Cycling tips from expert Richard Salaman at Specialized
Richard Salaman from Specialized takes us through his top tips for anyone taking on a cycling challenge. Thanks Richard for enlightening us on everything from padded shorts to tyre pressure!
Guest blogger: Richard Salaman
- Rule number one, padded cycling shorts and no underwear for men or women, you won’t regret it! You can buy a chamois cream that you apply to your crotch area before you ride and you won’t regret that either. Don’t bother with gel saddle covers, cycle shorts are the only way to go.
- Now the obvious, make sure your bike is in good working order – take it to a shop, get them to check it’s working properly, pay the money and know your bike is safe. If you have to take your bike apart to get to the start, ask the shop to show you how to take it apart and put it back together safety. Your local shop can be your best friend, they are a great source of advice and knowledge and if you treat them well (buy stuff) they’ll reward you with all manner of things.
- Before the day – literally before the day, check the tyre pressure. If you are riding a road bike (I hope you are riding a road bike) the correct tyre pressure will limit your likelihood of punctures and help you keep your speed up. If you are on a hybrid or mountain bike the tyre pressure might need to be higher than you normally use.
- The tyre pressure range is written on the side of the tyre and I image will fall between 80-120psi for a normal road bike. For a mountain bike or hybrid, it will be a lot lower but that doesn’t mean softer.
- The older the tyre the more chance there is for a puncture so keep that in mind. On a road bike, don’t inflate the tyre to its max, too much can be detrimental to the ride. For instance, we ride on our bikes between 90-100psi. On a hybrid the range will be different, maybe 40-60psi and for a pure road ride I would go as high as the tyre manufacturer suggests. On a mountain bike, I hope you have changed the tyres to something smoother rolling with less knobs, again use the highest pressure allowed to limit your rolling resistance. If the bike was recently serviced, they should have inflated the tyres to your preference.
- Probably the most common mistake people make at the start of any mass start event is going off too fast. The excitement of finally starting the ride, the anticipation of what is to come in the next few hours and being around so many other people going through the same experiences makes your adrenaline go through the roof.
- More often than not this translates into a faster start than planned and although the first hour pace will look good on your computer it will slow you down later.
- As hard as it is, (we’ve all been there) try to hold the pace you have set yourself for the duration of the ride. Remember you will be out there a long time and going off fast will make you slower by the end. Cyclists will pass you, but if you hold your pace you will pick off people and find yourself in a group whose speed you feel comfortable riding at.
- Make sure you can see can see the computer or whatever tool you are using to track/manage your ride easily. Monitor the average and it will mean you’ll have enough energy not to have to take too many rest stops, and be able to finish strong.
- The more time you spend sitting down on climbs the less the strain will be on your entire body, seating down uses less energy than standing! This isn’t always possible of course, long climbs or really tough climbs mean standing on the pedals is the only way to get up and over. BTW remember the top is not the target, over the top and down the other side is the target.
- In order to make a climb as comfortable as possible keep your eyes looking up the road, look for the climbs, keep an eye on the horizon and react before the gradient forces you to react. Change gear before you need to, keep your legs spinning at the same speed and you won’t suffer from poor gear changes and potential chain derailment. Having a light load pushing on the pedals when changing gear on a climb is paramount, your legs should still be spinning around BUT the force you push down with should be less when you are changing gears.
Food and drink
- Hydration is important, dehydration has many effects that aren’t helpful on an endurance event. It makes your blood thicker, increases your heart rate and makes it harder for fat to get to your muscles for fuel. It can also affect your concentration and alertness, something you don’t want to happen when you are barrelling down a descent with a road full of cyclists.
- Make sure you have enough water for you, and make sure you can drink whilst riding. Drink before you feel thirsty and that way you won’t suffer towards the end of the ride.
- If you find it difficult to drink from a bottle whilst riding, you can buy a drinks that you carry on your back and drink through a straw meaning a little less time with your hands off the handlebars.
- With food everyone reacts differently to what they can stomach and what they can’t. No advice can really overrule this, some people swear by real solids like bananas or peanut butter and jam sandwiches where as others use energy bars and gels.
- Whatever nutrition you decide on, make sure you have tried it before the ride. If you plan on using the energy food and drink provided at the feed stations, see if you can try some before the event. Most energy brands sell individual packs, some brands can really disagree with your digestive system and some don’t so try them first. The event organiser will normally list what will be provided at the feed stations as well but don’t rely on these food stops to get you round.
- If you use solids of some sort use them towards the beginning of the event and gels towards the end of the ride since they require less digestive effort when your body is beginning to tire.
- Finally, there is a lot of talk about carbo-loading the night before the ride, although a good meal is a sensible idea the need to over eat isn’t necessary. A good healthy balanced meal will be more than enough for you to prepare and any more food won’t make a difference other than to slow you down on the ride and make you carry more weight than you need or want.
- Lay out your clothes, including shoes, gloves, helmet, glasses and anything else you want to carry on you during the ride the night before.
- Take safety-pins for your ride number and sun tan lotion, charge your phone and have some cash with you. A bag of wet wipes and change of clothing is a nice to know you have waiting for you at the end of the ride.
Good luck and enjoy.