Ten Tips For Better, Faster and More Efficient Bicycling
Long-distance bike racing requires cardiovascular endurance. This refers to the rider’s ability to generate energy to the working muscles for hours of intense exercise, day after day. There are many different ways to train in order to increase endurance. Some of the most well known endurance training programs include:
- Long Slow Distance Training
- Pace/Tempo Training
- Interval Training
- Circuit Training
- Fartlek Training
Although elite-level cyclists tend to specialize in one area of riding, a well-rounded cyclist will be able to ride long and hard and still have enough of a “kick” or sprint at the end of the race. Explosive exercise training routines are one way to increase power output, and hopefully increase your odds of winning a group sprint.
It’s essential to eat and drink for sports performance and recovery. It can be a complicated process and many athletes work with nutritionists and coaches to find the perfect balance of calories and nutrients that work best for them.
No matter what type of cyclist you are, riding a bike that fits you well is essential to both comfort and efficiency. If you have neck, back, or knee pain, saddle sores, or hand or foot numbness, your bicycle probably doesn’t fit you properly. Good bike fit can also improve your pedalling efficiency and aerodynamics and actually make you faster.
5. The Right Equipment
The right equipment means comfort. Your bike should fit you well and should be familiar. If you aren’t sure, have your local bike professional provide a fit-assessment. Don’t plan to ride a new or a borrowed bike on your first long distance ride. Consider having a tune-up before the ride, and carry a spare tire and patch kit, tools, a pump and knowledge of how to use them. Other essential equipment includes:
- A properly fitting helmet
- Water bottles and cages
- Cycling clothing, including shoes, shorts, gloves and rain gear
Recommendations to stretch or not stretch change from year to year and from expert to expert. However, due to the repetitive nature of cycling, it is important for cyclists to maintain flexibility and muscle balance in some specific muscle groups. Cyclists tend to develop muscle tightness in the in the hamstrings, hip flexors and chest if these muscles aren’t stretched regularly.
7. Improve Your Bike Handling Skills
Pro cyclists have amazing bike handling skills. They are smooth through corners, stable on descents, are aware of road conditions and traffic. Skilled cyclists ride predictably and follow the rules of the road.
If you want to improve your bike handling, ride with skilled riders, take a bike safety course, or join an established local club and ask questions about improving your bike handling skills.
8. Don’t Go It Alone
Training alone day after day can become a bit of a training dead-end. In order to improve your cycling and your results, you should consider joining a local club or bike racing team that matches your skills and goals. Being a part of a team is also essential if you want to race at a competitive level. Team strategies and tactics are a huge part of every bike race.
Don’t forget the value of rest days and cross training off the bike. Rest and recovery is essential in order to achieve peak performance in any sport. Stretching, massage, sleep and general downtime are often used by pro athletes to recover from their demanding workouts.
Overtraining can easily occur in athletes who train frequently and at high intensity. It’s important to watch for the signs of overtraining and listen to your body when it is calling for rest.
Ease into the ride pace. The goal is to finish comfortably. Here are some more tips for an enjoyable ride:
- Change your position often. Move your hand position, get up off the saddle, stretch your arms, shoulders and neck, arch your back and stretch out. Avoid staying in one position too long.
- Take short rest breaks off the bike. An organized long distance ride will offer regular water and food stops. Take advantage of this time to get off the bike and refill your water bottles, stretch, and use the restroom. Keep these stops to 10 minutes or less or you may risk getting stiff.
- Find a companion or two. The ride will go faster and feel easier with a friend or two. Also, skilled riders can take advantage of drafting and save some energy in the wind.
Attitude is everything. If you have prepared yourself well, there isn’t much more to be done on ride day than sit back and enjoy the scenery (and maybe plan your ride).