How to cycle smarter

Whether you’re preparing for your first race or your fiftieth, these tips from Cyclist magazine’s James Spender will help ensure that you get the most out of your training.

Frequency is key

Aim to ride every other day if you can, making sure you have at least three rest days a week. Even if you only have time for short, 30-minute sessions, doing a few of these spread across the week will be more productive than just fitting in one three-hour ride on the weekend. The regularity will help you become more comfortable on the bike and improve your muscle memory for pedalling.

Know your kit

Make sure you train wearing and using the kit that you plan to take to the race itself. You wouldn’t try and break a new pair of running shoes in the week before a marathon, and cycling is no different. Having battle-tested gear that you trust and feel comfortable in for hours at a time will set you in good stead for race day.

Learn roadside repairs

It might sound obvious, but being able to change a flat tyre is an absolute must. Even if you’ve never had one before, do a practise run during training to familiarise yourself with the process. You can’t always rely on having other cyclists around to help you if something goes wrong, and the last thing you’d want is for a mid-race puncture to undo all your hard work.

Nail your nutrition

Using the correct fuel will help you train and recover to the best of your abilities. Try and eat an easily digestible meal that combines healthy carbs and protein – think wholegrain rice with chicken breast and green veg – roughly two hours before your session and then a similar meal afterwards. During the ride itself, top off your energy levels with a bar, gel or swig of energy drink at 20-minute intervals once you’ve passed the two-hour mark.

Build a strong core

As well as spending time in the saddle, it’s worth working to build up your core strength with simple exercises such as squats, press-ups, lunges, as a stable midsection will allow you to transfer more power to the pedals and ride more efficiently.

James Spender is a staff writer at Cyclist  . For more information, contact him on Twitter @jamesspender  

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