The pro cyclists you will see this month flying around Tour De France did not always have the innate ability that they now have. At some point, they all had to learn how to train smart, to clip into their pedals, even how to shift gears. Here is how!
Stay Fresh - Ride new roads once in a while. Get a map out and just go for a ride. The more varied the roads the more interesting the ride!
Intervals Made Easy – Interval training can be fun, easy and greatly improves your ability over time. Try two minutes hard pedalling followed by two minutes easy. One minute hard, one minute easy then 30 seconds of each, finishing with a 15 second sprint. Finally cool down for five minutes and repeat!
Conquer a Steep Climb – It is all about pacing. Do not charge into it with everything you have. Start at a steady pace and shift through your gears until you reach a balance between maintaining a decent cadence, about 75 to 80 rpm, and a sustainable intensity. If you go hard too early, you are likely to stay in too big a gear, which will tire you out and slow you down.
Stop Stressing Over Flats – Do not wait until you are on the road to hone your flat-changing skills. Practice changing a tyre in the comfort of your garage, using the same pump and tools you carry on your ride and you will then be less worried about getting a flat far from home.
Ride with a group - Take a cue from the pro peloton and ride with a group of friends. Cycling is always more fun and faster in a group.
Drink Responsibly – It is okay to glance down at your bottle before grabbing or replacing it. Keep your eyes on the road as you reach down. Do not tilt your head to get the water into your mouth, tilt the bottle. If something comes up while you are drinking, bite the bottle until you are through the tricky part.
Shift Like Butter - Anticipation is the key to proper shifting. To make the transition smoother, try to change gears just before you really need to. Shifting at the dead spot of your pedal stroke, when your feet are at 12 and 6 o’clock is the most efficient way.
Descend with Confidence - Stay loose when plunging down a hill. If you are stiff, you will be rigid and skittish. Get your hands into the drops to lower your centre of gravity and put weight on the front wheel. On downhill turns, focus your weight on your outside foot and inside hand.
Healthy Eating – Always eat a healthy balanced diet and you will have all the energy for cycling you could possibly need.
A pre ride check can prevent more than 90% of problems and accidents that can occur during your ride!
The set-up of a bicycle is important no matter what type of cycling you do. Racing, mountain biking and touring cycling require different postures to gain maximum effect for the task. For the most part, this article is aimed at racing cyclists but, with understanding of the principles involved, modifications can be made to suit you and your activities.
Your body is in contact with the bicycle at the pedals, saddle and handlebars. The joint of the big toe must be in-line with the axis of the pedal, the ischial bones (bottom bones) of the pelvis must be towards the back of the saddle and the hands should be placed on the handlebars or brake-lever hoods.
To get all these areas working in harmony with the bicycle is going to require a certain level of compromise. That is, if you are a racing cyclist you should lean low with the torso so as to reduce drag and increase aerodynamic efficiency, but may be at the cost of comfort ,especially across the shoulders and neck. You can read about common neck injuries here.
The touring cyclist will want to sit more upright for comfort but, will lose power from the gluteal muscles (bottom muscles) as well as have reduced aerodynamics. It’s all give and take depending on your reason for cycling.
After all the measuring and setting-up, the most important factor is
feel. Saddle height is paramount and must be adhered to as closely as
possible. However, no matter what the numbers say, if you feel that one
of the measuring criteria is not quite suited to you, then, go with what feels correct.
There is art as well as science in the technique and if you get it right you too can ride like a superhero!