Being a part of a race team isn’t all about racing. You’ve got to train, but it needn’t be boring. We’re following Team Spectra this year to get an insight to what it’s like to be part of an elite team of riders, who also hold down jobs at the same time. The team recently took on a coast to coast challenge so we caught up with the team boss, Bruce, to get some tips for planning a coast to coast challenge.
Some top tips for a coast to coast ride
Spectra is all about mixing it up so when we took a look at the map of the UK, we thought to ourselves; how can we combine training with discovering routes that would take us through some of the UK’s most beautiful (and often very challenging) places. One such route was a coast to coast ride across the north of England, from Seascale to Whitby.
We spend a lot of time doing the prep work to make the team run smoothly. In 2021 this has been a challenge, parts not arriving on time, Covid protocols and generally arranging a group of athletes spread across the UK and Ireland has made it pretty challenging. But preparation is the key to success and enjoyment – no one wants to spend a day on the bike stopping every 10 minutes to look at the map to check which direction to take!
Plan your route properly
For this coast to coast challenge, we plotted the route via komoot where we traced it around some of the best roads and hills along the way. We could have chosen a flatter or faster route, but it was really about getting a good sense of the changing views across the country and vistas. Unless you’re looking to break a record, it’s always worth taking a little extra time to plot your route to ensure you’re staying away from traffic as well as taking in local landmarks.
Fuelling long rides correctly can mean the difference between completion and enjoyment. If you don’t give your body enough of what it needs, you’ll end up hating every minute and no one wants that. As a team, we are spoilt as we’re able to take a support vehicle with us to carry extra food and drink. But it’s important you plan how much nutrition you will need until you can get your hands on some more. If you’re on a long, or multi-day trip, you should consider mixing up your carbohydrate intake (more solids at the start for example as they are easier to digest) and try to take electrolyte drinks to keep your nutrients balanced.
Take the right tools
If you want to master long distance riding, it’s important you know how to do some basic maintenance on your bike (more tips on this coming soon…). On this journey we braved some epic climbs in really remote areas but we were very fortunate to have our team car supporting us. Without such a luxury, you need to take the basics with you so you can change a tyre, repair a chain, and tighten your cables. Therefore your saddle bag at the very least needs to have:
- Two spare inner tubes
- Multi tool
- Chain tool
- Spare chain link
Always have a back up plan
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes you may find yourself unable to fix your bike on the road, so you should give some thought as to what you might do if you can’t continue. Taking some time to jot down a few taxi companies locally who may be be able to collect you may be 5 mins well spent.
Be prepared for all weather
If you’re riding a coast to coast in the UK, it’s not uncommon to start at the sunny seaside in shorts and a T-shirt and then find yourself in driving rain in the hills. Having a few layers is really important, especially if you got stranded with a mechanical in the hills in the rain. We would advocate popping a foil blanket into your saddle back for emergencies.
Be in the right mind set
This ride wasn’t easy, even with support however you divide it up into section, it makes it much easier to stomach. Riding distance takes mental fortitude and the willingness to suffer through the harder bits. We knew that the fish and chips on the seafront in Whitby would be worth it and it kept us going in many a darker moment!
As a team, we’re lucky to consider each other friends as well as team mates which makes it all worth while. We found that whilst we all took turns on the front, there were times where the stronger riders took over breaking the wind as we rode into the weather and as our pace increased across the flat lands. Oxfordshire local Mikey Mottram, the 1 man diesel engine, pulled the majority of the team for around an hour at 40KPH which after 6hrs of riding is an impressive effort. We have a lot of fun as a group and that’s what makes these challenges worth it.
Want our route?
Use this link to view the route on on Komoot
What’s next….. Time to check out the next lot of maps.