The winter months aren’t very conducive to maintaining a solid level of fitness and keeping in shape. Yet spring is right around the corner and with the warming temperatures and the start of daylight savings time it’s fair to say we’re seeing the first signs of spring. This can be both hugely exciting, and also slightly nerve racking for cyclists who have spent the winter months working towards spring or summer goals. So, what are the best ways to optimize your cycling to prepare best for the upcoming season? Rest assured, we’ve got you covered. Read on.
Optimize your fitness with a power meter:
Whether you plan to ride a century, multi-day rides, race or aspire to longer or more frequent rides in 2018, monitoring your early season training and racing sets the stage for a successful year ahead. Key points to keep in mind include training intensity, duration, and frequency. Our tip to do this? Use power meters and heart rate monitors to guide you. Given that early season training lends itself to “false” feedback. Meaning, because you may be fresh, your perceived effort on the bike may be low causing you to push too hard, too soon, and then training suffers later due to increased recovery time or even injury. By monitoring your efforts with specific data, you objectively know when you are pushing beyond your targeted indictors, as well as, when you aren’t pushing hard enough. This allows your body to adjust to increased training load over time and in a manner that meets your 2018 cycling season goals. Check out our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, to dial in which training aid is best for you.
Optimize biological feedback with a heart rate monitor:
Speaking of heart rate, heart rate monitors are a funny thing – they can be completely useless or extremely valuable depending on how you use them. Heart rate training has been viewed in many ways over the years, from very precise to not so precise. Now, a growing number of coaches and exercise physiologists support the use of heart rates as an important part of biological feedback, as heart rates are a direct reflection of what is happening internally. If you’re new to training with heart rate monitors, the post, The Variables and Trends of Heart Rate Training, walks you through the steps of learning your “threshold” heart rate range, setting up heart rate training zones, and identifying the daily variables that affect heart rate. But before you begin to analyze data, you actually have to have a heart rate monitor to get started! Visit us at Peak Cycles Bike Shop or BikeParts.com to check out the heart rate monitors for the 2018 cycling season.
Optimize your riding position with a bike fit:
An often overlooked, yet incredibly powerful tool for improved cycling is a bike fit. If you haven’t ridden much through the winter, now is the best time for a bike fit. Why? Because your body is unaccustomed to the riding position. You have an opportunity to optimize your position and make needed upgrades to your road bike or mountain bike. Think of it this way – leg strength, endurance, and fitness are at the heart of cycling speed, but without a proper bike fit, you are sabotaging your training efforts. In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit. And, a bike fit goes beyond just setting saddle height and bar reach. To get the most enjoyment and reward from your training programs it’s critical to dial in the fit and confirm you have the right bike parts for optimal performance.
Optimize bike mechanics with regular inspection:
Bike maintenance can be a chore, but a necessity. As you ride more through the early season, some things that weren’t visible upon your first bike inspection may become apparent as the season progresses. Regular maintenance is essential. There are several things you want to do to keep it in good working order for the early season cycling months. For starters, wipe down and inspect the frame. Rain, snow, mud, and road elements pose different cleaning challenges to your frame and bicycle parts. Consider using a stiff, soft-bristled brush to knock off any chunks of dried-on mud that may be on your frame or wheels. Then, follow that up by taking a rag to your bike, wiping it down generally all over to get off any remaining dust or dirt. If you are concerned about how to maintain and clean carbon frames, check out this video for best suggestions. Don’t forget to lube your chain and cables. As unglamorous as chain lube is, it is a necessity. It will keep your bike parts in working order and squeak free! There are many lubes to choose – wet vs dry lube. As conditions vary, you may want to have a couple of different choices on hand. Finally, inspect your brake pads. You’ll want to make sure the brake pads are not worn. And, remember to inspect where the brake pads hit the rim; they should contact the rim evenly on both sides and not rub the tire in any way that may cause a flat. Remember, pre season bike maintenance and training paves the way for a long, healthy, and enjoyable cycling season.
There you have it! Plan for a successful cycling season by training right early season. A good bike fit, steady riding, and the use of training tools paves the way for a healthy, injury free 2018.