Tips for RIDERS
- As with the running tips above, for riding you also need to prepare your body to move well. Include mobility and strength in your weekly habits.
- Build up your time on the bike slowly. This allows for your body to adapt to the demands of riding and achieve better form on the bike as more muscles have a chance to turn on and become strong at the same rate. If you go out the blocks too fast, you will compensate with using only your stronger, more dominant muscles and develop bad form that load your joints unevenly. Uneven load through your body tissues is the leading cause of chronic riding injuries due to areas taking excessive strain. These are commonly the knee, lower back and neck.
- Learn to ride well and practice good technique. Technique is not only for the tennis court but is also important on the bike. Sitting too heavily on the saddle and relying too much on your quads will cause trouble over time. The control of your center of gravity (COG) is perhaps the most important to your technique, common mistakes on the bike is that the COG sits too far back and transfers more onto one pedal than the other.
- Use your recovery/easy rides to master an efficient pedal stroke. This is going to build up your strength and movement skill appropriately, rendering you a more efficient pedal stroke. You want to make yourself as light as possible on the bike to prevent deceleration. This requires you to engage your pelvic floor, abdominals, obliques and lats. Your lats will help you 'pull your chest through your shoulders' to help keep your back straight and reduce the strain in your neck. Your obliques and abdominals help your torso to remain a stable base from which to generate an effective pedal stroke. You are wanting to move the bike forwards, therefore the less downward and posterior force on the saddle the better, which is why the pelvic floor is crucial. Then the more muscle fibers (from different muscle groups) you use to contribute power to pedals the better, as this will enable you to preserve your powerful push muscles for when you need to "put the hammer down".
- Keep fast riding to short intervals. This is a brilliant trigger for improving cardiovascular fitness and achieving strength through larger ranges. A good starting point for interval training would be 30s hard followed by 30s easy while maintaining a high cadence throughout. Take your time building it up the resistance.
- Move more during the day. Not being sedentary for long portions of time will prevent your hips, spine and shoulders from stiffening up. If you are sitting alot during the day be sure to open up these areas before you ride as well as during long sessions. If you don't, you will likely adopt a compromised riding posture making you inefficient and injury prone.
- Get your bike set-up for you. We all have different limb lengths and flexibility, these are very important to be accounted for with how you set the bike up as you will spend many hours in the position. Ensure that your foot position is also assessed and that your cleats are set accordingly. You might be surprised to learn that your one foot might have a bit of an angle to it and if unaccounted for it will place repeated strain on the inside or outside of your knee as the foot is locked into position with cleats.
- Ride with others. Riding with someone else will help get you out of bed in time, especially when the weather's not playing along.
- Set goals for yourself. This will keep you motivated and inspired. Let your life be about reaching new frontiers and having new, fantastic experiences. Our final tip is MAKE IT FUN! We inherently want to do things that bring us joy, include this in your riding. Ride for YOU and your enjoyment.
Good luck for your hip openers, steady progression, holding your centre of gravity forwards, short sharp intervals, mobile day jobs, correct bike set-up, friend catch-ups, new races, and joy for days!