Overlooked ways to cycle faster

Cycling is extremely simple as a concept: all you need is a working bike! But cycling fast, or efficiently, gets a whole lot more involved. Here's a summary of techniques and checks that you must do, to give yourself the best possible ride. These are inspired by a racer-oriented list published in Cycling Weekly, but most will apply to you regardless of your inclination to race.

The ride

  • Wear decent kit
  • Light wheels, please
  • Keep equipment to a minimum
  • Get a proper bike fit Including your shoes and sole inserts
  • Don't scrimp on tyres
  • Check tyre pressure

The body

  • Train a lot
  • Avoid "recovery rides"
  • Do core strength exercise such as weight-lifting
  • Get your thresholds measured
  • Be race-ready: taper!
  • Eat and drink enough
  • Try beetroot juice, beta-alanine and sodium phosphate These are good, respectively, for blood pressure, lactate absorption, and peak oxygen uptake.
  • Split up endurance and intense training

The mind

  • Be SMART with goals
  • Identify your weaknesses
  • Be comfortable with group riding
  • Learn to descend
  • Spin the gears
  • Learn to pedal
  • Take control of the race
  • Cage the Chimp
  • Learn from a coach
  • Write stuff down! Include data where possible (such as heart rate zones and weather conditions) to help you fine-tune your analysis.
  • Get a power meter
  • Get over the hill Don't stop pedalling hard until you've levelled off or are starting to descend.


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About the author

My name is John Swindells and I'm a keen recreational cyclist with a preference for long one-day rides. I've also previously dabbled in time trialling and cyclo-cross. See more of what I get up to on Strava!

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