There is a huge amount of information out there on how to improve your power on the bike and how to go faster, climb higher and ride 200k in 8 hours. But what about the person whose purpose of riding their bike is so that they can eat whatever they like. Or the person who weighs 120kg plus and who just wants to go out and enjoy cycling whilst doing something to improve their health and well being. Cycling is a great way to loose a little weight, but they may never become waif like and may never want to. However, everyone who sits up on a bike is a cyclist and there are a number of tips that can help anyone of any shape or size to enjoy their cycling more, and to stick at it. Here are just a few :
1 : Choose your gears wisely – 34 x 32 is the way to go. That means having a compact 50/34 Chain-set on the front and an 11 – 32 Cassette on the rear or similar. You may have to change from a standard rear derailleur to a long cage version but the investment is well worthwhile.
2 : Don’t push too hard and blow – Pace yourself on climbs. Learn what pace suits you and remember the old adage ‘Slow and steady wins the race’. Don’t try to make a big push on the lower part of any climb but save your effort for the last 100 meters before the top. Use your gears wisely. Do not try to save a few for when you get into trouble. Use the lowest gears on your bike right from the start of a climb and never get into trouble at all.
3 : Descend faster – use this advantage. Extra weight gives extra momentum when going down hill. Don’t panic if you are a little behind near the top of a climb. You can make up that lost ground on terrain that suits you more. To become good at anything you must practice. You will have to climb to get to the top of the hill so that you can descend. Often heavier riders will avoid hilly terrain at all costs, but those hills are where you will get fitter and improve your climbing and descending. Most sportives will include a few hills, so train for them and fear nothing.
4 : Pump your tyres to 120 psi – If you are a heavier rider you will be more prone to getting a pinch flat if you hit a pot hole or a stone. By pumping your tyres to 120 psi you will lessen the chance of this happening. You will also notice the roughness of the road a little more but the avoidance of getting a puncture is worth the slight added discomfort.
5 : Check the saddle bag rub – If you have heavier legs you may find that the saddle bag or even saddle clamp may rub against the inside of your shorts or leggings. Watch out for this and get a narrower saddle bag if necessary and possibly one that does not attach with velcro around the seat tube. If your saddle is set back on the seat post and you are catching the top of the clamp look at getting a seat-post with more setback so that the wider part of the saddle will cover the head of the seat clamp.
6 : Drink plenty and pee often – Heavier riders tend to sweat slightly more so be sure to replace lost liquids. If you are cycling to loose a little weight you might find that the first part to go will involve dislodging water retention so be prepared to have a few extra pee stops.
7 : Choose colours and designs for your shape – Everyone is a little vain and few want to draw attention to their size if carrying a few extra pounds. Cycling clothing with vertical lines works well to camouflage some of what can be accentuated when in lycra. Contrasting colours are also a bit more slimming than solid colours.
8 : Get a bike fit – It is important to be as comfortable as possible so having a bike correctly fitted to you is a huge benefit. From experience I have also found that some heavier cyclists just had themselves down as complete non climbers but when their position was adjusted, sometimes pretty dramatically they suddenly found that they could indeed get over some of the previously insurmountable cols.
9 : As your weight changes your position must change too – If you loose weight then your position on the bike will change too. Your comfortable torso angle at 120kg will be different at 110 kg. This can lead to neck and shoulder pain if not adjusted to suit.
10 : Enjoy the one sport that can be yours. – Cycling is a sport for everyone. Young and Old, Tall or Small, Skinny or Fuller figured. Everyone can cycle a bike and every genuine cyclist is very happy to see another person out practicing the sport they love. Never feel self conscious about your size or weight but feel proud that you may be the inspiration behind someone out there in a car, overweight and unhealthy, who wants to do something but feels unsure, and who by seeing you out there on a bicycle might take that action step to do something about it.