Spring is time to get back to cycling. Warmer temperatures are an invitation to go on long rides, preferably with a lot of elevation gain. Here are the best tips.
Off to the Mountains
Finally you can get out and about again. Get on your bike and go for rides of two hours or more. You can ride away from the traffic and enjoy a few meters of altitude. But what does that mean in concrete terms, what requirements should you have, what do you need to keep in mind? You should be able to ride long climbs without an abrupt drop in performance. This requires a feeling for the appropriate speed, because a steady pace is the most energy-efficient way to tackle climbs. Especially on climbs, you should not orient yourself to others, but to yourself.
One thing is clear: where there are long uphill stretches, there are also long downhill stretches. If you occasionally work on your steering skills and practice braking and cornering techniques, you will not only ride more safely, but also have more fun. This also works well in pairs if you have the right (and considerate) partner. Follow a good and safe downhill rider on his line and feel your way to the line, the right braking points and reach higher speeds. The big passes will open up in the next few weeks, but you can also ski up and down a smaller pass several times for training.
The weight goes with you
A lot of altitude also means that the weight you carry is a deciding factor. Logically, the less weight you carry, the easier it is to climb, and the lighter you are, the more the racing bike contributes to the total weight. For lighter riders in particular, it can make sense to upgrade your equipment a bit and, for example, buy or borrow lighter bikes. With heavier athletes, caution is advised in this regard, because light material lighter bikes are often less stable.
Also important for long ascents: optimal economy. The cadence plays an important role as well as the right gear ratio. To be able to easily ride longer climbs, you should invest in the right crank (compact) and change the cassette to have smaller gears available. Who is not so technically versed, can be advised at his bike dealer.
Included in “choice of material” is the appropriate clothing, because at over 2000 m above sea level there can be anything from sunshine to sleet. So you should also be prepared for everything and be equipped for every situation. On mountain passes, you should always have a windbreaker with you, even in sunshine, which you can put on before the descent.
You should organize your ride in such a way that you include as many and as long as possible climbs in your training. You can and should play with the intensity. It also makes sense for recreational riders to ride at high intensities in between. Interval training can help you gain a lot of fitness in a relatively short amount of time. And the fitter you are, the more reserves you have to enjoy long and demanding distances. For ambitious riders, targeted hill intervals are a must anyway!
The most important spring tips for racing cyclists
- Check material, possibly save weight (choice of wheels) and choose suitable clothing for all weather conditions.
- Include many long climbs in your training.
- Work on braking and cornering technique.
- Include regular uphill intervals to find your own race pace.
Example training for a key unit of hill intervals
- 15-30 minutes easy warm-up.
- 2-8 x 10-15 minutes of riding slightly above competition pace, making sure your pedaling is round and your cadence is “fluid”.
- Rest 2-5 minutes of easy riding.
- Cool down for 15-30 minutes at a relaxed pace.
This unit can be extended continuously. For example, 2 x 10 minutes at the beginning and 5 x 15 minutes at the end. In addition, the speed can be varied, and the 10 minutes can always alternate between 1 minute brisk, 1 minute fast.