“This app will change bike training forever, it’s that good”
So, you’ve saved up some cash and bought yourself an expensive set of wheels? As you are probably aware, a pro set of tools does not make a professional and cycling is no exception. Naturally, you can casually ride your brand-new bicycle like an amateur, there is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to try swimming with the big fish, it wouldn’t hurt to know how to get started.
1. Simply ride
This is the best part of the entire list – there’s no better way to get adjusted to your new vehicle of choice than to ride it. 30 to 60 minutes four times a week is probably going to be enough to increase your cycling readiness. It is crucial that you don’t go crazy from the get-go – you might be able to push yourself to the limit the first day, but next time you man the bike, this very limit will start appearing frightening, which may hinder your motivation. Ride at your own pace for no more than an hour without stopping and feel out when you’re ready to take on the next step.
2. Ride with others
Cycling as a lonely wolf does bear its own pleasures, but in order to truly get familiarized with the skills and traditions of cycling, you should join friendly group rides at least once a week, once you’ve built your cycling-specific fitness. The best way to approach this is to ask around the local bike shops about where you can join 10- to 20-mile rides that average no more than 16 mph. Once you’ve learned the basics of “pack riding”, you can start advancing through the groups.
Don’t go about believing that pro cyclists don’t visit the gym. In fact, while a pro weightlifter may benefit from doing cardio exercises because it gets the heart rate up and, thus, more oxygen pumping through the veins, a pro cyclist will see an increase in strength and muscle endurance by making regular gym visits. Gym exercise will also help you target specific muscles and, as long as you have proper gym wear, you will see nothing but benefits from weightlifting! Of course, not every exercise will be beneficial – making sure that you don’t gain too much muscle mass is of essence – you still want to remain as light as possible.
Your progress will skyrocket at the beginning – your endurance will improve and the speeds that you once thought were impossible to reach on a bicycle will be within your grasp. However, you can rest assured that you are going to start hitting a plateau. Don’t be afraid, you’re not losing your mojo, you can still become a pro and, most importantly, this happens to everyone, especially the big fish!
Adding intervals is the way to go here.
- Ride 6 minutes at a great intensity and follow by 4 minutes of light spinning. Do three more intervals like this one.
- Do 6 three-minute intervals of small gear spinning at a high cadence as quickly as you can, without bouncing in the saddle. In between these intervals, ride easy.
If you’re wondering whether or not you need a cycling coach, well, yes you do, at least, you will, at a certain point. Look for cycling coaches in your area once you think that you are ready (if you go in too early in the process, expect disappointment). A coach will help you navigate errors and fix your course towards the right direction.
There you have it, this is what you can expect if you start going down the road of becoming a professional cyclist. Investing into a quality ride is just the beginning; there is (literally) a long way ahead of you!