1 PUMP UP YOUR TYRES
Sounds so simple yet it’s amazing how many people ride around on soft tyres, increasing their rolling resistance and literally dragging their average speed down.
Check the side wall of your tyres for the recommended pressure and make they are pumped as close to that pressure as possible before every ride.
Track pumps are much quicker and easier to use than the shorter bike pumps and have a pressure gauge to tell you how much more air is needed. They are now available for around €20, or less in some cases, in cycle shops, sports departments and even some supermarkets.
Often, tyres can seep air in storage or in changing temperatures without being punctured. Back in the days before pressure pumps with pressure gauges were freely available, an old cycling habit was to flick the tyre with your finger. You kept pumping until you heard a ping and you were ready to roll. Even though I now have a track pump, I still find myself doing this before every ride!
If you’ve been riding around on soft tyres, even if it’s just down to the shops, you’ll be amazed at the difference.
2 START IN A HEADWIND, END IN A TAILWIND
Most seasoned riders can tell which way the wind is blowing before they leave their house, and how and when it will change direction as they twist and turn through the countryside during their spin.
It’s common sense that you are not going to be as fresh on the way home as you were at the start, so if you start with a tailwind, then you are going to be slogging into a headwind for the second half of your spin.
The wind is the common enemy of cyclists but it can also be your friend if you know how to use it properly.
3 WEAR TIGHTER CLOTHING
If you want to increase your average speed, there is no point in having an expensive bike and then going out on in clothing that’s flapping around like a sail in the wind.
Most material on the market nowadays is slim fitting, lightweight and designed to keep you cool and dry. Don’t leave rain jackets flapping open if you can zip them up or take them off and tuck them under your jersey or tightly into a rear pocket.
If you really want to go the whole hog, then an ultra-tight skinsuit with very few seams, aero shoe covers and helmet covers are the next steps.
4 BEND YOUR ELBOWS
An upright riding position is not going to do much to cut through the wind either, which is the biggest thing slowing you down, apart from your fitness level.
Simply bending your elbows and lowering your body position will not only lower your wind resistance, it will also help absorb shocks from the road better than straight arms.
You can do this while riding with your hands on the brake lever hoods, or for a more aerodynamic position, by riding in the dropped handlebar position.
5 GO HANDY ON THE BRAKES!
Another obvious one but the more you brake during your spin, the slower your average speed is going to be.
Often, starting out, it can take a bit of time to get used to the speed of going down a big hill for example but if the road is clear and the surface is good, then just let the bike roll and enjoy the break from pedalling. If you keep your fingers near the brake levers, then you can still stop if you need to.
When cornering, try and brake in a straight line before getting into the corner at a speed that you can freewheel around it comfortably and come out the other side rolling and ready to go.
Top tips for cornering are to have the inside pedal up so that it doesn’t clip the ground, lower your centre of gravity and place your weight on the outside pedal