Our bodies are well oiled machines that rely on muscle memory to get the job done. Some of those actions are automated and others are conditioned over time to perform a certain task. With road biking, it is no different. If you are wanting to get faster on the bike, there is still no replacement for consistent miles over time to increase your speed and the distance you are able to ride in a day.
Your Body: What Happens With Consistent Riding
When you get in consistent mileage on your road bike (note: doesn’t have to be blazing fast miles…just consistent), there are several things that happen that drastically increase your fitness and speed.
- Your Pedal Stroke Cleans Up Dramatically – When you put in consistent miles on the road bike, your pedal stroke starts to clean up significantly making you much more efficient on the bike. Increased efficiency equals increased speed and milage without as much effort, so this goes a long way in improving your overal ride quality. Through muscle memory because of repetition, your clean pedal stroke spins without any extra brain effort as your muscles just fall into a rhythm. To increase your efficiency, practice correct pedaling form.
- You Strengthen Your Riding Muscles – This should be obvious, but you do not use the same muscles while you ride that you do during other activities throughout the day. Even when you do use some of the same muscles, you are not conditioning them for the low impact, high repetition that road biking demands. Just like with any sport, you have to condition your muscles over time to perform at their best. Even if you are not racing, you have to get out and ride to condition your muscles so that every ride doesn’t feel like you are pedaling up hill both ways with a 40 mph headwind in sand on every ride. This constant conditioning is also what will increase the distance you can cover in one ride.
- You Get More Comfortable On The Bike – The more miles you put in…the more comfortable you are going to be on the bike…plain and simple.
- Your Body Builds Up Over Time – When you are on the bike sporadically, your body never has time to build on the last ride to make you stronger for the next. It is like you are starting from ground zero with every ride. When you start to stack rides throughout the week (while also giving your body adequate recovery), you start to build off of each ride. Over time, you will start to watch your average speed climb and your distance longer with less effort without really noticing the difference outside of stat checking. Your body is building up with the consistency.
Short On Time? Tips On Finding Rides In Your Area
No everyone has a ton of time left over during the week to get in consistent riding. Ideally, you would want to be on the bike 3 to 4 times a week (two weekday rides and one to two weekend ones) to really stay consistent, but life obligations can railroad that quickly. Here are some ways that you can get in the consistent mileage during the week and fit it into your busy schedule.
- Find A Weekly Night Ride – In my area, there are several weekly rides put on by bike shops or organizations that you can count on the same day every week. It becomes a part of my weekly schedule and is a lot easier to plan around if I know it is coming. If you get in touch with your local bike shop or advocacy group, they can point you in the right direction.
- Find A Lunch or Early Morning Route – By using MapMyRide or Garmin Connect, you can search for routes out of your driveway or next to your office that you can get out and hammer in about an hour. With the convenience of being extremely close to where ever you are during the day, these quick rides in the 15-25 mile range can be a lifesaver throughout the week as they do not take up a huge portion of the day. When you match those routes up with a Garmin Edge 705 or 605, you can hit up new routes solo with turn by turn directions.
There are workout programs and spin classes for those that like to hit the gym throughout the week that helps your riding, but there is still no replacement for saddle time. If you really want to be more consistent on the bike…you have to put in the consistent time and milage.
Image by mikewarren