You ride a bike and the more you do the more you enjoy it. At first you don’t use any technology to measure the kilometers or heart rate and elevation is an unknown term that needs a Google check. But then…
Then you download an application like Strava or Endomondo to your smart phone just to see how many Ks you rode the other day and whether there will be any improvement tomorrow. Soon you happen to buy an elastic jersey and a pair of bibs which is something you swore you’d never be caught dead wearing. All of a sudden you own a pair of bike shoes and you most likely fell to the side at least once.
Welcome, you are now a cyclist
It is no longer a threat to go out for a ride with friends because you know you can do it, unless of course they want to reach a 100 K mark!
Somewhere deep inside you would like to accept the challenge, but really, could you survive?
Your training log shows that you rode 200+ Ks last month, your speed is faster each week and you feel energized. Great start. Of course you could pull out a 100 K with no training, but why would you want to do that to yourself? The consequences are pain, exhaustion and potential risk of never riding again.
Isn’t it better to gradually build your stamina, enjoy well deserved rest and embrace tiredness that has you float into the bedroom and sleep like a baby?
Talking about rest, let me say that beforehand. Rest is essential and so is recovery. Be it magnesium that you drink or swallow. Stretching that precedes and follows each ride. Occasional visit to a massage place or sauna. Relaxation is underestimated yet it works wonders.
It is an easy math. Cycling is hard on your body, specially your legs and arms but you need a strong core to provide the limbs with a base. In other words, you better be fit to get the most out of cycling, or any sport for that matter. You need to learn to breathe and use the inhalations and exhalations to your advantage. Endurance grows with practice on and off the bike. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator is an easy yet well appreciated routine that will come in handy midway up the hill.
When the day comes and you feel like a 100K, here are a few tips that might save your crotch from hurting, but honestly, it will hurt. I asked a few pro riders and even they admitted that no pain, no gain is a fact rather than a cliché. Let’s say that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional and move on from here.
Here a few tips from a former pro racer and champion who now owns a company that produces handmade frames. Couple of them are from an amateur MTB racer who rides 250 K a week and scored 1000 miles in 8 days.
1. First of all, make sure that your position on the bike is right. The easiest way to do that is to book a session with a trained fitter. It takes about an hour of your time and will go a long way. The fitter will make sure that your body is well positioned on the bike and that the weight is evenly distributed so that your bottom part doesn’t take all the tension.
2. Saddle fitting. Yes, there is such a thing. You sit your bum into a foam like material that memorizes your pelvic structure and indicates which saddle best suits your sit bones.
3. Saddles are made for both sexes and there is a good reason for that. Female bottom part is anatomically different from male buttocks. Follow your gender calling and purchase the saddle accordingly.
4. No underwear. No underwear. No underwear. I could go on for many lines but the message would be the same. There is no need to wear underwear when you are wearing padded bibs. No extra seams, no extra discomfort.
5. Padded bibs. There are many types of bibs and pads to choose from so you need to test a few to see which fit you the best. Try checking a few different websites that sell bibs and compare. Ask around but remember we are all individuals and what works for them doesn’t need to work for you. Technology is ahead of time so you will be presented with features like antibacterial, breathable, asymmetrical compressive hold, and shock absorbing etc.
6. Of course it will be painful in the beginning. Saddle is not a chair and the sit bones are not used to such pressure. That too shall pass.
7. Remember the magic of baby powder? There are creams and lotions that are made specifically for cyclists. Take the time to spread it on and you will feel blissful. Do it even for a shorter ride. Prevention is here to prevent consequences.
8. Lift the butt every once in awhile. The blood flow between the upper and the bottom part of your body is uneven when you sit for a long time. Lifting up isn’t hard to do. It won’t have you fall and it will actually feel great to rest the bones a little. Enjoy it and know that except for the immediate relief it prevents spasms and ganglions.
9. Always wash your bibs after each ride. You are not wearing underwear, remember? Not to mention that the sweat marks are visible and people are judgmental. Who could blame them in this case?
10. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.