In this video we cover off: how to know when you’ve improved, how to climb efficiently, best bike upgrades or easiest upgrade and is there any value to Strava segment hunting to your training.

In this video we talk about:

00:23 – How to know when you’ve improved
01:58 – How to climb efficiently,
02:49 – Best bike upgrades or easiest upgrade
03:38 – Is there any value to Strava segment hunting to your training

Video Transcript:

Hi, welcome to Cycling-Inform’s weekly update.  My name’s David Heatley and we’re going to be answering a whole lot of Facebook questions in this episode.  But first, don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  Also, we do have an email newsletter that we send out every week with our cycling tips and all the updates on our website.

Stephy’s asked a question, how to know when you’ve improved. So, when you’ve improved your fitness, there’s a few things you can do and we generally like to test things.  So, what I recommend and what we do with our athletes is that we say, right, here’s a hill climb.  I want you to go up this climb and we’ll time it.  So, we go up that climb every couple of weeks and we used it as a test, as a benchmark.  Obviously, as a rider’s fitness improves, you’ll find that that time will start coming down.  Now there’s obviously lots of other ways to measure performance and that’s just one of them.  If you’re riding with heart rate, you can see, maybe, on that hill climb, that test that you do, you see your heart rate either coming down as your speed’s increasing.  So that’s another way that you can test your performance improving.  Another way is that you can go out along a flat ride and you can sit at a particular speed, say 30 km/hour, and you can check what your average heart rate is at 30 km/hour along a flat course, preferably with the wind being fairly calm, i.e., not riding into a head wind or a tail wind.  See what your heart rate is over, say, a five-minute or ten-minute effort at 30 km/hour.  Then you go back and retest yourself a couple of weeks later and see if that’s improved. Now, of course, if you’re on power, then we’re measuring power and average power over a five- or ten-minute effort, and we can chart that through various pieces of software that we run our power rider through.  So if you’re riding on power, it’s actually way more accurate.

Kevin’s asked a question, how to climb efficiently.  Look, there’s a lot of things I need to address on riding efficiently up climbs, but one of the things I’ll have a chat [about] in this particular week is about your breathing.  So, the important thing about breathing when you’re climbing is to breathe very deeply.  Look, there’s a lot of people that get into the sport, that are new to the sport, and when they get under load, when they get stressed when they’re climbing, they start to breathe very shallow, and that’s not very good for getting good maximum hill-climbing speed.  So what you want to do is you want to just relax that breathing down, get into a rhythm and then start breathing nice and deep.  For some people, they can actually practice breathing in through your nose and out through their mouth to slow their breathing down and make it nice and deep.

Thurston’s asked a question, best bike upgrades or easiest upgrade.  Okay, so the best and easiest upgrade to your bike is, by far, your wheels.  Now, by changing wheels to a light set of wheels or a nice light set of tires on them, you’ll get greater performance on your bike.  You can also get nice Aero wheels as well which will help you if you’re riding over 35 km/hour.  Now, they’re not going to make terribly much difference when you’re climbing up hills or riding at 35 km or less, but as soon as you get your bike up to 35 km or more, an aero wheel’s going to really help you.  Now, if you’ve got a lighter wheel, that’s going to help you with your acceleration and also with your hill climbing.  So your bike wheels are one of the easiest ways to improve and upgrade your bike.

Marks asked a question, is there any value to Strava segment hunting to your training.  Strava’s actually quite a good way of measuring performance improvement.  Am I going up this climb better or am I doing a Strava section faster?  Obviously you need to take into account the weather conditions for that.  If you’ve got a massive tail wind on a flat section of road and you do a really good time on that, then it may not necessarily be a true indication of a performance improvement.  But, it’s actually quite a good way of measuring your performance improvement.  Generally, hills are really good because they’re not influenced as much by things like head and tail winds.  So is it a good way to train overall? Well, not really.  Strava segment hunting is great for just using it as a benchmark or testing, but as a training method, there are certainly a lot better ways to train yourself than just going out and trying to pick off personal bests against Strava segments.  So when we’re talking about proper training, we’re talking about a structured training program that’s addressing specific aspects of your fitness that you require for your specific event.  It’s really important that the training that you’re doing is matching the event that you want to compete in.

So thanks very much for watching my cycling tips for this week.  My name’s David Heatley from Cycling-Inform.