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Sportive Bike Riding

Based here in Swindon, on the edge of the Cotswolds, we are blessed locally with numerous annual Sportives, over a wide range of distances and terrains – from road to cyclo-cross. Sportives are great ways to ride new roads without having to spend hours route-planning (or risking getting lost, inadvertently turning your 20 miler into a 40 miler!), and they are great fun for those looking to ride in a big group – and of course there’s also the huge sense of achievement at the end!

Depending on your goals, there are a few ways to make your long hours on your bike more comfortable. Incorporating other forms of training (cross-training) will be beneficial to your cycling, but naturally you will want to spend the majority of training in the saddle. There are plenty of good, generic strength and conditioning for cyclists articles to be found, such as this one on the TrainingPeaks website. Ideally, knowing your current strengths and weaknesses can isolate a more specific approach.

Phil Burt, Lead Physiotherapist for Great Britain Cycling Team advocates sports massage as part of the training protocol saying “A regular, say monthly, appointment with an experienced soft tissue therapist can be useful as a body MOT and can help identify areas of tightness or concern”, which in turn can lead to a more specific approach to your training.

It is a good idea to get your bike checked over, pre-event, to ensure it is in working order and so there is less chance of you having mechanical issues on the day. Whilst there may be mechanics on course, it will effect your enjoyment of the day, so learning the very basics (such as how to use your puncture repair kit) can be beneficial. Locally, I can recommend Run&Repair for bike maintenance.

A big factor effecting your enjoyment on the bike is of course how comfortable you are on the bike; this is effected by your bike position, the clothing you are wearing and your cycling history. I advocate a 3-step integrated process, devised to harmonise Man and Machine.

STEP 1 – Musculoskeletal Screening: Identify common musculoskeletal and biomechanical deficits and imbalances highly prevalent in cyclists.

STEP 2 – Rehabilitation and/or S&C Plan: Address aforementioned musculoskeletal and biomechanical deficits, with tailored, bespoke exercises and stretches.

STEP 3 – Discipline Specific Bike-fit: Incorporating the aforementioned musculoskeletal and biomechanical deficits, discipline specific adjustments of the bike take place, designed to maximise your position within the ‘3 Pillars’;

For many years, bike fitting has been the domain of the bike mechanic, but research suggests time and time again that it is in fact the clinicians perspective which can be most valuable. For full details of what I offer – see here.

The keys to successful training are like in any other sport;

  •  try to increase the amount you are doing gradually.
  • The sooner you start your training and more time you have to train, the greater the progression you will make before your event.
  • Try and incorporate some group rides into your training, as riding in a group is a good skill to learn before an event with people around you.

Let me know how you get on!

N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldn’t be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.

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