What to think about before a long bike race?
Louise gives us smart ideas and thoughts for a long cycling race
- I am a cyclist who loves sunshine rides on roads, big cycling glasses and have done the Swedish race Vätternrundan (300km) twice. I started cycling in 2016 when I decided to do a Swedish classic. I started out by buying a second hand bike that I had delivered to work and got a helmet and cycling shoes on the purchase.
- I had never biked on such a narrow bike before so was completely terrified without knowing how brakes and gears worked!
- Someone had mentioned that you needed about 1000 km in your legs before Vätternrundan. So I wanted to take it seriously and started collecting miles in early May (maybe a little late now that I think about it...) but I cycled everywhere and suddenly 1000 km were collected. In addition I also did Halvvättern 100 km myself the weekend before and that was a good way to collect miles. A good way to get the long rides is to get them in on the weekends. Start short and then increase the distance the closer you get to the race in June.
I love the feeling of being out there, pushing mile after mile and getting stronger every year.
- The feeling when I came to the finish line after my first Vätternrundan was priceless and I felt that I could do absolutely anything! I signed up and joined Team Rynkeby Sthlm and cycled to Paris the following year.
It is also absolutely fantastic to be part of a group that cycles together and knows how to do it. The team feeling is magical!
- Now I have done the entire Vätternrundan twice; the first was in 2016, the second in 2019. I have done Halvvättern almost every year since I started cycling.
- My first Vätternrundan we had a Sub12 goal, but with the catastrophic weather, X-number of punctures, we came in at 13.32. The weather is really something you have to take with you. You can never control the weather but you can adapt to the weather. On my second Vätternrundan, the goal was sub 11 and we came in at 10.50. I was so happy!
- My advice before cycling Vätternrundan is to set a reasonable goal. If it is the first time, "getting around" is a great goal. If you want to do it again later, the goal can be to be better than the first time.
- The week before Vätternrundan, I would say that you should go light and only ride for the sake of enjoyment; go out and feel that the bike feels good. It's not the miles the week before Vättern that will get you to finish, it's all the cycling the weeks before. Sleep as much as you can and try to be properly recovered.
- On the actual race day, many start in the evening on Friday or early at night. Here is my main tip to make sure you have slept properly Thursday to Friday!!! Don't stay up and flip the day and night, that will do more bad than good. Try to sleep in or simply just take it easy and rest the day before. Every minute you manage to close your eyes is good! Have plenty of carbohydrates, and try to eat things you know your body can handle.
Take it easy at the start, it's quite scary to start when it's dark but it's only a few hours.
- During the race make sure to stop at all the pit stops if you need to, stop and eat where there is food. Stock up on energy along the way and have gels, bars, nuts, candy or whatever you want in your pockets that are easily accessible. Don't forget to drink fluids often! Have a great day and don't forget to look at the surroundings, there are many beautiful stretches around Lake Vättern!
Good luck on your race! // Love from Louise Erbladh
Pictures from Louise instagram.