3 Golden Rules To Follow As A Cyclist
Make cycling a lifestyle, and not a fad, by following these 3 golden rules.
Cycling is an awesome sport that challenges you like no other. It can take you to exotic locations, introduce you to new friends, and help you have fun into your old age. Cycling also helps you burn fat, and keeps your heart and muscles healthy and strong. However, there is a lot more to cycling than meets the eye. So, to really become proficient at the sport, read on for 3 golden rules of cycling that you should follow.
In order to get the most out of your cycling experience, you need to know some ground rules
Don’t Burn Out
There are two ways to burn out from cycling, mentally and physically. When you mentally burn out, it can come from boredom with some part of your cycling routine. Physically burning out is when you over train, and your body doesn’t have enough time to recover. Out of the 3 golden rules of cycling, not burning out might be the most important of them all.
There are many ways to mentally burn out from cycling. You might get bored of your typical training route and its scenery. The type of riding you do might also get monotonous. If you only do hill climbing or flat routes, and never do any sort of training program or interval training, things might get boring and you risk burning out.
When you start to get tired of your typical cycling routine, it might be time to start cross training. By incorporating other sports into your weekly itinerary, you can experience different levels of fun and challenges, giving you more gusto when you return to cycling. If you do nothing but eat and breath cycling all year long, its only a matter of time before you start dreaming of doing something else.
So keep cycling fun by doing other things. Travel with your bike and ride new, exotic roads and trails. Rent a downhill bike at a ski resort and blast your way down the trails. Try an entirely different sport like kayaking or running. By doing sports aside from cycling, you not only keep things fresh, but you also develop a more well-rounded level of fitness.
Physically burning out from cycling is something much more apparent when it happens, and can be classified as “over training”. If you’ve been training very hard, for a long period of time, your body needs several days of complete rest to recharge and recover. With over training, you don’t get enough rest and recovery, resulting in negative side effects. You might start getting headaches, fatigue, nausea, or even irritability and mood changes. Your performance levels will also drop when you over train, so you start actually damaging your own fitness.
Another way a cyclist can burn out is by doing too much too soon. Many cyclists get so excited after buying a new bike or cycling kit that they go and do the hardest ride they’ve ever done. They then realize they bit off more than they can chew, and spend the next few days recovering, doubting whether cycling is the sport for them.
This is a typical beginner move: doing too much too soon. Prevent this by pacing yourself and learning your fitness limits.
Cycling can be very hard, but it can also be relaxing and easy. Don’t always go 100% percent, your body and mind will pay for it in the long run. To avoid physically burning out, pace yourself, and be honest about your experience and fitness limits, and ride within them. Eventually you can push yourself more on the bike, but a gradual increase in difficulty will let your body keep up with your training demands. Schedule proper rest and recovery between workouts to ensure your body has the ability to grow stronger from training.
A healthy diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fats will also prevent burnout, balancing your blood sugar and giving you increased energy.
Keep it simple
This golden rule applies to all cyclists, not only beginners
All too often, a beginner cyclist will bring way too much gear on a ride with them, only to regret it later. Lugging around too much stuff is annoying when riding, and will distract you and slow you down. If you want to focus on the cycling, and not the gear, then less is more.
Another way people overcomplicate cycling is worrying too much about their bikes. Is their bike light enough? Do I need more “stiffness”? Should I buy carbon fiber handlebars? The answer to these questions is usually no. Many people spend thousands of dollars on exotic race bikes, yet get passed up hills by people on $500 clunkers. Its not about the bike, its about the rider.
Don’t make your life complicated by bringing too much gear, or spending too much money on unnecessary accessories. Hard work is the only way to get better at cycling, so keep it simple, cut out all the rubbish, and get to work!
Oh, and STAY POSITIVE!
Know Your Stuff
The 3 golden rules of cycling wouldn’t be complete without the final rule, know your stuff!
Cycling is not only about riding, its also about maintenance. If you don’t properly take care of your bike, it will not work properly. Learning to work on your bike is not only fun, but crucial to prevent getting stranded on a ride in the future. You should know how to change a flat, patch a tire, adjust your breaks, and generally tune up your bike. A lot of breakdowns that happen on a ride are a result of the rider neglecting to take care of his or her bike properly. So, always keep your bike tuned up, clean and ready to go!
A clean, well tuned bike is faster than a beat up, muddy wreck
Another crucial thing every cyclist should know is how to properly plan a route. Firstly, you should track the weather before a ride, as an expected rain shower might prompt you to bring a jacket. Also, knowing which direction the wind will be blowing should also be taken into account. If you don’t track the wind, you might be facing headwinds on the return journey. So track the weather to stay dry and find those tailwinds!
Planning a cycling route can also help prevent you from running out of water or food on long rides. During hot weather you sweat more, making you go through more water during a ride. This, coupled with the fact that cycling in hot weather makes you burn more calories, makes planning your route even more important. Plan you routes so that you encounter a refueling station around mid-ride. This will let you refill your water bottles and grab a snack.
If you run out of water sooner than you thought, you’ll be glad to know a refueling station isn’t far away if you plan ahead
Traffic is another consideration when you plan your route, as merging onto a highway is both scary and dangerous. Planning your route, with the help of Google Maps, allows you to avoid big roads, and choose only the best, traffic free routes for your rides.