5 Secrets To Cycling Success

Improve your riding with these cycling performance tips. We’ll give you advice on avoiding the bonk, sportives, riding in a group, and how to improve your cycling cadence.

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There are numerous way in which you can ensure success in your rides, whether its a training ride, sportive or a race.

Overcome the bonk

The 'bonk' refers to that moment when your body uses up its glycogen store and has to burn fat in order to keep on fuelling you. This hit to your energy stores means that you hit the dreaded wall and will feel tired, weak and in need of a decent rest.

To avoid the bonk, prepare some cycling snacks that will help to keep you properly fuelled on your ride. Good snacks for cycling include: peanut butter on apple or celery sticks; cooked but cold jacket potato halves; and some chunky cheese blocks. A convenient snack option is a banana - the more ripe the banana the quicker the energy release.

Ride at your optimum cadence

Finding out how to ride at your optimum cadence is important if you want to improve your performance and achieve your potential. When you hear the term cadence people are referring to the speed at which you pedal. Knowing your cadence, or knowing how quickly or slowly you are pedaling, is important because you can then tweak your speed to ensure you are riding efficiently and that your cadence is smooth.  

If you are new to cycling aim to pedal at 60 to 70 rpm.

So what is your optimum cadence? Well, according to IDEA Health and Fitness Association, professional elite cyclists can ride with a cadence of 140 to 170 rpm (pedal revolutions per minute). Unless you’re Bradley Wiggins though we’d recommend you don’t try to match this rpm, but instead aim to pedal somewhere between 80-100 rpm. Yet if you are new to cycling aim to pedal at 60 to 70 rpm.

If you want to measure your rpm there are devices that can do this for you, or in a 15 second period you can count the amount of revolutions you achieve on one of your legs and then multiply that number by four.

Practise group cycling

If you can ride with ease in a group then not only will your performance improve, but you’ll also be a much safer rider. To improve your group cycling you should enter some events and familiarize yourself with riding in packs. During the event make sure you do not brake sharply and keep your movements smooth and predictable for the benefit of other riders. Talk to those around you.

Often, if a car is heard or seen other riders will let the group know and you should reciprocate. You should also aim to be aware of changes in the road, so keep alert and look out for sharp turns, potholes and any other breaks in the road.

Refuel

What do you do when you finish a big ride? Do you clean your bike and then jump in the shower? If you do all of this without refuelling you are making a big mistake.

After exercising you need to replace the nutrients you have lost and help your body recover.

After exercising you need to replace the nutrients you have lost and help your body recover. The sooner you do this the better because your body is ultra receptive to absorbing nutrients after a workout. Olympian Chris Hoy used to swear by refuelling with a protein shake because he found shakes easier to absorb than a big meal. After your next ride make sure you eat or drink soon after you’ve finished and be sure to include protein in whatever you are consuming.

Events

Not only should you be entering cycling events to test yourself, you should be mixing up the type of events you enter. Trying out new rides will motivate you and work you in different ways, meaning that overall you’ll see big improvements in the way you ride. If you are used to clocking up the miles in training then try and enter an audax (a timed event where participants have to get from A to B using a map and their orienteering skills) or if you’re used to doing solo rides at speed try and train for a sportive (a long-distance event) where getting round is often the main aim of riders rather than going the distance at full pelt.

Alternatively, if you’ve started to take your cycling too seriously, try to inject some fun back into your rides. Why not take part in more social rides with a few stops along the way. You could even take a camera along with you and thus pay more attention to the scenes around you to give your rides a different focus.

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