As a serious cyclist, you want to maximize every ride and with so many health and fitness tools available, doing this is easier than ever. But, in case you are a new cycling enthusiast, we’ve got a few tips to help you get the most out of every ride.
Just like any other athlete, a cyclist must pace themselves. Athletes that give their everything right out of the starting gate quickly exhaust their fuel supplies, over-exert their muscles, and increase the risk of injury. Also, keep in mind that (no matter how far you ride) you must still ride back home as well. If you use up everything you have in the first quarter-mile, you will soon be exhausted and stranded.
Fuel Your Body
Whether you ride for pleasure or competition, you must fuel your body appropriately to get the most out of your ride. High-protein, complex carb options are best for bike rides that promise to keep you out for a while or burn extra calories. These foods will provide your body with a longer-lasting fuel source and will not cause a fast sugar crash.
If you plan on pushing it or being out for a while, take along a healthy brand energy bar for a pick-me-up.
Lastly, water and electrolytes are just as necessary as food for fueling the body. Be sure to fully hydrate yourself before embarking on your ride and carry plenty of water for the ride as well. If the weather is warm or if you know that you will sweat a lot, take along a drink to replenish your electrolytes (try to avoid those drinks loaded with sugar!)
Invest in Quality Clothing
There are a million and one discount stores for athletic clothing, but quality and comfort are two things that should always trump affordability.
Your biking clothing should be comfortable above all else. Most riders find Spandex or Lycra clothing to be the most comfortable. These materials are also aerodynamic, so if speed is a concern, these fit the bill for that too.
Install a Quality Cycling Tracker
A cycling tracker like Cadence can help to improve your ride, too. Cadence is a fully customizable app that allows you to track all the stats that are important to you. For example, if you set out with a distance in mind but get distracted by calories burned, you can push yourself too far or get lost.
The different trackable data points that Cadence offers also helps riders to track their fitness level and monitor their progress for fitness improvement.
While it is necessary to set a pace and not go too hard too fast, you should also challenge yourself to push your limits and improve your performance. Using a reputable biking tracker is a great way to do this safely.
Check the Weather!
Before heading out for a ride, always check the weather so that you can dress appropriately. Just because the skies look blue now does not mean that rain isn’t coming, and just because it looks warm outside does not mean that you won’t be chilled when you get on the road.
Prepare For The Unexpected
Carry a bike repair kit with you, some emergency cash, and a charged phone in the event that the unexpected happens. The repair kit prevents minor incidents from ruining your ride, and some money and a phone will ensure you can call for help or catch an Uber home if needed.
Know The Rules Of The Road
Perhaps one of the most important things you should know to get the most out of your bike ride is the rules of the road. Familiarizing yourself with road rules helps you respectably represent the cycling community and also keeps you safe while on the road.
Safety Always Comes First
As a serious cyclist, you should already know how important safety is on the road, but there is more to safety than wearing a helmet and using the proper hand signals! Safety may also mean carrying emergency medication (like an epi-pen if you are allergic to bee stings, for example) and ensuring that your emergency contacts are accessible through your phone.
Today most smartphones have a built-in emergency contact feature — be sure to keep this updated with recent information. It is also helpful to wear an emergency bracelet (especially if you do not carry a phone with you at all times) to let others know of any medical conditions, allergies, and/or emergency contacts.
Devices like the Garmin Varia radar are also a wonderful investment for the serious cyclist. This small rearview radar device provides audio and visual alerts when vehicles approach from the rear from up to 153 yards away.
Bicycle Fit Matters
Most people begin cycling by choosing a bicycle that feels right or looks how they want it to look. Far more should go into choosing a bicycle — it should feel right, but there is a science to getting the correct fit.
If this is your first time investing in a quality bicycle, it is best to have a professional fitting to ensure that you are comfortable while riding. Depending on where you shop, be prepared to pay a bike fitting fee of $100 or more.
While that may seem expensive to get a bike fitted, if you are serious about cycling, this is a fair price to pay. Remember that you are shopping for a bicycle that you will be riding for a significant amount of time.
Listen To Your Body
Lastly, whether you are a pro cyclist or just starting to cycle, listen to your body! If you feel a twinge in a muscle, pay attention to it and rest rather than pushing through and risking serious injury.
Whether you are a veteran cyclist or a newcomer to cycling, it is important to get the most out of every ride. As noted above there are many ways to do this, but no matter how you choose to improve your ride, always put your safety and the safety of others first!