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11 WAYS TO STAY SAFE ON A LONG RIDE

A rider on a long ride in the desert

Long rides can be physically and mentally demanding, and it’s important to stay alert and focused on the to ensure your safety and to have a damn fine time. Here are some tips for staying alert so you reach your destination safely and can partake in a hearty schnitty as a reward.

Stay hydrated

You would have heard this one frequently right? Dehydration can lead to fatigue and impaired cognitive function, so drink plenty of water before and during your ride. If it’s hot, keep in mind you need to replace lost electrolytes and water alone won’t do that so look for something like Gatorade or Maximus.
Humans are something like 60% water so make sure you top yourself up.

Eat healthy snacks

Snacking on healthy foods like fruit, nuts, and protein bars can help you maintain your energy levels and stay alert. A heavy amount of sugar isn’t always your friend here because if you’re still riding when the sugar crash comes you’ll suffer low energy so go easy on the lollies.
A good thing to carry is an energy gel which you can get from a supermarket. It offers a hit of carbohydrates, electrolytes and glucose but be aware you can’t eat too many in a day or your arse may explode (one is usually all you’ll need), and you need to drink water after you finish a satchel.

Take breaks

Frequent breaks can help prevent fatigue and keep you alert. Stop when you can to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and recharge without a helmet on.
Try to grab a quiet moment and gather your thoughts without being in a rush to get going again. A couple of decent breaks can make a big difference to your physical and mental state at the end of the day.

Wear earplugs

Not everyone likes to wear plugs but the reduction in noise produces a less mentally harrowing environment. On a long ride with a lot of wind or higher speeds, cutting the decibels goes a long way to cutting exhaustion too. It’s also beneficial to your hearing long term.

Wear comfortable gear

Uncomfortable gear can cause distraction and fatigue, so make sure you wear gear that fits well and is appropriate for the weather conditions. Having even the slightest pressure point from any part of your gear can drive you nuts.
The Fly Racing Terra Trek gear is a very comfortable set of adventure kit as is the Aria XD-4 helmet.

Stay focused

It’s important to avoid distractions like listening to music in technical sections as it diverts your focus. But a few good tunes in more open sections can elevate your mood, reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increase serotonin and endorphin levels in the blood.

Practice good posture

Maintaining a good posture while riding can help prevent fatigue and keep you alert. Sit up straight and avoid slouching or leaning forward. Stand up frequently, even on basic terrain, not just to better handle the bike but to stretch your legs and back.

Keep your eyes moving

Scan the road ahead of you and constantly check your mirrors to stay aware of your surroundings. This is also a basic defence against kamikaze kangaroos and every other form of Australian wildlife hellbent on shouldering your front wheel.

Stay warm

If you’re riding in cold weather, make sure you stay warm to prevent fatigue and keep your mind alert.
This sounds obvious but we all know the feeling when you hit a change in the weather but want to keep clocking the miles instead of stopping.
It only takes a few minutes to add a layer or two and the effort pays off

Stay rested

Get a good night’s sleep before your ride. That means laying off the cans, wines and bourbons as much as possible, so you wake with a clear head. Bad things can happen early in rides when you’re yet to get into the full swing of things.
Start at a more sedate pace and bring the speed up as the day develops and you get a feel for the terrain and become more mentally alert.

LONG RIDE PLANNING

Distance, difficulty and weather are three major determinants of how you’ll feel at the end of a ride day. And the longer you ride, the more these factors compound.

Take the time to plan your ride so you have realistic distances to cover in the time you have available. Rushing when you’re tired is a recipe for disaster and pushing far past your comfort level can make for a pretty miserable day.

Know your time limits. It might be eight hours, it might be four, it’s entirely personal. And be honest about your skill level so you don’t suffer a two-day all-sand run when you generally would avoid sand like it’s Ebola. A tough route will burn you out faster than an easy one.

We ride for pleasure and while testing ourselves is often a part of it, you don’t have to put yourself in danger a long way from home in order to have a good time.

Inspire an adventure.
Share with a mate.