For those of you new to cycling or getting back onto the bike after a break, it can seem a long road to get to the point of being able to jump into the saddle and confidently disappear into the hills for three hours. For the newbies, the path from novice to intermediate cyclist and beyond can be daunting. For the veterans coming out of retirement, it’s easy to forget what good conditioning feels like.
So, for those of you getting back into cycling following a layoff, or talking up cycling as a total novice, our words of advice are much the same. Here are just a handful of things that can make the process smoother.
1. Start slow: It’s important to ease back into cycling gradually to avoid injury and burnout. Begin with shorter rides at a lower intensity than what you were previously doing. This is especially true of those who once rode at a reasonable level. Take the time to understand where your body currently is and work from that point.
2. Check your bike: Make sure your bike is in good condition and properly adjusted. This includes checking the tire pressure, brakes, and gears. A trip to the bike shop for a tune-up may be in order. Again, this cannot be over-emphasized. Safety first.
3. Set goals: Establish realistic goals for yourself, such as increasing your distance or speed over time. Having a goal in mind can help motivate you and track your progress. If you have ridden at a reasonable level before then this should be easy. Dig out those old training journals and build yourself a plan. For those of you new to cycling don’t go increasing your workload too quickly. A 5% to 10% increase in distance every few weeks should be sufficient at the start.
4. Join a cycling group: Joining a cycling group can be a great way to stay motivated and meet like-minded individuals. They can also provide a supportive environment and offer advice and tips for getting back into cycling. Clubs are a great way to make connections or re-establish old ones, plus they can hold you accountable when it’s 50:50 if you’re going to make it out on that cold wintry morning. Having 20 people waiting for you at the meeting point is a great motivator!
5. Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body’s signals and take rest days as needed. It’s important to avoid overdoing it, especially in the beginning stages. Again, don’t overdo it. Build up your base slowly and consistently. Consistency is key in the long run, doing something frequently is a lot more effective than doing a lot infrequently. Your body will thank you for it!
How to track your progress
Remember that getting back into cycling is a process, and it may take some time to get back to your previous level of fitness. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey! And don’t forget that if you can, you should track your progress and performance as the weeks and months go by. For that you can record simple metrics such as miles covered and duration on the bike. Over time if you stick at it it’s inevitable you will want to more deeply interrogate your improvements.
How exactly can you do this? Well, you can start by measuring your heart rate and power simultaneously. You will throughout the course of an interval session see the point at which your power decreases for a given heart rate. Over time you will see this relationship change (hopefully for the better) which can be incredibly motivational. Your body will produce power longer for a given heart rate as your fitness improves. However, what is key to this is having a power meter that can measure at a resolution greater than your interval of improvement.
Many of the products available are designed simply to put a number on a head unit, quite often with very questionable degrees of accuracy. The InfoCrank and IC2 however are designed to very accurately measure both torque and cadence, the two components of power, and multiply them together to give a truly accurate power number. It’s the difference between watching a black-and-white TV vs an 8K flatscreen. You don’t know what you’re missing if you’ve never watched the flatscreen, but once you have you won’t go back to the old black-and-white CRT…
And so, when you are looking to invest in a power meter choose wisely. All of us at Verve pride ourselves on designing measurement devices, not cheap built-to-budget number generators. We firmly believe that the discerning consumers will start to realise what the national teams realised years ago, that conventional mainstream power meter technology is way behind the curve. Why not check out what we have to offer and if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch!