It’s time to think about getting cycling fit and ready! It’s that time of year when we’re all feeling slightly down that Christmas is over, the New Year fun has been had, and Spring is not quite yet here. Whether you want to be healthier, get fitter, learn a new sport, or take up a new hobby, cycling certainly ticks the boxes.
If you’re just starting out then there’s no better way to ease into the swing of things by finding some cycling buddies, getting to know your bike and learning some good routes. However, if you’re more likely to be tuned in into the velodrome tension to track the world championships results, you might also be keen to know how you can personally improve your cycling. We’ve found five great tips we think will give you the boost you need…see what you think!
1. Biking intervals
If you regularly opt for long rides, try balancing these out with some short, higher-intensity intervals. Not only will you feel the rewarding sense of having worked harder, but you’ll also notice the difference when your longer rides become easier! You can vary your sessions – there are no rules – but you’re looking to ride much faster for a shorter period. Say 5-10 minutes, with rests in between. If this gets too easy, add in a hill…
2. Get your position right
This is Chris Hoy’s top tip so listen up! He says that it’s not only crucial for comfort but also for getting the most out of your body. You need to firstly set your saddle height to put you in the optimal position for efficient peddling and avoiding injury. Once the seat height is right, and your handlebar is in the right position, your performance can significantly improve.
3. Hydration and Nutrition
Your body needs the correct fuel if you want it to perform. You need to stay hydrated, have enough fuel on board to complete your session, and replace what you’ve used afterwards. Chris Hoy recommends refueling straight after exercise because this is when the body is most receptive to absorbing the important nutrients. It is important not to miss this small window of opportunity; another, ‘normal’ meal can then be had in the time afterwards…when you’ve got home, showered and are ready to relax! Don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on exercise and forgetting diet – they are equally important and reliant on one another.
We’re all susceptible to forgetting to stretch. It is easy to go full steam on the bike, get to the end of your ride, jump off and head inside. Done. But that is why cyclists are notoriously inflexible with tight quads, hamstrings, back, and overworked hip flexors. To stay on top of your game, and avoid aches and pains, develop a stretching routine that will keep your muscles happy…you’ll be thankful too when it’s not such a struggle to get out of bed the following day!
5. Dress to impress
Whether you enjoy short, quick bursts on the bike or longer rides, clothing is important. Purposefully designed tight fitting clothing that is synonymous with cycling will not only improve your performance but also increase comfort. Minimize wind resistance with a proper top, and keep yourself comfy on the saddle with padded shorts. Correct footwear (cleated shoes) will also lock you into the pedals and help you to take advantage of the power that comes from the pedal stroke. Oh, and don’t forget your helmet!!