If you've never been much of a cyclist, or maybe you've never even been on a bike, cycling races appear overwhelming. However, while you won't go from a couch potato to bike racer overnight, you can achieve your goal of becoming an accomplished cyclist with some time and effort. A few basic tips to get you started on your journey will help you get the right gear and train for success on the bike.
Invest in High-quality Gear
If you're putting all your energy into training, but you don't have the right equipment, you're not going to produce the best results. To avoid frustration, invest in a high-quality bike. You certainly don't need the best bike, but a good-quality one will last for years and help you achieve your cycling goals. A good helmet, lights, a basic tool kit and a few pairs of cycling clothing round out your starting gear. Start with the basic equipment and add on as needed. You may want to purchase biking gear specific to the weather conditions in your area, so ask the experts at a bike shop what they recommend.
Start At Home
In addition to getting on the bike, start exercises that strengthen your core, legs and protect your lower back at home before you set off. Start your workouts by performing three sets of planks, lunges, supermans and one-legged squats. These basic exercises get you ready for cycling and make a great addition to your work on the bike. Start these exercises immediately, especially if you're waiting on your bike or other equipment to get started.
You may be inspired to start cycling for hours at a time, but you're more likely to stick with your workouts if you start slowly and build up gradually. Train four days a week, with rest days to allow your muscles to heal in-between. Your first week should consist of rides less than 20 minutes where your goal is to continuously cycle on a flat, paved surface. For your second week, learn how to cycle standing up, by cycling for one-minute intervals throughout the week. For your third week, increase your workout from 20 to 25 minutes. At this point, you also should focus on increasing the intensity of your workout by introducing new surfaces. Try cycling on grass or gravel for at least five minutes of your workout, decreasing or adding onto this time if you experience fatigue.
Gradually Increase Intensity
Your fourth week should incorporate hills into your rides. Start with small hills and avoid over-exerting yourself. On your fifth week, increase the intensity by taking your bike off-road. Bike at a moderate pace on different types of surfaces including gravel, trail and grass. You should also be biking anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes in your workouts by this point. After this point, you should feel confident about your cycling abilities to continue alternating your week's goals on speed, intensity and surfaces. To stick with your ultimate goal of being a racer, make a small goal for each week and record your progress. Consider joining a cycling club and look for races in your area. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to your first race, leaving your old couch potato habits in the dust.