With 2014 in full swing, we decided to really think about what we wanted out of cycling this year here at ProBikeKit. It’s so easy to settle in to the same routines and rides, and let’s face it, that’s what makes cycling fun, but sometimes we need to step it up in order to smash through plateaus and break our own records.
We put together a quick list of three things that you could try this year, to give you an edge in your cycling, and to help you become stronger on the road.
Smash that personal best with the power of change
Everyone has their Everest, whether it’s the climbing finishes at La Vuelta Espana, or that hill round the corner from your house that your mates burn you on every Sunday morning. The thing that they have common is that they need to be overcome. If you keep on doing the same thing over and over again, you’ll keep failing the same over and over again. It’s the same for professional tour riders, which is why they’re always employing new tactics, changing their diets, weight and lifestyle habits. Pro riders even change coaches and team members, putting a variation on the riders they listen to and ride with, giving them new influences and seeing what works.
On a fundamental level, you and I are no different to the professionals, and this sort of attitude should be replicated on our lives. Thinking of change as a positive thing is what really drives the most ambitious riders to smash records, break personal bests and find new strength and endurance where it was previously lacking. So switch something up about your routine, whether it’s your nutrition, the people you ride with, a new pair of wheels or changing what you eat pre-ride.
Give it a ‘tri’ – go multisport
A triathlon could be the very thing that gives your cycling performance that stronger edge. How is this possible you ask? Surely by dividing your cycling time between running, swimming and cycling would be detrimental to your cycling goals? Well there are actually quite a few reasons why a triathlon could be beneficial for your training.
Firstly, let’s look at swimming. What’s that going to do for my cycling you ask? Well it may seem strange, as swimming is primarily an upper body workout, but getting in the pool can give you extra gains out on the road. Swimming develops upper body strength and endurance in the arms, chest, back and shoulders, which can be particularly useful when you need to ‘pull’ the bike up hills or ‘push’ it around a corner quickly. Many of us cyclists are guilty of avoiding upper body training to keep weight down, but a little can go a long way in balancing out our bodies for all round performance. Another aspect of swimming is that it helps to develop a good base of core strength, as you’re constantly fighting to keep your body still in the water. Hit the pool today to reap the rewards.
Pounding the pavement can also be good for your cycling. Renowned amongst cyclists as being ‘boring’ and ‘time-wasting’, running has a bad rep with us guys, but it can help us. Ditching the bike for one session a week and running at a steady pace for 45 minutes will help to burn body fat and improve body composition. Over time, your weight will come down and you’ll be lighter overall for those steep climbs.
Before we move on from triathlon, let’s have a look at the bigger picture. Even if you’re not looking to compete, just training like a triathlete in the short term could bring a new element to your cycling. The fact that you’re spending less time on the bike means that you’re able to rest and recover more. Also any imbalances or stresses you may have from excessive cycling in the wrong position will wind down and recuperate. Don’t worry, you won’t lose fitness or strength, swimming and running will take care of that. So give it some thought, if it’s a quiet time when you don’t have any races coming up, a month of tri-style training could be really beneficial and leave you well-rested and strong.
Go far and wide to try something new
Sometimes the best thing you can do is take yourself as far away as possible from the same old situations and places, and visit somewhere new. Going on a cycling holiday to France, Italy or somewhere out of the ordinary can take your mind off the day-to-day worries of cycling goals and performance. Up in the mountains in a meditative state, you can clear your mind and forget all the little details of your race-plans, injuries and other mental worries.
What are you doing to improve your cycling this year? Let us know in a comment below!