DO I NEED A COACH?
If you want to get faster or win races you may want to employ a coach. But did you know that coaches cover all aspects of cycling, from skills to training plans, tactics, psychology and can also help manage lifestyle issues regardless of your goals, experience or ability. Holly Seear, of Spring Cycle Coaching, is a friend of BellaVelo and regularly speaks at our information evenings. If you want to find out why ‘ordinary’ cyclists might employ a coach, click here to read more.
TRAINING WITH HEART RATE ZONES – WHAT ARE THEY?
Heard a lot about riding in Zone 2, tempo rides and the like but don’t have a HR monitor and don’t know what any of it means? Put simply, heart rate zones are used to monitor training or ride intensity and are an accurate gauge to how hard your body is working. Here is a guide to riding without a HR strap.
GROUP RIDING – WHAT THE HECK IS GROUP RIDING ETIQUETTE?
Group riding is brilliant for many reasons. It’s super sociable; it motivates you to get out there (even when the weather is shite); you learn from the group and you have lots of likeminded people to ride with. However, if it’s your first time riding with a bunch of people, all that time-honoured pointing and calling can be daunting. From hand signals to braking distance, lingo and snacks, there's more to group riding than you might think. Click here to read more (with thanks to Casquette magazine for letting us reproduce their article.)
No longer a beginner and thinking of giving time trials or races a go?
There are different options open to you if you feel you would like to give racing a go. These are crits, road races or time trials.
Track cycling, mostly on indoor circuits, is increasingly popular among participants and spectators alike. Track bikes are not the same as road bikes – they have a single gear only and no brakes nor a free-wheel.
Herne Hill pathway to accreditation
Cyclo-cross is one of the most accessible forms of cycle sport with racing for everyone from youth ridres to grandparents. It pre-dates MTB by decades. Bikes have skinny tyres and, as it is mainly an autumn and winter sport, mud is often involved!
WARMING UP – SHOULD I BOTHER?
When you are cycling, your body shifts up a gear from its resting state. Warming-up primes your energy system, increases blood flow and slightly increases the temperature of your body. This increases the range of motion in your joints, your muscles feel less stiff and your pedal stroke becomes more fluid. If you’re doing a high-intensity interval session it’s critical to prepare your body – and mind – for the session ahead. If you’re doing a long ride it’s slightly less important, but you tend to build it into the ride anyway. If you’re in your early twenties you probably don’t need to warm up. As you get older it becomes more important, especially for your joints.’ Click here to have a look at the British Cycling warm-up session which can be used as a quick work-out or warm up.
WHAT IS THE BEST SINGLE THING YOU CAN DO TO IMPROVE THE WAY YOU CARE FOR YOUR BIKE?
Clean the chain properly – here’s how
HOW TO PEDAL LIKE A PRO – CADENCE, CORE AND NICE SOCKS!
HOW TO CLIMB IN AND OUT OF THE SADDLE
Learning the right climbing technique will help you ascend those hills and mountains faster. Typically, the most efficient way to climb is in the saddle. This makes the best use of your glutes and places less anaerobic stress on the body. Spinning a lower gear while seated will also keep your legs fresher for longer.
Get out of the saddle on a climb can add a short burst of speed or stretch the legs. It can also be useful to stand on the pedals when the hill gets a little steeper. Use out of the saddle climbing sparingly, as it can use up more energy than a seated effort.
Riding a Road Bike – new to road cycling?
If you are a new to riding with drop handlebars and thinking of moving to cleats from flat pedals or need your confidence building to get back on your bike, then the Breeze women-only network may be the best place to start. The HSBC UK Breeze programme offers fun, free bike rides and is run by British Cycling with the aim of getting one million women into cycling by 2020. Breeze has trained, local “Champions” who are super positive, encouraging and have a ‘can do’ attitude; they support everyone to achieve their personal goals and have fun. The Champions have excellent knowledge of safe routes and bike maintenance. Read more here and find a local group or cycle trip here.
London Women’s Racing
London Women’s Racing (LWR) is an umbrella organisation that promotes the involvement of women in crits, road races and time trials. They only support races where 50% of places are reserved for women and where the prize money is equal. They also highlight friendly events which are good for first timers and where the post ride coffee and cake is as important as the race itself!
You can find out more about LWR here
BellaVelo has registered as an affiliated club with London Women’s Racing this year. That means that you can join their novice women’s road/crit and time trial leagues for free. However, you still need to register and you can do this here.
BellaVelo are also members of the CTT – the body that oversees time trials so membership is paid for you if you want to have a go at time trialling. Julie Chasin and Helen Bridgman are the BellaVelo contacts for all forms of racing.
If you want to get into MTB, a great place to start is Swinley Forest just outside Windsor. The park is run by the Crown Estate and contains 24km of trails that are graded for all levels – green, blue and red. Trails are clearly way-marked and include a straightforward 1.2km green route suitable for beginners; 10km of sweeping slopes and bumpy roots of blue trails and then 13km of steep climbs and sheer drops of red trails. You can hire bikes and get coaching from the Swinley Forest Hub (click here for more information). Hire costs vary according to the date, the type of bike you choose as well as the length of hire but expect to pay around £40-£50 for a top quality bike for about 2.5 hours of cycling. Our BellaVelo contact for MTB is Tharina Cronje.