1. Build your training properly
It's tempting, but not a good idea to immediately attack the first best street segment after a long winter break. To get in shape and pedal smoothly, it's smart to establish a training plan. That means, start with gentle rides and alternate this with more intense workouts. Your body needs to get used to the effort you're going to put in.
If you really want to peak in the summer and amaze your friends with your above-average cycling performance, let them think you're taking it easy for a while and then strike at the moments that really matter. Start with easy endurance rides and enjoy the scenery. To get used to speed changes, you can build in short intervals twice a week, for example: 10 times 1 minute faster - 1 minute easy. I deliberately write faster instead of fast. You should still be fresh enough for a chat after this series and not drag your tongue across the asphalt due to fatigue. Start with this in the the first few weeks of the spring.
2. Use tools
By tools, in this case, I don't mean a wrench, pump or even your bike, but the training support that can help you so greatly these days. I'm talking about the ""powermeter,"" cadence meter, and heart rate monitor. After all, the days when we only looked at our odometer to clock kilometers are over.
Use your heart rate monitor in conjunction with your power meter. If you know at what power level you can approximately sustain an effort of around 45 minutes, then you know where your tipping point lies. Many cyclists make the mistake of riding endurance blocks at a too high intensity. Riding fast feels great, of course, but if you want to improve your fitness, it is a good idea to cycle several blocks around your turning point. Your heart rate monitor and power meter will indicate this. If you ride above your heart rate too often and for too long, you will break down rather than build up your fitness.
So don't just train hard, train smart. Variety will take you to the next level, step by step. It's wise to build these workouts into your schedule after the initial start-up weeks.
3. Train for oxygen
Your muscles obviously need adequate oxygen in addition to nutrition to endure. To cycle as efficiently as possible, the oxygen factories in your muscles, also called mitochondria, must work optimally. To get your body to produce these handy guys, you'll need to seek out intensity in your training in addition to long endurance rides.
You can do this by doing so-called HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). You can warm up briefly and then bike a block of 6 times 20 second sprints followed by 40 seconds of rest. Yes, you read it correctly. So a total of 6 minutes of training! I can hear you thinking, ""Mark, you can't do that, can you?"" Yes, you can. With these workouts, you ultimately stimulate the production of mitochondria and thus the oxygen uptake capacity of your muscles. This allows your body to use this scarce source of energy more efficiently, even during longer rides. Therefore, alternate your long endurance rides with at least 2 short intensive interval training sessions a week. If you want to learn more about mitochondria and the influence of workouts, listen to my podcast with professor of nutritional sciences Asker Jeukendrup here:
4. Learn to burn fat
In order to endure longer, you need fat as fuel. Fat provides a lot of energy for a long time, but it is also very slow. To teach your body to use fat as fuel, you can choose to do certain workouts with just water in your water bottle. For example, don't have breakfast for once, but drink only water. Get on your bike for an hour, then sit on a terrace without consuming anything. Do this for at least half an hour, forcing your body to get the energy from something other than carbohydrates. Then cycle home for another hour, also without consuming any nutrients. Even if this is effectively only 2 hours of cycling, your body will struggle. This way, you train your body to use fat as fuel. If you do this once a week, you will notice the effect. And as side benefit, lunch after this ride has never tasted so good!
5. Ride in a group
Bashing into the wind alone is cool, but it takes a lot of energy. In a peloton, you can easily join the wake of your fellow cyclists. Occasionally, take the lead and take turns. The stronger cyclists do longer turns, not the faster ones! Try to keep the pace of the group as steady as possible so that everyone, no matter how short the relief, can do their part. Not only is it more sociable, but the pace is also faster. So, you are cycling at high average speeds without realizing it. Always try to watch your position in the peloton and steer thoughtfully. The better you can be out of the wind, the more energy you can save. And the more appropriately you can react, the safer. Plus, sharing the stories of your heroic bike rides of course also help again as a motivator for the whole season.
6. This miracle stuff works
There is a lot to buy in terms of supplements and foods. Besides good carbs, fats, and proteins that you need to fuel your body, it is wise not to forget caffeine. You know this good stuff, of course, from coffee, energy drinks, or chocolate. Scientists have agreed for years that caffeine has a positive effect on your endurance, focus, and strength.
But, the best way to ingest caffeine is through chewing gum. That's why we developed FIRST. A chewing gum with a liquid core of caffeine and B vitamins.
Cyclists like Dylan van Baarle, Puck Moonen, as well as Mathieu van der Poel, know FIRST as a gum that provides them with a long-lasting energy boost.