Download Membership Card Generate Membership Card
Firstname Surname
Membership No. 0000
Firstname | 000 000 0000

Your First Funride

1: Basic training tips

The main requirements to enable you to compete in Fun Rides are general cycling fitness, correct preparation, bike skills, correct diet and a bike in good working order. This series of articles is aimed at giving newcomers the expertise and “know how” to enter the world of cycling.
It is always best, according to sports scientists, to follow a structured programme, but as logical as these programmes are, the most important aspect is to hit the open road and get out into the country and enjoy riding your bike.
Read these articles, absorb the information, but never let riding your bike become a chore. The most important thing about riding your bike is to enjoy it. It should be a passion, not a job!
Secondly, be realistic in your aims. Don’t make a 100 km funride your very first time out on the bike. Build up slowly; do some short rides first, then progress to the medium distance rides and slowly build up both your fitness levels, cycling skills and speed until you can comfortably complete the longer funrides.
Note: It is important that you consult your medical practitioner before embarking on any training programme, especially if you are currently not doing any exercise.
Even if you compete in other sports and are reasonably fit, you should be prepared to do at least six to twelve weeks of “cycling specific” training before you tackle your first Funride.
Build up gradually
Week by week, you will need to build up your endurance and aerobic fitness by riding at a low intensity, gradually increasing the kilometres and time spent on the bike.
This low intensity training, or “base training” will increase your body’s ability to use oxygen, increase the size and number of mitochondria (blood carrying capillaries), and (bonus!) will also improve the body’s ability to burn fat and carbohydrate as fuel.
The importance of a high cadence
Use an easy gear, keeping the cadence to around 90 rpm whilst base training, as this will assist in developing pedaling skill and efficiency. Most beginners, especially ex-runners and converts from other sports, tend to use too big a gear (low cadence), which will slow down your progress to the next level of riding ability. High cadence, combined with easy riding, should be completed before increasing the intensity of your rides.
Your aim in training is to be able to ride comfortably at a low intensity for at least three-quarters of the distance of your first Fun Ride. In other words, if your first funride is 30 km, you should be able to cover 20 km easily in one training session.
If you have just started riding a bike, try aiming at riding for about 30 minutes at a time until you feel comfortable. Then gradually increase the time, distance and/or speed by about 10 per cent per week – NO MORE! – keeping the same low intensity. Choose a route that is relatively traffic-free and not too hilly, preferably with a wide road shoulder. A circular route is likely to provide more mental stimulation than an out-and-back route.
Recovery periods
Every fourth or fifth week, drop your training to 50 per cent of the previous week’s total. This is your rest week, giving your body time to recuperate from the previous week’s training. This will refresh you and make you stronger for the next phase of training.
Lasting the distance
If your ultimate aim is to ride a 100 km funride like the Cape Town Cycle Tour or anyone of the long routes on the PPA funride calendar, continue to slowly increase your training until you can comfortably ride 75 km or about 3 hours at a low intensity. Race-day excitement usually pulls you through the last 20% of a ride.
You don’t have to ride three hours every training ride. During the week your rides may be only an hour or so in duration. As your training progresses, you will be getting more cycling fit and your average speed should start to increase without actually increasing your intensity of effort.
Getting stronger
After riding for about six weeks, you should now be moving into your pre-event phase and should gradually increase the intensity of your rides. Start by adding in some hills and sprints to improve your leg strength.
Getting faster
Once you start competing in Funrides, you will find that you will have to ride faster to keep up with your group. You’ll sometimes find the group does some sprints as riders try to break away. If you want to stay with them, you will have to start fine-tuning your training.
For your first sprint training session, try the following: Divide one of your mid-week training rides into three parts. First part is to warm up on a low gear and get the blood circulating and the muscles warm.
In the second part of your ride, increase the intensity so that it feels a little uncomfortable and it is difficult to speak. Don’t be tempted to force the pedals round, keep your pedaling action fluid and the cadence high. Try to keep the pace even for the whole of the period with no accelerations or lapses of concentration.
This type of training will tax both your breathing and your legs. You will be taking yourself to the edge of oxygen debt or “threshold training”.
The third part of your training ride is the cool down period, which is just as important as warming up. Put your bike in an easy gear and spin to warm down. Never finish a ride before warming down.
If you have a heart rate monitor, you will notice that as the weeks go by, that your heart rate will start to drop more quickly as you warm down. This is the first sign that your fitness is improving.
Take it easy
Re-read what was said above about recovery periods… Take a week off training and ride at a low intensity all week allowing your body to recover. You should find that you will be stronger due to the rest and will not have lost any fitness.
In our next article, we look at a 12-week schedule including a gradual build-up and rest week to see you up to your first Fun Ride or race.

2: More training tips

Please note that this programme starts off gradually and you may be tempted to increase the distances. Don’t! You need to build up gradually, and try not to increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%.
* Remember the rest days are important! Don’t be tempted to train on your rest days – go for a walk or a stretch class at the gym if you want to do something. 
* “Easy rides” mean a ride at a comfortable pace, on a relatively flat road, using light (low) gears
* “Low gear” means an easy gear where your average cadence will be around 80-100 rpm. Stay off the big chainring!
* Remember to stretch properly after each ride
Week 1: Easy riding
Monday:   Rest day
Tuesday:  30 minutes easy, low gear
Wednesday:  30 minutes easy, low gear
Thursday:  30 minutes easy, low gear
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Sunday:  1 hour easy, low gear
Week 2 (the start of the gradual improvement)
Monday:             Rest day
Tuesday:             35 minutes easy, low gear
Wednesday:            35 minutes easy, low gear
Thursday:             35 minutes steady easy, low gear
Friday: Rest
Saturday:             1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes easy, low gear
Sunday:            1 hour 15 minutes easy, low gear. Stop en route for a cooldrink or coffee and a stretch!
Week 3 (starting to get a little harder)
Monday:           Rest day
Tuesday:             40 minutes easy, low gear
Wednesday:             40 minutes easy, low gear
Thursday:             40 minutes easy, low gear
Friday: Rest
Saturday:             1 hour 30 minutes easy, low gear
Sunday:             1 hour 30 minutes easy, low gear
Week 4 (the overload effect starting to take place).
Monday:           Rest day
Tuesday:            45 minutes steady
Wednesday:             45 minutest steady
Thursday:             45 minutes steady
Friday: Rest
Saturday:             1 hour 45 minutes
Sunday:             1 hour 45 minutes
Week 5 (important rest week)
Use this week to recover, so that next week we can train harder…
Monday:             Rest day
Tuesday:             30 minutes easy, low gear
Wednesday:             30 minutes easy, low gear
Thursday:             30 minutes easy, low gear
Friday: Rest
Saturday:             1 hour 30 minutes easy, low gear
Sunday:             1 hour 30 minutes easy, low gear
Week 6 (Let’s go!)
Monday:           Rest day
Tuesday:             50 minutes steady riding
Wednesday:             50 minutes easy, low gear
Thursday:             50 minutes steady
Friday: 30 minutes easy, low gear
Saturday:             2 hour group ride
Sunday:             2 hour easy, low gear
Week 7 (We’re getting there!)
Monday: 30 minutes
Tuesday: 1 hour steady
Wednesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Thursday: 1 hour steady
Friday: 30 minutes easy, low gear
Saturday: 2 hour 15 minutes group ride
Sunday: 2 hour 15 minutes group ride
Week 8 (almost there!)
Monday: 30 minutes
Tuesday: 1 hour 15 minutes steady
Wednesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Thursday: 1 hour 15 minutes steady
Friday: 30 minutes
Saturday: 2 hours 30 minutes group ride
Sunday: 2 hours 30 easy, low gear
Week 9 (important rest week)
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Wednesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Thursday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Friday: 30 minutes easy, low gear
Saturday: 2 hours group ride
Sunday: 2 hours easy, low gear
Week 10 (right on target)
Monday: 30 minutes
Tuesday: 1 hour 30 minutes steady
Wednesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Thursday: 1 hour 30 minutes steady
Friday: 30 minutes easy, low gear
Saturday: 2 hours 45 minutes group ride
Sunday: 2 hour s 45 minutes easy, low gear
Week 11 (partial rest week)
Monday: 30 minutes
Tuesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Wednesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Thursday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Friday: 30 minutes easy, low gear
Saturday: 3 hours group ride
Sunday: 2 hours easy, low gear
Week 12 (First Fun ride!)
Monday: 30 minutes easy, low gear
Tuesday: 1 hour easy, low gear
Wednesday: 1 hour 30 minutes easy, low gear
Thursday: 1 hr easy, low gear
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 30 min spinning easy, low gear
Sunday: First Fun Ride
Good luck!

3: Preparation

Now the big day has arrived…
The week before
Have your bike checked out by your local bike shop. Do this a few days before the event, so that you have time to ride and check your bike again! Make sure all the gears are working properly, and that you have a least one spare inner tube (preferably two) and tyre levers with you. TIP: Wrap your spare inner in an old sock to protect it inside the saddle bag. Check that the wheels are running true, and that the chain has enough lube on it. Make sure that your pump is working.
The day before the event
The last thing you need is to be running around early on race day looking for something you have forgotten to pack. Make sure your kit is packed the day before.
One way of making sure you have everything ready is to start at the top and work to the bottom. Lay out your:
– helmet (no helmet, no ride!)
– bandana if you wear one
– cycling sun glasses
– vest to wear underneath your cycling jersey (this protects your skin in case of a fall; wear one made of a fabric that wicks moisture away from the body)
– cycling jersey with your unaltered number pinned onto the back pocket
– arm warmers (if cold)
– gloves (always wear gloves as they protect your hands in case of a fall
– cycling shorts
– leg warmers or track suit pants to wear during the warm-up
– socks
– cycling shoes
– transponder (timing chip)
– water bottles
–   energy supplements (energy gels to put in your back pocket… please do not litter!)
–  spare pins
–   sunscreen, lip screen, money for entering if you have not pre-entered
–   wind/rain cycling jacket if it looks like it may be cold and/or wet
Also take some clean, dry clothes to change into after the race. A small towel is always a useful item.
Make sure you have filled all your drinking bottles for pre-race, during race and after race drinks the evening before (don’t be tempted to make them too early as they could lose their potency).
Once made, refrigerate them and put a note with your car keys to remind yourself to take the bottles out of the fridge!
If you get a free hand-out in your starting pack, don’t be tempted to try out a new energy bar or drink during the event. Stick to what you are used to and leave the new products for your training rides. Your first funride is not the time for stomach cramps!
The Last Supper
Don’t overeat the evening before and give the meal ample time to digest before you go to bed. In other words, try to eat before 20:00. If you must drink alcohol (fruit juice is better), have no more than two glasses of wine with your meal.
Avoid going to bed too early as you could struggle to fall asleep.
Try and rise early on the morning of the event (at least 2 hours before) to top up glycogen stores, as they would have dipped overnight. A balanced breakfast cereal – often one that can be enjoyed as a drink- are favourites amongst experienced cyclists. If you resort to bread and jam/honey/banana, white toast is easier to digest and contains less fibre than brown. A meal replacement like Ensure also works well.
On the journey to the event, try and sip a weak solution of the energy drink you are accustomed to. In the hour before the race, stick to plain water.
Be prepared
Make sure you know the way to the start, the start time, how and where to enter and have your entry fee ready in a handy place.
If possible, your numbers should pinned on the evening before but if you are collecting them at the start, don’t forget to take some reasonably sized safety pins just in case the organizers supply those little fiddly ones.
Don’t be tempted to stay in the car as you will probably start experiencing nervous tiredness (yes there is such a thing), rather go for a gentle warm-up to stretch the legs.
If you are going to carry money with you, make sure it is a note and not jangling coins and wrap it around your medical aid card.
Stay calm! Don’t start running about, chattering unnecessarily, using up valuable nervous energy. Stay focused.
Don’t forget to pack some toilet paper as Porta Loos have a habit of running out just when you need it.
Warm up
Stay near the start even if it means riding a few hundred metres up the road and turning round and repeating your route. The advantages are you won’t get lost and if you are called to start earlier then expected, you won’t end up at the back of your group. Try changing your gears and using your brakes just to test that they have not been knocked whilst transporting them. Make sure your wheels are in properly, with the quick releases fastened tightly and the brakes not rubbing on the rims.

4: On the ride

The start
3 – 2 – 1 you are off! The first thing you must learn is how to get started. As soon as you start, or after any stop, both feet must be securely clicked or “clipped” into the pedals.
Often you see a rider hastily trying to get his feet in the pedals, panic, then wobbles and causes chaos in the bunch with riders trying to avoid him.
Remember to ride in a straight line while you are trying to get your feet into the pedals. If you usually have problems in this regard, either start at the back or on the side of the bunch where you will not have heaps of impatient cyclists trying to get past you.
Eating and drinking on the move
If you envisage being on the bike for more than two hours, start eating and drinking half an hour into your ride and continue throughout the ride. Don’t put it off until you are thirsty or hungry as it will be already too late to replenish your blood sugar levels.
Aim for about 200 ml of energy drink per half hour. If very hot, dilute your energy drink more, so that you can drink more. Or another solution would be to take two bottles on your bike, keep one full of plain water and the other filled with energy drink (no more than a 10% carbohydrate solution), so you can alternate your drinks. For really long rides, take some extra energy drink powder in a sachet with you, so that you can refill your water bottle at a water point.
Rubbing shoulders
It is important when riding in a group not to panic when you rub shoulders with another rider and learn to “hold your line” when this happens. Practice this in group training, but first make sure the other riders are aware of what you are doing.
Sit a wheel
It is essential when riding in a group to take the maximum shelter against the wind. To be able to “sit a wheel” correctly will save you an enormous amount of energy.
Practice keeping about 15 to 20 cm behind the wheel in front of you and a few cm to one side so that if the rider in front of you brakes suddenly, you can ride along the side of his/her back wheel and not into the back wheel.
Worry about your front wheel and not your back one. If someone touches your back wheel, it will rarely result in a crash for you, but if your front wheel touches a back wheel it will affect your steering and you may be in trouble.
Keep clear of erratic riders who weave across the road; try and follow a rider with a “smooth” and “steady” wheel.
Practice with a group of four or five of your training partners. Try and sit as close as you feel comfortable without continually using the brakes. Practice makes perfect and soon you will have the confidence to sit within 15 cm of a rear wheel.
Taking a turn at the front
You may find yourself in a line of riders who are “working”. Each rider should do his turn at the front for a few minutes before moving over to let the next rider through for his/her turn at the front. 
If it is your turn to go to the front, don’t accelerate through (thereby causing the riders behind you to speed up – you may hear a few curses!). Just move to the front steadily and do your stint of a few seconds or minutes, depending on how strong you are feeling, and then flick your elbow to indicate that you want the next rider to come through. Move slightly to one side and ease off on the speed to make it easier for the rider coming up to overtake you.
Learn to relax when following a wheel and don’t focus purely on that back tyre. Look further ahead for obstacles, changes in direction and situations which are happening four or five riders ahead of you.
Learning to anticipate will help your react more quickly to a dangerous situation. Your peripheral vision will help you to be aware of the wheel in front and the situation ahead of you.
Coming back
A lot of crashes are caused when a rider gets out of the saddle and his rear wheel seems to “come back” to the rider behind him as most riders slow down (even just a fraction) when standing up. To avoid this “coming back” when standing up, come out of the saddle smoothly and press a bit harder on the pedals and you will rid yourself of this extremely bad and dangerous habit. If at all possible, wait until you are at the back of a group of riders or at the side of the bunch before standing up.
Don’t swerve unnecessarily
When riding, learn to keep a straight line, avoiding unnecessary sudden changes of direction. Relax, concentrate and try and ride as smoothly as possible and above all: Don’t swerve!
Crashes are not frequent in races, but unfortunately they do happen.
If you hear a crash behind you, don’t look behind you or slow down. If it’s behind you it won’t affect you, but if you are looking back at what is going on, the chances are that you will cause another crash by not holding a straight line (most cyclists swerve when they look back – this is another thing for you to practise while riding on your own!).
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a crash, get up as quickly as possible and get out of the way of other riders and traffic. Check yourself for injury. If you are OK, continue the race, but not before checking your bike.
Do the brakes still work? Do the gears still work and is the chain still on the chain ring? Are the handlebars still straight? A common occurrence in a crash is for the stem to move to one side causing the handlebars to look skew. If this was the case, face the front of the bike and put the front wheel between your legs and grip the handlebars and move them until the stem is re-aligned with the front wheel.
Make sure your wheels are still both secure and straight, and that the brakes are not rubbing. I know of many cyclists whose brakes virtually wore away after a crash because they neglected to check the wheel clearance… causing a far harder ride than what was necessary!
Don’t start debating about how the crash occurred, get on your bike and catch up with other riders who have been delayed and work together to rejoin your group.
If you puncture during a race, raise your hand as a warning to other riders that you have punctured and are slowing down. Without using your brakes, gradually drift to the back of your group, then pull over to the pavement (completely off the road) and make the repair.
Positioning in the bunch
Some people think the best place to have a easy race and get the most shelter is right at the back of the bunch. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The best spot is in the first third of the bunch, as in this position you will always be well placed to notice any splits in the group.
It is a well known fact that fewer crashes occur in the front of the bunch than the back half. The leading riders tend to be those with more experience and who are more involved in the race; also they tend to be more alert and aware of what is going on around them.
Going around corners
It is an awesome sight to see a pro cyclist corner at speed, but that technique only comes with practice.
Most novice cyclists will lose lengths to an experienced cyclist on a corner and if you are sitting on the back, you are in for a hard chase back to the bunch.
The bunch starts to thin out just before taking a corner and when they come out of the corner, the “yo-yo” effect takes place and gaps start opening between the riders.
The larger the bunch, the larger the gaps and the riders at the back have a harder time in closing the gap.
Practice cornering in training and when racing try to follow an experienced rider into the corner and follow his line.
Brake gradually and slow down before the corner, pick your line, go into the corner at the optimum speed, accelerate gently out of the corner. Remember: Brake BEFORE the corner, NOT DURING it. Once you have picked your line, look at where you want to go and not at the kerb, otherwise you will find you are drifting off your line and may have to over-correct with disastrous consequences.
Going downhill
Remember on a descent you may have a series of corners in quick succession so is again it most important that you look ahead and pick your line.
If the approaching corner is a sharp one and you can’t pedal around it, transfer your weight to the outside pedal (ie straighten your outside leg and put a little bit more weight on it), which will lower your centre of gravity and give you maximum stability.
If you are unfamiliar with the descent, watch the riders ahead as they go into the next corner. Are they braking? Are they freewheeling? This will give you a clue as to how sharp the corner is.
When you know a climb is approaching, move to the front of your bunch. If there are faster climbers in the bunch and you start to drop back, at least a few riders have to pass you first. With some luck you’ll be just at the back of the bunch as you reach the top! 
When climbing in the saddle, keep your hands on the top of the handlebars with a relatively wide (just under shoulder width) but firm grip. Try to climb rhythmically and when you do get out of the saddle, kick gently forward whilst holding the brake lever hoods. Once out of the saddle, sway your bike ever so gently from side to side so that each downward stroke of the pedal has your body weight behind it – this means gravity does the hard work for you!
Keep your bike in a straight line and don’t weave all over the road. If you find you are weaving, your gear is probably too high, change down.
The finish
If you are tired, leave the sprinting for another day and simply ride to the finish line in a safe way. If it looks as though there are a few mad hooligans around you – do the same, as you’d rather finish a few seconds later than be involved in a crash on the finish line.
Many cyclists weave madly across the road when they start sprinting, so keep an eye out for that.
Congratulations on finishing… now keep your position in the line, and get that cooldrink! Start rehydrating as soon as possible (this will help you to feel much better the next day), and eat something as quickly as possible to refuel your body’s blood sugar levels.
Now go and “re-ride” the race with your friends…

5: After the event

After the finish, change into some dry and/or warm clothes. Your body is trying its best to recover after your ride and consequently your immune system will be at its lowest. As soon as possible after the event, help your body along by taking a protein and carbohydrate recovery drink.
If at all possible, go for a gentle ride of a about two or three kilometers and do a few stretches to soothe those aching limbs.
When you get home
Your next conventional meal should be high in protein (like fish or chicken) and also include a little carbohydrate (pasta or potatoes). Rehydrate – but be careful of alcohol, which will dehydrate you again.
An hour’s sleep will rest the body and aid recovery without you getting that zonked out feeling when you wake up. Be careful not to sleep for much longer than an hour as this may interfere with your nighttime sleep.

Bike maintenance

While the most technical bike maintenance is best left to the professionals, there is quite a lot that you can do yourself. A clean bike always works better. Start off with cleaning the chain.
Clean the chain
The chain requires more maintenance than any other part of the bike. Every 200 km or so, you should clean and lubricate your chain. To do this, wet a rag with a degreaser (or use a chain cleaner), hold it round the chain and turn the pedals backwards until the chain is clean. Leave to dry and then use a dedicated chain lubricant. Pedal backwards again, whilst lubricating the chain.
There is no need to have the chain dripping with oil, use your lubricant sparingly. Always keep your chain clean and lubricated. At the same time you are cleaning your chain, you can wipe your cassette, rear and front jockey and chain rings with the degreaser.
The biggest problem with a chain is age. You should replace it every 5 000 km or so, depending on the conditions it was used in. It will save you money in the long run, as a warn chain will cause premature wear on your cassette and chainrings resulting in poor gear changes, skipping of gears and may even break when under stress.
With a new chain, your gears will work much better if you have not allowed your cassette and chainrings to prematurely wear by not changing your chain. So remember to change your chain frequently!
Clean the bike
After you have cleaned your chain, if your bike is not too muddy, a clean rag and Mr Min will do the trick. Spray Mr Min on your rag and away you go. If it is really muddy, use a little bit of dish washing solution and a sponge or a soft brush, and rinse off with warm water. Don’t use a high pressure hose as this can cause problems later on with water getting in the wrong places. Once dry, you can then use Mr Min to clean the bike.
Check the tyres
Check your tyres frequently, it only takes a minute. Look for cuts to both the centre tread and the sidewalls. Small cuts to the centre tread can be mended by dropping some super glue or takkie cement in the cut and deflating the tyre until the glue is dry and then reinflating.
Cuts to the sidewall are more serious. If not attended to, these can cause blow-outs. If the cut is not too bad, you can repair it by taking the tyre off and gluing a gaiter inside the tyre, to make a gaiter use a suitable length of an old inner tube. Bad cuts unfortunately mean replacing the tyre.
Always keep your tyres pumped to the recommended pressure. The minimum and maximum pressure is usually found on the sidewall of your tyre. Buy a foot pump with a gauge. If you are riding on wet roads, pump your tyres up to the lowest of the recommended pressure. Good surfaces and dry roads mean you can have them pumped up to higher of the recommended pressures.
Soft tyres will cause more impact punctures, bad cornering and more drag, so you will have to pedal harder to reach the same speed. Over-inflate your tyres and you run the risk of bursting your inner tube or blowing your tyre off the rim.
Replacing the tyre and tube
First put one side of your tyre on, then ever so slightly inflate your inner tube. Place the valve squarely in the hole in the rim. A crooked valve will cause the part of the inner tube around the valve to split. Then feed the inner tube inside the tyre, then deflate again. Then fit the rest of the tyre using your thumbs, making sure you don’t pinch the inner tube. Before inflating, just push the tyre inwards bit by bit to make sure you can’t see the inner tube, otherwise your inner tube will puncture when inflating.
Check the brakes
Maintenance of the brakes is most important; luckily modern brakes are relatively maintenance free. Keep them clean is the first rule. If muddy, you can wash them with a dish washing solution and if you have been riding in the rain check the inside of the brake blocks where they come into contact with the rim to see if there is any grit lodged there.
The most common problem with brakes is poor alignment with the rim. If you often take your wheels in and out, you can knock the brakes and they pull to one side, in extreme cases touching one side of the rim. This is a common problem if you transport your bike inside a car.
Check the gears
Make sure your gears are indexing properly and, when engaging the largest sprocket on the cassette, that the chain does not go into the rear spokes.
Get your local bike shop to check your set-up. Once they have adjusted the gears, you should have no problems with them. If you have a set of racing wheels make that they both your rear wheels index properly.
Well done! See you at the next PPA funride!