Simple Tips To Get Fitter Through Cycling

Pace yourself when on your bike

Cycling is a fantastic way to improve your physical and mental health, whether getting back in the saddle for the first time in years or setting out to achieve a major ambition; it can be amazing to realise what is possible on two wheels. In order to help get you off to a good start, we have compiled some handy tips which will make life easier and ensure you get the most out of your riding.

Whatever ambitions you may have, you need to build up gradually, as setting out on your first ride for some time should not be an attempt to ride further or faster than ever before. Whether your goal is to complete 100km or finish a route in a new best time, be sure to gradually increase the duration or intensity of your riding each week, but never both simultaneously. Too much too soon is guaranteed to lead to burnout, miserable training and little progress.

Structure your cycling

In order to produce significant changes and adaptations when riding, you should focus on each ride having a specific purpose to fulfil. Early on, this might mean breaking down your rides into three key areas; endurance, power and strength. They all feed into one another, but do require specific sessions to improve individually. For example, longer less intense rides for endurance, interval training for sprinting and hills for strength.

Get comfortable on your bicycle

There is no point in trying to be tough with a ‘no pain, no gain’ type of attitude when it comes to being in the saddle for extended periods of time. With so many saddles on the market to choose from, there is certainly one which will make your riding much more enjoyable, as will investing in a pair of padded bib shorts; they may sound ludicrous to begin with but soon become your best friend.

If things still feel wrong, then do not forget that your entire bike is customisable to your body, so tinker with everything in pursuit of comfort; saddle height, stem length, bar reach etc.

Key clothing for cycling

More than anything it is the weather which is bound to dictate what you wear while cycling, or at least it is if you wish to stay cool / warm / dry / comfortable while riding. This means short sleeve jerseys and perhaps a baselayer to stay cool during summer, long sleeves and thermal materials once it gets cold, with a rain cape or waterproof jacket handy at all times in case of showers.

After a while you are certain to discover the world of accessories such as gloves, shoe covers, snoods and more!

Take regular rides

The most simple thing you can do to improve your riding is to simply get in the saddle and ride. Regularly cycling is far more beneficial than a single long or hard ride once a week, so even if it’s simply a quick spin to keep the legs turning over, enjoy riding as much and as often as possible; just ride!

Fuel well before your bike ride

There is an immense wealth of knowledge to be absorbed when it comes to nutrition, but there are some simple guiding principles which should ensure you never have to experience the dreaded ‘bonk’; no longer able to push the pedals and feeling totally empty. For example, unless it is a gentle and short ride, always ensure you eat before riding; look to consume slow burning sources of fuel such as porridge.

Hydration is also key, even during the colder months, as sweating will lead to a loss of performance and dehydration if you do not continue to consume liquids while riding. For a ride under an hour, water will suffice, though beyond that it is worth looking to include electrolytes in order to replace the minerals lost through sweating.

Rest and recover after riding

Cycling can put some serious strain on your body and mind when training, especially when first starting out on your new goal, so make sure you recover properly between sessions or ahead of major training efforts. Focus on getting enough sleep, perhaps increase protein intake to support muscle recovery and always refuel correctly ahead of another ride. Improper recovery is one of the most common causes of seeing your performance plateau despite working hard.

Use your gears when cycling

Use them! It is surprising how many cyclists do not take full advantage of their gears to make their riding more comfortable,efficient and faster. This is especially true if you are returning to the bike for the first time in a while or simply new to it entirely, as one ride spent battling a hard to push gear is bound to demotivate you and leave your legs feeling shattered.

Use the gear which feels comfortable enough to sustain for some time and be sure to change to an easier gear before the road starts going uphill; shifting too late can cause problems for you and the bike.