How to Train for Cycling
Racing cyclist are generally considered to be some of the world’s fittest athletes, and cycling certainly does get you fit. Yet you don’t have to aim so high to plan an enjoyable trip.
Whether you are riding on- or off-road you need to build up your training gradually. There is no point in achieving a massive ride on your first day if you are hardly able to get on the bike the next day.
If you are not used to riding a bike, or haven’t ridden for same time, you will need time to get your muscles used to propelling a bike and your bottom used to being on a saddle. Regular short rides will build your strength and stamina and you can try a day’s ride from home to see how far you can manage comfortably.
As with most sports, the best training for cycling is actually doing it. You can improve your general fitness by doing weights, running or swimming, but by spending more time on your bike you will get fit just as well while at the same time becoming technically more efficient at cycling. Use your gears to get you up the hills – there is no point struggling in one gear if you have an easier one, and remember, you can always get off and walk to rest those leg muscles.
Families can enjoy cycling together both on- and off-road. Because bikes are so simple to use and maintain children find them easy to relate to and enjoy.
RIDING THE BIKE
Your riding technique will depend on where you ride. All cyclists should obviously be alert to their surroundings, but while a road cyclist’s main concern is usually other road users, mountain bikers will find they need to keep a close eye on the rough terrain they’re riding over. Always look well ahead and prepare for the rocks and roots you’re about to reach rather than looking straight down in front of your wheel – by the time you see objects this close it’s too late to take action to avoid them.
The main difference in technique between road cycling and off-roading is one of balance. When cycling down steep off-road sections, get out of the saddle and keep your weight over the back wheel of the bike. If cycling in a group make sure you do not bunch up when going downhill – the results can be disastrous.
Riding single – track paths can also be tricky and potentially hazardous so do practice on some narrow paths in your neighborhood before planning a long trip off-road. Control is paramount so always stay focused and keep your eyes on the route ahead.
WORKING OUT A PROGRAM
Keep your training sessions varied, alternating hard and easy days. Some trails, especially those at mountain bike centers, are graded for difficulty which means you can ensure you don’t take on too much when you go out for a ride. Try to find trails that offer a variety of terrain – flat, undulating and hilly, both on – and off-road – as on a long trip you may encounter any of these conditions. When training on hills, vary the length and gradients of the slopes you attempt. Train in wet and windy weather, not just on fine days, so that you are fully prepared for all conditions.
Practice riding at a steady pace over different surfaces and concentrate on developing endurance rather than speed. When travelling you will want to appreciate your surroundings. You need to find a pace that you can maintain comfortable without feeling breathless and exhausting yourself.
Thank you for reading, I hope this has been of help to you. Written by Randy Cromar