How to increase cycling speed
Every cyclist whether you are a beginner or an experienced pro will feel a need for speed at some point. The urge for speed also affects riders of all ages since driving at a good speed promotes great health and improves one’s confidence.
Even though speed does come with patience and practice, there are several things you can do to ride your bike faster almost immediately. Some of these include:
- Bend and Tuck in Your Elbows
one of the biggest challenges for every cyclist has to be wind resistance and drag. The best way to deal with this problem is to make yourself as aerodynamic as possible.
You can get more aerodynamic by lowering yourself onto the curved handlebars of the bike and then tucking in the elbows to reduce your profile. This will immediately reduce wind resistance and drag.
- Work on Your Cadence
Pedaling faster and pedaling more can make you faster too. By pedaling faster there is less strain on the muscles and once you become efficient at pedaling it will be less tiring overall. While there is no perfect cadence you should aim at between 80 to 90 revolutions a minute while pros will usually aim at about 100 rpm.
- Make Better Use of Your Gears
Learn how to change your gears by upshifting and downshifting at the right time. It is usually recommended to approximate your changes well before you need to make them, to make more efficient use of the gears.
For instance, you need to change your gears right before you hit a hill so that you do not expend more effort than you need to.
- Practice Your Climbs
Hills make a lot of riders struggle and will usually take a lot out of your cycling speed. The best way to improve speed is to repeatedly climb hills while seated which will improve muscular endurance and make you faster.
- Clean and Maintain Your Bike
While cleaning a bike is not fun, it can make you very efficient. A clean chain will the right lubricant will be more efficient than one full of gunk and grime. Moreover rubbing brakes and worn brake pads might rub on the wheels and slow you down which will significantly slow you down.
- Listen to Good Music
Music uplifts one spirit and mood and works very well when you are attempting to improve your cycling speed. In fact, research has shown that listening to fast-paced music while riding your bike reduces how much effort you need to exert.
- Ride in a Group
While you can+ have a peaceful time riding all on your own, riding in a group provides a different dynamic and could significantly increase your speed. The pros usually ride in teams since they can then take advantage of drafting sand slipstreaming to reduce their effort and conserve energy which makes them faster.
- Pump Up Your Tires
Ensure that your bike tires are properly inflated as properly inflated tires tend to roll faster. Check for the recommended pressure for your given bike and ensure you are properly inflated before you embark on the ride.
- Press the Brakes Less
Try to use the brakes less since braking unnecessarily will slow you down meaning you will have to take more time to accelerate and get back to the fast speed. If the road has no obstructions and hence no reason to slow down, maintain cycling cadence and do not break unless it is very necessary.
- Ride in Intervals
One of the fastest ways of increasing your cycling speed is interval training. You should cycle hard and fast for a short interval slow down and recover which will work to improve your endurance and ultimately your speed over the long term.
- Wear Well-Fitted Clothing and Appropriate Shoes
The clothes you ride with matter a lot and hence you should wear well-fitting clothes. I always recommend that you wear a speed suit if you are racing, You can also go further and get clipless pedals to reduce slipping of the foot from the pedals
What is a good average speed?
One of the most common questions that cyclists have is what is a good average speed? The answer to this is that it depends on a lot of things such as the age of the rider, the type of bike, experience, levels of fitness, and the terrain among other things.
- Type of Bike – Hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes all can achieve different speeds with the road bike being the fastest on paved roads. If your bike has skinny tires, and a drop-bar handlebar, you are likely to go faster while you would go slower with the chunky tires of a mountain bike
- The Terrain – Hillier terrain will often slow you down just as well as wet weather and tricky conditions such as riding in mud or soft soil. Smooth roads in continental Europe have always been preferred by the pros as compared to the gravel and tar roads of the United Kingdom
- Fitness and Experience Levels – Beginners tend to struggle with keeping up high speeds as they usually are not fit enough. As such, they usually top out at about 16 kph over an hour on the road while the professionals can top out at speeds as high as 25 kph
- Age of the Rider – Younger riders at about 25 to 35 tend to be faster as compared to older riders say over the age of 60. The reason for this is that muscle tends to reduce as one ages. Moreover, muscle composition changes too as one gets older which means older riders might not attain the explosive speeds they once could when they were younger.
To hit average speeds of 20mph or 32 kph will require a lot of regular training. Since it takes a lot of effort to overcome air resistance, increasing your speed by just 10mph will call for a big increase in power input.
For professional cyclists in the Tour de France who average 40 kph or 25 mph riding over 3500 kilometers, you would need even more training and effort.
How long does it take to get faster at cycling?
Just like with anything, it will take thousands of miles of road cycling and thousands of hours to significantly improve your cycling speeds over the long term. It may take several months for complete beginners and several years to hit speeds of 25 kph and above.
The reason for this is that Fitness gains will typically take about three months of steady riding at under 80 percent of your MHR. If you are yet to reach that point you will be better off training for a few more months to improve your fitness.