We are so pleased to have the support of the RAF Cycling Association on RAFA Rides 2022. We asked these cycling professionals for their RAFA Rides training tips and ahead of the event.

RAFA Rides training tips: preparing for the ride

Consistency: Consistency in training – it’s not constructive to ride one big week and then not ride for three weeks, little and often is better than sporadic training.

Weather: Check the weather forecast for the day and ensure you have the correct clothing for whatever the weather could throw at you.

Carry spares: No one wants to be standing at the side of the road unable to repair a puncture (and a spare chain quick link is always handy). It’s also worth practising these maintenance skills in the comfort of your own home, rather than having to learn the hard way at the side of the road in the rain!

The bike: Make sure your bike is set up correctly for you. Consider a bike fit or just a simple Google of what a comfortable bike position should look like and take the time to test and adjust. Remember you won’t just be spending the time during the ride on your ride, but also the many hours training beforehand. Get the bike serviced if it’s not new! You could be losing valuable effort if your bike is not properly maintained. And remember to clean your bike, which also prevents any mechanical issues. A clean bike is a fast bike!

Training load: Think about the type and volume of training required for your event. One hour a week might not be the most appropriate if you’ve entered the 100 mile event which might take over seven hours to complete. When designing a training plan, remember not to jump straight in; build up slowly and consistently. This will make you more likely to stick to the plan and prevent any injuries which might set back your training.

Set your goals: Work out where your weaknesses lie and build those areas into your training routine. If it’s distance, set increasing distance goals over time and build towards them. If it’s hills, find a hill (or several) to include in your training and try to improve on your previous time, every time. As before, small attainable goals will help with slowly increasing intensity, and will improve motivation through noticing positive improvements.

Listen to your body: You may think the training you’ve set for yourself is right, but it may be a bit too much for your body. If your body is telling you it’s tired, there’s no harm in taking a rest day, and going into the next session feeling stronger.

The gear: Consider investing in some good cycling shorts, these will make the ride more comfortable and enjoyable. Plus, the RAF Association provides a jersey, so you’re halfway there style-wise!

RAFA Rides training tips: race day

Pace: Pace during the ride – consistent pace without surges will save energy and make the ride more enjoyable. This will also allow groups to form more naturally, giving you company for the ride.

Fuel: Have a fuelling strategy and test this before your big event to check it works and is sustainable. Try to use a mix of sports products and actual foods, otherwise excess sports products can cause stomach troubles and they’re the last thing you want.

Ride within your limits: The adrenaline of the event and the temptation to ride with others who are stronger than you can be very appealing, but you’ll have a better time if you ride within yourself and finish feeling strong.

Ride your ride: Ride in training as you would expect to ride on the day – use the same bike, nutrition, clothing etc so there are no nasty surprises on the day.

ENJOY IT: Most importantly, enjoy the ride and enjoy the experience. Don’t be afraid to speak to other riders, it’ll pass the time as you ride along!

Feeling inspired to join the team from the RAF Cycling Association, as well as friends and colleagues across the RAF community and further?

Dust off your bike (get it serviced!) and check out RAFA Rides here.