5 secrets to cycling success

Cycling performance tips

Improve your cycling with these cycling performance tips. We’ll tell you what Chris Hoy drinks to refuel and give you advice about the bonk, sportives and how to improve your cycling cadence.

Overcome the bonk

The bonk may sound rude and can make a grown man splutter and giggle like a schoolgirl, but working out how you can overcome the bonk will help you reach your cycling potential.

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 overcome the bonk, head to your kitchen to 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.

Ride at your optimum cadence

Finding out how to ride at your optimum cadence is important if you want to improve your cycling performance and achieve your cycling 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 cycling speed to ensure you are riding efficiently and that you cadence is smooth.  

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 cyclocomputers 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 cycling performance improve, but you’ll also be a much safer rider. To improve your group cycling you should enter some cycling 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.


What do you do when you finish a big ride? Do you clean your bike, drive home and then take a shower? If you do all of this without refueling you are making a big cycling mistake.

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. Apparently Chris Hoy likes to refuel with a protein shake after he has cycled because he finds shakes easier to absorb than a big meal.  After your next ride make sure you eat or drink soon after you’ve finished.


Not only should you be entering cycling events to improve your cycling success, 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’re a regular at your local 50-miler try to 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 that tends to be around 100 miles long, but the course can vary and be between 70-200 miles).

Alternatively, if you’ve started to take your cycling very seriously, try to inject some fun back into your rides and take a camera along with you. This will help you to pay attention to the scenes around you and you might gain something new from your rides.

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