When you are getting ready for your ride the following check list will make things easier.
1. Ignore your lying cheating Body: Now is not the time to listen to your lying cheating body. For those aches and pains that we all have will now be amplified by your body as it tries to get out of a workout. This is where most people over thirty five bail on their ride, “Oh my gamey leg; etc.” stops more people from carrying through on their ride as your piece of meat attempts to get out of what you are planning to do it over the next few hours. This is when you have to compare the amplified pain protests against what you know to be true and then compare this with how great you know you always feel when fifteen minutes into your ride. Moment of truth is when you look at you’re lying cheating piece of meat in the mirror and with force say, “I’m going for it.”
2. Eat something: Go light, fruits, breads, pastas and salads (non greasy) and begin drinking water an hour (or so) before your ride and make sure you take water with you, along with a power bar.
3. Check your bike: Of course you washed it and put a touch of oil on your chain after your last ride so add to that wisdom a pre ride check. Cross your front wheel so your handle bar lines up with your frame and rock your headset. If there is movement (ignore your shocks) at all get your bike serviced soon, if there is a lot of movement get your bike in for service before you ride. It’s simple to tighten the headset but it can hurt your frame if left loose and if its get too loose it’s dangerous. Squeeze your brakes, are they even, they should close half way. Check your gears and your derailleur, your shifters should show 2 on the left front and 3 on the right rear as a good default, is your chain on those positions? If not spin your back tire and it should shift to into the right position. These can get bumped when in storage. Check your chain, is there oil on it or rust? When outside (or use some newspapers inside) put a few drops of oil while back turning the cranks so that the oil is spread around. Make sure your fenders are clear as these can also be bent when in storage. Check your tires inflation; I ride with 35 lbs in aggressive mountain bike tires. Under inflated tires make your ride harder and more dangerous.
4. Check your bike’s bag: A back rack and a cycling pack can give your back a break. With a bike pack, you can carry the following, emergency tire repair kit or a one time instant inflator with gel (if you don’t want to be patching a tube out in the rain and you are going to take it into a shop later anyway), rain gear shell, power bar, extra layers to change out when wet from sweat, a map, a spot for your cell phone and wallet, first aid kit, extra gloves and an emergency $20 bill tucked away.
5. Pre-Ride exercise: Stretching is good but I only have time for some leg stretches and shoulder rolls before I start on my bike.
6. Start your Ride right: For five minutes I try and stay on the level maintaining a cadence of 85-100. When I feel that inner warmth of my core responding I am ready for a hill.
7. Your Ride: If you can ride three times a week for a min of one hour but a goal of two hours rides, with a twenty minute hill (x2) in the middle of it, you will change your life more than you could with any medication or therapy, although you may still need some medication, therapy will be much more beneficial. Your body is a safer place when your blood stream is not filled with the high test ‘fight or flight’ fuels that become toxic to our bodies as well as to our friends and families if we act out because of them.
8. After Ride: Wash your bike every time and it will always look like new. Then oil your chain, a few drops will do, and ride your bike around (if your can) while going through the gears as this will oil all of your derailleur parts. Pick your bike up (about six inches) and drop it evenly on both tires and most of the water will come off before you put it away.
Cycling may not cure everything that ails you but it will improve most areas so that other approaches might be much more successful when employed. As a therapist I always try to get the client active with anaerobic exercise before counselling starts, usually cycling, as it is the easiest way to get immediate results. When they start riding on a regular basis I then begin cognitive counselling approaches. With the results that they will be experiencing within a few weeks of beginning to ride, counselling will begin, with a lot more hope because they are now on a chosen path and with a lot less fuel that used to push them towards acting out or spiraling them into depression and/or anxiety. I have found the results amazing when a client seriously engages in cycling in this way and have become a believer in cycle-therapy as a result of these experiences.