- I've only got a short time to ride each day, how can I maximize for performance?
- I'm planning a three-week cycling tour, do you have any advice?
- I just heard a friend wiped out while riding in the rain, do you have any tips on safety?
- Do you have any suggestions on what I can do for a safety before I start each ride?
OK, you don’t have as much time as you’d like for your rides and you’re worried about getting fitter. A classic way is to do intervals. After you’ve done enough k’s to warm up your legs, lungs and heart, go 90 per cent full-out for a limited time and maybe ride 30 seconds in a bigger gear that works your body more. Take a two-minute break at a more leisurely pace then repeat. If you can do that five times in a one-hour ride, you’ll have worked hard and you’ll see the benefits fairly soon. Once you’re feeling stronger as a result, go for longer and more frequent interval periods. If you feel nervous from a safety perspective about watching the seconds tick off on your odometer or watch, select telephone poles or something similar; make it a four-pole interval or even five. Final note: Do this on roads where you don’t have to worry about traffic.
Bike touring is a blast! There’s not a better way to travel. However, riding a bike loaded with panniers is different from riding a machine without a load. So, do yourself a favour and do several rides with your loaded panniers so you’ll get used to riding your bike under touring conditions. You’ll quickly notice the bike corners differently and needs more stopping distance when it’s loaded. A second note to this tip: Don’t try to maintain your normal speed with a loaded bike. It isn’t practical. Besides, when you’re touring, you’ll likely be riding for several days or even weeks. So, keep to a slow, steady pace, even on flat terrain. Research has shown that if you keep between 18 and 22 km-h, you’ll use far less energy than if you go 23-25 km-h. Don’t use your energy up in two or three days.
Ouch this can be a painful experience. Roads and streets can get very slick during and after a rainfall, thanks to oil discharge from vehicles that’s accumulated on the surface after days of dry conditions. Those little puddles on the side of the road are the worst, too, and that’s exactly where you’ll be riding. So, slow down and keep a steady gaze on the surface ahead of you. Also, watch out for any painted surfaces; they’re more slippery after any rain but far worse when the rain comes after an extended dry period. If you want to go fast, wait until the road is nice and dry again.
It only takes a minute or so before a ride to check that your wheels are still locked in, your brakes are working properly, your cables are in good condition, your handlebars are solid, your chain is properly oiled and in shape, and your seatpost is tight. If you have a problem with any of those, you sure don’t want to find out during the ride - it can be bad news. And to ensure you can handle some basic repair issues if any occur later, take a small repair kit.