Riding bikes is a lot of fun, and when you enjoy it and feel passionate about it naturally, you want to improve and be better. It might be to win a race or even not to suffer so much when being out with friends faster; you could require more comfort or even just looking to ride further with ease. We all have our reasons to improve, but improvements in cycling don’t always come easy. The first thing someone will tell you to do is get a coach or train harder or more. These are the obvious choices and will give you a lot of bang for your buck, but once you have done that, where do you go? My name’s Robbie Ferri, and an Ultra Cyclist and Personal Trainer, and in this article, I want to tell you a few ways to improve your cycling while you’re off your bike.
Strength and Conditioning Program
It’s not too often you see cyclists in the gym. I don’t see many personally while I’m at work. I can spot them a while away, usually due to tan lines or using clip-in shoes on the exercise bikes. There’s a considerable amount to be said for weight training and riding your bike though, I do it and have found huge improvements to my power and mobility through the process. Many studies have been done, and one in particular I remember is about is where they got a group of cyclists of many different ages got put them through a strength and conditioning program for a few months, the younger cyclists improved roughly 7%, and the older saw improvements up to about 15%. This is a huge difference, and I will hunt down the study, and hopefully, you will see the link below when reading this. Squats, Lunges, and Deadlifts are some of the exercises that can put some serious power in your pistons.
Learn how to maintain your bike properly
I know this sounds basic, but the benefits of doing your bike maintenance are huge. I very rarely go to a mechanic. I prefer to buy the tools and learn instead of spending the money on shop labor. My Dad has always said this to me, and I’m a big believer in learning to be capable. Keeping on top of your bike maintenance and doing jobs such as maintaining bearings greased and a clean and efficient drive chain will help prolong you having problems on a ride and keep your bike working to the best of its ability. Although it doesn’t sound like my Watts are so easily lost through bike parts being worn and dirty, plus there’s nothing worse of a club ride than hearing someone’s squeaky chain. I find it so annoying and even carry oil with me.
Although this doesn’t sound like much personal maintenance is enormous when you’re trying to become a better cyclist. Let’s start with nutrition. A protein-rich diet consuming a proper amount of calories to fuel you when you ride and aid your recovery without gaining excess weight will be a massive plus in improving your cycling performance. Next, spending time stretching will help you stay injury-free, and also, it will give you better mobility when riding, meaning you can make yourself much more aerodynamic. A lot of pro cyclists do yoga. Sleep is also another great tool for energy levels and recovery; I struggle to go without my eight hours a night and know when I haven’t had it. Finally, Bikefit, spending time getting your position right will also add much more efficiency, speed, and comfort to your time while riding. If you often change bikes, it’s worth exploring your positioning yourself or getting a top-up session from a fitter.
I didn’t want to add this, but it is an effortless way to gain speed and comfort. Upgrading your equipment can help. If you are already on the best gear, this probably won’t apply to you, but if you are running an older bike that could use some pimping, then you will see significant differences. Alone a decent set of carbon wheels compared to basic alloy wheels could add 1-3mph. Aero Skins suits, carbon finishing kits, ceramic jock wheels, the list is endless and could give you a slight edge on your competition. If you are looking for comfort, you could change your saddle, bring in aero bars for those longer rides, or even a suspension seat post.
A Final Note
I love riding my bike, and I have been riding for about eight years now. Back when I was pretty new to it, all I wanted to do was go further and faster. Now I enjoy the spin more than anything. I did find many improvements from actually doing things off the bike. Hence I wanted to write this article. If you enjoyed it, drop me a comment and alike!