Smart cycling habits

cycling habitscycling habits
cycling habitscycling habits

Smart cycling habits

The community of cycling is an athletic, supportive, competitive and fun one. And with all the beautiful cycling routes around South Africa’s mountains, hills, valleys and roads, there is a cycling route for every mountain and road cyclist alike.

But there are some smart cycling habits that all cyclists should adopt if they want to be safe, get the best results and take care of themselves and their bikes when they ride. Five simple habits that can make all the difference when it comes to performance cycling.


Pace yourself

When you think about athletes that run long-distance marathons, it doesn’t make sense for them to sprint the second after the gun goes off – they should rather pace themselves and reserve that energy to sprint to the finish line. The same principle goes for cyclists. It’s important to pace yourself so that you don’t burnout, fall far behind or overwork your muscles.

Just because you’re on two wheels and travelling faster than a marathon runner would, doesn’t mean you should exert all that power, speed and energy right at the beginning or for extended periods of time. Find your pace and move your way through the packs. Don’t spend too much time in the front or back of the packs either, you may be at a steady pace but you’ll be burning the most energy.


Gear smart

Climbing hills and elevations of horrendous heights can really take a toll on your quads, your heart and pretty much every other organ and muscle in your body. You don’t need to make it more difficult for yourself by climbing up in the wrong gear. Whichever gradient you find yourself in, John Herety, team manager of Rapha Condor-JLT, says 90-100rpm is the most efficient cadence ratio.

Being in a gear that’s too low means you’ll be unnecessarily wasting energy by spinning your legs. And too high of a gear, you’re placing more pressure and strain on your joints, which could lead to damage. Know your limits and know how to gear smart.


Rest day

No matter what sport you’re into, it’s important to have your rest and recovery days. Cycling every single day and doing the hectic routes too many times a week will hurt you. Your heart and body need time to recover through a day of complete rest. And it doesn’t have to be more than once a week.

You can also choose to have more rest days, not necessarily to lounge around, but as a rest from cycling specifically. Hit the gym and work on other fitness areas that will support and enhance your cycling efforts. Cycling may be a great form of exercise, but it’s still important to exercise the other muscles in your body, not only your cycling ones.  


Supplements and boosters

When you train and when you do races, you need to have your supplements and boosters with you to take while you ride. Whether it’s a protein bar, GU sachet or banana, it’s important to keep your electrolyte levels high while you’re burning all those calories on the bike.

And one cannot stress enough the importance of drinking water while cycling. You don’t want to suffer from dehydration in the middle of a ride and drinking water will regulate your temperature and give you the energy you need. The amount of water that you drink before, during and after a ride, however, is dependant on you and your body.


Think bike

And lastly, a super smart cycling habit is to think bike. It’s not only the cars on the road that need to be conscious and aware of themselves when a cyclist is sharing the road, cyclists themselves also need to be spatially aware.

Make yourself visible with bicycle lights and reflective tape, and be sure to use hand signals when you’re wanting to turn or manoeuvre through lanes. Wear all your safety gear and, if you’re riding along the roads, be prepared for some cars not to see you. Listen out for vehicles that may be coming around a blind corner, even if that means you stop blasting music in your ears when you’re riding. Safety comes first and respecting the rules of the road is a good way to stay safe.

cycling habits