January 2, 2013
FLO Cycling - Three Steps to Become a Faster Cyclist
This is a question we hear and often ask all of the time. How do I get faster on my bike? In reality there isn't one magical answer that works for everyone. However, I do believe that some general guidelines apply. Let's take a quick look at three steps you can take to get to the finish line, or T2, a little quicker.
Step 1 - Train
There's no secret to this one. In order to ride your bike faster, you need to ride it. By riding your bike, you make the physiological adaptation to get faster. Your central cardiovascular system improves by gaining an increased stroke volume and blood plasma and decreases the resting and non-resting heart rate. The peripheral cardiovascular system improves by increasing the surface area of the venous and arterial capillary supply. Though that seems like a lot of fancy terminology, the bottom line is that riding your bike often causes good things to happen.
|The Human Cardiovascular System|
If you want to learn how to make this happen more effectively you can hire a coach or read some of the many books available. If you hire a coach make sure you get a good one. Too often, people are coached by people who have no idea what they are doing and it gets ugly quickly. For triathletes, Matt Dixon (@purplepatchfitness), Dr. Phillip Skiba, and Joel Filliol are a few of the greats that come to my mind. If you are going to read a book and coach yourself, I'd recommend Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan's books or Dr. Skiba's books. Both are great resources.
Step 2 - Get a Good Bike Fit
Cycling fast is not only about how fit your cardiovascular system is. Your efficiency on the bike is also very important. If you are using all of your cardiovascular fitness to push an inefficient system, you are wasting a lot of that energy. The more efficient your body and bike systems are, the faster you will go.
|A Great Bike Fit|
There are two main things a proper bike fit does to improve your speed. They are as follows:
1. It improves mechanical efficiency by putting your body in a position that:
- Produces optimal power.
- Doesn't restrict breathing.
- Limits risk for injury.
- Is comfortable.
- Doesn't waist energy (ie. uses the skeletal system to support the body instead of the muscles)
2. It improves aerodynamics. A poor body position can add a ton of drag costing you minutes over a 40k. Make sure you are dialed in.
Like coaches, there are good fitters and bad fitters. Make sure you find a good one. The first few brands that come to mind are Retul, Specialized BG Fit, and F.I.S.T.
Step 3 - Equipment
I'd like to be clear and tell you that even the best equipment on the planet will not make up for a lack of training. A good engine is the key. However, it does help. High tech equipment is expensive so make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Wheels will give you some of the biggest improvements and you don't have to spend a fortune to gain most of the rewards. A well designed aero front wheel and a wheel cover to cover your existing training wheel will give you ~90% or more of the benefits seen by spending thousands of dollars.
|FLO Cycling Aerodynamic Wheels|
If you are racing a triathlon or time trial, you can also save time by investing in a triathlon or time trial-specific bike with aerobars, a tight fitting race suit, and an aero helmet. All of these items will save you anywhere between 60-180 seconds and sometime more over a 40k time trial.
Here is an example of how many seconds our wheels will save you on average over some common race distances.
|FLO CLIMBER||78.3 grams||31.3 sec||2 min 21 sec|
|FLO 60||175.3 grams||1 min 10 sec||5 min 16 sec|
|FLO 90||172.1 grams||1 min 9 sec||5 min 10 sec|
|FLO DISC||253.7 grams||1 min 42 sec||7 min 37 sec|
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please leave your comments and questions below.
All the best,