Pro cyclists are often all thought to be blessed with nature’s special gifts – a huge heart, enormous lungs and infinite leg power. Yet, in reality this is hardly the case. The truth is that most of us have the physiology to be a decent racer if we trained as much as they do. Granted, most of us don’t have the time or the resources available to pro cyclists but we can all optimize the talents bestowed upon us by training properly. Here’s how.
Start with the basics. Have good equipment. Meaning, have a bike that fits, get the right bike parts, and wear the appropriate cycling accessories. It may seem obvious but even small things add up. This is an easy one to dial in, so get it right.
Next, focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t. Some argue work and family commitments distract from proper training but there are other elements you can control. You can control your the quality of your workouts, your bike technique, and your recovery. When training, focus your efforts using power and heart rate. Both play a key role in training and you can use both to target weaknesses and strengths. Dial in your nutrition on an off the bike so that you are properly fueled going into the workout and can bring your best effort to each training session. Also, schedule specific workouts to build fitness, improve your climbing technique and bike skills.
While it may seem counter intuitive, easy rides or time off the bike is equally as important as training time. The post, Four Ways to Recover Like a Tour Rider, suggests ways to conserve energy while riding in the peleton (aka your group ride) and use your cycling buddies as teammates to pace you and shield you from the elements.
A little R&R or active recovery is good too. Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins’ benefits from the focus it brings to his cycling, while others, such as pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, use yoga to gain strength. From power to endurance, athletes at all levels are incorporating yoga to gain an edge over the competition, and prevent injury.
You may not make it as a Tour rider but you sure can embrace the training elements of a Tour rider lifestyle. And, if all else fails, put on your best suffer face!