Before Your Challenge
Here’s a few key steps you can undertake before the challenge kicks off to set yourself up for success when it’s time to ride:
1. Prepare your bike
Don’t let a flat tyre or a seized chain end your challenge before it begins in earnest! If it has been awhile since its last outing, it’s important to have your bike serviced to ensure it’s in ride-ready condition, so you’re not left stranded or lose valuable days throughout the challenge month getting repairs.
Some things to have attended to include:
- Ensure the chain is well lubricated to minimise issues with the running gear.
- Brakes are in good working order.
- Tyre tubes are in good condition and the rubber hasn’t aged (have them replaced if they are).
- Have your tyres pumped up to the recommended pressure written on the tyre (and release some pressure if riding in the wet).
- Ensure your seat is positioned at a height that allows you to reach the ground with one foot.
2. Know the rules
It’s important for all riders to know and comply with the road rules within the state or territory they are riding in, including helmet laws. We’ve compiled a list of links to each state’s cycling rules and laws here.
3. Scout your route
Novice riders should get familiar with their route before setting out for the first time. A quick drive, run or walk around the route you’re planning to take will help you know of things to look out for or help you revise the route to something more suitable before you tackle.
It’s important to note not just things that could be a problem (like pot holes, narrow shoulders or unexpected road works) but also things that could be a saviour (like a convenience store for a quick Gatorade, service station to pump-up your tyres or the all-important emergency rest room for when you find yourself a little too hydrated ahead of the ride!
4. Get comfortable with gears and braking
While it really is just like riding a bike, you should take some time to get familiar with your brakes and your gears. Find a flat open area where you can ride around without traffic to practice shifting up and down gears. Also take the opportunity to practice your braking skills, remembering to favour the rear brake more than the front.
Hot tip: spend a couple of bucks on some padded bicycle shorts – you won’t regret the investment, we promise!
It’s Time to Ride
Now that you’re ready to start riding those challenge kilometres, here’s some tips for when you’re out on the bike:
1. Stay well fed and hydrated
Remember, your body is your engine for the Great Cycle Challenge, so it’s crucial you remain well fuelled with food and liquid. There’s plenty of great, small snacks you can pack in a bike bag or jersey pocket like a bag of trail mix, protein bar/balls or muesli bars, and always bring plenty of water along for the ride (and keep in mind some places to fill-up along the way).
It’s best to eat and drink a little bit but often throughout the ride to keep your energy and hydration up throughout, rather than stopping just once for a big refill.
2. Ensure punctures don’t spoil your day
Preparing well should minimise the risk of getting a puncture, but they can – and do – still happen when you’re out riding, so it’s always wise to be prepared to deal with at least one at all times. Try to carry enough equipment to either repair a tube or replace it while riding, which means you will need a puncture repair kit or a replacement tube, plus a way to re-inflate the tyre (either a pump or a CO2 cannister).
3. Set a realistic goal…and work your way up
While the event is a challenge, it’s important to ride within your means. So, start off with smaller rides that don’t take you too far from your starting point – you can do multiple loops which come back to the central point to begin with.
As your fitness and comfort with riding increases, you can take on larger rides and work your way up. Remember, you’ve got a whole month to complete your challenge, so don’t run yourself into the ground by biting off too big a ride on your first day.
4. Have a back-up plan
You know what they say about the best laid plans, so make sure you have a back-up plan, in case you get caught out by weather or the notorious double puncture. A full-charged phone is always recommended, along with a $20 note or bank/credit card in case you find yourself a lift home, an emergency bottle of water or if you’ve just been having too much fun out exploring your neighbourhood and need to recharge with a coffee!
It’s good to always ensure someone close to you knows when you’ll be riding, approximately how long you’ll be gone and where you intend to ride during that time too.
5. Take lots of photos and have fun!
Don’t forget to stop while you’re out exploring your area, and take some photos to share with the community! We all love finding new, cool places to ride, so we would love to see what your challenge looks like as we all ride in many and varied part of Australia!
Hot tip: ensure you’ve reviewed our other road and safety tips here before taking off for your first ride.
Riding at night? Ensure you’re bright…
Visibility is crucial when riding at night time – both that other road users can see you and that you can see where you’re riding. So wear nice bright colours – ideally clothing with reflective properties – that will help you stand out to other road users.
Ensure you have – at a minimum – one bright, flashing red light placed on the rear of your bike in a place that can be seen by others approaching from the rear.
If you get caught out in deteriorating light without the right equipment, don’t take any risks. Call a friend, family member or even a maxi-taxi to get a lift home. Put your safety first – your challenge kilometres can wait for another day.
Riding in the rain? What a pain…
Mother nature is going to give us clear skies for the challenge (fingers crossed!), but if you do find yourself riding in the rain, all of the same rules regarding visibility for riding at night also apply, as your visibility and ability to see obstacles will again be of the utmost importance.
It’s also a good idea to lower your tyre pressure to the bottom of the range mentioned on your tyres, as this increases the size of the contact area that the bike has with the ground, reducing the chance of aquaplaning.
Ensure you adjust your riding approach for the conditions – taking turns at a lower speed and with less aggression than you otherwise would. Ideally, find a coffee shop and enjoy a brew while the shower passes.