Cycling: A New Adventure

With Dungarvan Cycling Club starting a group 4 Spin (23 – 25 kmph avg spd) on the 16/11 this Sunday, I decided to write my first column about the new group 4 spin, specifically for newcomers to cycling and those you have a few spins done but who are only starting out.

First of all welcome to DCC and we are glad you a thinking of joining and coming along to Sunday spins, because cycling especially long distances is a lot easier and goes quicker when with friends and in a large group. Advantages to group cycling are

  1. Easier to keep average speed higher as you don’t have to stay “on the front“ by yourself taking all the wind.
  2. Distances don’t feel as long because you can to talk to someone else apart from your are handlebars and time passes a bit quicker.
  3. You improve at a faster rate and get fitter quicker in a group.
  4. Going as a group means you know the time, distance, speed and route are all decided by the road caption. ( no slacking )
  5. You can learn little things from fellow cyclists that could make it all a bit easier.

So here’s a couple of things you need to know before you venture off.

  • Layer up : Although you get hot cycling and the core temperature will rise, remember that cycling is not like running where you can get away with running with shorts during the depth of the winter. Cycling is a lot different in this way. If the temperature is below 14c cover your knees. With the temperature on Sundays for the foreseeable future in going to be in single figures, clothing is going to be really important for a comfortable cycle. Wear a good base layer, a short sleeve jersey, a chest protector, a good long sleeve winter jacket, a good set of long’s with a good chamois is a must and a pair of thick sports socks. Extras for colder days: overshoes, gloves and a thin warm hat that will fit neatly under the helmet.
  • Nutrition : The body has enough stored glucose (energy) to do a 2 hour without any extra fuel. With the spin early on a Sunday it is essential to have a good breakfast 2 hours before the ride. One of the reasons is you won’t have eaten since the night before so the body will be low on stored food. So first thing is to top up those levels and to give you a good base to work off for your ride. The ideal breakfast has a bit of everything without having too much on one thing. You need carbs, protein and fats. Two good sample breakfasts would be porridge with a chopped banana or a 2 egg omelette on 2 slices of toast with 2 slices of ham. Fluids should be consumed during the spin: think little sips but often. Water is fine for these spins but if you want to try the energy drink mixes try a little bit first as they can be harsh on the stomach if not used to them. During the spin have food that’s easy to open with one hand. You don’t want to look like you have a rubic in your hand. Try something simple first like bread and jam wrapped in tin foil or any of the bars on sale in the cycle shops. Eat a small amount on the hour mark and then every 30 mins after that this will insure you don’t get “The Bonk“ during the spin and when you get home you won’t eat the leg of the table.
  • Post Ride Nutrition: Sample cyclist : 90 kgs should take in 90 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein. So a nice Brown roll with chicken and salad and a lovely cup of warm coffee should see you right for recovery. Drink plenty of water post ride to stay hydrated. Try and aim for 2 litres post ride and 300-400ml per hour of cycle.
  • Cadence: What’s cadence you might ask? It’s the amount of revolutions the pedal takes in a minute. A lot of beginners have too low of a cadence this in turn makes it harder on the legs. Try and make the cadence around 95 this will make it easier on the legs and they won’t be as tired at the end of the spin. You won’t actually be counting the revs, but 95 is a lot!
  • Taking turns on the front:  The group will be riding two abreast with 2 on the front at all times. When it is your turn on the front the important thing is to control the speed don’t speed up to much and pull over quickly this only causes strain on the group. Keep a steady pace not too fast not too slow. It’s also your job to call potholes and any obstacles you see on the road. When your turn is done and you work your way back through the group don’t forget to shout holes for those behind you as well and if at the very back let the front of the group know if someone has stopped or punctured.
  • Check your Bike: It might seem obvious but give the bike a good look over the night before and not the morning of the spin as you will have enough to do. Make sure the tyres have 100-110 psi in them, oil on the chain and you have a saddle bag with spare tubes, levers and a pump.
  • Enjoy it: The main thing is you enjoy the group spin and don’t worry…you are well able to do it. Everyone else is in the same boat and are keen to cycle together. The road captains will look after everyone and will be like U.S Marine’s. There will be no man or woman left behind.

Stay safe on the road and Enjoy it.

Marc Flavin
Achieve Ireland
Level 1 Cycling Ireland Coach.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.