Clever Ideas For Improving Your Average Cycling Speed
One thing most cyclists should always strive for is a faster speed. It’s not just to boost the ego, though. The quicker your average pace, the more competent you are as a cyclist. There’s a good balance of strength and technique involved when you are looking at developing a faster speed. So, if you are looking to up your game in the saddle, check out these simple ideas – they should give your average times a big boost.
The perfect set up
If you want to increase your average speed, the first thing you need to look at is the setup of your bike. In an ideal world, you will have a level saddle and bars, with a slightly higher handlebar to improve your torso to hip angle. Seat height is, of course, critical if you want to maximize the strength of your legs. Look for a 30-degree bend at the knee for the most efficient pedal power.
Pump up your tires
If your tires are pumped to the optimal levels, you will go faster – it’s as simple as that. Once you start taking your cycling seriously, you should get into the habit of checking your tires every time you go out. All kinds of things can impact their inflation, from air pressure to changes in temperature. It’s also worth investing in a pressure gauge pump that you can take with you while cycling long distances.
Wind resistance is the biggest challenge to overcome when you are cycling. So, the next thing you should try is to sort out your body positioning. Tuck in your elbows and lower your body towards your handlebars. It makes the size of your exposed frontal area much smaller and helps you cut through the wind more efficiently. You should notice an immediate improvement in your speed, and you can actually feel your body catching less wind.
Invest in new clothing
While we are on the subject of drag, stop wearing loose clothing. It gives the wind a far bigger target to hit and ruins your aerodynamics. It can be a big step kitting yourself out in lycra for the first time – and many avoid it. But I promise you, it will make an instant difference to your speed and comfort. Not only does it make you more aerodynamic, but it also helps your body stay cool and dry.
Go with a crowd
Riding with other people helps you get faster in several ways, and not just for competitive reasons. Yes, you will be driving each other on through your pain barriers. But when you take turns riding up front, you also share the burden of cutting through the wind first. Group cyclists will always travel at faster speeds than the solo rider because you can take turns in conserving a little energy.
I know it sounds obvious, but the leaner you are, the faster you will travel. Those spare tires around your waistline have a big impact on the tires you are riding on. It’s simple physics – the less you weigh, the less energy you need to spend to get moving. It will also make it easier for you when you are going uphill, as you will have less of a fight with gravity. You shouldn’t find it hard to lose weight if you are cycling regularly, anyway. Even halving your daily sugar intake every day can see you shed pounds over the course of a few months.
The fitter you are, the easier it will be to pedal faster. Look into interval training, where you sprint for short bursts before resting. As you increase the length of your sprints, your body will adapt, and you will soon find yourself achieving speeds you didn’t think possible. Look around for the best spin bike you can find, too. Twenty-minute sessions on one of these at least three times a week will give you a dramatic improvement.
Build more muscle. It’s what every pro cyclist will tell you again and again if you want to improve your speed. Don’t cut corners, though. Building the right muscles up takes time and patience. Start by riding in a big gear at a low speed. It adds fibers to your muscles and builds them up fast. Don’t forget to focus on your calf muscles once in awhile, too. It will give you a slight improvement, and also helps you avoid appearing like you missed leg day at the gym.
Your fear of hills can be great when you are just starting to cycle. But they are your friend, not your enemy. Riding up steep hills is what will improve your leg power, and you should try and do it as much as possible. Plan your route to include long inclines and shorter, steeper hills for the best effect. Short of a hill with a 90-degree angle, I truly believe you can conquer any slope on a bike if you have the leg power.
Drink more water
Without water, you will fatigue fast. Make sure you invest in a water bottle large enough to see you through your route and keep taking sips as often as possible. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated, and your performance will be worsening. Sports drinks – particularly those with electrolytes – can also give you more energy.
The best – and easiest – way of improving your speed is to be consistent and ride more often. And you don’t need to go out on long rides every day to achieve a faster average pace. In fact, studies show that shorter and more regular rides will often give you the best gains. Or you can train inside if the weather outside doesn’t cooperate. Get the best spin bike, and ride indoors.
OK, so that’s all I have time for right now. I’m sure I have missed a few obvious hints and tips – feel free to point them out in the comments section below. The main thing to remember is to get out there, cycle hard, and enjoy the ride. You’ll soon start making speed gains in no time at all!