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If you signed up for a charity ride but aren’t sure what to expect, follow these tips to help you have a successful day.
Get your bike checked ahead of time. Take your bike to a shop to have them give it a once over before you head out, especially if you’re not the most mechanically savvy rider.
Invest in bike shorts. The padded comfort of cycling shorts will make your ride a heck of a lot more comfortable. Bib shorts, those goofy overalls worn by every pro cyclist, take comfort to another level by holding the shorts and pad in place.
Go in with a food plan. Charity rides typically have food stops depending on the distances, but it’s not always a good idea to rely on what’s on the course. Bring a few snacks of your own that you know go down easy while on the bike. (On a related note, don’t use the food stops as an excuse to down an entire buffet in one sitting.)
Hydrate. It’s easy to forget to drink if you’re not thirsty or hot. But your body needs water. Bring at least two bottles of fluid.
Watch out. Riders of all levels do charity rides, so be prepared for people stopping abruptly in front of you or veering into your path. Also keep an eye out for large potholes or glass on the side of the road, and point them out to those behind you. Hold a straight line as you ride.
Try to “win.” This is a charity ride, not a race. Most people are going to head out at a leisurely pace in a big group. If you find you’re faster than a lot of your fellow riders, be patient until the groups break up and then speed ahead.
Forget the essentials. Lay everything out the night before. Basic essentials include a helmet, gloves, shoes, socks, shorts, jersey, sunglasses, water bottles, food, sunscreen.
Under (or over) dress. Follow the “dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer” rule, and utilize layers to give yourself some options. Arm and knee warmers are perfect for chilly mornings that turn into sunny afternoons. A vest is perfect for keeping your core warm. And a lightweight jacket can easily fold into your jersey pocket.
Go out too hard. Start out on the conservative side if you haven’t ridden the full distance beforehand. As the crowd thins out towards the last quarter of the ride, pick it up and finish strong.
Take photos while cycling. Yes, you should snap some shots to remember the event, but taking your eyes off the road and your hand off the handlebars could mean bad news. Pull over before getting the camera out.