We all want to ride faster with less effort but is this really possible? I see a lot of riders during the year and pretty much all of them are looking to ride faster, myself included, and we want to be able to achieve this without to much extra effort.
Here are a few useful tips to help find those extra couple of kilometres an hour without having to train harder.
Make sure that your tyres are correct inflated. Sounds simple but running low on pressure creates more drag and reduces speed and running them too high reduces traction on the road and on bumpy road creates bounce/vibration both of these will result in a loss of speed. Also make sure your bike is properly maintained and cleaned. A dirty bike with an over oiled chain will also slow you down as will warn out components like a knackered bottom bracket, warn out rear cassette or stretched chain. Also make sure your brakes are not rubbing! Don’t let basic bike maintainance kill your speed.
Riding along with your cycling top billowing in the wind like a parachute, your elbows and knees out or sat bolt upright will increase air resistance and slow you down. To increase your speed wear good fitting cycling kit, zip up, tuck your elbows in, keep your legs straight (don’t let your knees hang out to the sides) and finally get down on the drops. All this will reduce your frontal air resistance and increase your speed.
This doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds but to get the best results you need to push yourself to your limit. For example if your average speed is 18kph on an hours ride try to build in 2-3 interval sessions where you would increase your speed to 20kph for 2 minutes, then return to 18kph for 10 minutes and repeat. If you are looking for a more intense hit then use HIIT sessions (High Intensity Interval Training). For example 10 second flat out sprint and then try to hold this for 70 seconds. Interval Training hurts, for everyone, no matter what level of cyclist you are if you are doing them correctly your legs and lungs will be burning when you finish. Always remember to do a 10-15 minute warm up and have 5-10 minutes of normal/easy riding in between each Interval Session and a 10-15 minute cool down at the end of the ride. Essentially Interval Training can be for any duration, 10 second sprints to longer sustained efforts, mix it up a bit so it doesn’t become boring and tedious. Always allow yourself plenty of time for your legs to recover after your interval training sessions.
We all have a bike computer and probably have our average speed staring us in the face for the entire ride, taunting us, letting us know if we are having a good or bad day in the saddle. I see the following happen almost everyday, riders get to the top of a climb and immediately reach down for the drinks bottle as they easy up at the summit. Before you reach for a drink make sure that you continue to pedal so that you are going faster than your average speed, then you can drink. Remember, get upto your average speed or faster on the descent and then drink. Also try to maintain or improve your average speed on the flats too. Marginal gains!
It’s so tempting at the start of a ride to push on and ride hard only to suffer a few hours later. Start more conservatively and finish the ride stronger as this will have a positive effect on your average speed. Remember to eat and drink whilst out riding, if you don’t after 2 hours you’ll literally run out of fuel and the ride home will be very slow. Per hour you’ll need to consume 1x800ml bottle of fluids plus an energy bar/banana/flapjack/dried fruit whatever works for you. In the heat you’ll need to up your fluid intake and remember to drink even if the weather is crap. You can still dehydrate on a cloudy/damp day!
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