Start Slow, Finish Slower
Why do many experienced roadies begin their rides pedaling so easily? And regardless of how hard they eventually end up riding, spend the last 10 minutes spinning so slowly that little kids could keep up?
They’ve learned the importance of a good warmup and cool down, two cycling basics that some riders ignore.
Maybe you’re guilty. You have limited time to ride and want to make use of every second. So you blast out of the driveway in the big ring and don’t ease off until you’re a block from being back home. Heck, maybe you even go hard all the way to your driveway. Your cool down consists of walking the bike to its hook.
We understand. But failing to warm up means you risk leg injuries, mainly to your knees. You may also never feel right during the ride. Studies show that the body functions at a higher level after 10-15 minutes of easy introductory work.
Here’s how to ease into and out of your training rides:
Start in the small chainring. Spin easily, then gradually increase your effort for 10 minutes before you even think about using the big ring.
Do 3 short pick-ups. These aren’t sprints, just moderate accelerations for 10-15 seconds. They’ll wake up your body.
Conclude warming up with 5 minutes of brisk tempo. Concentrate on a fluid, smooth pedal stroke. Now you’re ready for anything your training plan — or your training partners — can dish out.
Cooling down is no less important. Identify landmarks on your routes about 10 minutes from home. When you pass them, automatically shut down and begin spinning easily.
You’ll arrive home refreshed and relaxed rather than still breathing hard with legs on fire. You won’t be nearly as sore or stiff starting your next ride — and a proper warmup will smooth out any small kinks.