Practical Ways to Get Faster

I'm not a racer. Bigger, stronger riders still pass me from time to time on flats. And most recently, my downhill legs don't seem to be as confident as they have been in the past. Nevertheless, I am still in some of the the best riding form ever, compared to years past. The feedback and progress have been seen and felt during the weekend group rides and at the local events. And it feels great! Here are the 3 practical ways that helped me to get here.

3 Practical Ways to Get Faster 

1. Commute to work.

The benefits of riding to work are many. Save gas. Get fit. Clear your mind. Get energized to start the day the moment you roll into the office. After having logged 500 miles in May, I am convinced that this is a critical way to getting your miles in and building the endurance that is not possible solely from weekend rides. There is simply no other way that I could have logged this many miles in one month without commuting to work.

I put off the idea of commuting to work for many years. Traffic is dangerous (which it can be). Work is too busy. There's no place to shower at work. (This is a valid show stopper. However, there always were shower facilities where I worked). There are too many climbs and hills. (See #3 below). I know  that I certainly would have achieved a higher level of conditioning and fitness had I started this practice earlier.

Another bonus of commuting to work - you get to catch the best part a new day at 6am or 7am in the morning. Some mornings, it is an invigorating wake up call to all your senses.

Still don't have the motivation to get over the mental hump of the idea of riding to work? Perhaps consider trying an e-bike. Key Tip: Plan your route around lower speed and less congested routes. This will not only improve safety but make the commute even more enjoyable.

2. Mountain bike and hit the trails.

This is also a great option if you are committed to becoming stronger and faster and more explosive in your riding. I've found that mountain biking is a great way to build strength and tends to be more anaerobic than cycling on road. Key Tip: Ride without clipless and use flat pedals when logging your trail miles. You'll sense a power and speed advantage of both a lighter bike and clipless pedals when you transition back onto your road bike.

See if you don't notice a marked difference in both your breathing and leg strength after 1 to 3 months of mixed riding between road and trail.

3. Climb.

I avoided climbs like the plague in my first few years of riding. I did not wake up, hop on my bike, and then ask, "where are the biggest, narliest climbs that I can go do my repeats on today?" If not for my friends who suggested these climbing rides, I may not have ridden any at all. San Diego offers a great variety of coastal, hilly, and mountain terrain riding. While I still think big climbing rides are best done in groups (I still rarely do a climbing ride on my own), there is no denying the benefits you will reap in both conditioning for your breathing and leg strength.

Another advantage of a climb - I've found that climbing routes are typically not as windy as flat open rides. First, you are not moving as fast. Secondly, climbing routes tend to be less exposed to trade winds and currents. Thirdly, the sense of achievement from completing a climb is always satisfying.

What practical riding habits have you developed that have made you faster? Please let us know and ride on!

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