Monday, December 10, 2012

3 Things That Will Make You a Better Cyclist

So over the last 28 years of competitive riding and racing, I've done like a billion different types of workouts. They all have their place, and all work a specific component of your fitness.

But all those aside - there are some things I've stumbled on that have paid huge dividends given their simplicity. The following work, and work REALLY well to make you a better cyclist. Stronger, faster and more 'one with the bike' with regard to your bike handling. So here they are. If you're having trouble incorporating, or want some additional detail - just ask.

#1 - Commute (on the bike)
There is nothing like time on the bike. And commuting puts in time on the bike. Not to mention, you are getting in two rides a day, the latter when you absolutely DON'T generally feel energized to ride. But if you have no sag options, then you have no choice - unless you want to sleep at your office.

Riding twice per day (say 2-3x per week) will get your comfortable on your bike and smooth out your pedal stroke like nothing else. You will become one with the bike. And you get the added calorie burn benefit of the double workout.

Ok.. yeah.. not like that.
There is also the added benefit of getting 'free' riding time out of your schedule. It goes like this. Let's say it takes you 30 minutes to commute 12mi each way in traffic. Let's say all-in, it takes you 50 minutes to complete each leg. That means instead of spending 60 min / day in your car (wasted), you are spending 100 min/day on your bike to achieve the same thing. That's 100 minutes of riding that is only 'costing' 40 more minutes out of your schedule. That's the way I think of it anyway.

No shower where you work? Baby Wipes. You'd be surprised.

Getting sleepy by 2pm? It will pass. Coffee helps in the mean time.

Have to ride home in the dark? Lights are cheap these days.

Too early, cold, rainy? Sorry - can't help you there. Man up.

#2 - Ride a Mountain Bike
Mountain biking will improve your bike handling, climbing and sprinting. It's a power sport. For added benefit, ride over gnarly stuff ultra slow. Learn to track stand and bounce around on the bike like a pogo. Find a grassy field and practice riding / holding a wheelie (back and front). Practice your dismounts / mounts.  Ride in the snow. Ride on sand. Descend stairs. Descend longer flights of stairs.

I guarantee when you re-mount the road bike it will feel like you're locked on a rail. Dead solid. Just don't drop a 6" curb on those new fancy Zipp carbon clinchers by mistake!

Betchya next time you'll be able to 'hold your line' in the Sunday group road ride

#3 - Ride Hills... Lots of Hills
18 years ago, a good friend of mine once told me when I was whining about a particularly nasty climb, "Dude. Hills are going to hurt. It's a question of whether you want to be hurt, or be in control of the hurt".
Y'know - there is a lot of advice to be shared about hills, but Solid Gold that advice is.

Loving hills is all in the head. The hills is just a terrain change. It doesn't care or think about you. It can't change it's topography. It's stuck. You just need to start thinking about an approaching hill differently. If you realize how much they do for your riding, you will start to love them. You'll get a smile on your face as one approaches. Don't go to your happy place to avoid feeling the pain. Rather, make the hill your happy place. It's sick and wrong - but if you get your attitude right, you will crush hills my friend.

Ride hills until you can laugh at signs like this.
Grind up in a big gear. Sit and spin up them. Attack at the bottom. Attack on the upper 1/3. Attack in the middle - heck, attack when you feel like you can't attack. And ALWAYS get out of the saddle and sprint over the top and down the backside before dropping into aero for the ride down.

Seek hills out, and next season you'll be formidable. You'll stay big chain ring / out of the saddle on anything less than 1/2 mile. 

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