10 Top Tips on How to Improve your Cycling
There are very few things in life that can match the feeling of an unforgettable bike ride. Whether it's through a forest, down the coast, or cycling to your favourite bakery. There's nothing else quite like it. Cycling is a great way to keep fit, go on an adventure and be at one with nature. But there’s come a point where you want to push your cycling abilities, so how can you improve?
Set Up Your Bike Correctly
It's important to fit your bike around you by adjusting the height of the saddle and how far away you are from the handlebars. You'll want a comfortable position so that you can ride for longer without discomfort or fatigue.
To know more about getting comfortable in the saddle, read our post about avoiding a numb bum in cycling.
Warming up before going on long rides is especially important because it reduces muscle stiffness and improves circulation which helps reduce fatigue during the ride itself. A warm-up routine should include stretching exercises followed by light jogging or riding.
Ride At Your Own Pace
If you're just starting out or getting back into it, then it's best if you ride at a speed that is suitable for your ability so that you don't get tired out too quickly or injure yourself in the process of doing so. It's also important not to go too fast as this could cause accidents as well as make it difficult for other cyclists who may be riding in front of you and may need more space than you.
Get To Know Your Gears
Most bikes come with gears that can be used while riding to make pedalling easier, which means less strain on your knees and legs. When using gears properly, you'll be able to use less energy when cycling uphill or along long stretches of flat roads so that you don't burn out easily during rides or races with friends and family.
Focus on Your Breathing
When pedalling, it's important not to hold your breath — doing so makes it harder for your muscles to function properly when exerting themselves against resistance (in this case, gravity). Instead, breathe out through pursed lips as if blowing up balloons; this helps create more pressure inside.
Make Sure You Hydrate
Whatever the weather conditions, your fluid requirements will increase significantly when cycling. You’ll lose fluid from exhaled breaths and from sweating, which will serve to reduce your blood volume, resulting in your heart having to work much harder. By the time you feel thirsty you will already be severely dehydrated, so try to drink small, frequent quantities of water or a sports energy drink throughout the ride.
Build Up Your Strength
Strengthening certain areas of your body will enhance your cycling performance, specifically the legs, back and arms. Here are some exercises to strengthen some core areas:
Leg exercises: leg presses and weighted squats, or lunges and bodyweight squats, are perfect for building leg strength.
Arm exercises: Bicep curls and tricep presses will strengthen your arms and keep them balanced.
Back exercises: Dumbbell rows and pull-downs will focus on upper to mid-back strength.
Avoid ‘the bonk’
Running out of energy on the bike is never a pleasant experience but it can be easily avoided if you think about your nutrition before and during your ride. Nutrition doesn’t mean eating expensive supplements or some earthy concoction; bananas, cereal bars and jam sandwiches all contain lots of carbohydrates, and they’re convenient to carry and easy to eat.
Many cyclists are left wondering why they often end up with an aching neck and sore shoulders after a ride. Well, most likely it's because they spent more time they want to admit with their heads down, watching their pedals spin around and the ground below. So look up; become more aware of your surroundings and watch the world go come, each spin at a time.
Be proud of what you have achieved
Apps such as Strava or any fitness activity tracker will help you keep a record of where you’ve cycled, how long and how far you cycled. This can be a great way of tracking progress and if you have improved or hit a personal goal, then be proud of yourself and similarly if you have a bad day don’t be too hard on yourself.