to your adventure.
How can I connect to a cycling community to help my training? You can find a full list of resources (by State) on our Inspired Cycling Tips page. There are also tips on how to deal with swooping magpies and how to combat helmet hair. It’s our warts and all cycling guide.
500kms is a long way. Can I cycle that far? Yes. Our trips are designed for first-time cyclists but also cater for more experienced cyclists. You may feel nervous about cycling 100km in a day. This is understandable, especially if you haven’t ridden that far before. However, we find that most people surprise themselves by setting out to go as far as they can but finishing the full 100km. We have a full support crew on our trips so if you feel like you can’t cycle the full distance, you can most certainly jump on the support vehicle and become the team photographer or just rest your legs for the next day.
Pedals: If you are used to riding with clip-in pedals you may wish to take your shoes and pedals with you. Our support crews are more than happy to help you fit your pedals and other accessories (cycle computers; seats; bike bags etc).
Bikes: On our Vietnam trips, we have generally used Trek mountain bikes. It is worth noting that the brakes may be on the opposite side. This is important to remember when you are getting acquainted with your bike for the first time.
Helmet? Yes. You need to have one and you need to take it with you.
SONGS LYRICS TO INSPIRE YOUR CYCLING…
“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like” [‘Bicycle Race’ – Queen]
“I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like…” [‘Bike’ – Pink Floyd]
“Push on a pedal, push on a pedal. Get your (gasp) heart started.” [‘Bike’ – Mal Webb]
“from Walgett to the sea, From Conroy’s Gap to Castlereagh, there’s none can ride like me…” [‘Mulga Bill’s Bicycle – Banjo Paterson]
Other songs about bicycles…
Call Inspired Adventures on 1300 905 188 to register your interest in a cycling challenge today or head to our calendar to find out where Inspired Adventures could take you!