Get On Your Bike! 15 Tips For A Fitter And Better Cycle!
There are few ways to exercise out there that aren’t quite as enjoyable, versatile and generally great for your health as cycling. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, athletic or sedentary, hopping on a bike is both a free means to travel and a glorious excuse to experience the outdoors. On top of that, done regularly and vigorously, it gives the heart and circulatory system a workout and can burn more than 500 calories per hour! Thanks to new city initiatives to promote cycling and hybrid bicycles has never been easier. Check our 15 handy tips to the best cycle of your life!
#1 Splash Out
A good bike that not only looks great, but performs well too, is the first step to better cycling. No one is going to be motivated to cycle if their bike looks like it’s about to fall apart. Get professional advice about what type, brand and style suits your needs.
Photo: Ride Like A Girl Portland
#2 Get Comfy
When you first start out cycling or even when you’re getting back on the saddle after a long time, it’s very common to end up with a sore behind. While your derrière should get used to the seat, if it doesn’t or you’re uncomfortable, invest in a new, good quality seat.
#3 Feel The Burn
Hills can be a killer, but interspersing your route with a few will get your heart rate up and make you a stronger rider in the long term. Also, if you’re pressed for time, riding uphill gives you more bang for your buck as a workout.
#4 Good Shifting
Poor shifting can damage your bike and is often just the result of a lack of know-how. Shift one gear at a time and when you do, take a little bit of pressure off the pedals, a little like you’re driving a car. Make sure to change gears before you tackle a hill and remember not to cross chain.
Photo: George Scott/Factory Media
#5 Cycle With Traffic
Make sure you get comfortable sharing the road with cars, buses and other vehicles, as well as respecting the rules of the road & pedestrians and being aware of other potential hazards. Stay safe!
Photo: Vancouver Sun
#6 Hydrate And Fuel Your Body
It’s super important to eat and drink properly before and during a hard cycle to ensure that your energy levels don’t take too much of a hit from your workout.
#7 It’s All In The Legs
Try to keep your upper body as still as possible, because the more you move it around, the more energy you’re losing. Focus on being relaxed and on directing all your energy into your pedal strokes.
#8 Social Cycling
Hopping on your bike and training with others is a fantastic way to improve your technique, boost your speed and endurance, as well as meet new friends.
Photo: Just Pedal
#9 Kit Yourself Out
Invest in a few specialist bike kit items will be extremely useful for you to get the most out of your training. A bike helmet is absolutely essential of course, but you should also get seamless, chafe-free cycling shorts, a couple of basic bike tools (allen keys, puncture repair kit) and cycling sunglasses.
Photo: Have Fun Biking
#10 Long Rides
Try to do long distance rides (more than an hour depending on your fitness and goals) once a week or fortnightly to build your endurance. A long ride is also a great opportunity to explore new areas.
Photo: Ice Bike
#11 Eyes On the Prize
Resist the urge to drop your head down and keep it up to improve your oxygen intake!
Photo: Killarney Cycling Festival
#12 Sit Right
Distribute your weight evenly, with 60% on the saddle and 40% on the handlebars. The seat height should be positioned so there’s a slight bend in your knee when your foot is at the bottom of a stroke. Arms should be bent at the elbow, your hip pushed in, core engaged and your back arched just a little. Your best bet? Get a professional bike fit at the shop.
#13 Extra Power
Sitting is actually the most energy efficient way to ride but sometimes you need extra power. If you do have to stand for extra oomph, shift into a harder gear so your legs don’t circle too quickly.
Photo: Cycling Weekly
#14 Smart Breaking
Avoid aggressive braking when it comes to controlling your speed. Lightly squeeze and release the brakes instead. Remember as well that about 75% of your stopping power comes from the front brake (left-hand side) – but squeezing that one too hard can send you over the handlebar!
#15 Help Your Muscles
Don’t just coast downhill without pedaling. As you were climbing up, lactic acid, which can contribute to muscle soreness, was collecting in your muscles. Pedaling lightly but constantly down the other side helps remove the lactic acid.
Photo: Ice Bike
#16 Chill Out Afterwards
Cycling can be a very strenuous exercise, so make sure you get adequate rest and sleep afterwards so that your body can recover properly and be ready for your next training session.
Photo: Lovely Bike