The old adage that knowledge is power is especially true for the serious cyclist. In particular, there are six key abilities in cycling that need to be learned and worked on to become a successful cyclist. What are these abilities and how are they applied?
1. Endurance. For most people new to the sport, much of the riding they do is in the 1-3 hour range, so they are very familiar with endurance. This particular ability is used in century rides but it is tapped into during longer time trials.
2. Strength. This ability can not be overlooked because it is often dependant on the terrain and weather conditions. Riding uphill or into a strong headwind requires a great deal of strength.
3. Speed. Simply put, speed is the ability to spin the pedals at a rapid rate, but with speed also comes the need to handle and maneuver well. This ability is crucial in short time trials and bike races like those in a sprint triathlon.
4. Muscular endurance. Basically a combination of endurance and strength, muscular endurance is the ability to go long into a strong headwind or uphill.
5. Anaerobic endurance. This ability is crucial for people competing in time trials and races of an hour or less. Anaerobic endurance is basically the ability to sustain a very fast speed for an extended period.
6. Power. Cyclists who possesses a lot of power are able to accelerate to a fast pace in a very short time. This particular skill is very useful in short races, where pace changes are frequent.
Knowing the basic elements of cycling will allow you to isolate each aspect of your training and work to improve them all individually. A good cyclist will incorporate specific workouts for each ability into a weekly schedule to avoid encountering anything unfamiliar during a race.
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BCAAs were recently shown to reduce muscle damage during cycling, as reported in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (December, 2007).