Grinding Gears: What do you think about on long rides?

You know when your hair just won’t behave? And no matter how many times you wash it to try and clean it into behaving, it just wont sit right? (Kinda sounds like a naughty puppy….) A few weeks ago, I had one of THOSE days. Consecutively. Agh. So I called up my hairdresser and booked myself a Saturday appointment to fix my issue.

I always book myself a Saturday morning appointment, but not too early in the morning. Why? Well, because even though my hair needs pampering and some TLC, so does my bike. Girl’s need to have their priorities set. So after my morning ride, I rush to the hair dressers and usually fall asleep while my hair is being washed.

When I am woken from my peaceful slumber, and wipe the drool from my chin (kidding!!!…). I am always really embarrassed for falling asleep, and hope that it is not mid chat. Usually I need a snooze or coffee after my long ride on a Saturday morning. And usually I get carried away and ride for too long, and miss my coffee before my hair appointment…

The last time I got my hair done, my hairdresser was asking me about my training (because I just fell asleep AGAIN). And she was amazed at how long some of the sessions and races go for. She asked me with genuine interest, “what do you think about when you are riding for that long!???”… And well… I wasn’t able to tell her… What DO I actually think about during training sessions and races??? Where does my mind wander?? And do we really actually want to know?

So instead of delving too deep into my domaine, I crashed inside three of my girlfriend’s craniums to see what thoughts they are brewing while they sit on their saddle for hours on end…. Here’s what we found… That they are alllllll crazy (kidding….! Read on and we’ll let you be the judge)…





Introducing Sonya! Sonya is an inspiration. A mother of three. A teacher. An RPM Instructor, and an Iron(wo)man! She is also a beast on the bike.

I never train with music! I’m happy with my own thoughts. I try to escape with my thoughts, but during those hard periods that life throws at us, a long ride or run can be a good time to sort out things going on in your head.

During a race my thoughts are VERY different. It’s all about numbers (km’s down, and km’s to go, times, speed etc). And also I like to check in with the physical things, like how my body is feeling, am I drinking enough? Eating right?





We’ve met Kellie before. She gave us insight into what she eats during her rides, and apparently chocolate is a no no. Her post ride brew is an extra frothy cappuccino AFTER a ride, but what is she thinking of DURING her ride??? Lets find out…

Sometimes I listen to music on long runs, never on long rides. I am mostly absorbed in my own thoughts and looking at the road in front. Trying not to think about the pain.

During a race I think about getting into a rhythm, focusing on cadence to get the legs going. Once I settle in, the focus is on getting food in and riding to feel – pushing but not too hard. I will check my average speed intermittently… I rarely focus on distance travelled or whats left to go!!!





Introducing Stacey. New to longer distance riding, Stacey is currently training for Cairns 70.3. Her sock game is strong, so I hope you can keep up! Here is her professional view point on where your mind should, would, could be in your long training sessions…

In those longer training sessions there is a lot you can do by breaking it down to either focus on things externally or intrinsically. External thoughts could include taking focus, and thinking about technique etc. Intrinsic thoughts can include thinking about breathing as one technical aspect in swimming… Mentally it is always harder to do a wind trainer or treadmill session, because you don’t have as much to distract you, so the pain and difficulty of the session is amplified.

So before I go back to the hairdressers on my next appointment one Saturday (hopefully soon!!), what is it that I can tell my hairdresser? What is it that I think about? Let’s delve into my domaine…

Here is a list of things I think about when I am on long rides:

  1. External factors: heat, wind, rain, cold…

Before I even start a long ride, I stick my head out the window to see what the weather is doing. Will I need my wet weather kit today? Is it cold? Or hot? If I am going for a long ride, and it might heat up later on, am I able to strip off easily and on the move?

I also tend to plan my training rides around mother nature. If its hot, I will make sure I have extra water. If its windy, I am going to try and ride into the wind at the start of the ride, so I can enjoy the luxury of the tail wind on the way home.

2. Food…

One of my friends once said that if you are hungry on a long ride, then it is too late. You have missed your opportunity to fit in food. When your body is hungry, it needs the food right there and then, so it is important to start learning your body and picking up the signs that it is going to need food soon.

Water? Have you been drinking enough?

Often on rides I will think about what I will have for breakfast when I get back. What can I eat that is best going to restore my body after a big ride? Or sometimes it is which coffee shop am I going to stop at? Does it sell something delicious I can have? Banana Smoothie anyone?

3. My actual session…

Coach. This probably should have been sooner up the list… I’m sorry. For the bulk of the ride, if you have boxes you need to tick then efforts/speed/cadence etc… might/should be on your mind. Perhaps the food and coffee can wait??… Bummer…

4. My Legs…

When riding, I often will think about body position. Am I sitting in the right spot? Are my shoulders relaxed? Am I pushing up AND down on my pedals? And the usual… How are my legs feeling today? Any aches and pains?

5. Life…

When riding a bike, it is an awesome time to contemplate the world and life. Its a good time to set goals, and evaluate yourself. A good time to have some quality you time, and often an awesome time to just enjoy riding your bike that you love so much.





During a race what am I actually really clued into? 

1. External factors:

We are always praying for perfect conditions, though we don’t live in a perfect world! I check out the conditions, and think about how I need to utilise my engine (body) best against the elements. If it is rainy, I am going to be careful on white lines, around corners and down hills… If it is windy I will think about pushing a little harder with a tail wind, and letting my legs spin a little more into the headwind.

2. Food…

I am thinking about when I need to have it… I’m listening to my body, seeing how it feels…

3. Times/Data

Like Sonya… I’ll watch the data. I’ll look at average speed, and make sure that I am maintaining a speed that I want (taking into account the environmental conditions).

4. My Legs…

How is my body feeling? Am I doing okay? Have I got enough energy? Can I push myself harder? Or will my legs fatigue too soon?

5. Life…

Because I am me…. Life still happens in a race… Sometimes my mind will wonder, not often though. I will still say hello to people if I pass them, and ask them how they are going… I sometimes enjoy some of their responses. Often an insight into how their legs are feeling.




So are we all crazy? Maybe just a little bit?

What is it that you think about during your long rides?

Happy riding girls xxx

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