So you’ve seen that guy zip down the road with nary an ounce of fat on his body, legs pumping, muscles flexing as he easily outpaces the local traffic on his way to who knows where. If you don’t remember from your childhood, what he’s doing is a fun and exciting activity. And, in adulthood, it’s a great way to get into shape, especially if you know the secrets to doing it right.
Start by setting reasonable goals and then progress slowly. The key is to increase your time or distance on the bike to no more than 10 percent per week. Writing down your goals and recording your time and mileage are also essential to tracking your progress. Realistically, beginners should be committed to four or five rides a week of varying intensity, with at least one day of rest.
If you want to go speeding down the road like that guy you saw, you’ll have to get serious eventually. No more putting around the cul-de-sac at a paltry 5 mph; you need to turn it up to 11. But before you even think of showing up at a local fast ride, you should be riding 20-30 miles a day, plus longer rides on the weekend (40 to 60 miles per day). Overall, 100 miles a week is a good start.
In biking, like weightlifting, you should have a goal each day. One day train your sprint. Turn it on between two utility poles, then recover to the point where you can catch your breath. This cycle should be four or five minutes, then repeat five or six times. Another day, try sustained efforts—riding at the point your legs begin to burn. Hold that for 10 minutes, recover 10 minutes and then do another 10 minutes. The following week increase to 12 minutes for each effort. The idea is to build up for longer and longer distances. Do these exercises for four-week blocks. The last week is always a recovery week, where mileage and intensity are equal or slightly less than your first week.
You’ll know you’re in good shape when you can ride a steady pace of 18 mph for an hour and feel comfortable. Professionals routinely ride four to five hours a day, and the average speed of a local professional race is close to 30 mph. When you’re ready for that level, let us know!
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