Brisbane born-and-bred international cycling champion, Robbie McEwen, is back as the event ambassador for the fifth annual Brisbane BMW and Westside BMW Ride for Life Challenge on Sunday 12 October.

As a triple winner of the Tour de France’s green jersey sprinters’ classification, at his peak McEwen was considered one of the fastest sprinters in the world.

McEwen is still very involved in the cycling community, which includes supporting various charitable events including the Ride for Life Challenge.

Here, McEwen offers his expert tips for preparing for the Ride for Life Challenge to get the most out of the event…

I absolutely love being part of the Ride for Life Challenge. It not only brings together over 1000 keen cyclists for a ride through the streets of Brisbane, which is such a sight to see, but over the years it has also raised considerable funds for some worthy charities, this year supporting Guide Dogs Queensland and the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The Brisbane BMW and Westside BMW Ride for Life Challenge gives riders the chance to get that Tour de France “peloton” feeling at a friendly pace and under safe conditions (the ride has a full police escort leading the way). It’s a one-of-a-kind event!

So here are my cycling tips for preparing for this year’s Ride for Life Challenge:

1. Do some training!

Try to ride regularly three times a week, it will do wonders. Four times, even better. Try to ride the same distance as your target event at least once in the two weeks prior to the event.

2. Have your bike and equipment checked.

Go to your local bike shop and have your bike tuned and checked over to make sure it won’t let you down on the day.

3. Pace yourself.

Don’t get over excited and go too hard too early. Do what you did in training, it’s better to go too easy early and have plenty in the tank for the second half.

4. Drink before you get thirsty.

Take a sip of water or electrolytes every five minutes or so. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty then take big gulps. Top up your bottles at the rest stop. It is much better to have too much on board than not enough!

5. Eat before you get hungry.

An 86km ride will burn about 2000 calories — a day’s worth of normal meals. Have a substantial but not large breakfast and eat easily digestible foods during the ride. For example, a banana, an energy bar, an energy gel and maybe a few mixed lollies that contain glucose should get you through. Eat one of these snacks every 45 minutes to an hour.

6. Swallow your pride.

Don’t get sucked in to “racing” other people or trying to keep up with a group of people who are much stronger riders. Trust me, it will ruin your ride and it isn’t in the spirit of the Ride for Life Challenge. Ride your own pace.

7. Stay safe.

Ride at a speed you are comfortable with that enables you to react to anything that happens. Keep enough distance between yourself and other riders that a mistake by either yourself or another doesn’t result in an avoidable accident.

8. Obey the road rules.

The Ride for Life Challenge has a full police escort, meaning cyclists don’t have to share the road. However in general, when participating in recreational rides you will often need to share the road with vehicles. It’s not a race and there will be plenty of sections where you can test your fitness so be patient, be courteous and be careful.

9. ENJOY YOURSELF!

Completing a big bunch ride is a fantastic feeling and sharing the experience is even better. Remember; don’t let the truth get in the way of a good cycling story!

10. Recover.

When you finish, work on refuelling your system with an electrolyte drink, some fruit and a carbohydrate rich snack. After that, enjoy your favourite cold bevy to relax!

For more information, and to register, visit rideforlifechallenge.com.au.