4 Myths That Slow Cyclists Down

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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4 Myths That Slow Cyclists Down

Avoid falling for these myths by keeping variety in your routine and practice the elements of cycling:

Where your pedals end up during a corner depends on the corner type (e.g., flat, loose, berms), your entry speed and your bike type (e.g., full-height saddle or dropped?). Rather than instantly dropping your outside pedal (i.e., outside pedals at 6 o’clock), you want to instigate corners with your gaze. Looking around the corner shifts your hips and helps guide your feet to the place they need to be to provide balance and traction. If you are confident you will make the corner given your entry speed, you can keep your pedals level and actually pump (push) into the corner to gain speed as you exit. Your long-term goal is to develop the ability to have your pedals moving on a continuum between the level pedals and outside foot down depending on the cornering scenario you are in.

Practice variations in pedal position by repeating the same corner multiple times using different strategies. Finding a pump track to work on pumping and cornering gives you numerous repetitions and great feedback on your exit speed.

Standing up is an important cycling position that can be used to accelerate, let some pressure off your butt, conquer a steep climb or win the local town-sign sprint. More recreational goals do not require as much standing, but that does not mean it’s not a valuable tool. It is not an issue whether standing is better than sitting, but rather, a question of where you will use each strategy. Rarely will one climb (or ride) be all seated or all standing. It will be a mix.

Try practicing standing up a 30–60 second climb once a week. Do a few slower reps and, if you’re comfortable going harder, try a few faster repetitions. Watch riders on your group rides and in any races to see who stands often and comfortably.

Climbing is a challenge for most cyclists and some of this comes from misconceptions around shifting. Newer cyclists often default to ‘granny gear’ well before they are on the climb so they have their ‘climbing gear’ ready before they are on the climb. This early and excessive shift sacrifices valuable momentum that would make the climb easier and shorter and sees newer riders climbing at the same speed in every climb they do, regardless of steepness or difficulty.

A beneficial exercise to understand how your shifting works is to put your bike in a repair stand and practice shifting it until you are 100% competent in which shifter does what. Your indoor trainer is also a great way to work on shifting; use your gears a lot indoors and you will find your outdoor riding is much easier come spring. Once you have shifting figured out, try it on a safe and gradual climb where you need to be a little more attentive to how hard you pedal for about a half pedal stroke as you shift.

It’s OK to eat on the bike if you want to perform well, go long and even if you want to lose weight. If your ride is short and well within your normal duration/intensity, then you can consume little-to-no food, but this needs to be done carefully and is generally not done for every training session.

The danger of under-fueling on the bike is evident when you get home and proceed to eat all the chips and cookies in sight. This post-workout binge can derail your weight-loss efforts more than 600 hundred calories consumed during a 3-hour ride when your body is actively using the fuel.

Aim to meet the 200 calories an hour as a low minimum on long or hard rides. The downstream bonus is a faster recovery because your body is not as depleted, so you can train again sooner to improve your fitness.

About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at www.smartathlete.ca.


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