By Arnie Baker, M.D.
The only way to get finished is to get started.
As an introduction to training on your bike, the following is a list of general hints to keep in mind during the course of your training regimen, whether you are a beginning or seasoned cyclist, or are training indoors or out. Come back to this list for a quick reference occasionally as a way of initiating a review of your overall program. The tips will help keep you on the right track.
- Get a plan, set goals, and figure out what you need to get there.
- Keep a training log, either paper or electronic.
- Use your bike computer to track feet climbed.
- Periodize your week, training differently during different sessions.
- Learn to work harder on hard days, easier on recovery days. Plan for recovery.
- Work on different aspects of fitness in different workouts.
- Climb, climb, and climb. Learn to love climbing.
- Work on aerobics, endurance, and strength.
- Work on strength with heavy gears and one-legged riding.
- Pull and push with the same-side hand and leg when climbing.
- Establish a breathing rhythm when working hard, especially when climbing.
- Ride with riders both stronger and weaker than you are.
- Play intensity games with friends.
- Improve your riding technique and skills though practice and from coaches.
- Ride with relaxed, bent arms and with your knees in.
- Train in different riding positions.
- Use a heart rate monitor.
- Wear a helmet and gloves. Keep your equipment safe and in good working order.
- Check your position on the bicycle, especially your seat height.
- Rely on food, not pills or supplements, for your nutrition.
- Maintain hydration; drink before you are thirsty.
- Keep carbohydrate solution in your water bottle.
- Optimize your weight.
- Redirect the stresses of your life.
- Have patience in your program.
- Do not try new equipment or foods for the first time on event day.
- When your group is warming up, or cooling down, ride in a smaller gear than just about everyone else to learn to spin better.
- Learn to work hard on a stationary bicycle trainer. Zwift and other smart trainer apps can really help.
- Practice skills such as pacelines, regularly.
- Watch good riders and how they flow without doing any more work than necessary. Try to learn from them.
Dr. Arnie Baker has been coaching since 1987. A professional, licensed USCF coach, he has coached racers to several Olympic Games, more than 120 US National Championships, and 35 US records. He is and has been the only National Cycling Coach for Team in Training. This endurance-training program of more than 800 coaches and 30,000 participants raises more than $80,000,000 each year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Arnie has a Category 1 USCF racing license. He has held eight US 40-K time-trial records, has won multiple national championships, and has won more than 200 races. An all-round racer, he was the first to medal in every championship event in his district in a single year.
Dr. Baker is a licensed physician in San Diego, California. He obtained his MD as well as a master’s degree in surgery from McGill University, Montreal. He is a board-certified family practitioner. Before retiring to ride, coach, and write, he devoted approximately half of his medical practice to bicyclists. He has served on the fitness board of Bicycling magazine as a bicycling-physician consultant. He has been a medical consultant to USA Cycling and the International Olympic Committee.
Arnie has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 1,000 articles on bicycling and bicycling-related subjects.