I love this caricature of a cyclist’s body: a combination of Wiggo’s super-lean torso and Hoy’s huge legs. Although these undeniably would make any cyclist go fast, I’ll give you some other ways here!
Efficiency is key:
The first thing is to make sure your bike is properly fitted to you. Hopefully the bike shop did this when you bought your bike, or you can see a specialist for a more bespoke bike set up session. Comfort is key to cycling, and when you’re comfortable, you’re also more likely to be getting maximum power for your effort.
Fast & light:
On a bike, lighter = faster. This applies to everything from the frame, to wheels, the amount you’re carrying and the cyclist too! It’s up to you how serious to go on which of these you’d like to tackle…
‘You’re the engine’:
Something my husband and I love saying, especially when we see cyclists wondering why we are passing them on our slower bikes. Here’s how to get strong:
Training – If you train well, you can cycle harder, faster, longer and more efficiently. Like any sport, start slowly and build up carefully. Practicing intervals of speed any also hills is great strength training. Spinning is an excellent way to do this without having to worry about traffic lights, cars or potholes. Longer rides outside will help you build endurance and bike handling skills.
Legs and core – If you’ve seen Chris Hoy, you’ll probably realise that strong legs (especially quads) are key. But don’t forget the core. This is your power base, and helps support your position on the bike (you should be light on your handlebars), and stabilise you to make your leg power more efficient. Although cycling needs core strength, it doesn’t build it, so try some crunches and planks, plus some supermans for your lower back (google those or ask me in the comments if you need explanation. I’m planning a future post of core exercises.) Wiggo also swears by pilates – you know what to do!
Stretch & rest – Once your muscles get stronger, don’t forget to stretch them after cycling to stay flexible and guard against pulling tight muscles. Hamstrings are often particularly tight in cyclists. As with running, taking at least a day off cycling every week will also allow the microfibres in your muscles (mitochondria) to rebuild and become stronger.
I always say this, but organisation goes a long way. You don’t want to detract from a ride, or blame yourself for not having prepped and made sure your bike is working and you’ve got puncture kit with you; you know where you’re going and have got some nutrition with you.
So once you and your bike are both working well, trained and well-oiled, you’ll be less tired and more relaxed, ride faster and enjoy cycling even more! Go get out on your bike!
If you’ve got any questions, just ask in the comments below, or let me know how your cycling’s going – enjoy the ride!