With British summertime on the horizon, you may be thinking about the best way to prepare for your summer sportive or beating your rival at the weekly club time trial.
Whatever your intention, we’re sure getting faster will play a part in your preparation. Follow our top tips to discover what you can do, starting right now, to get faster in time for summer.
Quick Fixes - Try these today
The single biggest energy expenditure you make as a rider is punching your way through the air. The less frontal volume you present to the wind the faster you can go for the same energy output. Simply riding on the drops, tucking your elbows in and lowering your torso will instantly mean you can ride 1mph an hour faster!
If you are doing your training on an indoor bike (we don’t recommend listening to music outside) then listening to music will make you faster!
In a study from 2009 eleven male cyclists were tested over a 10km time trial either listening to music, music played initially then stopped or expecting music to start playing.
Researchers discovered that participants cycled 1-1.25 km/h faster when music was introduced, than when music was removed or there was no music at all.
Getting your favourite playlist on will help you go faster right now, but also to train harder and achieve more in the future. Furthermore, synchronizing your choice of music to your cadence can help reduce the feelings of discomfort during a hard cycling session.
In 6 weeks
If you are a keen Wattbike user, you’ll know that when you stop pedalling you lose all momentum. So, keeping the power applied to the pedals at all times during a ride will raise your average speed.
Next time you’re out on the road, instead of free-wheeling as soon as you reach the top of a climb press on over the top to carry more speed into the descent. Even when you are resting, eating or drinking keep the pedals turning lightly so you maintain speed and momentum.
Reduce reliance on your brakes
Every time you touch your brakes you lose speed - obviously - however reducing how often your brake and learning to brake later will help you maintain your momentum. This is a skill that requires practice but it doesn’t require you to be any fitter so in many ways it is ‘free speed’.
Love them or hate them intervals are a proven way to get faster. Very short bouts of high intensity effort followed by recovery will help increase your power output and also improve your technique at higher effort levels. It’s sweaty, it hurts and it requires a lot of motivation but regular commitment to these sessions will definitely make you faster by summer.
Try this - it is simple, short but effective. Pedal as hard as you can for thirty seconds, pedal at an easy pace for 60 seconds then repeat four times. This gives you two minutes of very high intensity training in total. After four repeats recover for four minutes. Do this set 2-3 times before warming down. Alternatively, look in the Wattbike Hub for several great HIIT sessions.
Called sweet-spot because the effort level is only just manageable but can be sustained, one of the best descriptions is “hardly comfortable, but comfortably hard”. You will need to work at 88-93 per cent of your functional threshold power for the full duration of the effort and sweet-spot intervals are long. When you first do them start with ten minutes and build up to twenty minutes. The first few minutes will feel relatively easy but you will need to concentrate to keep the power output even throughout. By the last few minutes you will feel like it is on the edge of being too difficult but with determination you will be able to hold the power all the way to the end.
These sessions will increase the power you can sustain for 15-45 minutes which will make you faster up alpine climbs, in a ten-mile time trial, a cyclocross race or for track endurance events.
Weight loss doesn’t apply to everyone, if you have a body fat percentage of less than 12% for a man and less than 20% for a woman then any more weight loss may be detrimental to your health and riding. However, if you have some fat to lose you will find dropping a few pounds will benefit your speed.
Body fat is inert, it is to be totally frank just lard and the less blocks of lard you are carrying uphill the faster you will climb. Even on the flat it makes a difference and depending on how much you have to lose it can affect your aerodynamics and ability to hold a good riding position.
Weight loss needs to be done slowly over time so as not to compromise your health or your training.