Last week we hailed a community shout out via the loud speaker of Facebook. We have been looking for 'Riders Top Tips for Training' that we can pass on from those who know to those preparing to start their training for this year's Eroica Britannia.
'Calling all past Eroica Britannia Ride adventurers! We’re keen to hear from you if you have any training tips for all of our new riders for this year! We’re looking for all of your tips for all ride lengths…Top tips win prizes plus we’ll feature you on The online Britannia Times. Just post your advice, tips and knowledge below if you’re a seasoned EB rider or perhaps last year was your first time - we’re looking forward to hearing from you!'
We all know that riding pre-1987 road bikes takes some getting use to and we absolutely know that The Ride is a challenge and not to be underestimated - whichever the route you choose. Below are some of our favourite tips submitted.
We're delighted that both Martin Bowdler and Graham Todd will be joining us in HQ for some well deserved liquid refreshments over the weekend for their top tips. Thanks to everyone who took part and we'll be turning to our Eroica Britannia community for more top tips in the near future. In the meantime - happy training!
Martin Bowdler - Top Tip!
Get into the spirit of the ride way ahead of the day. Replace your carbon, lycra and gels for Steel, Merino Wool and pork pies and hit the hills..... you'll fall in love with down-shifters and tubs long before you do the real thing! And.... get someone who worked on the bikes in the day to sort yours before you launch yourself down a hill at 40mph..... What they will tell you about the bikes and the riders from when they were new is as great as knowing your bike will stay in one piece as you zip along the Monsal Trail
Think ahead with down tube shifters, change down early vs using brifters. Also using vintage brake pads are all well and good but the rubber will likely have "set" - use modern equivalents and braking will be improved immensely. Put in miles on your vintage steed.
Be aware of other riders who aren't paying a blind bit of attention to where they are going as they haven't learnt to use down tube shifters properly. Practise carrying your bike, the broom wagon might be miles away!
I did my first Eroica Britannia last year (100 miles) - my bike performed brilliantly (I changed the brake pads and chain before the day) and so had no worries on that front. It's a lot of common sense really - make sure you have a few rides at least on your steel steed and you definitely need to put the miles in for the longer rides. The long course is fairly hilly and whilst racing is definitely not the order of the day, it's still a fairly hefty physical undertaking. I'd definitely encourage folk to make the most of the stops and enjoy the food, drink, the stunning scenery and the bonhomie. The ride lends itself well to putting decent efforts in as well as coasting and sitting back and chatting to fellow riders and friends. Most of all, enjoy!!
Don't leave it too late to train. Get your bike early and get used to it. And don't get disheartened at any point, enjoy it, the atmosphere and whole experience on the day will get you through it!
You might face the unexpected but that's what it’s all about! I entered the 100 miles last year the first stretch was on a old railway line I think the vibration loosened my Italian BB after the first refreshment stop my BB cup locked up against my crank so I had to run part of the route before i could get assistance including the major climb, I noticed it was captured on the 2016 official film I was still smiling. So whatever happens keep calm and carry on fellow riders are willing to help if they can but next time I will use a bit of thread lock to make sure .
The Peak District is hilly, so practice hill's, practice a fair bit on your vintage bike (not your sexy carbon road bike) the gears will be different and will be more difficult to maintain cadence on the classic bike. Last years route included quite a bit of "off road" and some of those tracks were down steep hills - so an upgrade of brake pads will be on my list for this years
I have twice ridden, both the 55 and 30 milers on a 32kg 61yo butchers bike. Top tip is to do some training on the actual bike you will use (more for the bike than you), carry some cable ties on the day, practice replacing a tube and carry a good tool kit and spare bolts. Finally no need to practice smiling as this comes free on the day.
If you have not yet ridden in woollen shorts or plus fours you MUST get used to these traditional clothing items, the chaffing will ruin your day! Get the miles in using your heroic clothing whenever you can!
Porridge, start the day with a bowl of porridge, and keep yourself fuelled at the refreshment stops, but above all, remember it’s a ride, not a race.. Enjoy yourself.!
There's only one way to train for a bike ride. Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike and for event such as Eroica. Ride the bike you intend to ride for the event as much as possible. Vintage bike tend to be simple less gears friction levers. Less to go wrong if it's maintained properly. Anyone that says there Vintage bike let them down really means it wasn't maintained properly.
When training for the ride, take beer with you, to get used to the routine of stopping every 10 miles for booze.
Top tip as a 3-year veteran has more to do with bike than training. DO NOT buy a 'cheap old bike' off of eBay and expect to have an enjoyable ride. I can tell you from bitter experience (first year bike) that all routes have their challenges! Your glorious vintage bike needs to be in good working order, particularly the brakes! Also, make sure you take a good few training rides- to make sure the bike will work for you. On my first EB I purchased a BSA road bike for £50. The brakes were woefully inadequate and none of its 5 gears worked. It was a long day. I invested in Year 2 on a much more serviceable racer and it improved the experience ten-fold!!!
I'm lucky enough to be able to commute by bike to work most days, which means 20 miles at least 3/4 days per week. I was able to do the 55 mile route pretty easily with minimal training. Little and often is a splendid way to train - although make sure you ride a bike of a similar or greater weight to your Eroica one or you may get a shock!
It's not easy. I've done the 100 on a single speed bsa javelin, I've done the 55 on a Pashely tandem (with additional 9 stone weight on the back Caroline Wharton) and i did the 100 on a bsa 20" shopper bike. It's not easy but it's fun, But I'm now totally done with stripping, sourcing parts and rebuilding old bikes! But raised nearly a few grand for charity's doing it. I'd suggest repair kit, food, drink and passion, and start training now if you're going big and haven't ridden much.
Cages and straps are nasty, as we know, so many of you may do what I did prior to the ride by doing training rides with modern pedals and shoes and then changing to the cages and straps for the actual ride. This can mean you end up with the wrong part of your feet on the pedals for the ride. This is very uncomfortable. So... do your training rides with the cages, find out before the ride whether your cages need to be longer, or shorter, and get the right part of your feet on the pedals. Climbing Mam Nick with only your toes on the pedals is painful.
One thing I didn't consider was that my 7-speed bike might not have low enough climbing gears as I don't live in a hilly area. I started out okay but by the end I was having to walk up some of the steeper climbs as cycling them would have been even slower! Make sure you have a granny gear to go to!
I did the 55 last year on a heavy 3 speed steel cruiser bike..I changed the rear Sturmey sprocket to the biggest available . More importantly I went at a steady pace having filled my panniers with sandwiches and pastries from the cake shop near the start line..I just ate my way round..with numerous coffee stops and completely guilt free! Training..not a lot to speak of I was going to do the short route but in my excitement ended up on the 55.
Graham Todd - Top Tip
All good advice so far from many seasoned EROICA riders and owners of trusted steel bikes ..... I can only add as one of the fraternity, if you do buy a cheap bike ( and let's face it most our bikes are or were bought initially relatively cheaply ) please make sure you get them checked over and serviced well before you take on your given distance. Brakes, chains, steering, cabling and essentially tyres and tubes all need to be of good quality, refurbished or replaced as necessary.... Yes, yes, yes, train ...train ... train on your bike, get used to those gearing systems, brakes etc for we all of us want everyone to have a great day out in the saddle. Cherish your trusted stead and enjoy the ride and the atmosphere. You will encounter some tough hills etc but the ride experience will be second to none and some lovely people will encompass you on route... Enjoy your day
There is nothing heroic about training. Or testing your bike. You should be finishing building your bike in the lounge the night before. Once around the block is sufficient testing.
Ride what you’re going to ride on the day up the biggest hills in your area cos you're going to go up some big ones on this ride.