Are you new to cycling? If you're trying to improve your performance on the bike, you need to examine your commitment to the sport.
Let's unpack a few tips on how to become a better cyclist.
Pushing your limits
Like Albert Einstein said, doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
So, improving as a cyclist means you need to get out of your comfort zone and push your limits on the bike. As a cyclist, you're looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness, stamina, and lower body/core strength.
Here are a few ideas to help you test your metal.
Start long-distance cycling
Try to look into elevation-focused rides
Get a change of environment
Experiment with different types of cycling
When you start cycling, you have a few different options to choose from for your cycling style. Typically, you have two general categories, on-road and off-road, with various subcategories in each.
Sign up for group ride events in your area
Riding with other people helps you compare your performance to others, letting you know where you are in the cycling hierarchy.
Sign up for a local cycling club in your area and go on a group ride. You'll find it's a great way to meet like-minded people, and it might introduce a competitive element to the sport you find you enjoy.
Ride with more experienced riders
If you want to push yourself, you're going to need to reach up, not down. That means you need to ride with fitter, stronger, faster, and more experienced cyclists than you.
Joining a team or club allows you to meet other cyclists. Each group operates at a different level of performance, and you can start with the one that's one level above your current ability.
Sure, you'll be at the back of the pack for the first month or so. You might even have your teammates teasing you about joining another crew for your rides. However, if you stick with it, you'll find you continually improve in your fitness, stamina, and performance.
Eventually, you'll find yourself in the mid-pack during your ride, and sooner or later, you'll be challenging for the leader spot. When it gets to that stage, you know it's time to progress to another team where you go back to the back of the pack.
Regardless of the niche, whether it's road, downhill, or cross-country, this strategy allows for continual improvement of your skillset and performance as a cyclist.
Become a gear expert
One of the most fun parts about cycling is discovering all the cool gear, gadgets, apparel, and accessories involved with the sport. Whether you're charging downhill or racing on the road, there's plenty of equipment designed for your specific cycling niche.
Read up on the latest releases of bikes in your chosen biking category. Understand the leading manufacturing brands and what sets them apart from the competition.
Learning the differences in equipment can help your performance. For instance, those $5,000 carbon-fiber wheels might seem horrendously expensive, but some professional cyclists see the value in spending that kind of money on bike components.
Understand the ins and outs of your bike and repairing it
Your bike is the crux of your interaction with the sport of cycling. Just like a rally driver understands the mechanics of their car, you have to understand the mechanics of your bike.
Sure, you might not have the same skill with bike repair as the guy with 50-years' experience at the bike shop. However, it's important to understand how to complete basic maintenance and repairs for your bike.
Learning how to change a flat tire, reset your gears, or conduct general maintenance on your chain and wheel hubs are essential to being a better cyclist.
Check out Apparel and accessories
Clothing, bike shoes, bike computers, safety gear – learning the different types of apparel and accessories are almost as important as your bike.
There are different options for different styles of biking, so spend some time investigating your options. Visit forums to find out what people are wearing and using on the road, and ask other cyclists about their favorite accessories.
Time on the bike
The key to how to become a better cyclist lies in the time you spend on the bike. The more hours you have in your seat, the more you get the feel of your equipment. However, as Lance Armstrong said (love him or hate him), it's not about the bike.
If you continue to challenge yourself in demanding cycling conditions, eventually, you'll progress with your skillset. There are so many options to keep cycling fresh, expanding your horizon on what is possible on the bike.
When you have the right mindset combined with a thorough understanding of your equipment and your performance in varying conditions, you'll keep improving.
It's up to you how far you want to take it.