Thursday 28 August 2014

Super cycling tips - doing it right

Super cycling tips - doing it right - Aaron Griffiths

Aaron Griffiths shares some super tips on how to do it right on Amy’s Ride SA 2014. An ambassador for cycling in his organisation, here are some sweet cycling tips to get you motivated. He will be riding the 70KM Challenge with his 10 year old daughter. 

1. Can you suggest any training parameters, physical/mental preparation?
To start with, do long rides at lower intensity to build a good base of endurance. Then you can introduce intervals to your training program, which are short, high intensity efforts with a break in between. Intervals provide the best improvement for poor-time people. A training program like this will not just train your physical muscles and cardiovascular system; it will also train your mind to undergo the pain of cycling in those ‘uncomfortable’ times of high intensity (eg; up hills or when you fatigue towards the end of the ride), or to train your mind to push through when your legs feel like jelly :)
2. Any techniques to achieve better performance? eg; pedal cadence, gears. During training, particularly in the hills, practise using your bike’s gears and experimenting with your ‘sweet-spot’ cadence (pedalling speed). In general, a higher cadence is better for endurance, but only up to a point. This point will be your sweet spot, which will be an individual number depending on body type, shape, leg-strength, fitness etc. Bottom line: you need to train with a higher cadence. Whatever gear you ‘naturally’ ride along in, for the flat or hills, choose 1 or 2 gears that are easier and see how it feels.
3. Any tips on how to pace your ride? Down hill vs uphill, hydration, etc. Amy’s Ride is a tough ride since there is a hard hill climb in the first 5km, which is when you’re not warmed up. It’s important to take this hill slowly or you’ll pay for it later. Climb at a comfortable pace and don’t be too concerned about the people overtaking’ll see them again an hour or two later when you overtake them because they’ve hit the wall and are riding as slow as your granny, or lying on the ground at the refreshment stop. Food and liquid is very important. If you get this wrong and bonk it will be a waste of training and may ruin your day of enjoyment/challenge. Study BikeSA’s ride route and pre-plan which refreshment stations you’ll stop at. Bike SA normally have great food/drink for cyclists, so no need to pack any of those fancy gels or sports bars. Keep things simple. The best food is bananas and the best drink is water. Whatever you decide for your nutrition, practise it during training rides. For example, work out approximately how much water and how much food you require per hour (remember that overly excessive amounts of water can be dangerous). DON’T EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING NEW ON THE DAY OF THE RIDE. A long ride is not the time to experiment with your stomach or digestive system.
4. What is your No.1 bike choice when you ride? Any other essentials - attire? Personally, I ride a road bike, but most bikes are able to complete the Amy’s Ride course, as long as it’s in good condition. My first couple of Coast-to-Coast rides were completed on a simple ($400) mountain bike. I plan to do this year’s ride (probably 70km) with my daughter on the back (tow accessory). Rather than bike type, three things are important :
1) gears in good condition and are all accessible since you’ll probably use most of them
2) brakes in good condition and
3) tyres are in good condition. Make sure you train with the bike that you plan to ride on the day, so you can notice any faults and fix them before the day.

For example, when descending at high speed, are there any rattles or concerns? Do the brakes work well at this speed? As far as clothing, be reasonable. Early November can produce weather at either end of the spectrum. Once again, train in the clothing you will wear on Amy’s Ride and know what clothing suits what weather conditions. 

5. What are your thoughts on riding in a team vs riding solo? Does this change your riding style? Riding in a group requires a high level of vigilance. If you make a mistake, it could bring other riders down. Be aware of riders in front, behind, to the left and to the right. Cyclists get frustrated at motorists when they behave badly on the road, so make sure that you show courtesy to other riders so everyone has a good time, which generally means staying upright.
6. Any tips for novice riders? Just enjoy the day. Remember, though, that most of that enjoyment will come from good preparation, including:
  • Choose the right distance for your ability
  • Train well
  • Eat and drink properly on the day
  • Stop when you need to
  • Remember to smile (a pain grimace can be cleverly camouflaged to look like a smile with a little practise)
    In summary - Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance 

Aaron Griffiths has been on many Bike SA rides from Coast-to-Coast, Grand Slams and Amy’s Ride in 2010, 2011, 2012.

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