In the Southern hemisphere, Spring is almost upon us and it seems like a good time to think about preparing for longer rides in warmer conditions (lock-downs dependent of course).
So, what are the things that you can do to make sure you make the most of Spring and Summer?
As you would imagine, we spend a lot of time around cyclists of all types, from pros to amateurs and from avid to occasional cyclists and we have accumulated some great tips to get you back into the groove of riding your bike for longer periods in the great outdoors.
For those of you that are short of time these are the key points that we believe you can look at to get the best start to the Spring-Summer cycling season.
If you have a bit of time and want some detail…
Check your position on the bike
If you have not ridden your bike much over winter or if you have mostly ridden indoors it will pay to at least think about your bike position. If you have been injured or have any form of (new) movement restrictions, then the bike position from last summer may not be right for you any longer. Riding outdoors puts different strains on your body compared to riding indoors, so if you feel at all odd on the bike pop in to your local bike-fit professional for a quick review to make sure your position is not going to cause injuries.
Don’t go too hard too quickly
When the sun starts to shine and the days warm up, it’s so tempting to increase your ride distances accordingly, but it is vital that you ease your body back into these longer rides. Sudden, big increases in time on the bike can do more harm than good and could potentially ruin your Spring and Summer. We suggest that you plan for incremental increases over a 4 week period so that you allow your body to adapt to the increased load that longer time in the saddle will put on your body. You will also get better results if you increase the number of rides first and then increase the distance for each ride.
Supplement ride time with some off bike conditioning
Riding is great for exercising a wide range of muscles however many of those muscle groups can be overloaded if you ramp up the bike time too quickly. A way to get these muscle groups fitter, faster, is to perform some simple off-bike exercises. There is a lot of good information available however if you prefer to work in a group or with a professional there are many providers that provide services such as Pilates or Yoga that are perfect for cycling. A small investment in time can make a big difference!
Plan your nutrition
Riding burns calories so riding longer burns more calories… Sounds obvious, but we find that many cyclists don’t really think about calorie intake when it comes to spending longer time on the bike. Fuelling your body for endurance exercise can be complex so we recommend that you get some specialist advice if you have any doubts about your food strategy or if you have special food requirements.
In simple terms, there are 2 main areas to consider in terms of fuelling your cycling. Calories consumed before your ride and calories consumed during your ride. If you have a big ride planned, then you should consider your fuelling prior to the ride. Depending on the ride distance, you may need to consider your overall food intake for the whole week prior to a ride but generally you should really think about the day prior and a few hours before you set off. If you have not fuelled sufficiently for a ride it is easy to lose energy even if you are consuming food during the ride. During long rides, it is hard to carry enough food to replace the number of calories that you will burn and the worse-case scenario is that you bonk (run out of energy altogether) and we can attest to the fact that it is no fun pedalling squares.
One final thing to consider. If you go for a very long ride today and you are not fuelled correctly, then you are likely to be hungry tomorrow… This can play havoc with your body hence the old cycling adage that you should eat for tomorrow not for today.
Protect yourself from those nasty UV rays
There is nothing better than feeling of the sun on your skin; especially after a long winter locked inside, but, exposure to the sun damages our skin and can lead to all sorts of nasty effects. Clearly, we are not health professionals so we can’t give medical advice but the safest approach is to always protect your exposed skin from the damaging UV rays by using your favourite sunscreen. If you are out for long rides, it is prudent to take a small tube with you so you can re-apply as your whole body is sweating as you ride and you will likely need to reapply in a shorter time-frame than that suggested by the manufacturer.
And from the entire team at MB, we hope that you have an epic Spring and Summer both on and off the bike.
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