30 things learned in 30 years of cycling – No. 6

How to go faster with less effort

Most cyclists want to go a little faster, but without using any more energy or effort. Here are 7 ways to help you on your way:

1 : Increase your cadence : Many cyclists depend on their strength and power to get them around in a slightly inefficient manner. Increase your cadence and become more efficient and save some of that strength until. A higher cadence makes it easier to maintain your speed over short drags and climbs too when a bigger gear would have you reaching for the levers to shift down.

2 : Breathe deeply : Plenty of cyclists forget all about their breathing and take it for granted that it will work away fine all by itself. Often they will be using only 30 – 40% of their lung capacity even on hard climbs, puffing away like a dog after chasing a few rabbits. Be aware of your breathing and consciously breath deeply whilst also focusing on the breaths outward journey. Try to expel as much of the stale air as possible from your lungs and they will naturally breath in more deeply themselves.

3 : Get more aero : On the flat you should be out on top of the brake hoods with your elbows relaxed or if you are riding into a headwind you should be down on the drops for some of the time. Just watch your speed increase when you maintain the same perceived effort whilst down on the drops as you were making whilst up on top of the bars.

4 : Pump your tyres : Riding your bike at 70 psi is like cycling in sand compared to bouncing along with 120 psi in your tyres. A minimum of at least 100 is needed but going up to 120psi will make you faster for the same effort.  Although you will feel more bumps along the way.

5 : Wear tighter clothing : I often see people who look like they just fell out of a sky diving plane on windy days out on the bike, especially if it’s raining. Annalise Murphy used a sail to get a silver medal in the Olympics but dressing like the sail on her boat will only slow you down on a bicycle.

6 : Stop braking : Watch a Pro sometime and notice how they glide through corners and use every bit of free energy they can get. Jamming on into every corner and then having to sprint out of it to keep up with the group you are cycling with wastes a huge amount of energy. When you are out on your own practice cornering to see just how little braking is needed and where best to do your braking (Normally before the corner so that you are barely if at all using the brakes on the apex)

7 : Know how and where to find shelter : I will go out in anything other than ice, but on stormy days will always plan out my route carefully to ensure as much shelter as possible. In a group always be aware of which side the wind is coming from and position yourself accordingly.




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