How you start practicing for long distance cycling race largely depends upon your current level of fitness, age, and just how much cycling you’ve done in the past. Below mentioned are some of the best tips on preparing yourself for bicycle race training.
1.Train yourself for cardiovascular endurance
Having enough cardiovascular endurance is a must for bicycle racing. During times of intense exercise, the biker must be able to generate energy for his muscles. There’re lots of ways you can train to increase this cardiovascular endurance. Some of the most known exercises for this purpose include:
- Long, slow Distance training
- Fartlek training
- Pace / Tempo Training
- Circuit Training
2. Train yourself to retain enough energy for the last minute sprint
Although elite cyclists often specialize in one specific area of cycling, a well-rounded rider is always able to ride long and hard and still have sufficient amount of a energy to sprint at the end of the race. Training in explosive workouts is a way to increase this power output, and hopefully increase the chances of you winning a race.
3. Eating right foods at the right time
It is important to eat and drink well for excellent performance and speedy recovery. It could certainly be a complicated process, and many professional athletes consult nutritionists to find a perfect balance of nutrients and calories that is ideal for them.
4. Ensure that the bike fits you
Regardless of the type of cyclist you are, having a bike that fits properly is crucial for both efficiency and comfort. For those who have had – back or knee pain, hand or foot numbness or saddle sores, your bike is most likely not fitting you properly. Good bike also plays a role in improving the aerodynamics and pedaling efficiency that ultimately makes you faster.
5. It is important to stretch
People have different views on stretching, however, because of the repetitive nature of cycling, it’s important for bikers to keep them flexible and balanced. There is a possibility of developing muscle tension in the hamstrings, chest and hip flexors, if regular stretching procedures are not followed.
6. Improve your bike handling skills
Pro riders have incredible bike handling skills. They are stable on descents and smooth through corners. Good handling is also vital when riding on a paceline, where you have a rider within inches behind you. In a paceline, the leading rider faces the air resistance that allows the following riders to save almost 30 percent of their energy. This type of riding requires tremendous skill in terms of handling the bike.
In order to enhance your bike handling skills, go on a ride with experienced riders, join local clubs and ask them about improving your handling skills or take a bike safety course.
7. Do not go on a ride alone
Training alone day in and day out could be a bit boring. To enhance your biking skills, it’s good to join a racing club that fits your abilities and goals. Being part of a team is also crucial if you wish to compete in a race. Strategies and team tactics are a big part of cycling competitions.
8 . Find some good rest
Do not underestimate the need for rest days and cross training off the bike. Rest and recovery is important for maximum performance in a sport like cycling. Sleep, massage, stretching and general downtime are often utilized by professional athletes to recover from their demanding workout schedules.
Overtraining can frequently happen with athletes that do high intensity exercises. It is essential to look for indications of over-training and listen to the body when it is demanding for rest.
9. Exercise off the bike
When training for bike racing, it’s important to get off the bike and perform some cross training sometimes. Maintaining flexibility by doing other forms of exercises can keep your muscles balanced and help you avoid overuse injuries. Training in the same manner day after day often leads to stagnation, fatigue, boredom and makes you more prone to injury and fatigue. Finally, you may hit the plateau and see no further improvement. Professional athletes use off -seasons to mix and modify their exercise routines to better their flexibility and prepare themselves for the season.
Here are some of the exercises you can do throughout the year for better cycling performance:
1 – Calf raises
Stand with your feet together, arm length away from the wall. Have fingers just touching the wall for balance. Rise slowly on your toes and after that slowly lower. Repeat 20 times.
2 – Squats
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Hands on hips. Keep your back straight as well as your head up as you slowly lower yourself so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Then rise so your knees are locked. Repeat 20 times.
3 – Leg extensions
Take a seat on high bench with feet hanging and knee backs right on the edge. Sit back with your hands supporting you from behind. While keeping the back of the knee on the seat, slowly raise your left foot so that it becomes straight and then lower it back. Repeat 10 times. Switch legs and repeat.
These exercises are made to strengthen specific muscle groups. Initially, just use your own body weight. Later, small weights can be added to your ankles or rucksacks. The concept behind the circuit would be to complete each exercise and move on to the one following. Once all exercises are completed, you will start again and complete the circuit. This needs to be done 3,4 or 5 times. Number of repetitions for each exercise can also be increased. It is essential to stretch both before and after the workout to keep muscles loose and long, not short and tight.
10. Use clothing that is specifically designed for cycling
Cycling clothing may sound a bit strange in the beginning, but these clothes do serve the purpose. These tight fitting clothes reduce the drag and increase visibility. Shorts with special pads are designed to provide you with extra comfort on the saddle and eliminate chaffing.
Some of the essential gear one must have in his cycling kit include:
These shoes are designed for extra safety and efficiency. Some of these shoes come with cleats that gets attached to the pedal with a click. This provides you with extra balance.
The helmet is a mandatory piece of safety equipment. No bike race will allow a rider without a helmet.
While you might never make it to the Tour de France , implementing these guidelines in your training will certainly help you perform better in bicycle races.