Are you one of those cyclists who feels the need for speed? Part of the fun of riding is finding out just how fast you can go. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
Whether you’re a beginner cyclist or have hit a wall in your overall fitness and development, use these five tips to improve your average speed and find your peak.
1. Be more aero.
While trading your baggy jersey and standard road helmet for more aerodynamic options will definitely increase your overall average speed, your body position on the bike will make an even greater difference.
Instead of riding with your hands on the tops or hoods of your handlebars, you can improve the aerodynamics of your position and expose less of yourself to the wind by:
- Riding in the hoods.
- Tucking your elbows so they fall directly in front of your knees.
- Bending your elbows to lower your torso and achieve a flat back.
- Lowering your head.
On average, this will save you around 15 percent of your power output when compared with riding in a more upright position.
2. Watch your diet.
To get faster, you’ll either have to get stronger or lose weight. Cycling, particularly when you head uphill, is all about your power-to-weight ratio — or how many watts you can generate per pound of body weight. If your bike, equipment, power and fitness stay exactly the same, your average speed will improve with every pound you lose.
This means opting for meals consisting of lean meats and vegetables that are portioned appropriately following your ride instead of lunging for beer and pizza. Eating a balanced diet and laying off the indulgences eventually will make a big difference out on the road.
3. Ride with training partners.
It’s basic science: The less exposed you are to the wind, the faster you’ll ride. Riding behind another cyclist will allow you to save up to 40 percent in energy expenditure when compared with riding exposed to the wind.
While this alone will improve your average speed considerably, riding with a training partner who is better than you a few times per week can help you when you decide to ride solo, too. A good training partner will push you to ride farther and faster than you normally would alone. And the more often you step outside of your comfort zone, the faster you’ll get.