One of the things I love about cycling is that there is always more to learn about technique. Several years ago, I cycled a moderate 30 miles and noticed the next day that I was physically exhausted. I thought that I had over trained but wanted to know more. So, I wore a heart rate monitor and repeated the ride. Well, I was riding at my maximum heart rate for the entire ride! No wonder my body was exhausted. There is value in starting slowly and riding smart.
Warming up: Take the first 30 minutes of the ride to cycle at a slower pace and effort. It is a pace where you can carry on a conversation. If your heart rate is too high in the beginning, it will increase your metabolic rate and you will go into sugar burning mode instead of long lasting fat reserves. Starting slowly sets a precedent for longer rides so you can train your body to have the proper reserves in store.
Revolutions per minute (rpm): this is the number of times your foot completes a full circle each minute. Ideally, a cadence of 90-100rpm is the most efficient ratio for cycling. However, if you are a beginner this can take time to learn. Practice and count on your rpms on short rides. Count your rpm for 30 seconds and multiple by two and try to remember what that feels like on your legs. Maintain that cadence whether you are riding on levels or hills.
Gearing: This takes practice and knowing your bike. It is important to learn when to adjust your gears especially on hills so you can maintain the 90-100 rpm. The wrong technique is to “muscle” your way up a hill; this places a strain on joints and muscles and can set you up for injury.
Ride Consistently: Practice riding on a straight line and avoid weaving. This is important for safety on the road and also when riding in groups. Practice riding close to the rider in front of you. Practice being the leader in the line of cyclists and drafting behind the rider in front of you. It takes practice to ride comfortably close to other riders and not crash but learning this is important because cycling with others increases your enjoyment. Communication is key to let others know where you are and what your intention is.
There is much more to cycling technique but these are tips to get you started on the road. Be safe and enjoy the ride!