Being able to cycle faster and farther will allow you to take on more challenges as a cyclist. But it’s not all about training routines and eating the right foods before you cycle, as there are lots of practical ways to give yourself the ability to go faster and for longer. Below, we’ve outlined 5 of our top tips to cycle farther and faster.
1. Find the right riding position
Before you even think about setting off on your ride, you need to get into the right position first. This means choosing the right saddle position. Getting the height and angle right are both key if you want to be able to go for longer without getting uncomfortable. While you may adjust to the incorrect seat position over time, it won’t help your efficiency unless it’s in the correct place.
The saddle should be pointing slightly upwards at the front, or be completely flat, and never pointing downwards. This will help to distribute your weight correctly and ensure no parts of your body are being worked harder than they should.
There is no fool-proof way to set your ideal seat height without some trial and error, as it depends on a lot of factors. But a good rough guide is to push your pedal to the 6-clock position while sitting on the saddle.
When the pedal is at its lowest, your leg should be completely straight. If not, you need to bring it up a bit, and if your feet lose touch with the pedal, you should drop it down. This isn’t a perfect method, but with some trial and error, you can use this to find the rough position of your seat for maximum comfort over long distances.
2. Allow your legs to do the work
Your upper body should be relaxed when cycling, and your legs should be doing the work. Having stiff muscles will make you less mobile and slow you down, so keep your arms, shoulders, and hands relaxed at all times.
Send all of your pushing energy to your legs, and they will do the work turning the pedals, not the rest of your body. This means you’ll be able to use your energy more efficiently, and more powerfully, leading to longer and faster cycling.
3. Find your ideal rhythm
Finding the right rhythm, or cadence is key to getting the most out of your cycling. While most will flirt with the 80-100 RPM range, you may be more efficient on either side of this. Once you’re in a comfortable rhythm, adjust your gearing on slopes so that you can maintain this cadence as much as possible.
This means anticipating hills ahead – either up or down – so that you get into the right gear fast. While being in the wrong gear when going up a hill can put extra pressure on the mechanical components of your bike such as the chain, it also puts unnecessary pressure on your legs as well. Thus, to maintain maximum momentum, and thus maximum efficiency, shift down a gear before you feel like you need to, so you can push up the hill easier. Likewise, for more speed down the hill, shift up a gear at the right time to avoid wasting energy on pedaling without actually going any faster.
4. Focus on consistency
While you might have lots of energy at the start of the ride, if you use it all up by trying to go as fast as possible for the first few miles, you won’t have much left past the halfway point. Thus, you should instead drop your speed a little, and try to keep that up for longer. This means focusing on your cadence like we said in the previous tip.
Focus on maintaining a consistent cadence and speed for as long as possible, and you’ll be able to cycle for longer. If you know the route well and know when you’re going to need to push up a long hill stretch, bear that in mind from the beginning. It’s no use wasting all your energy on the easy downhill straights if you’re going to lose time on the uphill sections.
5. Ride aerodynamically
Finally, if you want to go faster and for longer, you need to think about your aerodynamics. The first thing here involves your position, as you want to minimize air resistance. You can do this by keeping a low and narrow riding position, but make sure you’re still comfortable or you won’t be able to maintain it for long.
Another key way to reduce drag and thus go faster and for longer is to get a tow off your co-riders if you’re out with a group. Use drafting by staying close behind the others and be a team player and let others ride behind you as well. Rotating who’s at the front and back every so often can lead to very efficient cycling when in a large group.
If you’re on your own, just maintain a good aerodynamic riding position, and follow all of the previous steps and you’ll be able to cycle faster and for longer!
About the Author: Graeme McLaughlin
Graeme is the Marketing Head at Evelo, a data nerd, and an E-bike enthusiast who is always excited about testing new bikes. After years of riding and coming from a career in cycle sales, he is still passionate about bicycles. Based in Vancouver, he enjoys riding everything from solo adventures in the mountains to big social night rides.