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Chef Hayden Groves has cycled all three Grand Tours – here’s what he learned.
Tame the hills
“It’s about power-to-weight, or watts/kg, here. It’s often best to sit in the saddle spinning at a good cadence – concentrate on a round pedal stroke, pulling up with your clips and changing gear with the gradient. Pull on the bars and get out of the saddle when it gets really steep.”
Why it works “If you’re keeping your momentum up, you’ll be at the top before you know it. Position changes let you rest different muscle groups – it’ll improve your whole ride.”
Get strong at home
Why it works “Targeting your midsection and legs will keep you strong on the bike and can help prevent injury. Once you’re confident on the bike and happy with your riding position, you can progress to seated ‘over-geared’ reps.”
…And in the saddle
“For on-the-bike strength training, pick a hill with a steady gradient that would normally take you a minute to climb. Ride it seated, in a big gear, at 50-60rpm, and don’t worry about speed but concentrate on the stroke. Keep your body rock-steady so all the force comes from your legs and glutes. Roll back down and repeat twice.”
Why it works “Added to your sessions once a week, this’ll add muscular endurance to your legs.”
Ride back-to-back days
“If you’re training for a multi-day event such as London-Paris, build up with lots of little rides: a 75- to 90-minute daily commute beats one huge weekend ride. Try to spin the pedals at 85-95rpm to take the pressure of your legs – and always remember to rehydrate and refuel.”
Why it works “On multi-day tours, everything has a knock-on effect – you never want to fully deplete the tank. A 2% loss of fluid might mean a 20% drop in performance over the long term.”
Watch your recovery
“As soon as you get off the bike, grab a mix of protein and carbs, then follow up 30 minutes later with a full meal. Elevating your legs after a shower can help drain some lactic acid out – but compression socks or calf sleeves will also do the job if you’ve got a long car ride after the pedalling.”
Why it works “The post-session window is a vital time to refuel, especially on multi-day events – and better blood flow will only help.”
Invest in some gear
“Disc brakes are a nuisance to set up, but they’ll make you stop even in pouring rain, and those super-stiff shoes will give you an extra few watts. As for a frame, lighter might seem better – but you should aim for a blend of fast, light and comfortable.”
Why it works “You aren’t going to be pulled along in a big peloton speeding through every red light, so you’ll average 40% longer on the bike than a pro – which means it’s crucial to set a comfy riding position.”
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