A Successful Start to the Season
At the beginning of April, it is easy to get carried away by spring fever. Nice and sunny days are multiplying and so are the occasions to get out and ride and quite frankly, at this point, any reason is good enough to hop on our bikes and enjoy the outdoors.
Check out these useful tips that our kinesiologist friend shared with us so we can better appreciate the beginning of this new cycling season.
The Transition Between Indoor and Outdoor Training
For some, time spent training indoors during the winter months is necessary to stay in shape, while for others, it’s an efficient way to stay motivated and improve their performance in order to achieve their next goal. No matter your situation, when shifting from indoor to outdoor training, your mindset must switch too.
During your winter training sessions, you have accustomed your body to relatively short “training loads” (60-90 minutes) with a sustained intensity. A training load is defined as
Volume (Time) * Intensity (Watts).
Although very effective in improving the cyclist’s overall fitness, these succinct indoor sessions have certain limits, which is why it is important to remember to be gentle with yourself on your first outdoor rides and to take the time to refamiliarize yourself with the environment and the sensations of being on the saddle, in addition to reacquainting yourself with your technical skills, to which your body is no longer accustomed.
How to Tackle Your First Long Rides
Although possible, it is not wise to keep a high intensity throughout your first long rides. For a 2h+ ride, we recommend keeping a constant low to moderate intensity.
Doubting your ability to finish a ride is a feeling that all cyclists have gone through at least once in their life. Dizziness, hunger and general weakness are symptoms that can be experienced when energy management is not adequate. The variables of food, sleep and effort (time and intensity) must be adequately managed during the first outings if you want to avoid hitting a wall known, more commonly known as bonking in the cycling world.
Using a Perceived Exertion Scale is the most efficient way to stay in tune with your body and avoid pushing it beyond its limits. The BORG scale (0-10) ranging from no “no effort” to “maximal effort” is a good tool to measure your intensity. Maintaining an easy to moderate effort (2-4 on 10) will allow you to keep your level of energy steady throughout the ride.
Tips & Tricks to Perform While Having Fun
🗣 Although it is not always easy to find a group of cyclists with the same strengths, similar general fitness and sharing the same interests as you, there is a place for everyone within a group. To avoid any unwelcome surprises, clearly communicate your intentions regarding speed, route and length before the ride to make sure everyone is on the same page.
📈 Start your ride slowly, prioritizing a progressive warm-up, during which the first half hour is dedicated to allow the whole group to reach a certain level of comfort, before increasing the pace.
✨ Listen to your body and act consequently. Don’t let yourself get swayed by the actions of other cyclists who sometimes overestimate their early season condition. It is not uncommon to see the cyclist who is constantly increasing their speed hit a wall and not be able to finish the ride.
🍎 Bring more food than you think necessary. With long periods on the saddle, your body will need a high energy intake.
🤸♀️ During the first rides of the season, make having fun your #1 priority! You will have many more occasions to push your limits throughout the season. For now, just enjoy the ride!
Kinesiologist & Fitness Consultant