Cycling to success – top tips for getting into gear
Whether you’re new to cycling or preparing for an upcoming long-distance cycling challenge, it’s important to be prepared.
Warm up and cool down
It’s important to include a simple warm up, stretch and cool down routine as part of your normal cycling routine. It doesn’t take long, and it’ll give you that extra edge to perform at your peak level of fitness.
Try this warm up for cycling sessions that are one or two hours long:
- Start cycling in a low gear at an increasing pace on flat ground for about 15 minutes.
- In the next five minutes slowly go up a few gears while maintaining a fast speed.
- For another five minutes change the gears up even more until you’re breathing hard but are still able to talk.
- For the last five minutes go down a few gears so that you can cycle easily while still being in control of the pedals.
Keep your energy levels up and stay hydrated
On the day of your ride make sure your breakfast includes plenty of carbohydrates, porridge is a good example. And take a banana or an energy bar with you – a good tip is to open the wrapper before the ride to make it easier to eat. Aim to have something roughly every 30 minutes.
Keeping well hydrated is just as important as keeping your energy levels up. So, make sure you’re drinking whenever you feel thirsty and regularly take small sips. Energy drinks can also be a good way to hydrate and keep your energy levels up.
Listen to your body
If you’re doing a long-distance event you should usually start training at least three to four months before. Gradually build up your distances and try a wide range of terrains. Building up the miles slowly will mean there’s less chance of injury and the training will be easier and more enjoyable.
Don’t over-train. Once you start feeling improvements in training it’s tempting to keep pushing yourself. But remember that rest periods allow your body to repair and are as important as the training itself.
Try not to train right up until the time of the event. You want to make sure you’re in tip top shape when you get to the start.
Get the right equipment
A good road bike will be suitable for most long-distance routes. But your local bike shop will be able to offer good advice on the correct bike to suit your needs. They’ll also be able to check it’s set up correctly for you.
It’s worth investing in a pair of proper cycling shoes with clipless pedal systems. Cycling shoes have been shown to prevent more injuries and are designed to make pedalling much more efficient.
Padded shorts will make long distance cycles much more comfortable. Make sure they fit properly to avoid chafing. You could also try using chamois cream or Vaseline to prevent rubbing.
It’s also extremely important to wear a well-fitting helmet. Make sure it’s well ventilated and comfortable. Most cycling shops will sell suitable helmets and it’s a good idea to make sure they’ve been approved by the National Standard for Cycling.
Cycling with arthritis
Cycling is a fantastic activity, especially if you have arthritis. It places very little stress on you joints as it’s a low impact exercise.
If you’re worried about cycling long distances with your arthritis, have a chat with a healthcare professional first. They’ll be able to advise on how to train and the best way to avoid injury of any affected joints.
Starting gradually with short low intensity rides is recommended. Then you can build up gradually as your strength increases. You may even want to think about starting out on a bike machine in the gym or using an outdoor electric bike can take off some of the pressure.
Have fun and stay motivated
Cycling is great, but it might not be always be a smooth ride. So, make sure you remember why you’re doing it as this well help you to stay motivated.
Whether you’ve just started out or are preparing for a big race, remember to have fun. And don’t forget to wave at the crowd as you go by!
**The main image features staff members from Commercial who cycled 500 miles in five days between company offices and raised over £15,000 for Versus Arthritis. You can find out more on Twitter by searching #500infive and you can donate via their website.**
If you would like take get involved in one of our challenge events, visit our events page.
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