Advice to get faster seems a lot like hard work. If you’re not a full time athlete then there’s lots of other things going on in life that can make training endless hours a week seem difficult. We’ve listed some of the cheap shortcuts you can take to bring your cycling up a level without investing phenomenal amounts of effort. Hopefully they’ll help you to cycle faster in the future.
That being said, the most effective way to get fast on the bike is by doing some training. However hopefully in here you can find some tips and tricks to be a better rider and cycle faster without giving up all the good things you already do.
Research Your Nutrition
Often the downfall of athletes – the diet. Dieting doesn’t mean stopping eating or eating less. But you may have to change the quality of your diet & the foods you eat. This may begin to include much more vegetables & less sugary items. Or even less alcohol, heaven forbid.
Fuelling properly the 48 hours before a big race, ride or session can revolutionize your performance. You wouldn’t put dodgy fuel in your car, so why do it to your body? Making sure you have the right amount of micro-nutrients in your diet can really help performance.
We now know the age old “carb load” is a myth to cycle faster. If you’re tapering then your body’s energy demands drop anyway, you don’t need to double the load of carbs for your body to store more fuel. You’ll only risk giving yourself stomach issues. Making sure you’re well fuelled on the go is also important. Sessions over 90 minutes will require you to start to take on some kind of fuel. And as with anything, practice makes perfect.
Get Some Sleep
A perfect excuse to ditch the chores and head to bed early. The more sleep you can get – the better. It’ll help your body recover and leave you feeling re-energised. This will allow you to give a better output on the bike by falling into a better sleep routine. Performance will increase and all you have to do is have a bit more of a lie in. Obviously if you don’t have time in the morning for that, heading to bed a bit earlier will be the solution.
Instead of setting the alarm early every day to hit your training or get some time to yourself before the kids wake up, maybe once a week the extra time in bed will pay off and help you towards your performance goals!
Well if you say so?! It’s a myth that we need to ride at 100% all of the time to get faster. What used to be known as “junk” miles can actually be incredible useful to building a bigger endurance base. Recovery rides are incredibly beneficial to an athlete and used to create a well balanced programme.
Recovery rides don’t generate any training stress and help to flush blood through your legs to remove any toxins left over from heavy training. You don’t have to race for strava segments every time you ride them! Sometimes keeping the bike in the little ring and spinning out the pins can really help.
Go hard then go home.
Don’t waste your time when you’re training – every second counts if you want to cycle faster. Whether you’re doing a specific interval session or a constant steady state effort, you need to make sure that you complete what the session is designed to do. Consistency is key – there’s no point going easy in a few sessions because you feel a bit tired or didn’t eat properly at lunch.
It’s often beneficial to train to heart rate. By keeping your heart rate elevated for a period of time you’ll know that this is having a positive effect on your training. As you get fitter you can begin to increase your intervals or decrease your rest. This will allow you to sustain the numbers you could barely hit at the beginning.
Take A Break
If you’ve been training flat out for a long period of time, a break can really do you some good in the quest to cycle faster. If you follow triathlon you’ll have noticed this year all the best ironman athletes started the season with forced rest due to injury. The period of forced rest gives your body the time it needs to recover both physically and mentally.
Rest can make you really hungry to train and perform again, but it can also refresh the perspective. The time away from sports can be spent doing the other things you enjoy and catching up with friends and family you might not have seen for a while. Who knows, you might even be able to squeeze a holiday in!
There are lots of cheap aero tricks where you can gain free speed and cycle faster. Aero socks, shaved legs, an aero jersey. Changing your helmet can also give you a few extra watts. Even things as small as zipping up your jersey have been proven to give you an added benefit.
That means you don’t have to tuck up into an uncomfortable and unsustainable position when you’re out on the bike just to try and go fast. Making a few aerodynamic tweaks can really help you roll along well. As well as this maintaining your bike well will help everything roll along smoother. You don’t have to clean it every day, but every week or every other week will keep the winter conditions from hammering your kit.