So you signed up for the virtual MS Bike? Maybe you’re an avid cyclist or a casual commuter – either way, welcome to the MS Bike community! You will find so many other motivated, inspiring, and friendly cyclists of all ages who want you to enjoy this event, even if it looks a bit different this year. First off, relax – this is an event for any level of cyclists. Keep reading for our beginner’s guide to MS Bike.
Hydration is key.
If you take away nothing else from this, remember to please hydrate. Start the night before you’re planning a ride and sip water throughout the day, on the ride (especially in high heat), and afterwards. While specific hydration depends on the conditions you’re riding in and the individual, a good goal is a 16-ounce bottle of water per hour on a cool day and up to four 16-ounce bottles per hour on a hot day.
Protect that noggin!
A good rule of thumb is to run through a quick inspection of your bike every time you take it for a ride. Tires deflate naturally and no one wants a flat tire on the first kilometre. Check the breaks and your tire air level, and make sure your chain and gears are working smoothly. Look at your helmet to make sure there aren’t any cracks and adjust the fit.
Remember: helmets are no longer safe if there are any cracks. There are lots of stylish and lightweight options available at your local bike shop. Buckle up and protect that noggin!
Talk to the pros.
When safe to do so, we highly recommend reaching out to your local bike shop to have your bike tuned up and fitted. Ensuring your bike is road ready for maximum comfort and efficiency makes a huge difference in keeping yourself comfortable during a long route. Other cyclists are also a great source of knowledge and are happy to swap tips! If you are training on an indoor bike, there are lots of good videos on YouTube to guide you on how to properly adjust the fit of your bike.
Set goals to keep yourself accountable.
In previous years, you may have trained as a team or a with a buddy to keep yourself accountable. This year, that may not be possible while respecting social distancing. However, there are other ways to keep yourself motivated to train in the coming weeks while staying apart together. Schedule your rides at the beginning of the week. Perhaps let your teammates know how your rides went. Or track your kilometers or times in an app or a journal to see improvement. Maybe you post your total kilometer count on your fundraising page or post a picture from each ride. Participate in the MS Society Strava group and add yourself to the private MS Bike Facebook group to meet other cyclists and cheer each other on.
Start slow and build up your mileage.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Please don’t expect yourself to finish 20 kilometres on your first go. Start with shorter distances and times and build up to longer and more challenging rides. Check out this Canadian Cycling Magazine article for a great guide to train this summer!
Remember – have fun!
MS Bike is not a race – at the end of the day it’s a fun event and you should feel good about the impact you are making on the MS community. One of the great parts of this virtual event is that you can customize how and when you ride. No need to bike in a rainstorm this year! And while some people go for lengthy distances, MS Bike is for everyone. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t have it in you to go the last kilometre. The beauty is, this year, you can choose how long your bike route is. If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong!
Whether you are part of a team or cycling solo, know that there are thousands of cyclists on the same path and countless others cheering you on across Canada. Register online at msbike.ca. And don’t forget to tune into the virtual MS Bike rally on our Facebook page on July 25th at 12pm ET.