Alberta Cancer Foundation

Expert Tips To Help You Prepare For Long-Distance Cycling Events

Since 2009, the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer has benefited the Alberta Cancer Foundation in a significant way, raising millions of dollars that directly support Albertans facing cancer. In response to COVID-19, the 2020 Ride went virtual, but passionate cyclists still collectively raised $1.9 million. The 2021 Alberta-based cycling event is only a few months away, and whether you’re dusting off your bike for another cycling season or preparing for your first-ever endurance event, there’s still time to get training. We’ve asked three experts for tips to help you prepare for this year’s event.

1. Train Smart

Illustration by Rachel Beyer.

Edmonton’s Velocity Cycling Club has been training recreational and experienced cyclists since 1981. Velocity’s head coach, Kevin Rokosh, has more than 30 years of experience as a cyclist and has coached others for more than a decade. Here, Rokosh offers some training tips:

Be consistent

”Start with 30-minute rides at a steady pace, three times a week to get into the habit,” says Rokosh. “Then, after three or four weeks of building a base, add 15 minutes to each ride.”

Rokosh recommends you plan to train consistently for at least three months. However, a four-month training period is ideal. That way, you’ll still have time to get into shape even if you have to miss a day once in a while. Rokosh suggests increasing your cycling time to two rides of at least one hour each during the week, with at least one longer ride on the weekend to build up endurance.

“Athletes should get close to 100 kilometres for their longest training ride, and do it a couple of weeks before the event,” says Rokosh.

Be safe

If you’re riding in a group, make sure you’re comfortable riding near other cyclists.

“Ultimately, when you’re riding around other cyclists or, of course, in traffic, know that the safest cyclist is a predictable cyclist,” says Rokosh. “Ride in a straight line. Use your voice to indicate if you are passing another rider. And don’t ride too close to other riders — I always tell people to imagine there’s a bubble around your front wheel.”

Join a club

Rokosh says joining a club connects new cyclists to a network of experienced riders who know great training routes, including which roads have wide shoulders and less traffic. But it is also an opportunity for newer riders to get tips and tricks from veterans.

2. Gear Up

Illustration by Rachel Beyer.

Albert Nguyen knows what it’s like to spend long hours on the bike. He’s logged endurance rides for more than 14 years and is currently the president of the Edmonton Road & Track Club, which offers supportive group rides to cyclists of all abilities. Nguyen shares the essential gear riders need for long cycling days.

Cycling shorts and jersey

Nguyen says padded shorts will make long hours on the saddle more comfortable, while a jersey, with the pockets on the back, makes it easy to carry food or a light jacket.

The “right” helmet

According to Nguyen, making sure your helmet fits properly is the most important consideration here, rather than brand or style.

Must-have gear

When out on a long training ride, Nguyen recommends cyclists always carry their phone, a patch kit, a multi-tool and mini pump in case of a flat tire, and enough food and water.

3. Ride Wisely

Illustration by Rachel Beyer.

When Liann Cameron registered to complete her first Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2012, she did not consider herself a cyclist. But the spirit of the event ignited a passion, and now, Cameron has participated in seven Rides — six in Alberta and one in B.C. She shares her go-to tips here:

Tip#1: Don’t forget to eat

“Don’t skip breakfast in the morning. And eat as you ride. Bring along food in your jersey pockets, or add drink mixes into your water to get those calories.”

Tip #2: Pace yourself

“Don’t go out too quickly and blow all your energy in the first few kilometres. Find a steady, consistent pace, and you’ll be able to keep the legs moving.”

Tip #3: Embrace the challenge

“Yes, it’s hard. But remember it will never be as hard as the journey your friend or family member goes through after being diagnosed with cancer.”