The Beginners Guide to Cycling; For Fun, Sport, more Especially YOUR HEALTH!

Posted by Beth Hartman

Looking at hitting the road this spring by way of a bicycle, cycle, or something else that has two wheels??? Well, every journey begins with that first step, in this case that first cycle stroke. If you’re new to biking to help you get fitter and in better shape we have some helpful info. Here below to help you get started on the right track or (Bike Path) as the case may be. We’re providing a quick run-down of some training, nutrition and equipment tips to help you past the bumps in the road that can beset newbie cyclists.

Buying equipment:
Starting out cycling can get expensive quickly. There’s plenty of advice on-line about buying bikes and you may already have a bike. Either way, you should get along to your local cycling shop for some face-to-face purchasing advice or, more importantly, to get your old bike serviced. If you have a good bike shop in your area, you’re looking at a resource that can provide you with the information you need when you’re first starting out. Remember, good bike shops or any shop that deals in a specific sport or function are looking at becoming your partner and guide as they help you to make the best decision based on your current skill set. This type of relationship is the best you can have because they can offer you advice rather than trying to just make a quick sale. This is why you want to choose a recommended cycle shop rather than just getting a bike from a mainstream department store. The knowledgeable staff goes a long way to making your cycling experience enjoyable and safer for you!

Remember there’s additional equipment that you’ll want to buy over and above a decent road bike. These include clothing: shorts, shoes, tops, and glasses and of course helmets; nutrition products: things like water bottles and food you can eat on the bike, as well as other useful monitoring devices like heart rate monitors, and a must have for tracking purposes a cycling computer. Now you can make your “One Stop Shop for everything you may need because we did our research and are able to offer you what you need at a great price and respected cycling and sports products.

Training Schedule and Rest: More is NOT always better!
At first you’ll be keen to go all out, but be warned that this may not be the best course of action. Developing your capacity to cycle longer and harder means time on and off the bike.

Cycling triggers changes in the body that can only properly happen when resting, you have to give your body time to recover from the previous ride. It is in this time that the adaptations that improve your performance and technical abilities are developed. A proper program like the one below schedules both training and rest.

A Sample Schedule:
For the first 2-3 months you’ll want to schedule 3 to 4 rides per week:
1) One will be a long ride gradually building from 90 minutes to 3 hours over a few months
2) One will be a shorter more intense ride of about 40-50 minutes with some hills that mean varying intensity, thus making you work harder and pushing both you and your muscles.
3) One or two will be a shorter less-intense steady ride of about 50 minutes. Make these just plain enjoyable excursions, ones that while keeping your limber, allow you to enjoy being outdoors.
4) You'll have 3/4 rest days per week. Separate the ride, especially the longer or more intense rides with a rest day and focus on your diet for recovery. Remember, always check with your physician prior to undertaking any form of exercise regimen, especially if you haven’t done this type of physical activity before. Don’t be afraid to speak with your physician about a course of dietary requirements that will help both replenish your body’s needs but also the requirements for being healthy while trying to lose some weight or get toned.

Get Fit
This might seem like something that doesn’t have to be discussed but, remembering that the body gets fitter by adaptation to a training stress, if you keep on doing the same thing over and over then your body will get used to the challenge and stop adapting, in other words, your fitness will plateau.

To overcome this schedule shorter, harder rides as well as longer less intense work. This will help to mix up the demands in the body, boosting recovery speeds and getting you riding quicker for longer. This should be done at least every two weeks for changing things up. You’ll notice that you will experience a little more strain as you change up your routines, this is a good indicator that your body needs to work and adapt, which will expand your endurance.

Cycling is an energy intense sport and you’ll soon learn that hitting the wall AKA ‘bonking’ - where you literally run out of fuel – can be a real problem. Disappointing rides due to poor recovery levels are frustrating, but literally running out of fuel 10 or 20 miles from home can be a lot worse. To ensure your perform your best and avoid the bonk think and eat like an athlete. In particular splitting your nutrition into three phases around your training:

Pre -Training:
Here fueling for the ride ahead is important. Although not as weight critical as say running you may well be interested in getting fit and losing fat, but if you’re serious about cycling you need to fuel up before the ride.

A mixed meal rich in lower GI, complex carbohydrate and with some high-quality proteins about 2 to 3 hours before a longer ride is important. Follow this up in the half hour before a ride with a small carb-rich snack and remember to keep drinking water to improve hydration levels

During Training:
Food on the bike is vital for longer rides where you’ll be working hard for longer than 40 minutes. After this time, the stores of carbohydrate in your body start to run out. If you’re out on a long ride you need to start replacing them before this point.

Sports drinks like Energy Charge or Nuun All Day Energy Tablets, are great but more carb dense sources such as our GU Energy Gels are food supplements that will provide you with the lift you need to help you see the end of the road.

Post Training:
After training your aim is to restock the lost glycogen (carbohydrate) stores, as well as supply energy and nutrients so that your body can recover properly. Time is of the essence and there’s a variety of recovery shakes available that make this job quick and easy, but whether you use these or not, the ride should be quickly followed up with a decent whole-food meal, rich in starch and including high-quality protein foods as well as healthy fats and plenty of vegetables.

Something like a piece of meat or fish with rice, pasta, potatoes and some vegetables would be a perfect way to cap off your excursion. This along with your pre-ride meal is one of the most important meals in your schedule.

Information that made this post possible was provided by Drew Price.

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