For those of us who enjoy being in the saddle more than out of it, cycling has been a lifeline during the pandemic. Whether it’s helped provide a different solution to getting to work or been a fantastic new holiday choice, for some of us our bikes have become an even bigger part of life than they already were before.
And, now you’ve got some more miles under your belt and initial goals ticked off, you may be looking for your next challenge. Why not take some inspiration from the professionals and really up your game? Here are some ideas to help you get stronger, get faster and take your cycling abilities even further.
Do the maintenance prep
If you’ve been on your bike a lot anyway, it could probably do with a onceover. If you’re about to take things to the next level, you need to make sure your machine can handle it. Something as simple as a good clean with a product like the Muc-Off Nano Tech Bike Cleaner will get to those hard-to-reach but important places in terms of the mechanics. Check that your tyres are properly inflated and brakes are working correctly. And invest in some BikeHut All Weather Lube to stay ahead of the game and keep your chain lubricated and working well.
You know how hard it can get up those hills, when you could do with a bit more power but can’t quite access it. As well as keeping you fit, cycling also demands increased levels of fitness as you build on your capabilities. So, it’s really important to maintain your fitness levels outside of your cycling time and working on your core strength is a big part of that.
A strong core supports your legs and gives you the stability you need in a seated position. As you start to increase your time and effort on the bike you’ll also need to stay hydrated so having a fitted water bottle to hand like the Camelbak Podium Water Bottle is really worth it. The better shape you’re in, the bigger improvements you’re going to see in your cycling.
Tailor your ride
You’ll want to be getting in the saddle as much as you can, but the time you have might vary and what works for a 2-hour ride doesn’t necessarily work as well if you’ve only got 30 minutes.
The more time you have, the more you can use it to build up your overall endurance and fitness. Pace those longer rides, starting off steady and pushing gradually through the duration of the ride. A good way to enjoy this kind of ride is to use landmarks along the route where you’re aiming to get to at a certain pace before pushing on to the next one.
On a shorter ride you have the opportunity to be more focused. Perhaps you can time yourself, or there’s a particular set of hills you’d like to climb within that time. The key is to balance pushing yourself beyond your ‘usual’ and not setting yourself up for failure by ignoring your limits.
There’s some great tech on the market to support your riding. The Garmin Edge 530 Cycle Computer has built in GPS with fitness monitoring and various widgets to help you track your progress.
Talking of hills…
Hills might cause a bit of a groan, but they’re one of the best ways to build your strength and endurance. Talk to any professional and hills will figure somewhere in their training. A good long climb at a bigger gear than you’d prefer might feel like a lot of effort, but it’s great for your cardio fitness levels. Even mixing in smaller hills not only gives variety to the ride, but also to your body – much in the same way that interval training works. Activity, rest, activity, rest. Just make sure you do get the rest immediately after a hill climb, whether that’s on a descent or at least in a lower gear.
If you’re hitting lots of rough terrain, then have the Halfords Advanced Pump and a puncture kit like the Stans No Tubes MTB Tubeless Kit to hand. That way you can deal with any issues quickly and not be annoyingly inconvenienced just when you’re in the zone!
For the speed freaks
It can be really satisfying to be able to up your speed (safely of course) and improve your handling. Just remember you don’t need to go from 0 to 60 straight away. Increasing your speed gradually by being aware of your technique can make all the difference. Getting low on your bike will reduce wind drag and knowing where your corners are and approaching them at a speed that allows you to glide in and out without having to hit the brakes will help keep the MPH up. Most importantly, know your route so you know it’s safe to push it.
Ride for longer
The more you’re out there, the more you’re learning and having the opportunity to beat personal bests. Increasing the duration of your ride each time will help you gradually build your stamina without putting your system under too much stress.
It’s important to make this as attractive an idea as you can for yourself so there’s not too much temptation to give up. Make sure you’re properly fuelled before you head out and that you’re as comfortable as you can be, taking short comfort breaks if you need to. Be kind to yourself!
If you end up out longer than you intended, you might need to make sure you’re properly lit. The Halfords Advanced 1600 Lumen Front Bike Light ensures you can’t be missed. It even has a power bank with a USB port to charge your devices.
Mix it up
Remember you’re doing this because you want to and sometimes it can start to slip in to being too routine and become a chore without you realising it. Mix your cycling up with different routes at different times and through in some rides purely for fun every so often. Keep it varied because the more you enjoy it, the more you’ll get out of it and the more changes you’ll see in your progress.
Stay safe and enjoy your ride!
What are you waiting for? Follow these tips and you’ll be riding faster than ever before! For our full range of cycling essentials, visit Halfords.com.
You want the best cycling accessories – you want Halfords!