Preparation and training

Welcome to Action for Charity’s training tips and advice - we hope you find it useful. Firstly, well done for getting here! You deserve a massive pat on the back for taking the plunge and signing up to Women V Cancer Ride the Night.

This isn’t meant to scare you into cycling, we promise! We just want to provide you with the best advice possible. We understand that there is a lot of information out there about bikes, training and nutrition, and our aim is to try and filter all the useful bits into one document. All your hard work will be worth it when you cross that finish line…

Use this guide to get you to the finish line!

Preparation | Cycle Safety | Fitness | Kit | Nutrition



Tyres should be properly inflated, have good tread and devoid of cracks or any signs of damage. The correct tyre pressure to use is usually on the side of the tyre itself. As a rough guide, mountain bike tyre pressures should be around 45 PSI at the rear and 35-40 PSI at the front. Road bike tyre pressures on the other hand are a lot higher, around 105 PSI.

Nuts or quick release mechanisms should be tight and securely fastened. Spin the wheel to ensure it moves freely.

Seat Post:
Check to make sure that the stem is fastened tightly and that your seat is set at the correct height (see below).

First, check that the saddle is horizontal. This may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many are set at some crazy angles. Next, ensure the seat is sufficiently tightened so that it doesn’t move when you are riding. The height of the saddle is important too. As a guide, adjust the saddle height until you can stretch your leg right out and comfortably place the ball of your foot on the ground. In turn, this should allow you to have your leg slightly bent when it’s placed on the pedal at its lowest position. If it’s set too low you’ll have less power when pushing down on the pedals and your legs will lose energy.


With your saddle set in the correct position, you can now adjust your handlebars to the correct position. Start with the top of the handlebar stem slightly below the top of the saddle, then adjust slightly to what is a comfortable position. Next, ensure the seat post and handlebar stem are both tightened before taking your bike for a brief ride. If it feels comfortable, you’ve finished, if not adjust the position slightly until it suits you.

Check that your chain turns smoothly through your front and rear sprockets and doesn’t rub against the derailleurs or make a grinding noise. Ensure the chain isn’t covered in rust or excessive grime.

Gears & Shifters
The chain should move freely when moving between gears. Check this by turning the bike upside down and turning the pedals whilst changing gears. Any clunking sounds or chain slippages should be dealt with by your local bike repair shop.

Brakes & Levers
Test your brakes by gently squeezing the brake lever, the brake pads should apply pressure quickly and smoothly to stop the wheels turning immediately.


Make sure you know how to repair a punctured tyre, especially if you’re going to be riding on your own. Ask someone to give you a lesson or look it up on YouTube, there are a couple of good videos under ‘How to repair a puncture’.

Cycle Safety

Please watch our Ride the Night safety video, produced by Andy Cook Cycling for Action for Charity: 

If you don’t feel too confident on the bike, and feel you could use some training to help you get out on the roads, why not book on to a great local Adult Cycle Training course? Below are some links:

Please take 5 minutes to carefully read the all-important Highway Code:

You must follow the Highway Code at all times when training and taking part in Ride the Night.





The Keys to success...

  1. Gradually build your level of fitness so you feel confident on a bike for a few hours. We recommend to slowly build your endurance by increasing the mileage by 10-20% each week. It is also good to keep training interesting by doing a variety of exercise, not just cycling. Classes are excellent for keeping exercise fun – spinning is a great calorie-burner!

  2. Make a realistic training plan – one that you will keep to and can reap great rewards from. If you work 9-5, five days a week then don’t push yourself to do something every morning/evening. Instead, be realistic, and try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine by taking the stairs instead of lift, for example. Busy with family? Take them all out on a bike ride and reward them with a picnic at the end!

  3. An effective way to keep track of your progress in training is to keep a diary or write it on your calendar. Just make a note of how far you cycled/how long you exercised for and how you felt, and you will be able to keep a log of how you are progressing.

Suggested training plan:


Each week…

7 – 10 months before August - November

Aim to start exercising once/twice per week

1 x cardio session (30mins) i.e. spinning, swimming

1 x 5 mile ride

Plus one 5 - 10 mile ride every fortnight

6 months before December

Aim to exercise 2 - 3 times a week and cycle 10 miles

2 x cardio sessions

1 x 5 - 10 mile ride

Plus one 10 - 15 mile ride every fortnight

5 months before January

Aim to cycle twice per week and ride 20 miles

2 x cardio sessions

1 x 10 mile ride

Plus 1 x 15 mile ride and 1 x 20 mile ride in January

4 months before February

Aim to cycle 25 miles

1 x cardio session (60 – 90 mins total)

1 x strength session (30mins) i.e. circuits

1 x 10 - 15 mile ride

Plus two 20 – 25 mile rides in February

3 months to go March

Aim to comfortably cycle 30 miles

1 x cardio session (30 – 60 mins)

1 x strength session (30 mins)

1 x 10 mile ride and 1 x 5 mile ride or 1 x 15 mile ride

Plus two 25 - 30 mile rides in the month

2 months to go April

Aim to exercise for an average of 30 minutes per day and build up your longest ride to 40 – 50 miles

1 x cardio session (60 mins)

1 – 2 x strength session(s) (30 – 60 mins)

1 x 10 mile ride

Plus 1 x 30 – 35 mile ride and 1 x 40 – 50 mile ride

1 month to go! May

Nearly there!

Keep up the cycling with a couple of long rides in the first three weeks and aim to get your longest ride up to 50 miles. Then in the final week just do a couple of shorter, easier rides plus a cardio/strength session.



You will need to go out and get a few pieces of cycling clothes before you start training. You don’t have to spend a fortune and get all the latest, high-tech kit but just equip yourself with a few essential items:

  • Good quality helmet
  • Cycling gloves
  • Padded cycling shorts
  • Sunglasses (even when not sunny they stop bits going into your eyes)
  • Lights – you’ll need them on the night!
  • Water bottle or CamelBak
  • Breathable sports tops – you don’t have to buy cycle specific tops (which are often quite expensive) unless you specifically want the pockets at the back
  • High-viz clothing if cycling in the dark - we will provide a high-viz vest on the night
  • Puncture repair kit
  • The all-important sudocrem or Vaseline! Spending a lot of time in the saddle can make your bottom a little bit sore so it is important to: 1. never wear knickers with cycle shorts as this creates friction and chaffing 2. Apply chamois cream (or sudocrem/Vaseline) to your sensitive area. Have a look online for the creams available. Oh the joys of cycling!



Clothing websites:

VeloVixen are the hottest website around for stylish women's cycling clothing and accessories. With something for everyone from beginners to seasoned cyclists, you can find more than 30 top women's cycling brands on one convenient and beautiful website.“We're proud to be a Partner to Ride the Night, and look forward to helping out with any kit issues you might have in the lead up to the event.” Phil, VeloVixen




Cycling uses 300-450 calories an hour so it really is important to replace those calories with good, nutritious food that feeds the muscles. It can take a while for your body to adapt to an increase in exercise and if you don’t look after yourself by eating well, your immune system can weaken making you tire more quickly and even make you ill.

When you first start training you don’t need to worry too much about what you are eating, except for maintaining a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. When you start upping the mileage and doing longer rides you need to think more about what you are putting into your body. It is important to eat a protein-rich diet when you are exercising as protein helps repair the muscles which prevents injury and soreness. You may have heard of protein supplements like ‘protein shakes’ but these are not necessary for this type of training.

Great pre-ride foods:

Porridge, yoghurt, fruit, wholemeal sandwich, chicken, peanut butter on toast

Super snacks:

Flapjack, Jaffa cakes, banana, dried fruit, jelly babies, salted nuts

Excellent post-ride food: 

Eggs, chicken, brown rice, fruit and yogurt smoothie, blueberries, pasta, tuna

And don’t forget to keep drinking lots of water! Dehydration can severely impact performance. Therefore it is vital that you hydrate before a ride (aim to drink a litre an hour before), keep your hydration topped up while riding by regularly sipping water, then rehydrating and replacing lost salts by drinking an electrolyte drink when you return.

Now then… On yer bike!