After the long winter, with the sun now a regular feature in the sky, many cyclists will be dragging the mountain bike out of the shed and giving it a dust down and fettle ready for some trail riding.
If you’re not been riding much until now, your fitness might not be at what can be best described as ‘peak’, so here’s some handy tips to help you accelerate your fitness and get you back into shape so you can enjoy some trail riding this summer.
Take it slow to start with
If you’ve not been riding much since last autumn, before the winter set in, you might be tempted to jump straight on the bike and go as fast as you were riding before the mountain bike went into hibernation.
The first couple of rides won’t probably be all that much fun, huffing and puffing up the hills, so give your body time to get used to the demands of cycling, and go steady for a couple of weeks. Given time, you’ll slowly get back into shape and before you know it you’ll be sprinting up all the hills and nailing the singletrack.
Ride with friends
Riding on your own is great; you’re in charge of how fast you want to go, but there’s nothing like riding with some mates to push you that little bit harder. Keeping up with a friend through a sliver of singletrack or up a fireroad climb can be a great motivator and push you to work a little harder than you might on your own.
It’s tempting to go out and ride an epic six hour all-day ride, which we don’t want to stop you from doing. It sounds like fun. But if you have been off the bike for a while, such a ride is going to tire you out and it could take several days for your body to recover. Instead, stick to shorter rides, which won’t tire you out as much, and aim to get out on the bike more frequently.
With the evenings now drawing out, there’s no excuse for nipping out for a post-work ride, and even if you’ve only got a spare hour due to commitments, make the most of it. Plan ahead to minimise faffing and you’ll soon realise you can fit several shorter rides into your week. A little and often is a quick way to get you back into shape.
Don’t sprint everywhere
It’s too tempting to kill yourself on the hills, sprinting everywhere, but it won’t be long before you’re heart rate will be bouncing off the red line and you’ll be completely knackered. Try to force yourself to ride a little slower, shifting down a gear or two, and aim to ride a steady pace for the first couple of rides. As you settle into a routine of regular rides, you can gradually increase the intensity level, and start adding in some harder efforts on hills to boost your fitness.