Spring is in the air and warm weather (hopefully) on its way. If you want to be faster by summer here are a few things to try. From immediate quick-fixes to longer term goals, we share our top tips.
The single biggest energy expenditure you make as a rider is punching your way through the air. The less frontal volume you present to the wind the faster you can go for the same energy output. Simply riding on the drops, tucking your elbows in and lowering your torso will instantly mean you can ride 1mph an hour faster!
We don’t recommend listening to music outside but if you are doing any training indoors listening to music will make you faster! Research from Brunel University published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 2009discovered that participants cycled 1-1.25 km/h faster when music was introduced during a time trial than when music was removed or there was no music at all. Music can also make cycling feel easier, synchronizing your choice of music to your cadence can help reduce the feelings of discomfort during a hard cycling session. Good to know if you are a fan of Zwift!
In 6 weeks
So this one sounds pretty damn obvious but keeping the power applied to the pedals at all times will raise your average speed on a ride. Keeping the pedals turning lightly so you maintain speed and momentum throughout your ride takes a bit of practice but soon becomes instinctive. Instead of free-wheeling as soon as you reach the top of a climb press on over the top to carry more speed into the descent, whilst of course managing your speed to remain safe and in control.
It’s hard to go fast if you are uncomfortable and cycling should never hurt. Make sure that your kit and your bike are set up to make cycling as easy for you as possible. If you have any niggling pains, a trip to a bike fitter or physio can really help. Making sure you have clothes that fit well, protect you from the elements and allow you to sit comfortably on the saddle will help you to feel better, and therefore push harder and go faster, when you ride.
Love them or hate them intervals are the way to get faster. Very short bouts of high intensity effort followed by recovery will help increase your power output and improve your technique at higher effort levels. It’s sweaty, it hurts and it requires a lot of motivation, but regular commitment to these sessions will definitely make you faster by summer.
Try this – it is simple, short but effective. Pedal as hard as you can for thirty seconds, pedal at an easy pace for 60 seconds then repeat four times. This gives you two minutes of very high intensity training in total. You can do this on a stretch of quiet safe road or on a home trainer or spin bike.
We aren’t suggesting you need to lose weight, but if you do its one of the easiest ways to get faster, particularly uphill. Weight loss doesn’t apply to everyone, if you have a body fat percentage of less than12% for a man and less than 20% for a woman then any more weight loss may be detrimental to your health and riding.
Body fat provides energy, but it doesn’t contribute to movement, it is to be totally frank just lard and the less blocks of lard you are carrying uphill the faster you will climb. Even on the flat it makes a difference and depending on how much you have to lose it can even affect your aerodynamics and ability to hold a good riding position.