Now that the weather is getting nicer we can turn our heads to fun summer events. One established event on the women’s cycling calendar is the Rapha Women’s 100 in September, when women all around the world cycle 100km.
You can ride as part of an organised group, with friends, or just on your own – on your local roads, through a challenging mountain range, or out to your favourite café stop.
Wherever you ride, you will be part of a global celebration of women’s cycling.
While a few women may find this distance fairly standard and can ride around it quite comfortably, many of us may find it a challenge. Professional rider Tiffany Cromwell, of Canyon//SRAM, shares her tips on how to prepare to cycle 100km.
Tiffany Cromwell was in the UK recently to race in the Women’s Tour alongside Hannah and Alice Barnes. Racing in the limited edition Women’s 100 kit, the team celebrated Kasia Niewiadoma’s second place finish, behind Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo).
Here are Tiffany’s 8 Top Tips for those tackling their first 100km-cycle ride:
1. Build up gradually to the distance
Don’t just think you can go out and do 100km without having done anything beforehand.
Riding 100km is a long way for anyone, even for us. In our pre-season training they say you need to build the foundations before you can build the house.
It’s about starting with a 20 or 30km ride, do a few of those, build up to 50km, 80km and then you know that you are ready to ride 100km.
2. Ride indoors if the weather is too bad
These days indoor turbo trainers are much more interactive and much easier than in old-school days when you had to do turbo sessions for one, two or three hours staring at a brick wall.
Something like Zwift is an awesome platform. Even if you only have an hour, do an hour and challenge yourself with the sprint points and high intensity, because that’s also going to help build you up to take on 100km.
If it’s really bad weather all week, then sure a few turbo sessions are good to keep things ticking over and keep your muscles working and understanding that level of loading.
Then when the weather gets good again you can do your longer rides out on the road.
3. Ride indoors if you don’t have time to ride outdoors
Cycling is more about consistency than being able to do these one-off long rides.
Even if you have the chance to do two sessions a day, that would help build that endurance, say if you had an hour in the morning before work.
Just get on the trainer, do an easy ride and then an hour after work and maybe stretch that to two hours, and add interval training in there as well.
Because you are spending time on the bike and getting your muscles used to cycling and then you’re getting on the bike day after day, it’s a way to build up strength consistently.
4. Balance long rides with short high intensity sessions
You can do 100km quite aerobically but you can get quite fit by doing short, high-intensity efforts as well. It’s about balancing things out.
I don’t actually use the trainer so much but when I do use it it’s for short specific sessions of high intensity, and short recovery. It’s always a fantastic tool to use when you want that extra little edge for racing.
5. Fuel your body correctly
That is super important. When you are training, if you have never used gels or bars I’d say get your body used to those.
During the 100km-ride ideally I would have a piece of food for every thirty minutes on the ride. I’ll start eating thirty minutes to an hour into the ride and then every thirty minutes after that.
Then I drink about a bottle every hour. If it’s hot then you definitely need to take on more liquids, and a mixture of water and electrolytes.
6. Dress appropriately
Check the weather. If you know it’s going to be a sunny day all day, great! Then you need just a jersey and shorts.
But if the weather’s maybe changeable, or if you’re going into the mountains where perhaps the weather can change very quickly I always throw in either a vest [gilet] or a rain jacket, because having something that can cover your chest is really important.
When you get to the top of the mountain and it’s a little bit colder then you have that vest to put on for when you’re going back down again.
Cycling gear to inspire your ride
7. Don’t forget the coffee shops!
I’m all for stopping and finding a good coffee shop, and having a light lunch along the way and really enjoying the ride.
Don’t have anything too heavy when you have a proper food stop or it can be a bit hard on your stomach.
8. Enjoy the ride
The best thing about cycling is really enjoying being outside, enjoying the scenery, riding with friends, and having a good little rest along the way.
If you are mentally prepared for the 100km ride, you will get through it.
Check your bike is roadworthy and carry basic tools with you like a spare inner tube, tyre levers, pump and a multi-tool.