Sunday, 16 July 2017

Venture - adventure

Had a few longer bike rides this year, so after an 83-kilometre-long trip beyond Puszcza Kampinoska and back (with a stopover at my friend’s), I decided to seize the opportunity to try out whether I was fit enough for a two-day cycling trip.

The planning was quite simple. While driving through Puszcza Bolimowska in business some two weeks earlier, I had discovered how picturesque the place was and it had occurred to me the place would have been a nice destination of a cycling trip. Next steps were finding an affordable accommodation for an overnight stay and marking out a route.

Setting off from Piaseczno, we cycled through Nadarzyn, then to Żyrardów and onwards through forests to Bolimów where lodgings was booked. Total distance cycled: 95 kilometres. The next day we headed towards Sochaczew, rode through Kampinos, then on the edges of Puszcza Kampinowska to reach the finish line at Stare Bielany underground station. Total distance cycled (including a ride from W-wa Jeziorki station to NI): 82 kilometres. So in total, 177 kilometres in two days. Looks impressive as you read, in fact no big deal.

According to a popular belief, to be able to boast about such distance cycled you need to be damn fit and have professional equipment. I would argue both the former and the latter are gross overstatements.

If you ride a bike recreationally and cover no more than 20 kilometres a day, a two-day over 150-kilometre trip is a wild goose chase, but after a few rides longer than 50 kilometres each, the task in entirely doable. The only piece of advice to be given is to set yourself a moderate pace not to overstrain yourself and to spread out powers evenly.

I have a no-frill bike from Decathlon with few upgrades, I do not possess cycling outfit (saddle gel pad makes up for civil clothes), I only wore a helmet. A supermarket bike would to be advisable equipment, but plain equipment, as long as properly maintained and prepared is absolutely sufficient.

When talking about distance cycled, do bear in mind 50 kilometres do not equal 50 kilometres in terms of effort put into covering such distance. On plain asphalt 50 kilometres is a two-hour ride, while when ascents are on your way, each kilometre adds up to an even bigger challenge. If you cycle through a forest, especially in bumpy or sandy terrain, each kilometres wears you down more and more, hence 100 kilometres on asphalt might be taken in one’s stride, while 30 kilometres in a sandy forest could be far more tiresome.

Lastly, good to know how to fend for oneself during long-distance cycling, as your body will not be indifferent to such physical strain.
Firstly, drink a lot, I would argue one litre per twenty kilometres is a bare minimum.
Secondly, do stopovers every twenty kilometres or so
Thirdly, eat to bring your body calories you would burn.
Fourthly, enjoy the endorphins your body will produce!

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