(1) Fit, fit, fit:
Once you start to pile on the miles fit will become increasingly important so make sure that your bike has been adjusted to your body. While a long reach to the handlebar will simply give you sore shoulders, a poorly adjusted seat can injure your IT band or meniscus and send you into a *long* recovery.
(2) Know your stretches.
As it turns out, your hamstrings are three groups of muscles and simply leaning forward does not target and stretch them all. While stretching your hamstrings turn your foot inward, straight up, and outward for 30 seconds at each position.
(3) Rollers and other torture devices:
After a long day in the saddle you may need to do more than just stretch sore muscles. A foam roller is well worth the money. This will be most helpful along the outsides of your legs from your knees to your hips (your IT band) but can be used on your quads and other muscle groups.
You may also want to get “the stick” (which is a plastic roller) for bigger muscles like your hamstrings)
(4) Cross training, while not as fun as cycling, helps.
- Running helps work other muscles in addition to your legs. It also helps to maintain bone density as you get older.
- While you’re out for a run, throw in some lunges at the end when you’re warmed up. These help build strength and stability and are convenient if you’re not a fan of the gym
- Weight training helps to build strength which, in turn, helps with oxygen consumption as well as maintaining good posture
(5) “Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty”.
You’ve heard it many times before but it’s important to avoid bonking, especially if you do long races. If you have a bike computer you might set a mental timer and make sure that every 20 minutes you are taking a sip, pacing yourself to roughly 1 bottle per hour and one gel pack per hour. Keeping the tank topped off means keeping your legs turning.