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.
Cosmo Leone says
Great reminder for riders outside or in. I say that because I’ve sadly seen spin classes that START a class at 85% of your max. No warm up. I was the oldest one in the class and noticed all these 28 year old thinking it was the greatest thing spinning at 55 rpm to start the hour. I’m thinking to myself, I’d love to see you in 20 years with your knees shot. Never went back to that instructor.
Keep up the great work.
R. groves says
In my observable experience, 99.9% of spin class instructors have ZERO knowledge/experience of what cycling is or involves. What they offer is a “fitness experience” that has little or nothing to do with cycling as most readers of this forum understand it to be. Attend a spin class to alleviate boredom, maybe catch some eye candy, but sit in the back, away from the instructor’s eyes and just do your own thing.