These are some basic guidelines to help you on your way toward enjoyable and successful cycling.
Work on your fitness base at the beginning of the season. A fitness base is developed by gradually increasing the distance of rides over about 6 weeks. The majority of your training during this time should be Long Slow Distance (LSD) rides. You should be able to whistle or carry on a conversation easily without running out of breath on LSD rides. Pedal (spin) small gears at about 90 – 100rpm.
With an endurance base you can start to pick up the intensity of your training. Start to include solid aerobic rides. Ride at an intensity that allows you to talk but only in brief sentences before you run out of breath.
As the majority of cycle races finish with a sprint of some sort, it’s important to dedicate a portion of training to speed and power work. Once warmed up, try doing 10 to 30 seconds maximum efforts with about 2 – 3 minutes breaks in between. Begin with 3 or 4 sprint efforts and build it up over a number of weeks to around 10 per session. One or two sprint training sessions per week can really improve speed and power.
To give yourself an aerobic edge you can start to do aerobic intervals. Work at maximum for 3 to 5 minutes in a medium size gear with 6 – 10 minute recovery rides in between. Start with 2 efforts and gradually build over a number of weeks to 6 or 8 efforts in any single session. Avoid doing intervals until a sound aerobic base has been developed.
As a beginner the best form of training will come through constant racing at club level. You will develop your race skills and tactics to help make the most of your fitness levels.
Recovery is vital in cycling; it keeps you on the bike and allows you to maximize quality in tough training sessions. Recovery takes on a number of forms including good sleep, good nutrition, stretching and massage.
It’s also very important to recover on the bike. Recovery rides should become an integral part of a weekly training program right throughout the season, especially in high volume or intense training weeks.
What to take Training
Long distance training is an essential part of all cycling disciplines. Being appropriately equipped for training rides will benefit the quality of training, minimize the inconvenience to you and training partners and protect your health and safety. These are the things you need to consider:
- Fluid – how much to drink
- Food – what to take
- Repair kit
- ID and money
Fluid – How much to drink
Hydration (drinking) during training and racing will help maintain your performance and prevent health damaging over heating problems. Knowing when and how much to drink is important. Thirst is a poor indicator of how much water your body needs.
In hot conditions it is recommended that 1 litre of fluid (ideally water or low concentration sports drinks) is consumed for every 60 minutes of exercise. Water bottle sizes and our ability to carry bottles is limited, so a simple guideline is to drink 1 large water bottle per 60 minutes of exercise in hot conditions. If training is more than 2 hours arrange to refill your bottles at a point along the training route.
Sports/energy drinks offer a good way to replace lost fluid and electrolytes and also provide energy. It is important to use these at the concentrations recommended by the manufacturer, to optimize your body’s absorption.
Water bottles need to be thoroughly washed and allowed to air dry regularly to avoid mould and bacteria build up especially when using sports/energy drinks. Never share your drink bottles with others.
Food – What to take
For any ride longer than 90 minutes you should carry food to replenish your body’s fuel source. Some recommended foods are:
- High energy food bars
- Fruit (especially bananas)
- Fruit cake
- Fruit bars
Breakdowns occur when cycling so its important to be prepared so that repairs can be made. This is a suggested list of things to take with you on a training ride:
- 2 lightweight inner tubes tightly rolled to fit in your jersey pockets or bike pack.
- Good quality bike pump mounted on your bike frame
- Tyre levers to remove tyre in the case of a “flat”
- Basic patch kit for emergency tyre or tube repair
- 4mm, 5mm and 6mm Allen keys for emergency repair on equipment
Know how to use all the equipment before going on a long ride.
Identification and Money
- Money for phone calls, food or a taxi home.
- Front and rear lights for early morning and night time rides
- Mobile phone if you have one
- Some form of Identification i.e. Medicare card, license
Avoid riding alone in the dark. Big bunches of riders with lights are more visible to motorists. Always tell someone where you are going on a training ride and when he or she might expect you back.