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Although competitive cycling has existed for hundreds of years, the sport only really saw an increase in popularity in 2002, when Lance Armstrong’s repute was at an all-time high, as he rode the crest of his fourth consecutive Tour De France victory.
Since most of us acquire basic bike-riding skills at a very young age, little-to-no preliminary practice is required for finding exercise via bike. However, if you plan to be serious about it, extreme conditioning is required. In our quest for fitness, let’s first take a look at the secrets of becoming a great rider this season.
First of all, a competitive race pace should be between 80 and 100 revolutions per minute (rpm), and this incudes climbing hills, unless the gradient is steep (greater than 10 percent). A slower cadence of 60 to 80 rpm can be used for steeper and shorter sections. For shallower gradients, remain seated and focus on getting into a good rhythm. Only stand when you feel your cadence decreasing, as this will allow you to get back on track without changing gears. As you climb and feel the need to change gears, do so first by standing and accelerating before sitting back down to change gears. This will allow for a smooth transition to the next gear without having to slip down through several gears.
Climbing even mild gradients can cause both physical and mental pain. Prepare for these climbs by getting a grip on the best handle bar position.
When climbing short to moderate-distance hills, attempt to hold the drops of your bars as much as possible. This will help maintain an aerodynamic position when climbing.
For longer and steeper climbs, you should position your hands on the tops of the handles bars for a more comfortable and sustainable riding position. This also allows for an open chest and more efficient intake of oxygen.
The most important thing to remember when riding uphill is to relax. This means relaxed shoulders, soft elbows, and a light hand grip. Remember a tense upper body requires energy and that is energy you would much rather be using with your legs driving yourself up that hill.
As the sport of cycling has increased, so has the number of cycling accidents – both fatal and non-fatal. According to research from Transport Canada, the vast majority of these incidents occurred due to cyclist error or inappropriate practices. They cited rider education and skill as important priorities to help reduce the number of accidents in the future. So, let’s review some hand signals that you’ll need before you hit the open road this summer.