Today’s question is about a new rider taking on some challenging bike tours this summer…

To Coach Levi:

Found your site here the other day and been reading it since then. I am a 44 years old man living in Norway 183 high and 85 kg, think I am in a pretty good shape. Have a “huge” problem here. I have been biking real hard since April 2010. So I am not a real biker with a lot of years in the saddle.

Now I have done some really stupid and need some advice so I can survive here. I will start in two tour races this summer, one is one day from Bergen to Voss. That one i think i will manage. If I just use good time and hold my pulse down. The other one is trickier – www.vikingtour.org – 7 Days 953 km 15.800 m climbing – Fjords, Waterfalls, Mountains, Glaziers.

So then my question is. If I survive the day, how do I recover as good as possible for the next day. My biggest problem is to get enough calories in when I’m out biking, but here I need all I can get. Will it be vice of me to go for a little hike before I go to bed, just to move my muscles in another way? I am in the world league when it comes to sleeping, but is just sleep a good way to recover for me, I need a lot of food/calories to. So have you any advice to a not skilled biker who try to kill him selves in the great nature at the west coast of Norway.

Biking Bjørn

Hi Bjørn,

It sounds like you have quite the adventure ahead of you! I think it’s good to challenge yourself like this, though – otherwise you don’t realize what you are capable of.

The biggest problem I see with newer riders is that they set themselves up to not be able to recover. What I mean is, for one reason or another, they push themselves too hard, too early in the race or tour. This leads to cramping, muscle soreness, low energy, bonking, etc. It’s hard enough to recover from a week of long rides, let alone when you go harder than you are capable of!

Sometimes you see the pros make mistakes and have bad days in the grand tours. But they are so well conditioned, and they have such a helpful support crew, that they can be back on form the next day. Unfortunately, in your first couple years of riding, you don’t have that luxury, so you have to be extra careful.

Here are my tips:

1. Ride within your limits.

So my #1 tip is to ride within your limits. Don’t push too hard on the climbs and don’t ride with too fast of a group. Take it slow, especially on the first few days. Remember – you have to pace yourself for the day, but also for the week. (Easier said than done!)

2. Evening recovery.

For recovery in the evenings, you could try some walking/hiking or some self-massage techniques to keep your blood flowing. I recommend you do something, but what you choose is more of a personal decision. Me personally, I like wearing compression socks and rolling my legs with something like The Stick or Muscle Trac.

3. Proper nutrition.

You already know you need to keep eating and drinking. So eat anything that doesn’t upset your stomach. And start eating as soon as you start riding each day. Again, food choice is a personal decision, so try to figure out what your favorite riding foods are while you’re doing training rides.

4. Sleep.

Sleep is great, and it’s good to be skilled at sleeping! Some people will have trouble sleeping in different locations along the tour, but if you can sleep soundly each night, that’s a big help! A good night’s sleep each night could be your best recovery between stages!

5. Follow through.

I think you have a good idea of what to do, you just have to make sure you do it!

Sometimes it helps me to actually write down all the details of what I should be doing each day. Just little reminders to eat this, drink that, keep pulse under ___, go to sleep at ___ and wake up at ___, etc. It might sound unnecessary, but it’s surprisingly easy to get distracted out there.

6. Have fun.

Make sure you have fun out there! You’re not in school or at work, you’re out riding!

Lastly, enjoy the scenery! I checked out the tour’s website and it looks like something I’d like to do someday!

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2 Comments
  1. i will be traveling abroad next summer for a tour. do you have any more tips re: proper nutrition? i am not sure what i will have with me.

  2. @joe c

    Well, I would see if you can figure out what sorts of foods will be available in the event location. Even better, find out what types of foods are provided along the course (assuming this is a full-service type of supported ride/tour.) Then try these foods in advance.

    Other than that, try a wide variety of foods during your training and make lists of what works and what doesn’t, so you have the best chance of avoiding stomach upset come event time.

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