Cycling can be either a liberating or a daunting experience, and the outcome of your ride rests largely on your endurance levels. If you go into cycling knowing that you can keep pace and enjoy the route you have planned, you can relax, but fearing your ability to keep up can cause you to feel disheartened and can even hinder your ability to take longer rides. The reality is that you should feel confident in your own cycling abilities when planning any journey, so here are the best ways to boost your cycling endurance – to get you to exactly where you want to go!
Fueling Up for Cycling Endurance
Many cyclists don’t realize that the key to boosting cycling endurance lies within your internal reserves. The body’s stores of glycogen, glucose, triglycerides (fats) and body fat are all essential to the length, functionality, and quality of a good cycling trip, so make sure to fuel up before you ride!
Carbohydrates, Glycogen, and Endurance
To really boost your cycling endurance, carbohydrates are the best friend that you can have! Turning carbohydrates into glycogen for energy within the muscles and liver will undoubtedly get you riding for longer, but simply upping your intake may not be enough if you are planning on a really hard ride. When you need to be sure of your stamina, set aside a day or two before your longer ride to consume carbohydrate-rich foods every three hours, and take the riding sessions in between easy.
Loading up on carbs for an extended time will help you to boost your body’s supply of muscle glycogen, which will help you to ride longer before you feel the burn. Remember not to take short, fast rides while you carb-load though, as this will expel the glycogen before the big event.
Eat an Early Pre-ride Breakfast
Loading up on carbs won’t just be enough to get you to your peak; protein and triglycerides (fats) are also essential to upping your cycling endurance. Simply planning to eat properly before you ride will give you the added boost that you need to ride for longer. Eating an early breakfast of carbs, protein and fat (around two to three hours before you set off) will put you in a good spot for the entirety of the ride, without bloating you or crashing your energy levels!
Top Up Nutrients and Keep Hydrated
To further boost your cycling endurance, aim to consume around 200-400 calories each hour during your ride. Whether you do this in liquid or solid form is up to you, but be sure to test products out well before you set out to ensure that they don’t upset your stomach. You should try to ingest around 60 grams of carbs per hour, to keep energy levels at their max.
As sweating is one of the leading causes of dehydration during longer, more arduous rides, you should aim to stay properly hydrated by replacing around 75 percent of the water that you lose through sweating. All cyclists should be aware that energy drinks alone are not enough to hydrate your body as you ride, so you should always carry plenty of water when you want to keep your endurance at an all-time high.
Train your Body
While following each of the above factors will make a huge difference to your overall cycling endurance, none of them will work particularly well if your body isn’t ready for the task at hand. The amount of cycling that your body can endure will rely heavily on the condition that your body is in to begin with, and not just on the effects of the nutrients and carbohydrates that you put into it.
This means that, to really get the best from your cycling endurance levels, you should make sure that you’re fit before you set off. Riding regularly in the months and weeks before your long ride will help your body to become stronger and more efficient at using fuel for energy.
One of the best ways to train your body for endurance is to follow a set routine of A,B,C. This is:
A is for Aerobic Riding: you should participate in aerobic riding for four to six hours a week.
B is for Breakfast-less Rides: you should cycle on an empty stomach for up to two hours once a week to teach your body to better utilize fats.
C is for Consistency: you should ride consistently getting more rides in per week than only a few even if they equal the same total distance.
If you follow these rules for up to one month before a longer, more strenuous ride, you will find that your body will work in better harmony with your bike and for a longer period of time to increase your cycling endurance.