4 Reasons to Sign Up for Your First Long-Distance Cycling Event

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As a former professional road racer who still loves the sport, I am often asked about the benefits of long distance cycling events. Whether you're tracking a race, a charity ride, a Gryffindor or a century, a few hours of spinning the wheel can (literally) be a challenge, but it's worth it.

I love long rides, so I ran my own bike race in Northern California, the Jensie Gran Fondo in Marin. Whether it's mine or someone else's, that's why I've been in long-distance running.

4 reasons to sign up for a long ride
Dedicated to a good cause
Long rides often support a worthy cause, which means a portion of your entry fee can be donated directly to a specific charity. For example, during the Pro Cycling Tournament, I worked with the Cancer Council of South Australia to raise money for those in need. This year, for Jensie Gran Fondo, I partnered with the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, which is dedicated to helping everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area ride safer and easier. Every September I also do a small charity event with my friend Stuart Grace, a sailboat builder from the UK. All the money we raise goes to Epilepsy UK. Whatever charity ride you choose, riding can give back. That alone is an excellent reason to sign up for the event.

Test my limits.
For me, questions like "Am I capable of completing this challenge?" always play an important role when I decide to sign up. Whether you want to complete a 20-mile charity ride or a 200-mile gravel run, enduro is all about testing your limits. In the end, it's always worth trying—whether or not you end up successfully crossing the finish line—because you know everything about yourself.

Build a support system
Signing up for a long run can help you find a community that supports you. You'll meet like-minded people, who knows, and maybe even make some new friends. If you have a broken chain, or a puncture and a spare tire, the support won't go too far.

Noncompetitive organized group rides are another great way to connect with your community. During these long events, roads are often partially or completely closed to vehicles, keeping the whole family safe on the road. At many of these events, once you cross the finish line, you'll find yourself in a celebratory atmosphere. Enjoy a well-deserved meal to cheer on the upcoming drivers and toast the achievements of you, your family and friends.

Enjoy positive feedback.
Praise and admiration are added bonuses when you finish your first game. While this may not be your main motivation, it's the nature of people who like to be photographed or complimented on, "Oh wow, you're healthy, aren't you?" Why? Yes, it's me. You'll think for yourself and know how hard you've worked to get to the finish line.