Winter Tips 5 - Go Long
Matt Welbourn (Southend Wheelers)

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 hour.

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 going uphill!

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.”

Matt Welbourn - Southend Wheelers' Endurance Man
Endurance riding means plenty of kit
You need a support team for endurance riding
All the delights of the open road - though this looks more like a footpath to me

If you'd like to share your number one tips on riding in the cold and wet, what essential kit you swear by for particular conditions, how to burn off the winter 'padding', dietary advice, etc, then please email them, along with a photo or video to


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