Cyclists all have their quirks. From beefy track
sprinters to whippet-thin climbers, we usually find our ‘thing’ – that
aspect of cycling that we love and, if we’re really blessed, good at.
For Matt Welbourn, the phrase ‘going the distance’ means going a long
way. A very, very long way…
Here are his tips for improving your distance skills.
“Ultra-cycling is generally a race or ride of 12 hours or more, although
some consider 24-hour time trials to be the true starting point for
marathon riding events.
The first thing people think of when training for ultra-distance rides
is that you have to do endless, long days of riding. But the reality is
very different. I trained for my first 12-hour by just doing a couple of
hours a day.
The one thing I will say is that you must try and get out every day.
After a high intensity training session, get back out the next day for
an easy spin.
Recovery is key! Post-ride, I spend 30 minutes on a foam roller,
massaging the legs then eating a good meal and also getting a good
night’s sleep. I am ready for the next day. Listen to your body though,
if the legs are tired then just spin along in a low gear the whole ride,
ignore your speed AND Strava. Just switch off our mind and spin for an
I also use a heartrate monitor to check myself in the morning. If you
have one, get out of bed, put your heartrate monitor on and lie down on
the floor for 5 minutes. If my heart rate is high, I know that I’m still
feeling the effects of the previous day’s efforts, so will opt to ease
back during that morning’s ride and maintain a lower HR.
A great tip I was given once was to throw in some one-legged pedalling.
Simply unclip from one side, move your leg out of the way of the
rotating crank and pedal for a few minutes. Then swap over. You’ll soon
find a weak spot in your pedal stroke and if one leg is markedly
stronger than the other. It's hard and horrible, especially if you’re
Of course, to commit to ultra-distances you have to absolutely love
cycling. I know that sounds odd, after all, you’re reading this and
therefore really enjoy riding your bike - but I believe that, to commit
to this sort of thing, you have to adore being in the saddle. I do and
this was a significant factor in my completing my challenge of cycling
round Canewdon for 48-hours. I love being out on the bike.
If you’re interested in giving a long-distance ride a go, or preparing
for an event such as RideLondon, I'd be happy to head out for a ride and
talk you through the art of going the distance.”