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Competitive cycling is by far the biggest motivator for a cyclist to improve his skills. When you’re training alone with no particular objective in mind, it’s easy to get complacent or lazy and let your skills stagnate.
When you have a race to prepare for and rivals to beat, on the other hand, you”re more willing to push your limits to get better at cycling. I won’t lie to you – cycling competitions are hard work. However, when you’re clutching that champion’s trophy or medal in your hand, it’ll be worth it.
Training For Competitions
What was it Thomas Edison said about genius? “Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. That quote is equally applicable to sports. If you want to be a cycling champion, you need to work hard. Cycling has to become more than a hobby. It has to be your lifestyle. Let’s get started.
Training for Stamina
Competitive cycling requires a combination of stamina and strength. Most cyclists find endurance training more difficult because it requires more mental fortitude. With time, that can be developed too. These training techniques will improve your cardiovascular performance in no time.
- No champion cyclist pedals at the same speed throughout a race. Even if it’s a long-distance race, he needs to sprint regularly to overtake his opponents. Mustering the energy for a full-blown sprint during a long ride requires interval training.
- Interval training involves alternating periods of low-intensity cycling with maximum-intensity sprints.
- For example, a cyclist could cycle at 50 percent of his maximum energy output for three minutes and execute an all-out sprint for 30 seconds. This would be one set. The cyclist would then perform ten to twenty sets.
- As you get fitter, you should increase the sprinting time gradually while keeping the “rest time” static. In competitive cycling, the longer you can sustain a sprint, the better you’ll do.
- At least once a week, you ought to undertake a long-distance ride.
- Even cyclists in a relatively short 1200-metre race need to do long-distance training. The rationale is this – if you can cover 12000 metres easily, you’ll be able to go faster in a 1200-metre race.
- For your weekly marathon rides, aim for distance, not intensity. Aiming to increase the distance cycled by five percent from one workout to another will yield good results.
Training for Strength
Practicing your sprints will only get you so far. If you really want to improve the explosive power of your lower body, you need to train using weights. You don’t need to get all buffed up like a Mr Olympia contestant (although getting a better-looking body is a great bonus) for competitive cycling, but you do need to get stronger. Here are two training principles that will aid you in your strength training.
In order for your muscles to grow bigger and stronger, you need to challenge them constantly. Over time, your muscles will get used to a certain weight and a certain number of repetitions of each exercise. If you don’t change things up, your progress will stagnate. From one workout to another, you should always aim to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting or the number of repetitions you perform.
Form Over Weight
Although lifting heavy weights will increase the explosive power of your muscles, you should never prioritize the weight you lift over the form you use. Every weightlifting exercise should be performed with the strictest possible form. This prevents injury and recruits a maximum number of muscle fibers for sustained growth.
For competitive cycling, there are two different kinds of weight training workouts. One is a low-weight, high-repetition workout (see Workout 1 below) and the second is a high-weight, low-repetition workout (see Workout 2 below). You should do one of each type of workout every week to ensure you possess both explosive power and muscular endurance.
Sample Workout 1
- Squats – 3 sets x 20 repetitions
- Calf Raises – 3 sets x 30 repetitions
- Dumbbell Lunges – 3 sets x 20 repetitions
Sample Workout 2
- Squats – 3 sets x 6 repetitions
- Leg Press – 5 sets x 8 repetitions
- Deadlift – 3 sets x 6 repetitions
If you aren’t sure how to perform these exercises, you can visit our weight training page or check with your local gym instructors!
Equipment for Biking Competitions
With a great training regime, you’ve won more than half the battle. To truly maximize your chances of success in competitive cycling, however, you need the right equipment as well. Here are three pieces of cycling equipment every cycling champion needs.
It’s pretty obvious that in order to maximize your cycling potential, you need to see constant progress in your training. The trouble is, how do you know when you’re improving? A power meter is the most accurate way to gauge your performance and by taking down your power meter rating for each workout, you’ll be better equipped to set realistic goals and spur yourself on in training.
Stationary Bike Trainer
A competitive cyclist never skips training unless he is ill. However, inclement weather can severely affect your training regime – no sane cyclist would want to be practicing his sprints in heavy rain or snow. A stationary bike trainer will “weather-proof” your training regime so you can deliver your best competitive cycling performance in races. For the most realistic indoor cycling experience, fluid or magnetic trainers are the best options.
Bicycle Repair Kit
Maintaining your bicycle in the best possible condition will minimize the chances of a mid-race bicycle malfunction, but as the saying goes, even the best laid plans might fail. You should carry a small, portable set of repair tools with you to every cycling competition so that you can repair any broken bike parts swiftly and be on your way in the event of a breakdown.
Of course, other standard bicycle accessories like bike helmets and cycling clothes are a must-have for all competitive cyclists. In fact, if you want to participate in competitions, you should invest in the most high-end bicycles, safety gear and apparel to give yourself every possible advantage.
Conclusion: Have The Right Mindset
You can train till you puke and still not succeed in competitive cycling. You can buy the most expensive equipment and still finish last. Everything we’ve discussed above is useless if you don’t have the right mindset.
If you want to win races, you need to be humble, diligent and determined. You need to be able to push through the pain and make the lifestyle sacrifices needed to support a successful cycling career. Remember – tough times don’t last, tough men do. And it’s tough men that walk away with the gold medal in every cycling competition. You could be one of them.
Books About Competative Cycling and Bicycle Races
For more information, there are some informative books about competitive cycling. You can find them on several online book stores: