Ultra cycling is an extreme sport that involves cycling over long distances, often covering more than 100 miles a day for several days, and with significant elevation changes. This type of cycling requires both physical and mental endurance, as well as careful planning and preparation. In this blog, we will provide an introduction to ultra cycling, discuss the physical and mental requirements of the sport, and offer tips for beginners who are looking to get into this challenging but rewarding activity.
The physical demands of ultra cycling are significant. Cyclists must have excellent cardiovascular fitness, as well as strong leg and core muscles to maintain their position on the bike and pedal effectively. In addition, they must have a high level of endurance to be able to cycle for long periods of time, often for several days in a row.
A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that ultra-endurance cycling events place a significant strain on the cardiovascular system, with heart rates averaging 150-160 beats per minute for extended periods of time (Hoffman, 2016). The same study also found that cyclists burned an average of 11,000-12,000 calories per day during these events, which underscores the importance of proper nutrition and hydration.
Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that cyclists who completed a 24-hour ultra cycling event experienced significant muscle damage, particularly in the quadriceps and calves (Vinet et al., 2018). This highlights the importance of proper training and recovery strategies to minimize the risk of injury.
In addition to the physical demands, ultra cycling also requires a high level of mental toughness. Cyclists must be able to stay focused and motivated despite the physical discomfort and fatigue that they will inevitably experience.
A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that mental toughness was a key predictor of performance in ultra-endurance cycling events (Martin et al., 2018). The same study also found that cyclists who had a strong sense of purpose and meaning in their cycling were more likely to perform well.
Tips for Beginners
If you are new to ultra cycling, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself for the physical and mental demands of the sport.
Build up gradually: It is important to build up your training gradually to avoid injury and burnout. Start with shorter rides and gradually increase the distance and elevation over time.
Focus on nutrition and hydration: Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for maintaining energy levels and avoiding fatigue. Make sure to eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water before, during, and after your rides.
Incorporate strength training: Building strength in your legs and core muscles will help you maintain your position on the bike and pedal more efficiently. Incorporate strength training exercises into your training routine.
Practice mental toughness: Mental toughness is just as important as physical fitness in ultra cycling. Practice staying focused and motivated during your rides, and develop a sense of purpose and meaning in your cycling.
Get plenty of rest and recovery: Proper rest and recovery are essential for avoiding injury and burnout. Make sure to get plenty of sleep and allow your body time to recover between rides.
Ultra cycling is a challenging but rewarding sport that requires both physical and mental toughness. By building up your training gradually, focusing on nutrition and hydration, incorporating strength training, practicing mental toughness, and getting plenty of rest and recovery, you can prepare yourself for the demands of this extreme sport. Remember to listen to your body, and if you experience any pain or discomfort, seek medical attention promptly.
Hoffman, M. D. (2016). Performance and physiologic adaptations to ultra-endurance cycling. Journal of sports science & medicine, 15(1), 24.