Road Cycling Success Secrets

April 25, 2016

  • by
  • Peter Reese

More time in the saddle is no guarantee.  We’re out to help you succeed early in the season – and finish better during group rides and events as the year progresses.  These five thoughts turn training rides into evolution with every sweet revolution.

Secret #1:  Reframe what “level” is.

Riders with strong physical and emotional performance rethink what constitutes flat.  By seeing 2-3 degrees as the “new level” during which moderate cadence and higher speeds are delivered, you’ll be at a huge advantage on level terrain.  In addition, rollers will be far less damaging as many of them don’t peak much above 5 degrees.

Secret #2:  Climb in the saddle – and more upright.


Image via Vèlocia

A high percentage of amateur riders grit their teeth and mash up hills (as witnessed during a recent climbing training session in the Front Range of the Rockies outside Denver).  A collapsed torso and shoulder position yields poor oxygen intake and compromises traction on slicker surfaces.  There’s a reason why road bikes have wrapped bar tops and not simply rams-horn ends.  Time to wear them out, fellow riders.

Secret #3:  Descend like a slalom skier.

Looking ahead and trusting what’s under your skis, snowboard or bike leads to the same outcome.  As in, better anticipation of the snow or road ahead to adjust speed and approach angle early.  Most of the time, late and sudden movements don’t end well.  If the descent is sketchy, be ready to bail or perhaps slow down and take a sharper line through corners -- always cognizant of uphill riders and motorized traffic.

Secret #4: Simplify self-monitoring.

Trying to monitor and manage cadence, speed, heart rate and power output simultaneously is difficult.  And it takes concentration off the road and fellow riders.  Our recommendation is to focus on cadence early in the season, converting it into higher speed and greater power through smarter shifting as the weeks progress.  Long-term success means it’s more important to be smooth and relaxed than determined and punishing.   

Secret #5:  Start hungry, celebrate with calories.

Professional cyclists love training with food rewards in mind (can you say chocolate croissant?).  Rather than stoking the furnace before training rides, plan on stopping at a scenic outlook for a handful of roasted nuts and mixed sweets.  Or pedal to a coffee shop with killer macchiatos and gooey Rice Krispy bars (to share, of course).  Nowhere is it written that your cycling jersey should feel like a Medieval monk’s hair shirt or that your portion must always be organic, stone-ground oatmeal.  Ride.  Excel.  Enjoy.

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