Most of us won’t ride 300 miles on our bikes in a year. But celebrity chef Chef Jason Roberts and his crew of fellow chefs will be cycling that distance in just one weekend, from June 7 to 9. And they’re doing it for the kids.
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Roberts and his crew have partnered with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, which provides children in low-income families with school breakfasts and summer meals and also teaches them and their families how to cook nutritious, low-cost meals.
This year is Roberts’ second year riding from New York to D.C. for Chefs Cycle. Last year, he and the other chefs raised $625,000, providing about 100,000 meals for hungry kids. His personal goal this year is $10,000 and, just as importantly, increased awareness of childhood hunger in America.
But this incredible feat isn’t accomplished by just hopping on a bike and hoping for the best. Roberts has worked with a personal trainer and nutritionist to get him into shape to tackle the three-day ride. Here are his top seven tips for training for (and actually completing) a long-distance ride:
1. Put Safety First
Roberts is a huge proponent of cycling safety — with good reason. He was once in a cycling accident that cracked his helmet in three places. Without it, he said, he likely would have suffered a concussion, brain damage or worse. And according to the CDC, cycling accidents account for 580,000 ER visits annually. But simply wearing a helmet can reduce the likelihood of brain injury by more than 85 percent. Make sure you invest in a good-quality helmet that fits properly as well as other protective gear should you fall or get into an accident.
2. Get Fitted for a Bike
After you’ve gotten fitted for your helmet, you’ll also want to make sure you get fitted for your bike. You’re going to be spending a lot of quality time on that seat, Roberts warns, so you want to make sure everything is customized to your body. Start with the type of bike you’ll need--city, touring, racing, mountain, etc--and then find a reputable bike shop where the staff can help you find and size the bike for you. And before you head out on your ride, always double check to make sure that the tires are properly inflated and your handlebars are in good working order.
3. Train Smarter
"You won’t ride 100 miles right out of the gate," says Roberts. "Work up to it, get used to the seat and the feel of your bike and put in the time to build up your mileage." Because Roberts is often short on time and can’t always get out for longer rides, he recommends interval training.
His regimen involved two minutes of sprinting followed by four minutes of recovery and tried to log about 200 miles per week. He also incorporates a lot of stretching before getting on the bike, especially the quads and hamstrings and lower back.
4. Recover Properly and Fully
Training isn’t just about the days you workout. Your recovery plays a huge role in your performance, too. Roberts says he always tried to get plenty of sleep (you should aim for six to eight hours a night) and gives himself days off to allow his muscles time to recover properly. For competitive riders, that also means being smarter in the off-season. Try lighter recovery workouts, low-impact cardio, treating yourself to a massage or just taking the day off entirely.
5. Prioritize Good Nutrition
All the workouts and long rides in the world won’t overcome a bad diet. If you’re not fueling properly, you won’t perform at your peak. Roberts abstains from dairy and wheat (he recently found out he had a gluten intolerance) and tries to limit his meat consumption.
He’s also a big fan of breakfast and snacking. He’ll often fix an egg white omelette with vegetables for breakfast then grab a protein bar for his longer rides. But he also cautions against too much protein. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 46 grams for women 19 and older and 56 for men the same age, and protein doesn’t just come from meat. Using the LIVESTRONG.COM Calorie Tracker app is a great way to track how much protein you’re actually consuming.
6. Ride With a Team
Cycling can be a great way to zone out and focus on yourself, but if you’re planning a longer ride, it helps to have friends along for the ride to encourage you. With Chefs Cycle, Roberts has a built-in support system to give him the motivation he needs to cross the finish line. Riding with a team also provides an added safety net should you get injured on your ride.
7. Do It for a Cause
Doing something greater than yourself gives you added motivation to keep going. As a father, Roberts feels an extra-strong connection to the work No Kid Hungry is doing. "The thought of childhood hunger shocks and surprises me," he says, "and I really feel the need to support them."
In addition to the annual ride with Chefs Cycle, Roberts has made it his goal to raise awareness and support for ending childhood hunger and encourages others to do the same. A lot of kids go hungry because they’re embarrassed to ask for the things we take for granted, Roberts says.
Want to get involved? You can donate to Chef Jason Roberts Chefs Cycle campaign and follow his journey on social media: @ChefJasRoberts and #ChefsCycle4NKH.
Readers--Are you a long-distance cyclist? How do you train for long rides? What gets you through the tough parts of your rides? Do you ever cycle in charity races? Which charities or causes are close to your heart? Let us know in the comments below and share your cycling stories and tips with the Livestrong.com community!