Bike exploring: Help for Heroes
OS GetOutside Champion, Helen Pollard, takes us on a great Mountain Bike (MTB) route used as part of the delivery of MTB leadership training to Phoenix House staff in collaboration with Cycling UK.
How to make your bike move quicker and feel a little lighter.
Whether it's for long distance travel or just making your way up some mountains, we'd all like our bicycles to be able to move that little bit faster.
While you might not want your pedal bike to get up to the dizzying speeds reached by professional motorcycle racer Guy Martin at the beginning of the year - an insane 112 miles per hour (albeit with the help of slipstreaming) - it would certainly be nice to feel a little lighter on our frames and get from A to B quicker. To help, here are a few quick tips on how you can make your bicycle pick up speed.
It's an obvious place to start, but it's also one of the simplest ways you can ensure you travel at your maximum potential. Before every ride, check to make sure that your tyres are pumped up to a correct pressure. Road tyres typically require 80 to 130 psi, mountain tyres 30 to 50 psi and hybrid tyres 50 to 70 psi. Therefore, if you've been riding your road bike at 85 psi, bumping it up to 120 psi will make a noticeable difference.
Make sure you check the manufacturers guidance on recommended tyre pressure.
You might have read that drilling holes in your bicycle frame will reduce the weight. It's been a popular technique for decades, but it's not something that many cycling enthusiasts would recommend doing on your own without consulting a professional bike fitter. Stress concentration could lead to frame failure, meaning a pothole or pavement edge could be all it takes to do damage. Instead, take your frame to a pro, or look into replacing it for a super-lightweight carbon frame.
As they're more expensive than your everyday wheels, you might want to consider getting yourself a special set of aerodynamic wheels. They usually contain a low spoke count and have much narrower rims, which improves your movement through the wind. Always double check your gears and (most importantly) your brakes are working correctly every time you make a switch.
Getting on the bike as much as possible will undoubtedly help you drop you a few lbs, but in this case we're talking about shedding weight from the bike itself. Every accessory you've attached to your frame uses up both your energy and the bikes energy each time you go round a turn or up a hill. Remove things like mudguards, pumps, lights and water bottles/cages when they're not needed (short rides only, don't go too far without water or your speed will suffer even more through your dehydration!).
Ask any keen rider about clipless pedals and they'll tell you that once they'd tried them they never went back. The name might be misleading though; clipless pedals actually do involve clipping. First you attach pedals with locking mechanisms, then attach cleats to your cycling shoes. The shoes then clip into the pedals, giving you a solid connection to the bike. This allows cyclists to utilise their energy more efficiently, as you're pulling the pedal up as well as pushing it down. If your foot is moving all over the pedal, you're losing efficiency, and therefore speed.
Watch professional cyclists on the television and you'll notice they've got their heads down and their elbows in. This technique is practically forced due to having low handlebars, which reduces the rider's frontal area and therefore allows them to move through the air with less resistance. Go too low, however, and you could be setting yourself up for some back pain down the road (not literally down the road, obviously, but a few years in the future).
Got any of your own tips? Let us know in the comments.