Man has Free Wheel

How you choose to ride is up to you, but there are things that will make your ride better. When new riders experience a faster and more determined group ride, it can be a bit perplexing at first. Just being able to hold the wheel of the rider in front of you becomes the number one goal. Breathing goes out the window. Cadence and pedal stroke is not considered anymore. Hand position is just a battle to keep one or both of your hands from going numb. I understand. I’ve been there. As with lifting weights, form is more important than how much weight you lift. Injury can occur; and worse yet, you lose power and productivity. Keeping your body under control when it is rebelling against you takes focus and determination. YOU are in charge. When that wheel seems to be slipping away and your breathing is becoming erratic, your brain is designed to help you not kill yourself. Being the good brain that it is, it will only focus on what it thinks you need to survive what you are putting your body through. Controlling your body’s reactions and staying focused is the key to being a better rider. Of course your current VO2 level plays a huge part in how well you breath when the going gets tough, but controlling your breathing is very important. The first reaction when panicked is to breath faster and take in more air. The body actually needs you to get rid of the carbon dioxide build up that’s going on. Take a second to exhale as hard as you can, two to three times; then take in a long deep breath. After that, control your breathing. Don’t pant. Panting only restricts the amount of oxygen your lungs take in (very little) and causes your body to see other sources of energy, resulting in a domino effect. Speaking of energy, your body must hydrate and consume fuel. The normal rule of thumb is to drink every 5 minutes and eat every 20/30 minutes. This must become habit forming on the bike. You cannot wait until your brain reminds you to drink; if you so, you’re screwed. You’re already into dehydration and will be playing catch up. On the other hand, you cannot drink a bottle every 15 minutes. You will develop a “slosh belly” where you have more fluid in your stomach than your body can handle at a given time. One full mouth of fluid is good enough. Let your body do the work. You’ll feel much, much better. Keeping your body under control when you are tired is the key factor. Too many times a rider will start growing more and more tired, trying to stay with the group, and he begins to flail around on the bike. His knees will begin to flop away from the top tube, his head and shoulders begin to bounce, his hands grip the hoods (and only the hoods) like grim death, and worst of all he will begin to frantically search for easier gears which does nothing but increase his cadence (to stay on the other guy’s wheel) which increases the heart rate and matters get worse. It’s all a matter of staying calm. You tell your body what to do, not the other way around. Give these things a try for a start, and let me know if it helps. BON VÉLO

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