BE PREPARED FOR ALL WEATHERS
- Tell someone what time you are expected to return.
- Have emergency phone number somewhere on you and any medical problems (Just in case you crash and not able to speak).
- Take care of your contact points (that’s your hands, feet and bum) but the main thing will be your bum; always wear cycling shorts that suits you best (the most expensive is not always the best for you) and if you are having trouble try different saddles.
- When you are starting your ride don’t fasten your shoes too tight, as your feet will swell a little during the ride.
- When riding always ride with gloves or mitts to help with sore hands and if your wrists hurt a lot then think about raising your handlebars a little or tilting your brake levers a little.
WHAT TO EAT BEFORE A RIDE
Don’t eat too much as this will make you sleepy or there is nothing worse than that sick feeling as you start your ride.
The best thing to have before you set out is the following:
- A bowl of porridge
- A slice of toast
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
On all rides you should be ready for everything and you should have the following with you:
- Working pump.
- One or two spare inner tubes or even a puncture repair kit.
- Tyre levers.
- Some basic tools.
- Mobile phone.
- Some money.
- Drinking bottle and rides over 1 hour some food.
- Gillet or wet weather cape.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AIR PRESSURE?
The air pressure level should be selected depending on the weight of the rider and the way the tyres are used. Generally speaking, lighter riders require less pressure, heavier riders more. We usually recommend choosing a pressure level somewhere between the recommended and the maximum pressure. The maximum tyre pressure indicated on the side of the tyre may not be exceeded. Tyres that are pumped up too much will tend to crack. Wide tyres need less pressure than narrow tyres. If the pressure is too low, there is a risk that the tyre will be crushed if driven over a sharp edge, e.g. a hole in the road or a lowered pavement. Therefore, check and set the pressure correctly on a regular basis.
How often do I have to check the air pressure?
All bicycle tyre systems are subject to continuous pressure loss. The volume of air in a tyre is e.g. directly related to the air temperature around. Check the operating pressure and the condition of your tyres at regular intervals. Check the tyre pressure using a pump with a display (manometer) when the valve is at the 12 o’clock position. Also, check the position of the tyres on the wheel rims using the all-round tyre line. Continental recommends checking tyres every time before use, in particular, if Light and Supersonic tubes are used.
STARTING EACH RIDE
PREPARE FOR ALL WEATHERS
NUTRITION AND HYDRATION
This first plan the rides are quite short with no need to eat on the ride but make sure you have a good meal around 2 hours before your ride. You should be drinking every 20mins and use a carbohydrate-based energy drink.
Some of your rides are over 1.5 hours and you will need to eat during these. The OTE bars and gels are very good but while you are doing slightly shorter ride try different things to eat and my favourite was jam sandwiches.
“Make sure these are right and it will make your ride so much easier!”
RIDING IN THE RAIN
When the weather is wet and you know, you ride is going to be wet there are some simple things that you can do to make the ride better but the main is there are some great products on the market now to keep you dry but there will be a point where the water will start getting through.
Try to wear layers of clothing as if the weather dries up then you can take them off and put in your back pocket.
Lots of overshoes have open soles but for when its wet try to find somewhere the overshoe covers the whole shoe not just the top and for the winter months most shoes have a vent in the front to let the wind through to keep your feet cold, place some tape over the vent to stop the water coming in.
Wear a cotton cap with the peak the front to keep the spray off your glasses to keep your vision clear.
When it’s wet it easy to forget the drink and eat but make sure you feed at the same rate or even more as your body will be working hard to keep warm as well of the effort.
If the weather is very bad, try to ride a little higher level to keep warm and a harder short ride maybe is better in these conditions.
DELIVERY OF THE POWER
The delivery of power is the most important thing when riding a bike and being effective in your pedal stroke will share your energy and all the power going to the pedals leading the speed on the road.
When you are riding try to keep your cadence to around 90 to 95RPM and focus on keeping your upper body relaxed and avoid pulling on the handlebars. This won’t make you ride any faster and will force your pelvis to relax. This is bad as your pelvis is your platform to push from and is it relax as you push down the pelvis will move up. If you ride with a relaxed upper body you can lock in your core and have a solid platform to push from.
The second main point is to pedal leading with your heal, not your toes so you are able to use your ankle to flip over the dead spots on the pedal stroke. By doing this you will be able to pedal less power for the whole 360 degrees and on average this can give you 3 to 4KHP for no extra power.
YOUR CONTACT POINTS
FEEDING DURING THE RIDE
You should be drinking every 15mins and use a carbohydrate-based energy drink. For longer ride when you need more than two bottles take a powder sachet so you can just add water when you can. Stay away from fizzy drink but if you do run out of energy a quick can of coke will save the day.
For all rides over 1 hour, you should be eating every 20min and from the start of the ride when you won’t be feeling hungry yet. If you get the feeling that you are running out of energy then it’s a little too late and starts getting the food inside you.
You should start the ride with high carbohydrate foods using energy bars or cereal bars and jam sandwiches are always good. Make the sandwich, cut into four and wrap each quarter in foil to unwrap during the ride. As you get to the latter stages of you ride move more into sugar-based foods such as energy gels or jelly babies are good.
You want to keep you braking to a minimum as you will have to waste energy getting back to the right speed again. When you are riding try to look as far up the road as possible so you are able to predicted is there are any obstacles coming and maybe slow a little by letting off the effort instead having to brake.
If you do have slow down by braking try to apply the front and rear brake evenly so you don’t skid by applying the rear brake to much or the front with the back wheel coming into the air.
The front brake is the most effective to slow yourself down quickly but always stay on the saddle keep your weight at the rear of the bike to prevent the back wheel leaving the ground and in extreme situations you can go over the front of the bike which would cause damage to you.
If you lock up any of the wheels you are out of control of the bike and when either wheel grip again the bike will more than likely to throw you off.
Building confidence while cornering: On all rides, I would like you to do the below and when picking a route that has lots of corners practice this but while you do this put half a bar less in your tyres.
Braking into corners: Think just as you are driving a car where you should always do all of your brakings before you turn into the corner and then power through the corner.
It the same on the bike apart from applying the power but with not braking you will speed up. I used to always cover the brakes in the corner but this is bad because I used to apply the brake a little through the corner. So I used to take my hands right off.
Riding on the wheel through corners: From the moment you easy for the corner, I would like to stay on the wheel in front and don’t let it go. You will need to build confidence with this but try to ride on someone you know is good at cornering.
Remember the more you have to chase coming out then that will waste energy and the further down the line you are the worst it will be and try to stay in the first 10 at least.
“ I know this helped me but they get round then you will also”
Using your weight around the corner: When you have let off the brakes and you are starting to turn do the following.
- Inside foot up and press all your weight onto the outside pedal.
- Push all your weight onto the outside handlebar (this is very important as you can get away with the rear wheel sliding but not losing the front).
- f you feel the front wheel is still going to slip then pull up hard the inside handlebar. This takes a lot of practice but it really works keeping the front wheel from sliding.
Sprinting out of the corner: Getting out of the corner fast and make sure you are putting the breaks on straight out of the corner. If you have lost the wheel in front then you can make up the ground doing this but you will have to be careful that you don’t run into the back of them.
PAIN AND SRETCHING
CHANGING AN INNER TUBE
If you get a puncture while out on your bike, it’s quicker and easier to just replace the inner tube, rather than faff on trying to patch it up. From experience, we’ve found it’s never a wise idea to wait for a puncture; it’s best to practise the technique at home. Some tyre and tube combinations can be quite tight, needing thumbs of steel, don’t give up, persevere and you’ll get there in the end.
- 2 x tyre lever.
- 1 x mini OR floor pump.
- 1 x new inner tube.
- If you’ve suffered a rear flat, shift your gears to the outermost gear at the back and innermost at the front to make it easier to get the wheel off.
If you’ve got v-brakes release them before removing your wheel. This is not something to worry about if you run disc brakes.
Release quick-release skewer by pulling outward on the lever. Once open, use your other hand to unscrew the nut so it clears the lips on the fork. Releasing tension in the skewer helps drop the wheel cleanly from the forks.
To remove the front wheel, guide it straight down out of the fork. For rear wheels, pull rear derailleur back to keep chain clear of cogs. Guide wheel both down and forward.
ACCESSING PUNCTURED INNER TUBE
With wheel separated from the bike, deflate the tyre. Remove dust cap and lock ring. Unscrew and then press the tip of Presta valve to ensure all air is removed from the inner tube.
Use thumbs to push bead of tyre towards the centre of the rim. Loosening the bead will make it easier to use tyre levers.
- Get tyre lever aligned with the spoke. Scoop tyre lever under bead.
- Once engaged, push down on lever to lift tyre over rim.
- With end of tyre lever under bead, affix lever to spoke.
REMOVING PUNCTURED INNER TUBE
- Remove valve of inner tube from valve hole.
- Pull inner tube completely out of tyre.
- Cast an eye over outside of the tyre and use fingers to inspect inside for cause of puncture. Alternatively, always stash a bit of cotton wool in your jersey pocket, so you can run that around the inside – it will snag when it catches on the sharp item, instead of hurting your finger.
- Connect pump to inner tube valve. If struggling to connect, press down on tyre to push valve fully through valve hole..
- Pull inner tube completely out of tyre.
- Inflate inner tube to pressure noted on sidewall of tube.
- Start at valve, begin to push bead of tyre over lip of rim.
- Continue pushing bead over rim. This is easier with some tyre/rim combinations than others. If your combination is tight, push tyre bead into middle channel of rim to create some slack.
- Use thumbs to ease final section of bead over rim (this will need strong thumbs and may involve swearing).
- Once bead is over rim, check both sides of tyre to ensure no inner tube is poking out. If so, remove tyre and start again.
INSTALLING NEW INNER TUBE
- Remove dust cap, lock ring and unscrew Presta valve tip on new inner tube.
- Use pump to inflate inner tube so it holds its shape.
- Insert inner tube valve into valve hole and screw on lock ring. If valve is not pointing straight it can lead to a puncture.
- Place the rest of inner tube inside tyre.
REFUELLING AFTER YOUR RIDE
Besides water, there are two main things your body needs after an intense ride: carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates are necessary to replenish glycogen stores, which can become depleted during a long ride. Protein is needed by your body to build and repair muscle tissue.
A 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is a general guideline for efficient post-ride recovery. When putting together a meal or snack to help you refuel, aim for this 4:1 ratio by combining different food options.
WHAT TO EAT AFTER A RIDE
Below are ten great foods to eat after an intense ride, and how they benefit your body.
1. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, which are essential in the first 30 to 60 minutes after a ride. This is when your body is racing to renew your glycogen stores, so you want to eat something that is high in carbs. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C, which helps to accelerate wound healing, facilitating your body’s recovery. Potassium, which the body loses through sweat, is also plentiful in sweet potatoes.
Eggs have a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol. Recent studies have shown, however, that eating eggs has no effect on your overall blood cholesterol level. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, making them a great post-ride snack food. What’s more, the amino acids in eggs are the most digestible to humans, making eggs something of a gold standard when it comes to sources of dietary protein. Eggs are also high in choline, which reduces inflammation.
3. Chocolate milk
You might think of it as a kid’s afterschool snack, but scientific studies have repeatedly shown that chocolate milk is one of the best recovery foods an athlete can consume. A glass of low-fat chocolate milk comes very close to the 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio recommended by experts, but the benefits don’t stop there. The sugars in milk are simple carbohydrates, which are easily broken down by the body. Milk is high in calcium and vitamin D, and has a high water content. If you make your own chocolate milk using raw cocoa powder, you also get the added anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits associated with raw cocoa.
Many fruits, such as melons, have a high water content, which helps you rehydrate after a long ride. Cantaloupes, in particular, are high in potassium, so snacking on some will assist in replacing lost electrolytes. Cantaloupes are also a great source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which are essential for maintaining the immune system, and are rich in vitamin C.
Nuts are a great post-ride snack because they are high in protein. Nuts have the added benefit of being portable, which is important if you’re not going home immediately after a ride. Nuts are high in unsaturated fats and plant sterols, both of which help to lower bad cholesterol. To maximize their benefits, mix nuts with some dried fruit to get you closer to the 4:1 carb to protein ratio.
6. Nut butter
Like nuts, nut butters are high in protein. Almond butter is rich in calcium, which strengthens bones. It’s also high in magnesium and potassium, which help maintain muscle and nerve functions. Cashew butter is high in iron and has a lower fat content than most other nut butters. Adding nut butter to a fruit, such as banana, increases the benefits derived by your body. For a good 4:1 snack, spread some nut butter on a slice of bread and top with banana.
7. White rice
The simple carbohydrates in white rice are broken down more easily by the body than the complex ones in whole grain alternatives. White rice also contains important amino acids necessary for building muscle. For an added nutrient boost, cook white rice in chicken broth or coconut milk instead of water.
8. Grilled or baked chicken
Chicken is a great source of lean protein. It’s also rich in phosphorus, which helps support the nervous system. Selenium, an essential trace element, is found in abundant quantities in chicken, as is vitamin B6.
The high carbohydrate content of berries makes them a great choice for a post-ride snack. Berries can contain up to 92% water, making them great for rehydrating. Berries are also rich in anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Smoothies are a great post-ride recovery snack because you can make them ahead of time and can tailor them to fit your needs. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your smoothie, add a source of protein, such as whey protein powder or nuts. Carbohydrate sources can include fruit, juice, and honey. Coconut water has a high electrolyte content, so you might want to consider using it as a base for your smoothie. Alternatively, you can use coconut or low-fat milk.
CYCLING STRETCHING ROUTINE
Standing with your feet pointed straight ahead, step forward with your right leg and bend your knee, keeping your left foot firmly planted on the ground behind you.
Keep your upper-body erect and drop your hips forward until you feel the stretch in your calf (don’t bend over at the waist use your hips to move) Hold for 15-30 seconds, then rotate.
Standing, reach back with your right hand and grab your right foot at the top of the ankle, and pull up towards your butt.
The quads are the biggest cycling muscle and deserve a very slow stretch, careful not to pull too hard too fast. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then rotate legs.
Quick tip: Heighten the stretch by tightening your butt muscles.
The IT Band runs down the side of your leg and helps in balance and control; the section of this band that affects cyclists is between the hip and knee.
A tight or inflamed IT band can cause tendonitis or knee alignment issues.
Stretch from a sitting position: cross the left leg across the right knee and gently push down on the left knee. You should feel the stretch on the outside of your leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then rotate.
The pedalling motion develops short and powerful hamstrings. Unlike running, which lengthens hamstrings, cyclists are prone to tightness in these muscles. This is why your “hams” might ache if you’re a cyclist who runs on occasion.
This makes it very important to stretch hamstrings slowly and carefully.
Standing, bend over at the waist and let your arms dangle toward the ground, letting the knees bend slightly outward. This stretch benefits greatly from deep, steady breathing you’ll find that you can touch the ground after several slow, deep breaths.
The butt muscles are perhaps the most oft-overlooked muscles in cycling stretching.
From a cross-legged sitting position on the floor, angle your left leg over the right and plant left foot next to right knee, so your left leg forms a triangle.
Grasp the front of your left knee and lean forward, careful to keep your back straight. Feel the stretch along your left hamstring. This releases the piriformis, a connecting muscle that often tightens after sitting on a saddle. Perform this stretch with both legs.
NECK AND SHOULDERS
Checking for traffic and other riders behind you is where the neck muscles come into play.
Standing, gently roll your head in a circle several times, then rotate directions. Shrug your shoulders upwards and hold for five seconds. Repeat several times.
Your trunk of abdomen and back muscles are the support system for your legs as they pedal.
The best stretch is actually doing crunches or back extensions to help strengthen these varied muscles.
You can do a simple back twist from the gluteus-stretch position, by twisting your trunk to look behind, one side and then the other. Feel the stretch in your abdomen.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR BIKE QUICKLY
Cleaning your bike regularly helps prevent the build-up of dirt and grease that would otherwise chew through your moving mechanical parts – especially your drivetrain. Washing your bike after riding in muddy or wet conditions is even more important.
What you’ll need to wash your bike:
- Bucket and sponge or hose
- Bike wash fluid (preferably biodegradable)
- Paper cloth
- Chain Lube
- Chain cleaning device
If you’re in a real hurry following a wet ride, you can just spray your drivetrain with water-displacing lube to purge water from your chain and avoid rustiness before a thorough wash.
1. Clean the chain
Clean the chain with a chain cleaning tool and degreaser to remove old oil:
Use a chain cleaning device along with degreaser to remove built-up grime, mud and oil from the chain. If you don’t have a chain cleaning tool, aerosol degreaser and a brush will work with a bit of extra effort.
If there’s loads of oily grime on the cassette and jockey wheels, use degreaser and scrub these before continuing.
2. Clean the discs (if you have them)
Use aerosol degreaser with a paper towel to wipe down disc rotors:
If you have disc brakes, now’s a good time to spray some degreaser onto paper towels and give them a wipe down to remove any drivetrain grease.
3. Wet your bike and spray on some bike wash
Spray the whole bike with bike cleaning fluid as per product’s instructions:
Wet the bike with a hose or a bucket and sponge. If you’re using a pressure washer, be sure to stay well back to avoid ruining your bearings. Spray the whole bike with bike wash and leave it to settle according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. Brush it down
Agitate mud with a brush to loosen it from the frame and components:
Start at the top of your bike and agitate any remaining muck from the bike with brushes. Pay special attention to moving parts such as gears and brakes.
If there’s loads of oily grime on the cassette and jockey wheels, use degreaser and scrub these before continuing.
5. Rinse it all off
Rinse off the combined cleaning spray and loose mud:
Rinse the bike with fresh water, then check to make sure you’ve shifted all the grime off the bike, brushing again before rinsing where necessary.
6. Lube the chain
Finally, lube the chain by holding the bottle and steadily dripping it onto the chain while turning the pedals backwards.
Wipe off any excess, and spray any steel components with PTFE lube, again avoiding braking surfaces.