Whether it’s conquering your first century or sticking to your friends’ wheels on a group ride, most of us want to become better cyclists. But how do you set about conquering these goals and improve your riding?
From training to nutrition, there are lots of easy ways to boost your performance, and here are some top tips that will help you become a better cyclist.
Set an end goal
Let’s start with a basic one – you’ll need to set an end goal.
This can be anything from beating your time on a local Strava KOM to riding 100 miles for the first time.
Whatever level of rider you are, there will always be a goal you can set – just make sure it’s something that’s challenging but also doable.
Having this carrot to aim for will provide motivation, something you’ll need if you want to become a better cyclist.
Many cyclists have set themselves challenges, only to find themselves ruing their lack of preparation, as underprepared legs and minds buckle under the challenge. That’s why training is key to becoming a better cyclist.
How you train will depend on your goal. Those preparing for long century rides will need to spend longer days in the saddle than someone who wants to improve their sprinting. The terrain you choose to ride on also matters. If you want to get better at climbing, you’ll need to spend plenty of time grinding up your local hills.
If you’re unsure how to structure training rides or want a training plan, use a specialised app like TrainerRoad or TrainingPeaks.
When it comes to training, technology is your main ally. Here’s some top tech that will help you become a better cyclist:
Can be used to track how much power you’re putting through the pedals. Most cyclists centre their training around power. 4iii has a wide range of power meters that are great for training, and you can find the full range here.
Heart rate sensors
Your heart rate is another easy way to measure how hard you’re working your body. Heart rate sensors come in lots of different styles, from chest straps to wrist watches.
While power and heart rate are the go-to for most cyclists, cadence is often overlooked. Cadence is the number of revolutions your pedals make per minute. When it comes to measuring cadence, the Garmin Cadence Sensor 2 is a great option as it’s easy to install and features both Ant+ and Bluetooth connectivity.
TOP TIP: Many cyclists can make big improvements by simply improving their pedal stroke and pedalling speed. The optimal cadence is between 85-95 rpm – so if you’re far below this, switch to an easier gear and try to gradually speed up your pedal stroke. Also, make sure your legs aren’t moving laterally – they should be pumping up and down like pistons!
GPS cycling computers
You’ll need a cycling computer to display power, heart rate and cadence data. The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is a great option as its large 3.5-inch screen will clearly display all the information you need. It’s also a useful training aid and will provide ride and workout recommendations.
Learn how to train using heart rate and power.
If you’re going to train right, you should also eat right.
This doesn’t mean catering your whole diet towards cycling (although this is an option!), but instead making sure you eat the best post-ride foods. That means consuming plenty of protein – whether that be in a post-ride meal or a recovery shake. Protein helps your muscles rebuild after exercise – making you a stronger cyclist!
And don’t forget to eat right while you’re riding too. Energy gels and bars are preferred by most cyclists as they quickly top up your energy levels – helping divert the dreaded bonk!
If you’ve not tried energy gels before, the High5 Cycle Pack is a great place to start and will help you find a flavour you like.
TOP TIP: Always try to consume the equivalent of your bodyweight in grams of carbohydrates per hour. For example, if you’re 80kg, eat 80g of carbs per hour.
Wearing comfortable clothing can make a huge difference on a ride.
If you’re uncomfortable, you’ll not only lose momentum by constantly having to readjust pieces of clothing, but your mind will be distracted from riding.
So, make sure you have comfortable clothing and are dressed for the conditions. If you’re unsure what you need, head over to our guide to cycling clothing.
And don’t forget your feet! While your muscles do most of the work, all the power goes through your feet, so they deserve a high-quality pair of shoes. Offering both comfort and performance, the Boardman Carbon Cycle Shoes are a great choice. The dual-dial tightening system allows for minute adjustments and the stiff outsoles provide excellent power transfer – so no power is wasted!
Most importantly of all, enjoy riding your bike!
Becoming a better cyclist doesn’t mean working yourself into the ground to the point where riding becomes a chore – what’s the point in setting a goal if you’re not enjoying working towards it?
Make sure you’re always having fun while riding and have a flexible approach to any training plans you may have created. You’ll find that you’ll improve much more when you’re enjoying your riding.
Becoming a better cyclist doesn’t have to be daunting and with these top tips you’ll soon be riding faster, further or higher than ever before. Don’t forget to head over to Halfords.com where you’ll find everything you need to help you on your journey to conquering your cycling goals. And if you need any more cycling advice, visit our cycling help and advice guides here.
You want to become a better cyclist, you want Halfords!