Tech­nique

6 top tips to help you up­grade your cat­e­gory, win a race or sim­ply ride with ease

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Peter Glass­ford

Gain­ing the last 10 per cent

No mat­ter how fit and skilled you are as a bike rider, you prob­a­bly wouldn’t mind 10 per cent more speed, wattage and com­fort on the bike. Top rac­ers want more vic­to­ries, while leisure rid­ers want more long days with great con­ver­sa­tion. For new cy­clists, get­ting faster is easy: ride more, any­thing works. As we gain fit­ness, each ad­di­tional per­cent­age of im­prove­ment is harder to gain. For most of my clients, and likely for you, it’s not a ge­netic lim­i­ta­tion that causes fit­ness to stag­nate. Rather, it’s a limit on how many hours you can de­vote to rid­ing among other life com­mit­ments. Since you can’t ride for more hours each week, you must start think­ing about train­ing dif­fer­ently to un­lock the 10 per cent be­tween you and your goal per­for­mance. Stand up What do you see when you watch a race start, a hard hill climb, an at­tack or a fi­nal sprint? You see rid­ers out of the sad­dle. How of­ten do you prac­tise that type of pedalling and ath­letic ex­plo­sive­ness? This tech­nique is the key to get­ting to the sin­gle­track ahead of a slow rider, to climb­ing faster, mak­ing a break­away or cross­ing the fin­ish line first. Rid­ing out of the sad­dle will even help you ride com­fort­ably for more hours by giv­ing your butt, and seated pedalling mus­cles, a break.

Eat well Eat a va­ri­ety of foods and make veg­eta­bles a big part of your diet. A poor diet will af­fect en­ergy pro­duc­tion, cog­ni­tion, re­ac­tion time, re­cov­ery, sleep and, yes, your power to weight ra­tio (even if you do more suf­fer-videos). Start with habits and easy sub­sti­tu­tions. Have a bed­time tea in­stead of dessert, sweet pota­toes in­stead of white pasta and a veg­gie omelette in­stead of sug­ary ce­real. You can eat ev­ery­thing, but en­sure you eat pri­mar­ily the foods that will make you healthy and fast.

Turn off screens With­out fail my busy cy­clist clients are push­ing the lim­its of what they can do dur­ing their wak­ing hours. Busy peo­ple rarely want to sleep more. If you can’t find a way to sleep more, try in­creas­ing sleep qual­ity. Stop eat­ing an hour or two be­fore bed. In­stead, spend that pe­riod wind­ing down in dim light (per­haps with a loved one).

Write down ev­ery­thing you are think­ing about and take an ex­tra step by sched­ul­ing when you will work on those things. Set out clothes and gear for the next day. Avoid bright lights and screens, not just to keep away from the mela­tonin-sup­press­ing beams, but to avoid get­ting stressed by some­one’s ill-timed email. It can wait till the morn­ing. Limit watch­ing TV to ear­lier in the evening, be­fore your wind-down rou­tine. Set up a timer on the TV, which makes it more in­con­ve­nient to binge-watch an en­tire se­ries on Net­flix. On week­ends, boost your train­ing adap­ta­tions by nap­ping for 30 min­utes af­ter your big work­outs.

“Avoid bright lights and screens, not just to keep away from the mela­tonin-sup­press­ing beams, but to avoid get­ting stressed by some­one’s ill-timed email. It can wait till the morn­ing.”

Boost your ex­plo­siv­ity I used to hate starts and sprints, so it took me more than 10 years to win a provin­cial moun­tain bike race even though I had enough fit­ness to do it. Even if you only race long-dis­tance events, you need to be able to ac­ti­vate your cy­cling-spe­cific mus­cles ex­plo­sively for climbs, starts, sprints and at­tacks. This ac­ti­va­tion also boosts your en­durance, espe­cially as you start to fa­tigue. In­clude a set or two of very hard, five-to-20-sec­ond sprint ef­forts both stand­ing and seated, year-round. If you are free of in­juries, seated, low r.p.m. ef­forts of one to two min­utes can be hugely per­for­mance-boost­ing, espe­cially if you strug­gle with climb­ing or strug­gle if your cadence goes be­low 90 r.p.m. Strength train­ing off the bike will en­sure you are strong and will help min­i­mize in­juries, and im­prove your on-bike per­for­mance. Work on skills Un­like most other sports, cy­clists gen­er­ally don’t get coach­ing to im­prove their cy­cling skills. Mas­ters swim­mers do drills con­stantly and very of­ten with coach su­per­vi­sion. What would hap­pen if you took a sim­i­lar strat­egy with your cy­cling? Con­sider what has lim­ited you in the past and how you can im­prove it with coach­ing and drills. Com­mon ar­eas to de­velop are cor­ner­ing, pack rid­ing, aero­dy­nam­ics, bunny hop­ping, rid­ing no-handed, stand­ing up and brak­ing.

Ride easy Don’t suf­fer ev­ery day. Just be­cause you have lim­ited train­ing hours, it doesn’t mean all your train­ing should be mod­er­ately hard. Ride easy most days; ride long when you can. Ride with a pur­pose and with in­ten­sity twice a week, on days you’re very rested and not stressed. If you only have one low-stress day, then do one very hard day and ride easy, fo­cused on skill, co-or­di­na­tion and en­durance build­ing, the other days. You will be amazed with this ap­proach, if you com­mit to it. To gain that last 10 per cent im­prove­ment you need to reach your goal, train your lim­i­ta­tions specif­i­cally by max­i­miz­ing your skills, tac­tics and eventspe­cific fit­ness. Think about bike rid­ing as more than just pedalling; train and re­cover in a way that boosts your health and well­ness.

be­low Ev­ery­one stands up to put the power down at the start of the Mont-sainte-anne World Cup

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