How can I finish the Five Boro Bike Tour and still have fun while doing it?
April 29, 2011 1:29 PM   Subscribe

I have a ~50 miles bike ride ahead of me this Sunday, which I've done before. However, I am completely out of shape and haven't been training much lately. What should I do to increase my chances of finishing while still having a pleasant ride and without completely destroying my Monday?

I'm riding the Five Boro Bike Tour this Sunday. Normally, this wouldn't be worthy of note, since I rode a bunch of 50+ mile rides last year with no issues (including the FBBT itself). However, I haven't really exercised or taken my bike in rides longer than 5 miles since last November. I am definitely not in my best shape.

While I am pretty confident I can pedal the whole 40-something miles of the ride, I am concerned about it being an unpleasant experience overall or making me bedridden/in total pain on Monday while I recover.

Is there anything I should do to improve the experience and soften the impact so I can have fun and finish it? I'm looking for practical rules - stretching (what, when), nutrition (what to eat, when to eat it), hydration, things to avoid, etc. Thanks!
posted by falameufilho to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by bq at 1:30 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Take an ice bath as soon as you can after you finish. It's extremely uncomfortable but it's seriously the best way to help your body recover. Buy a 20 pound bag of ice and put it all in a tub filled only with water from the cold tap, brace yourself for the cold, and soak in there for as long as you can (like 5-10 minutes, not until you're hypothermic). If your shoulders/neck are really sore maybe you could ice them later with an ice pack rather than submerge them if it's too uncomfortable.
posted by shornco at 1:41 PM on April 29, 2011

As you probably know since you've done it before, the 5BBT can be excessively slow and crowded in places. Us that time to stretch and rest. Drink plenty of water, shade your eyes, make sure your tires are completely full, use your gears properly, and have fun.
posted by Pineapplicious at 1:42 PM on April 29, 2011

Chamois butter.

I don't use it usually, but when I get back into the saddle I really appreciate it.
posted by 26.2 at 1:42 PM on April 29, 2011

Yeah, bring water, take some gels along and eat real food as you're able. And simply don't push it too hard. There's no reason to try to average 20 mph here. I'd suggest planning for 4 hours of ride time plus stops. That shouldn't be too taxing.
posted by GuyZero at 1:43 PM on April 29, 2011

5BB is a great time! There are going to be a LOT of starts and stops while you wait around: it's not going to be 45 miles of straight-up pedaling. Bring plenty of water, wear gloves and bike shorts, and you'll be fine. My brother and I did it a few years ago, in the pouring rain, wearing jeans and sneakers. It was uncomfortable but doable. If it's nice weather, wearing padded shorts and having gloves will make it a very pleasant ride.
posted by kdar at 1:45 PM on April 29, 2011

Watch tensing up your arms and gripping too tight as a reaction to how your legs and butt are feeling. Reposition your hands as often as you can and keep your upper body as loose as you can.

Have fun! I was hoping to do this ride this year but life got in the way.
posted by readery at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

As others have said, this isn't exactly a 50 mile sprint - it's a leisurely enough ride if you want it to be. Plan on 4-5 hours, take in the sights, eat and drink plenty, and don't feel like you need to go faster than you're comfortable going and you'll be fine.
posted by pdb at 1:58 PM on April 29, 2011

Prefunking with ibuprofen BEFORE you get sore (so: during your ride, or right afterward) may help prevent some soreness the next day.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:58 PM on April 29, 2011

A good rule of thumb is one can always bike ( at one time) 1/2 of their average weekly distance or three times their average daily distance. You can certainly do longer distances however you should expect some recovery and comfort problems. This gives you an idea of what you might expect.. I assume your seat (not bicycle seat) is broken in. If so, I would suggest you reduce your speed during the ride by approximately 10% of your usual pace. As mentioned, hydration starting one hour before the ride, reasonable food intake and pre-ride medication. I personally do not think food intake during the ride is all that important--bananas, oranges, apples--and a good breakfast at least 2 hours before the ride. Have a good time, minimal discomfort and a rapid recovery. After thought--i would encourage you to take a slow and leisurely 5-7 mi e ride the next day (Monday) and again on Wednesday.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:20 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stretch a lot.

I did a 30 mile ride after about 6 months off from doing 30/40/50 mile rides 2/3 times a week. It was tough but I didn't have much of a hangover afterwards. The knowledge that you've done it before will get you through, mental readiness is a big part of a challenge like this.
posted by fire&wings at 2:33 PM on April 29, 2011

I rode just over 50 miles last Saturday (leisurely, about 4 hours with a stop for beer) after not having biked at all for the entire winter. My behind was rather sore for a couple of days afterwards, but that was it. I probably could have avoided that by riding my bike to the local coffeeshop for a couple of days beforehand. I wish I had brought gloves and more layers of clothing so I could stay warm as it was getting dark and windy. Make sure your chain is well lubricated in case you haven't already – it makes a huge difference.
posted by halogen at 3:01 PM on April 29, 2011

From Ms. Vegetable:
You have comfy bike shorts and saddle, right?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:55 PM on April 29, 2011

I've done in excess of 50m bike rides for charity, the route wasn't flat by any means and I was very overweight and out of shape. And whilst it took me all day I had minimal discomfort the next day - I took it easy and enjoyed the day. So I don't think you will be bedridden or seriously uncomfortable. Just enjoy yourself.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all for the tips. I finished the tour yesterday, and it would have been a pleasant ride were it not for the massive gridlock due to construction on the BQE that held me (and thousands of other bikers) there for about 90 minutes. There was a lot of bike walking this year, even compared to 2010. Anyway it was fun. I guess the base work I put in last year paid off.

So here's the stuff that helped me finish, in no particular order:

- Good bike shorts with good chamois
- Chamois butt'r
- Gloves
- Constant hydration
- Slow and steady food intake
- Short (under 15-minute) rest stops to prevent my muscles from cooling down

Again, thanks for the tips!
posted by falameufilho at 9:12 AM on May 2, 2011

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