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Improving Cycling Performance
When you first get into cycling you may think you can just hop on the bike, pedal like crazy and BAM, you're the best there is. Cycling is a sport that requires years of dedication and training to get highly efficient, but there are some things you can do today to help you get faster.
What Is A Decent Average Speed?
When you first start out, you may wonder how you compare to other amateur cyclists, and even how you compare to the pros. This is a really hard question to answer and it has a ton of variables that contribute to the answer. Do you live in a flat or hilly area? What is your base fitness level? While these numbers can vary, according to one of the most popular cycling apps, Strava, the average woman cycles at just over 12mph, and men at almost 16mph.
Tip #1 Bend & Tuck!
When cycling especially at higher speeds, the biggest factor in slowing you down is wind resistance. A majority of these tips are going to be ways to reduce wind resistance, and optimizing your posture is a key part of this!
If you have a road bike, the simplest way to achieve the desired position is to lower your body as close to the handlebars as your are comfortable with, and bring your elbows in under your torso. This will dramatically reduce your wind resistance and increase your speed right off the bat
Tip #2 Music Music Music!
This is a bit of a tricky topic. Cycling is a sport where you need to be incredibly aware of your surroundings to make sure you stay safe. However, listening to music can help improve your ability to push yourself. When you get into the habit of being more visually aware of your surrounding: checking behind you ever so often, checking mirrors, staying alert, etc. you can ride with headphones pretty easily.
Additionally, there are some headphones on the market that are designed using bone induction technology to help you stay aware of your surroundings. These headphones essentially use vibrations to send sound to your inner ear. Traditional headphones are nothing less than a micro-speaker placed directly in your ear. With bone induction headphones, you can stay aware of your surroundings while also listening to your favorite tunes.
Tip #3 Ride With Friends
Riding with other people can increase your speed in a variety of ways. Some may be considered cheating, but for the most part riding with a group can help you improve your individual performance.
Going back to the issue of wind resistance, riding closely behind another rider will make it so that they cut most of the wind away for you. This will make keeping up with them easier.
Additionally, riding with others who are a little bit better than you can encourage you to reach your true cycling potential. This will help you not only increase your average speed for that ride, but it will also help you improve you overall fitness level. So make some friends and go ride!
Tip #4 Pump Your Tires
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen beginner cyclists make is not refilling the air in their tires before EVERY ride. Now, some may argue this is a bit much, but no, its not. With road bikes tire pressure can mean the difference between flying and lugging behind.
You would be surprised how quickly some tires can lose air. Making sure your tires are properly pumped up before you go out for a ride can make your efforts a lot more efficient.
Tip #5 Get The Right Equipment
Now, don't think I'm telling you to go out and buy the most expensive bike, tires, shoes, and cycling jersey but having some decent equipment and gear can make all the difference.
Firstly make sure that the bike you have has the correct size frame for your body. You will notice a huge difference between a bike that is either too big or too small, and one that fits you just right. You will be able to efficiently transfer power from your legs to your tires if your frame is the right size.
Arguably one of the most important pieces of cycling equipment outside of your helmet is your cycling shoes. Cycling in a pair of running shoes is a huge mistake if speed is on your mind. Cycling-specific shoes are designed to clip into your pedals and have much harder soles which help take the power from your legs and transfer them to your pedals without losing any power.
Additionally, cycling specific jerseys and shorts play a huge role in reducing wind resistance and should be considered if you are thinking of cycling competitively or want to improve your personal time.
Improving Your Cycling Speed NOW
Many people will tell you that becoming a great cyclists takes time, and they are right to a certain extent. Getting truly excellent at this sport wont happen overnight, but there are things you can do to improve your performance right away. So remember these tips next time you jump on your bike:
- Bend and tuck
- Listen to some good music (but stay safe!)
- Ride with a group
- Pump up your tires
- Invest in some decent riding gear and equipment
Think we missed something?
If you have any tips for improving your cycling speed that was not mentioned in this article, let us know in the comments section below!