Want To Be a Better Cyclist? Mix Up Your Cycle Routes
You spend hours on the bike every week. You stick to your schedule and work hard when you ride. Yet, you don’t seem to be getting any better.
Not all cyclists want to see steady, constant improvement in their cycling skills. But those who do find it frustrating if they’re not getting the results they want. If you’re in that situation, the reason probably comes down to your workout plan. Quite simply, you may need to mix up your rides a bit more.
Our friend and longtime cycling coach, Darryl MacKenzie, helped us understand why that is — and what a good cycle route mix looks like for cyclists stuck in rut. Read on to learn more about why cyclists should vary their routes to get better.
Know What You Want out of Cycling
The first thing to realize is your motivation. Knowing what you want out of cycling is important. Not everyone has the same motives for getting into the sport, and that’s OK.
“In general, cyclists have many reasons to pedal,” says Coach Darryl.
You might love cycling because it gets your mind off work or other worries. You might enjoy that it forces you to get outside or spend time with friends. Or maybe you do it to keep off the pounds. Cycling is many things to many people, and that’s one of the beautiful things about it.
“But some cyclists want more,” says Darryl. “They want to improve their cycling. They want to get better, or they want to get a little more power in their legs. Some want to get faster. A lot of them want to pedal farther.”
If that sounds like you, you need a cycling strategy to make it happen.
Mix Up Your Rides To Get Better
“One of the big errors people make in cycling is that they do the exact same ride every time,” Darryl says, noting one example of a cycling friend who has ridden the same two rides every week, year in and year out. “But to make yourself a better cyclist, it’s important to mix up your rides.”
The repetitive approach doesn’t work for a reason: it doesn’t focus your training on improving in specific areas. That one ride might be great for building endurance but weak for boosting leg strength and anaerobic capacity. If you really want to improve as a cyclist, you need to steadily enhance all three by using varying cycling routes.
Many riders get stuck doing the same ride out and back from their house a few days a week. Working on these three types of conditioning, however, will require you to change your cycling strategy up. To be a better cyclist, you’ll need to mix up your rides as follows:
- Make some rides longer. Darryl calls this the “LSD” ride for “long, slow distance.” These long rides on the flats will improve your endurance.
- Do some rides with more hills or steeper hills. If you don’t have many hills in your area, you can go back and forth on the same hill for the same effect. This route will build your leg strength.
- Make some rides shorter and faster. This more intense pedaling will ramp up your heart rate and build your anaerobic capacity so you can do more with less effort.
Regularly mixing up your rides in this way is guaranteed to make you a better cyclist. And the three types of rides don’t just work in isolation, either. Darryl notes, for example, that stronger legs from climbing will boost your speed on the flats. Likewise, improving your endurance will help you climb better uphill. And increasing your anaerobic capacity will help you go faster without working harder. So, the more you mix up your rides, the more you accelerate the process and improve as a cyclist.
Embrace the Process
That said, do not try to rush the process. Becoming a better cyclist takes time, and you shouldn’t suddenly increase your distance by 50% or try to tackle the hilliest ride in your area without working your way up to it. You could find yourself too short on energy to finish the ride without the proper preparation.
Embrace the process and be patient. If you mix up your cycle route and push yourself — one ride at a time — you’ll be riding better before you know it.
Another key to becoming a better cyclist is to ensure you have the most comfortable setup for your rides. And your saddle is one of the most important components for comfortable cycling. Learn more about what makes Selle Anatomica saddles so comfortable for long-distance riding.
Look for more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.
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