The magpies have almost stopped swooping, the weather bureau is warning of a hot summer and Christmas decorations are hitting the stores. This all signals the commencement of a long season of participatory focused cycling events.
One of the best known rides in Australia kicks off this weekend with Bicycle Networks Around the Bay (ATB). With over 14,000 people taking part each year to tackle all, or segments of Port Phillip Bay, its a popular ride for people wanting to 'tick the box' for a cycling event.
Whether you are tackling ATB or a similar event this season, here are our tips for having an enjoyable ride.
1. Pick your wheel
I won't forget my first ATB - we were riding towards Geelong when there was a touch of wheels between riders. Several people fell with a number of broken bones being the outcome. Lesson being: keep your wits about you - if someone looks a little shaky, then give them and yourself space. This is particularly relevant if the wind is a factor on the open sections of the ride.
2. Start your hydration early
Realistically your hydration should start at least two-three days before your event. Just before the start of the event your urine should be clear or close to it. Try and avoid alcohol or fluids that will dehydrate you (yes, tough for some!). If you are doing larger distances or conditions are predicted to be warm, taking products such as Hydralyte or other electrolyte substances can certainly help.
3. Pack for the worst, hope for the best
Think like a Scout or Girl Guide and come prepared. Ideally your bike is in good condition, but give it a final check beforehand. If you are conscious of packing too much on the day, ride with someone who is willing to carry stuff for you! For me, I like to ride with my older brother who is required to look after me or else I'll tell Mum.
At a minimum be sure you have gear to change a punctured tyre, have a jacket and some spare change for extra food. And of course a phone is handy.
4. Ride within your limits
Riding with a group of people that are quicker may seem fun at first, but it might hurt later in the day. Try to conserve energy early so you have something left in the tank. Don't be afraid to rest and break-up your ride. The overall experience will be more enjoyable and ideally you'll be able to finish with a sprint for the line to claim honours over your cycling buddies.
5. Eat small amounts, often
When you are exercising, your blood will want to focus on moving energy and oxygen about the body. Eating larger volumes of food while riding will mean blood and energy is required for digestion. Eating smaller amounts every 20 minutes or so will mean digestion is not too disruptive to your physical efforts and you are also getting the energy you require from food consistently.
6. Ride with a smile
If all else fails and things are starting to hurt, remember to smile. A good friend told me this before an event and it really does work (for me anyway). Based on research he read, apparently smiling tricks the mind into thinking you are enjoying yourself.
What about you - have you got any tips for those taking on a cycling event this year?