After a few too many months of Zwifting, riding solo, or maybe even taking a break from cycling (you are not alone!), the time has come to rejoin group rides and race again or for the first time. Finally, with vaccination rates on the rise, connecting with others on bikes can resume.
That’s why in partnership with SRAM, Bicycling hosted Gear Up for Summer, a free live panel discussion to help you get back out on the roads with confidence and connect with other cyclists to build more inclusive communities this summer. The panel included three guests, Coach David Lipscomb, Ellen Noble, and Adonis Cannon, and was hosted by Molly Ritterbeck, Bicycling’s Fitness, Training, and Health Director.
During the 60-minute conversation, they spoke to different aspects of cycling, from training and performance to safety skills and mechanical repairs to professional racing and community building. Here are some of their best tips.
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Focus on the intention
Coach David Lipscomb, who also has a background in martial arts, said a holistic approach to training and development can help you focus on the intention and get better results from each workout after a year spent indoors. Find your why and build your training from there.
Find a coach who is right for you
When it comes to training plans, Lipscomb reminded us that a training plan is only a “piece of paper” and underlined the importance of working with coaches in order to obtain effective training and results. Plus, he says hiring a coach ensures productivity and that the time you do get to spend on the bike brings value down the road—especially if you have big goals on the horizon and are strapped for training time.
Don’t do too much too soon or too little too late. Whether you have four or 12 hours to train each week, the key to any training plan is consistency. If your goal is to do an 80-mile ride at the end of summer, make sure to include a similar length ride in your weekly training.
After learning how to manage a chronic autoimmune disease and then fracturing three vertebrae in April, professional cyclocross and mountain bike racer Ellen Noble can relate to cyclists getting back into training or a higher level of activity this summer after some time off the bike.
Set achievable goals
Noble described that setbacks like hers have helped her understand the importance of setting small, realistic, and achievable goals in the recovery process. Rather than jumping back to where you left off, she recommends setting daily and weekly goals, as this approach is more likely to boost your confidence in the process.
Meet yourself where you are
Start small, and give yourself some little victories. Especially with recovery, the process of getting back can be tough, Noble says, not only on the body but also on the mind. Avoiding unnecessary setbacks is essential to your progress.
Find your why
These days, Noble is not only known for her bunny hops, but also for her resiliency. She said the key to being resilient is to remind yourself why you enjoy riding and find that connection that drives you.
As we get back into the groove of pedaling regularly, we may want to treat ourselves—or our bikes—to a new accessory to freshen things up.
Wash your bike regularly
Noble started by addressing the basics like getting a tune-up and stressing the importance of washing your bike. While new gear is exciting, “a clean bike is a fast bike,” she says.
Mix it up
For a more significant upgrade, Noble suggested treating yourself to a bike and/or gear that is more versatile and can allow you to enjoy road and off-road terrain on the same day.
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Keep it fresh and fast
Coach David kept it simple saying, “nothing’s better than a new pair of socks.” (And we couldn’t agree more!) He also recommended a set of fast wheels, especially if you are considering racing.
Try a dropper post
And if you spend a lot of time riding off-road, Noble and Adonis Cannon both agreed on dropper posts as one of the most valuable upgrades you can make to take your skills to the next level. There was also mention of digital pressure gauges and mountain bike shoe shields that could extend the life of your shoes.
The global pandemic, combined with the nation’s racial reckoning and the acknowledgment of systemic inequalities, has shifted the way many riders connect with the sport today. Community building has come to the forefront as necessary work that requires an all-hands-on approach, from recreational riders and fans of the sport to coaches and athletes at all levels.
Research cycling meets and clubs
Depending on your area, there can be various cycling groups for different types of riding and different levels of skill and fitness. So as we get back out on the roads again, “find a group that you resonate with,” said Coach David. “Then if you want to be competitive, be competitive, but if you don’t, then don’t.” You can still participate in the cycling community without racing.
Tackle community building your way
Noble sees cycling as a very good micro example of the many more significant things we will face in life. And that as long as we are inclusive and positive, there are many different ways to approach community building. “It can be racing if you wanted to be. It can be community building and just hanging out if you want it to be that,” she says.
Noble, who started her new team Noble Racing in 2020, also takes a great amount of joy in running her junior women’s mentorship program, a program built around racing and community outreach. When approaching the latter, she mentioned the importance of flexibility and allowing space and time to accommodate different skill levels.
Adonis Cannon is the Downtown Allentown Program Manager & Cycling Coordinator for Community Bike Works, a nonprofit that teaches life lessons through bicycles to the young people of the Lehigh Valley who could benefit most. He shared some insight on how we can pave the way for a better future in cycling.
Help bridge the gap
“A lot of our kids come from underrepresented areas. Once they try to get into a sport like mountain biking racing, they see all these other kids with different types of high-end mountain bikes and gear, and we are continuously trying to bridge the gap between them. And just bring in students to those environments, putting them around a lot of different people,” says Cannon.
Check out the Earn a Bike program
In Earn a Bike, students are paired with mentors for 12 weeks of bike mechanics and safety classes. While working on their bikes, students learn teamwork, perseverance, and other life skills. In addition, they see the satisfaction of turning a broken bike into a functional one and earn their refurbished bike and a new helmet and lock.
Teach them early
Cannon finds great value in cyclists learning bike safety and mechanics at a young age. This can contribute to a more sustainable and healthy cycling environment in the future. (If you would like to donate to Community Bike Works, you can do so here.)
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