Road Bikes – Cycling Fitness Myths
According to an article in Bike Radar magazine, there are many myths that are applicable to road bikes and are concerned with improving fitness. These myths have been challenged by scientists and from experimental evidence.
These myths are often things of which we are all aware or have at least heard of before. For example, it is often said that riders of road bikes should shave their legs in order to help them go faster – and many do. However, there are no studies to show that this works – even though a lack of hair may increase one’s muscle definition, or make cleaning one’s legs easier. Riding road bikes however is different to swimming, where reducing the friction with denser water does carry significant benefits to the athlete in terms of speed over distance.
Another supposed myth is that those riders of bikes for the road who perspire quicker and more heavily than those that don’t are less fit. This is apparently untrue according to Dr Nick Gant of Loughborough University. He said that “after repeated training your body becomes more efficient at cooling, so you start to sweat earlier and produce a greater volume of sweat.” If this is the case, then the sweatier riders of road bikes could be the best – although they may not look it of course!
Riding road bikes can take a lot out of an athlete, including water leading to dehydration. However, the myth that cycling without eating will lead to your body drawing on the unwanted fat that can be found around your pot-belly, and thus reducing the size of it, is also apparently unfounded. This is quite simple to understand. If road bikes are used for exercise before breakfast, the road biker will at some point during the day intake calories equivalent to that lost when exercising without food.
Another myth is that when riding road bikes pumping up the tyres to be very hard will make the bike go faster (presumably by reducing the friction between road and tyre). Apparently, through an experiment conducted by Dr Timothy Ryschon when at the University of Texas, it was found that there was very little difference between tyres that are pumped to the correct or normal pressure and those that were over inflated to make them very hard, rendering the benefits of this advice as negligible.