Ring of Kerry Checklist
Aside from having your training done, being prepared and having the right tools and ensuring that you have the right nutrition on the day will help you get through a long cycle like the Ring Of Kerry in good shape.
Preparing for cycling a distance that you have not covered before is something that can be quite daunting. However if you have a reasonably good condition and mindset and have prepared well enough, you should be able for it.
Fitness is a major part of getting around the ring but also enjoying yourself whilst you are at it. For this you need to be relatively used to at least a 3-4 hour spin one per week, and a 1-2 hour spin at least two other times that week in the months and weeks running up to the event. While everyone will cover a different distances in different time spans, the important thing it to remember that it is an endurance event and you need to keep your focus on training being consious of hours in the saddle rather than miles done.
I took me a long time to realise how important the right nutrition is on the day. I used to eat what ever would come my way on the day and be satisfied with just plain water in my water bottles. Cycling for a considerable length of time can begin to drain your body of vital nutrients, sugars and salts that it needs to keep you going. If you don’t plan to replenish these during the cycle then eventually you will begin to run on empty. The following are my key tips for nutrition on the day:
- Food: Eat at regular intervals and in small amounts. Don’t be tempted towards eating chocolate and snacks that are too sugary as they tend to give you a quick energy fix but will leave you hungry after a while. Look to have food that is healthy and will leave you feeling satisfied. I normally snack on cereal bars, and plan to eat two small meals on the day, relying on energy gels etc only if I need them at the end of the day.
- Drink: Is is essential to keep well hyrdated. As you sweat you loose vital salts and moisture from the body. I have found that dioralytes sachets (which are cheaply available from your chemists) are an excellent accompaniment to your water of energy drink. These will replace the salts lost in your body and are important in the post cycle recovery to prevent dehydration.
Your bike will either be your best friend or your worst enemy for the day. On my first ROK I got a puncture before I reached Fossa just a few K from the start.
There are lots of setup factors on your bike which will make it more comfortable if you know what you are doing. Your bike needs to fit you. It is advisable to have your saddle height checked and your bike measured to ensure that it is a proper fit for you. If it is not it can lead to loads of problems, like a sore back, neck and upper arms, knees etc. This can be done at any local bike shop.
It is always advisable to maintain your bike regularly. At the very least you should always check for wear on your tyres and that they are pumped correctly, check that your chain is well oiled and that all nuts and bolts are tightened correctly. There are loads of guides online on bike maintenance but if you are unsure of anything, you local bike shop is your best answer.
Prepare for the worst
It is advisable to plan ahead and at least expect to have a puncture on the day. Being prepared for this means having at least one spare tube, a pump and a set of tyre levers. Changing a tube really only takes a few minutes when you get used to it. However there are excellent support facilities available also on the day.
Even though it will be July, give the fact that we are in Ireland, there is a fair chance of rain on the day. Unless the weather forecast promises you a really good day bring a rain coat. There are service vans on the day following the cycle which will carry bags for you if you want to bring a change of clothes around the ring. It is worth considering however from my experience you shouldn’t rely on them alone as you might find your self waiting some time for them as there are alot of cyclists on the road.
Items not to forget
Finally a list of items not to forget.
- Bike ( you’d be amazed :-/ )
- Cycling gear
- Water Bottles
- Food/ Energy Gels/ Bars
- Registration Forms etc.
- Spare Tubes/ Tyre Levers/ Pump