1. Play the long game
The tried and tested approach of endurance training involves riders building up what is essentially ‘a layer cake of intensity’ – where little baby steps ultimately ensure a bigger pay off in the long run. By starting off slow and steady and gradually raising your game, you’ll find it easier to build up strength, and improve your endurance over time; it’s a simple tip, but one we should all remember.
2. Climb, climb, climb
We’re all guilty of avoiding hills where possible, but most experts would agree on the fact that hilly climbs are a great way of learning more about the average pace you can ride at and just how much you can push yourself! The best thing about a good hill is that they add variety to your cycle, and build leg strength. In keeping with the first point on this list, it’s best to start small, and build up the intensity as you go.
3. Track your performance
Fitness trackers are more popular than ever. As a multi-platform gadget, they help us to understand more about our overall health while at the same time following our every move – whether that’s running, cycling or walking to the shops. Our fitness trackers series touches on some of the pros and cons of these gizmos, so you can see whether they’ll work for you.
4. Improve your bike handling
If you want to feel more in control of your bike, cyclocross is the ideal discipline for getting used to better bike handling skills, as it involves off-road terrain and plenty of mud. If you’re interested in giving cyclocross a go, there are plenty of local clubs and facilities located across Ireland to get you started.
5. Consider the importance of nutrition
In order to cycle harder and faster, you need to fuel your body effectively so you have the energy to perform and maintain stamina. If you’re going to be exercising for more than 60 minutes, make sure you’re consuming a mix of slow carbs, protein and healthy fats around 2-3 hours before you get going. Why not try our tasty chicken recipe which is paired with sweet potato for the perfect nutritious pre-workout fuel?
6. Join a group ride
Going out on regular group rides with friends or fellow cycling enthusiasts is a fantastic way to build up your confidence in the saddle in a sociable and enjoyable manner. A group environment also encourages good cycling habits and techniques, such as communicating hazards and better hand signalling. With over 160 local cycling clubs located across Ireland, you can find more about your local group here.
7. Train indoors
As a controlled environment, there are many benefits to cycling in the comfort of your own home – if you have the space for an indoor bike, of course. Smart technology such as Zwift allows you to choose specific targeted training routines to help improve areas such as cardiovascular fitness or speed, without the worry of traffic or bad weather; even in the middle of a thunderstorm, you’ll have no excuse for skipping a session!
8. Maintain your gear
Keeping your bike well maintained is an important consideration for any avid cyclist. For example, worn brake pads are a no-no; beyond the obvious safety concern, they’ll also make you brake more as they’re much less effective – ultimately hindering your speed. Your local bike shop can offer advice on how to keep your bike in tip top condition.
9. Warm up, cool down
It can be easy to take our bodies for granted, but the one thing we should be doing before and after any cycle is an effective warm up and cool down routine. A pre-ride warm up increases blood flow into your muscles, therefore decreasing the risk of injury. In the same vein, a quick cool down routine should focus on aiding recovery and helping you to be ready for your next cycle.
10. Be ‘SMART’
Finally, if you’re extra serious about bringing your cycling to the next level, give goal setting a go by following the acronym SMART to reflect on your performance aims in a way which is actually doable. Remember, SMART stands for:
Now that you’re ready to reach new cycling heights with our top tips, check out this shortlist of the best affordable mountain bikes if you’re looking to become a MTB maestro.