1. Build a Base
Before you start laying the hammer down, give your body time to adjust to fast tempos and muscle stress. Some cycling purists say that you need to spend long hours on the bike at low-heart-rates, and low-intensity for 4-6 weeks to build your base. However, most of us can’t commit 20-30 hours a week on the bike.
2. Interval Training
Once you’ve been on a few mellow rides to brush off the cobwebs, maximize your time on the saddle with interval training: high-speed sprints separated by slower recovery spells.
3. Find a Training Plan
Find a training program that fits your schedule. While the plan depends on your goals and endurance levels, here’s a start: establish a riding strategy that has one day of fast-pedaling intervals, one day of big gear tempo intervals and an endurance day – then add in active recovery days in between. The key is to build up your intervals each week, and the length of time on your endurance and active recovery days.
4. Rest is Key
Give your body a rest week after three weeks of training, with a few more days off, and more active recovery rides.
5. Warm Up/Cool Down
Warm up and cool down before and after each ride – specifically before and after interval training; this will help you avoid early season aches and pains.
6. Gas in the Tank
Hydrate consistently throughout your workouts and fuel your body with plenty of healthy food. This is an obvious tip, but one that’s often overlooked and easier said than done.
7. Brain Over Body
The only way to get better is to train harder – and SMARTER. Hammering your body constantly won’t necessarily make you a better rider; you need to train effectively and with structure.
8. Ride Safe
Above all, ride safe. That goes beyond simply wearing a helmet. Know your limits. Be prepared for the ride at hand.