Post lockdown cycling: fitter & faster
Lockdown time needn’t be wasted time and whilst restrictions are loosening we're all mostly stuck indoors and we should be putting this time to good use ironing out issues and preparing for post-quarantine life.
So, don’t sit on the sofa staring at your bike wishing you were riding - get stuck into some of our great suggestions to help you come out of lockdown stronger, faster, better organised, and ready to smash the rest of the cycling season.
Stretching and mobility
If you’re not including some stretching and mobility work into your training schedule already, time in lockdown is the time to get into good habits.
Even a short 10-15 minute stretching session three or four times per week is enough to help you combat tightnesses, aches and injuries. Long hours at a desk and then more hours spent hunched over your handlebars can lead to a tight psoas and hip flexors, rounded shoulders and a stiff back.
Mobilising and releasing these areas with key moves such as the pigeon and couch stretches and the cat-cow will leave you feeling loose, relaxed, and able to ride niggle free, in lower more aero positions. If you’re looking for a structured solution, there’s plenty of follow-along yoga and pilates videos online. The focus on breath and mental discipline in these activities will also really complement and enhance your riding.
Strength and core work
A little strength and core work is another great area to focus on if you’re riding less, and something you should aim to carry out all year-round. Bodyweight work on your core, glutes, and quads will transfer directly onto the bike, making you more efficient and powerful in the pedal stroke.
Like stretching and mobility, short, regular sessions will make a rapid difference to your riding. 15-20 minute sessions a few times a week that include single-leg squats, glute bridges, clamshells, planks, and crunches will tighten your core and improve your glute engagement - all without any equipment or the need for much space. Throw in a few push-ups to strengthen your chest and shoulders for those long hours hunched over your bars and you’ll be feeling the difference within weeks.
Strip, re-grease, rebuild
Creaky bottom bracket and headset that feels full of grit? If you’ve got some time to spare now that you can’t be on the road so much, put it to use giving your bike – and particularly your bearings – some TLC.
Stripping, cleaning and re-greasing your bottom bracket is perhaps the biggest win you can make when it comes to sprucing up your bearings. You quickly forget what a smooth BB feels like as you slowly grind your old one into dust, and the feeling of a silky clean and lubed bottom bracket as you spin is like no other.
After that, a good area to focus on are your wheel bearings. Pay particular attention to the rear hub – being close the drive train, this area attracts a lot of muck, and a surprisingly large amount of it works its way into it, whether it’s sealed or not.
Lastly, clean up and re-grease your headset. Like the bottom bracket, it’s easy to forget what it feels like when you’ve got clean and smooth bearings in your headset, and when you do, it will feel like you’re on top of an all-new bike.
Sort out your bits box
If you’re like us here at Pongo, you’ll have boxes and boxes of spare cleats, old stems, worn tyres, and bolts that fell out of who-knows where.
These boxes are little chests full of treasure! Take the time now to sort through them and finally bin the useless clutter, and re-use or sell the good stuff. We’ve found brand new cleats and a perfectly good CO2 inflator in our ‘bits boxes’ which we’ve gone on to make good use of!
And if you’re not sure if you still want something you find – bite the bullet and either get rid of it, or better still – give it to your local bike shop. Mechanics in local workshops are always in need of random screws, stems and spacers, so give them a break and donate your odds and ends to a good cause.
Refresh your freezer
We’ve all done it. Get in starving from an epic training ride, throw the bike to the floor and instantly turn to the fridge for post-ride munchies. We’ve found ourselves resorting to hoovering all sorts of random junk, from week-old pots of hummus, leftover squares of chocolate and that pot of yoghurt that’s been there who-knows-how-long as we look for instant satisfaction after a tough ride.
Take the time now to batch-cook some good quality recovery meals that you can portion up and put in the freezer. On the night before a big ride, take a portion from the freezer to defrost and it will be ready for you on your return the next day, waiting to be microwaved and munched.
Foods that freeze well are typically ‘sauce-based’ options, such as stews, chillis, casseroles or soups. To ensure the meal gives your body all it needs to recover well, include a good balance of protein, carbs, and fats.