Long Distance Cycling in the Flint Hills – the Basics
Posted on Aug 15, 2017
Are you ready to take your bike to the next level and try long distance cycling in the Flint Hills? Athletes like those who compete in the Dirty Kanza 200 aren’t the only cyclists who can enjoy the rewarding experience of long distance cycling. Anyone in good health is capable of rising to this challenge of physical endurance, pitting themselves against a variety of Kansas terrains. The Flint Hills offer an exciting and challenging place to ride. However, before tackling the Flint Hills, you’ll need to be properly equipped and aware of basic cycling safety.
For most cyclists, the thrill and joy starts with their bike. Not just any bike can handle the rough gravel roads of the Flint Hills, though. Choosing a bike with the right tires, braking mechanism, gear speed, and so on is especially important. For safety and to decrease shopping stress, cyclists should enlist professional help in choosing the proper bike. Emporia’s experts at Gravel City Adventure & Supply or High Gear Cyclery or Eclectic Bikes can advise you on an appropriate bike for Flint Hills riding. They can also adjust the bike’s fit to your specific body measurements. Once the right ride is chosen for long distance cycling, getting regular inspections and maintenance is essential.
The Nuts and Bolts
While the bike is the most important piece of equipment for this sport, it’s not the only thing cyclists will need for long distance cycling in the Flint Hills. The following is a list of equipment and essentials that should be on a cyclist’s checklist.
- Helmet. For any cyclist, this is the most critical piece of safety equipment.
- Waterbottle. Dehydration is a dangerous condition. To replace electrolytes and minerals, a cyclist can drink either treated water or energy/sports drinks.
- Nutrition. Nutrition is equally as important to hydration. Endurance cycling uses a great deal of calories and continuing to take in calories as you ride is crucial. The experts at our local bike shops in Emporia can advise you.
- Pump and repair kit. Tire blowouts and other malfunctions can be a real hassle, especially if the cyclist is a hefty distance from help. Keeping a kit like this handy and knowing how to use it will provide peace of mind and self-sufficiency on those long trips.
- Set of lights and reflectors. Especially important at night, this safety gear can offer necessary visibility even during the day and in inclement weather.
- Panniers or racks. Having a place to pack the extra gear is both safer and more convenient for cyclists.
- Speedometer. A sustained workout like long distance cycling would be more difficult without knowing and monitoring a cyclist’s optimal speed.
- Heart rate monitor. Riders need to be sure that they are not reaching dangerous heart rate levels. For those who want an optimal workout, monitoring their sustainable aerobic pace–70 to 80% of their max heart rate minus their age–is much easier to do with a monitor.
- Clip-in pedals. Pedals that lock into cycling shoes are more efficient, allowing the cyclist to use the upstroke as well as the down-stroke for momentum.
- Gel saddle. On those long distance treks, the seat that felt so comfortable early on can get awfully intolerable. A gel saddle or similar cushion will help.
- Cell Phone. Carry a cell phone when you go on long distant rides in the Flint Hills. You will find yourself in very remote locations where there are no towns or homes. Be sure to share your route with someone and stay in touch with them during your ride.
What to Wear
Style is a fun part of this sport, but function is even more essential. The cyclist’s attire needs to be practical, thin, and close-fitting for comfort and safety. Loose clothing will catch in gears or cause other issues. The material should be thin enough to prevent heat buildup and moisture-wicking to keep the cyclist dry and comfortable. Padding in gloves and shorts/pants can also increase comfort for that long distance ride.
When riding in the Flint Hills, we cannot stress enough to carry a cell phone. Always let someone else know your route and when you expect to return. Although the area is remote, cyclists should still keep an eye out for vehicles and obey all traffic signs. Be aware that you may encounter wildlife and do not approach. Stay on roadways and do not enter private pastures or fenced areas. Always be alert to your surroundings.
Long distance cycling in the Flint Hills can be a healthy, rewarding experience. With the right bicycle, equipment, attire, and safety precautions, you’ll get the most out of your long distance workout.
Ready to Ride the Flint Hills?
See our guide of where to ride!