3 Tips to Improve Your Next Ride
Sometimes it’s big things that make you a better ride. Other times it’s little details. While we are all looking for that next big jump in fitness to let us ride faster, a few simple techniques can help you ride better on your next ride.
Tip 1 – Chill Out
Learn to relax on the bike. If you are tense you are using a lot of extra energy and you can end up with tight muscles which can be uncomfortable. If you can’t relax on the bike and let your legs do the work you may need to look at your bike fit. Start with the face. If you tense up your face muscles you don’t breathe as deeply as possible. Relax you face and the rest of the body will tend to follow.
Don’t death grip the bar. Only hold the bar as tightly as needed for safety. If you are gripping the bar tightly your arms and shoulders will be contracted, leading to fatigue. Relax your elbows so they can act as shock absorbers.
Tip 2 – Spin Smooth Like Butter
A smooth pedal stroke takes less energy. By focusing on spinning smoothly you will develop less fatigue. The pedal stroke is broken into three parts:
Push Down – You’ve got this part covered since your first trike.
Pull Back – At the bottom of the pedal stroke, pull your foot back like you are wiping mud on your shoe. Dropping your heal a bit at the bottom of the pedal stroke helps facilitate this motion. Pulling back activates the hamstrings and helps your other foot get ready for the next downstroke.
Stab Your Knee To The Bar – Once you’ve finished the pull back, stab your knee to the bar rather than trying to pull up. This will bring the foot up and over the top of the stroke.
When riding, focus on each part of the pedal for 30 seconds at a time. In time you will find yourself linking all three motions together into a smooth, efficient pedal stroke.
When hill climbing your cadence will naturally drop so really focus on the motions as it is easier at a lower cadence.
Tip 3 – Ride With No Hands
Like any skill, you need to work on it. On a smooth open section of road, practice riding with no hands. Initially it may only be for a few seconds at a time but in time you’ll develop the balance to ride long stretches with you hand off the bar safely. The advantage of this is that in addition to improving balance, the practical applications such as being able to take off a jacket, stretch or get food will allow you to keep your average speeds up as you won’t have to stop as often.