The title of this article sounds like a magic promise to lose ten kilos in a month. But I don’t have any magic for you, just a few tips that can help you ride a bike faster and, above all, less tiring. With these tips, you’ll be able to cover more kilometers at a time and at higher speeds.
Clean the drive
We start with cleaning the drive. Muddy chain and sprockets cause precious watts of our power to escape irretrievably. For cleaning, it is best to use a cloth and a degreaser, e.g. citrus (or less ecological gasoline), and if you have tools – it is best to break the chain and remove the cassette to clean them even more thoroughly. Then, apply the chain oil to each roller of the chain (bicycle chain, not for French fries or lawn mower) and after a few minutes wipe off the excess oil – the chain should be lubricated on the inside and dry on the outside.
Check tire pressure
On the side of each tire you will find the pressure range to which the tire should be inflated. Usually it will be expressed in bars and PSI. Using a pump with a pressure gauge (if you don’t have one, use a compressor at a gas station, then buy yourself a pump with a gauge), make sure the tire pressure is within the range. The more you and your luggage weigh, the higher the pressure you should inflate. Higher pressure also means lower rolling resistance on asphalt, but on lower-quality surfaces, driving comfort decreases – so it is worth looking for the ideal pressure for yourself, not necessarily the maximum.
Check if something is holding you back
If you are riding your bike extremely hard, and you are not moving against a strong wind, check that the brake pads do not rub against the rim or brake disc. By the way, it is worth making sure that the wheel hubs turn slightly and that the crank and pedals work smoothly. Anything that resists unnecessarily will slow us down.
Replace the tires
If your bike is already in good technical condition, it’s time to take the next steps. Wide tires with an aggressive tread will create high rolling resistance – this will not be missed. If you drive off-road, do not expect that the tires that have just bitten into the muddy forest path on the asphalt will carry you like road rubber. Do you want to drive faster and with less effort on asphalt? Change the tires to one with a softer tread. They do not have to be very narrow, the more so that in highlanders not always the rims will allow you to put on narrow road tires. It is enough for the tires to be either smooth or with a delicate tread on the sides (the so-called semi-slick), such as the Schwalbe Hurricane or Continental Contact Speed.
Change the damper to a rigid fork
Your bike has a shock absorber, but you don’t feel it is working at all? Perhaps it is enough to service it, or maybe it is only suitable for replacement. On such occasions, consider wearing a stiff fork. Thanks to it, your pedaling energy will not be spent on bending the shock absorber, especially during acceleration. Additionally, the stiff fork will be lighter. A cheap shock absorber can weigh 2.5 kilograms, an inexpensive, stiff fork made of aluminum – about 800 grams, which is over one and a half kilograms less, which we have to carry with us on each climb.
Check your term
Cadence is the number of full crank revolutions per minute. Each of us may have a different, favorite term, it also changes depending on the conditions in which we are driving. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that when driving on a flat, asphalt road, our cadence should not fall below 80 revolutions per minute. But don’t hang on to that number too tightly, many people who pedal slowly would feel as though their legs are going to fly off in the 80 cadence. The cadence increases gradually while driving, just throw the chain on the cassette one sprocket higher than we drive every day and slowly get used to such a ride, while checking the cadence with which you are driving (just count for 20 seconds and multiply the result by 3) .
The general idea of increasing cadence is to pedal lighter, but to do it a little faster. The gear ratios on most cross and trekking bikes allow them to go over 50 km / h, and there are still people who drive slower but want to shift to harder gears, thinking that this will allow them to go faster. This is not the way – it’s really better to pedal faster, but putting a lot less effort into pressing the pedals. Thanks to this, you will save energy and, by the way, your knees.
Eat and drink
This may seem obvious, but if you do not provide your body with carbohydrates and fluids, you will run out of strength at some point. They call it “power cut” and there is something to it – a person suddenly weakens and has the impression that the legs are made of cotton wool. This cannot be allowed to happen! While driving, it is best to drink it all the time, with small sips every few minutes. And don’t feel sorry for fluids; depending on the temperature, you should drink at least 0.5 liters of the drink per hour (and at high temperatures even a liter). The same with the supply of “fuel” – better to eat more often and less than to take a break in the middle of the drive for a two-course lunch with dessert.
Ride in a group
Driving solo is a great way to break away from everyday life, I love to drive myself, but riding in a group of several people will allow you to develop higher speeds and cover a longer route without getting tired. Air resistance is a very important part of the forces that try to stop us. Riding someone “on the wheel”, we fall into a wind tunnel, which allows us to move with less air resistance. Of course, the first person in the column works to make the rest of the group lighter, so you should change it often.