Seeing the local Cyclists mostly doing their long rides here in Santa Ana, Costa Rica during the weekend mornings makes me think about how many of them actually think about whether they are conditioned for it? They wear the fancy gear but looking at the various physiques I know that they seriously need to look at the whole picture to gain most out their mode of exercise.
A glaring problem here is that the roads are not wide enough for it to be safe and many potholes appear after the rainy season, but if they chose their routes more carefully they could get around that problem. I guess they get into the same syndrome that most exercisers do in that they stick to the same routes and constantly changing them is the key to making progress beyond the initial stages of an exercise routine. If they prechecked where they were going they would find that they find various route combinations to add to this variety?
Another obvious problem I see in observation is that a good percentage of them are overweight, or even obese. They may think that the exercise will help lose weight and it could be their motivating factor to cycle? Certainly it helps when you get up to the higher distances that the serious cyclists reach, but they should consider making an effort to control their eating if this being the case. So another factor to help condition yourself to cycling is to lose weight which will have a dramatic effect on performance.
Yet a third observation is that most of them don’t have an even gait in riding. Some basic ideas from a cycling coach would help correct this problem. Admittedly your stronger side becomes the crank side of the bike, but again some coaching and few basic exercises will help keep balance and therefore there would be less chance of repetitive strain injuries. To name two off the top of my head would be Step Downs and Pistol Squats.
The fourth observation I have is that they haven’t been coached as to the correct setup of their bikes to their individual lever lengths of their bodies. By this I mean the ratio of thigh, lower leg, torso length and arm lengths. When someone has this correct they move far more smoothly and effectively on the bike. Again some expert advice would help here. Another thing they could do is to strengthen their torsos and although I don’t have the room in this posting to explain some of the specific exercises I would suggest, the Plank and Side Planks exercises would help here. These suggested exercises don’t need to take up any great time or energy and done only a couple of times a week, but they need to be considered.
If they are wanting to do some hills in their rides they should do a basic push/pull upper body routine as well. Other factors that affect performance is proper fluid replacement and what best to eat if their rides last anything longer than an hour. The best fluid replacement is water and eating a banana or two is a more natural food that is easily digested. They should keep away from the sugary ‘power’ fluids and the energy bars…
These only a few ideas I can think of and within the constraints of my short posts… think of the whole package of performance to make the most out of your chosen exercise mode.