Tips for people looking to go on their first Century Ride

century-rides

For those unfamiliar with the term, a century ride is a 100-150 mile race that lasts about 11-12 hours and is mostly recommended for hard core riders. For newbies at times it becomes overwhelming but trust me it’s an experience of a lifetime. Training for these rides isn’t like training for any other race and thus you need to avoid certain loopholes to get it right. So here’s what you should do.

Take the long road

Since you now have an idea how tough and tiring these races can be training for 5-6 days in a week is a must out of which 2-3 days should be really long rides where you get close to at least 60-70 miles.

On the remaining 2-3 days focus on rides that help you improve basic skills such as pedaling, shifting gears etc. Apart from that focus on muscle development, cardio and a few months in also improve your VO2 capabilities.

Be patient

One of the biggest mistakes new century riders tend to make is not starting their training ASAP. While most experts will recommend 2-3 months of training which is great for semi-pros with a good riding efficiency and gear but for newbies my suggestion would be training for a minimum of 6 months.

Your body needs time to adjust to the longer rides and rigorous training so you not only barely cross the finish line but perform well too.

Go the full distance

Has your trainer be telling you that a 70-80 mile ride will prepare you well enough for a century ride? While I have no objections to that but my question is why not simply go the distance and prep better? You’ll be surprised how often people fail to make the entire distance so why take the risk?

A full ride once a week for the final 2-3 weeks should be ideal. This will provide a mental as well a physical boost.

Make interval training priority

To build your VO2 the most ideal technique is integrating interval training along with your other cycling routines. Here you’ll need to cycle as hard as you can for a short burst of about 40-45 seconds in between your normal rides.

Build on those seconds and lower rest times as your lung capacity increases and muscles develop. It’s great for endurance and thus perfect for century riders.

Confidence is crucial to these races. It’s not about questioning your ability but rather finding a way to do it.

Still got a doubt? Check out the guide below

5 Plank variations every cyclist must do

Well you’re probably wondering why the plank. Isn’t cycling all about the calves, thighs etc.? While that’s correct it’s not the only muscles that cycling affects. Core is an important muscle that mostly comes into play while climbing and descending and thus having a stronger core is a must.  I’d recommend you do some cardio before your workouts as it will get you all warmed up. If you’re suffering injuries then rowing machines can be a good way to go about it.

It will also make you faster, fitter, improve balance etc. and planks are one of the best exercises to do so. So here are a few variations you must try next time you hit the gym.

Mountain Climber

Begin in a push up pose. Once you’re ready shift your left leg forward close to your elbows with your knee bent and return to the original pose. Now do the same with your next leg. Don’t be in a rush. Take it slow initially.

Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps and once you’re able to do it comfortably take it up a notch by doing the same movement using a stability ball.

plank-climber

Single Arm Plank

This is one of the most basic variations to the regular workout. All you need to do is start off in a similar pose like for a push up or plank but this time rather than both arms being on the floor you’ll need to keep one of them raised.

Now keep the same pose for about 25-30 seconds and then switch hands. To take this workout up a notch you can raise one leg too or simply place a weight plate on your back.

single-arm-plank

Plank Side Twist

For this variation you’ll need to place your legs over each other and stretched. Now lift your left hand and twist as if trying to reach for the elbow of your other hand. Take a slight pause and then return to original pose and repeat with your next hand. In case you struggle initially switch to your forearms. Perform 2-3 sets with 10 reps. See video guide below to know more.

 

Plank weighted plate drag

Well this is where things get really serious so if you’re a newbie you might want to leave this one out for now. You’ll need a tile or wooden flooring for this workout.

Keep your knees bent and closer to your hands and position a weight plate under your feet.

Now drag the plate back and forth. To take it up a level increase the weights. Start off with 2 sets of 10 reps and add as you build strength.

plank-weight-plate-drag

Side plank knee raise

With one of your arms fixed to the ground and your legs positioned on top of each other and body turned sideways you will gently need to move the top leg closer to your chest and get back to normal pose.

Perform 2 sets of 7 reps with one leg and then switch to the other. If you’re a beginner I would recommend you do it with your forearms on the floor for better stability.

side-plank-knee-raise

5 Things you can do to get better at descents

One of the best things about cycling is the long descents especially if you love hitting the trails but yes only if you do it right. The problem with it is that they seem pretty easy. Just glide down along the path, isn’t it? But that’s not how you should do it if you want to do it quickly and efficiently. You need find the right balance between speed, posture and handling. Here’s what you need to change.

Get the balance right

The right aerodynamic posture for riding downhill is to remain slightly flow with the elbows bent and tucked inwards and with the hands placed lower of the handlebars.

If you’ve stopped pedaling then keep your knees bent too and placed inwards while in a slightly standing pose for better balance and handling. Remember every movement will impact your balance and thus maintaining stability and keeping the wheels fixed to the ground is important.

Practice the corners

Want to perfect your corners? Switch your TV channel to Moto GP. They are the perfect example of how to tackle corners at high speed. Keep in mind that you enter the corner at a moderate pace and get out of it quickly.

While you do that stay slightly bent and lean into the corner. Transfer the tension onto the away leg to maintain balance during the curve like shown in the image below.

corners

Stop if needed

Another important aspect of descending is being calm and relaxed even it means making a small pit stop in between. This is because being stressed and panicky creates a being frozen like situation which makes it harder to control the bike as you tend to grip harder, pedal less etc.

Keep your posture right and maintain a loose grip on the handles. This will help you manoeuvre easily and maintain better balance.

Do it smartly

Technique aside, descending is also about thinking right. You need to adapt to the situation and plan your descent accordingly especially when doing it along with a group. Making sudden movements can jeopardize your and also others safety.

Whether you’re looking to get ahead or hold position the key is to maintain the right posture and pedal hard to raise speed. Practice it well and avoid it in case you feel too tired or worn out.

Get help

Nobody said it’s going to be easy and if you’re having trouble and are not able to get it right the best thing is to get some help. Get in touch with a few trail riders around and ask them for help. You can also join a group.

You can find biking groups online. A trainer will push you to the limits thus help you get better but in case you’re just not up for it take a step back and take your time.

cycling-group

5 Things I did to cycle better and so can you

I know you’ve been cycling for ages now but believe it or not irrespective of your experience there’s always room for improvement and no these improvements aren’t long term fixes that take months or years to show results.

In fact most of them can be implemented on your next ride itself.  Here are 5 minor changes that helped me get better on the bike that I suggest every newbie or even some pros to make.

I improved my climb

Every time you close in on a climb the first and foremost thing you need to do is change your stance on the saddle but doing so wrongly can result in imbalance and also loss of speed so here’s how you should be doing it.

Firstly you’ll need to stand. Once that’s done apply more force into your pedaling and maintain balance. This helps as there’s no pause. Here’s more in detail in the video below.

 

 I hydrate at regular intervals

One of the most common causes of exhaustion or tiredness while riding is dehydration. It impairs your muscle coordination, vision etc. thus negatively affecting your performance. Next time carry a stopwatch or set an alarm that beeps every 10-15 minutes.

Gulp down some water or even a few sips of your favorite sports drink irrespective of whether you’re thirsty or not. Once you’re into the habit you won’t need the beeps anymore.

I corrected my elbow position

The usual stance is to keep the elbow straight while riding but trust me it’s wrong as it overburdens the arms and ultimately spoils your posture on the bike which in turn can also lead to neck and shoulder aches.

Always keep your elbows slightly bent. This way you’re able to react faster on bumps and climbs and maintain balance and posture better. Apart from that it’s aerodynamically correct and thus you’ll ride faster by putting in the same effort.

cycling-elbow

I learnt to descend 

I know the urge to simply let go and slide down while descending especially after a rough and tough climb but pedaling while on a high gear makes it easier as it improves stability and allows you to pick up speed if and when needed.

This is especially useful in the cold as it prevents your legs from stiffening as lactic acid continues to be pumped out of the muscles. Here’s few tips to help you do it right.

 

I learnt repair work

Well it is your bike and irrespective of whether you like it or not maintenance and repair work for it is your headache. A flat tire, chain coming off etc. are cycling troubles you’ll face often so be prepared rather than sorry.

Learn how to replace tires. Keep the chain well-greased and run a maintenance check before every long ride. Having the gear is good but intelligence lies is learning to use it right.