by Jarrod Charbonneau
Intermediate tips: (avid spinner, never completed a long ride 3+ hours)
If this is the section for you then I think it is safe to say you are at least taking 3+ one hour spin classes per week or riding more than an hour at a time whenever out on the road so there are a few basic things you should know.
1. Purchase cycling/spinning shoes: there are a few different types of spinners and riders but we will concentrate on two for now; toe cages or clips. Toe cages are straps that are fastened to a regular running sneaker of sorts so that you can pull and push on your pedals but there are two problems with toe cages: (1) Your sneaker does not have a solid soul so it will almost fold over the edge of your pedal which will stress the tendons in the arches of your feet and (2) When pulling on heavy hills the straps will put a significant amount of pressure on the insteps of your feet and will limit your pulling ability. Clip in shoes are the way to go, if professionals use them and you can access a decent pair for around $100 then it will be a good idea to purchase them. The issues with the toe cages do not exist when using cycling shoes and you will be much more comfortable and perform better.
2. Use a heart rate monitor: When spinning or cycling you really aren’t performing to your best ability if you aren’t using a heart rate monitor and if you are starting to get serious about training it will only make you better. The best example I can give is I took a class for the first time as a spin instructor and was climbing a hill pretty hard and fatigued then when the instructor yelled out what percentage of our max heart rate we SHOULD be at I realized I could be going even harder. The take home here is that you can’t use muscle fatigue as an indicator of performance, heart rate is the way to go.
3. Hydrate: You should drink a 20 oz bottle of water for every straight hour of cycling/spinning so if you take a 60 min spin class you should drink a whole bottle of water during that class. 100% of all cyclists will have at least two bottle cages on their bike to prevent constant stopping for more water. You don’t want to take big gulps of water but rather a mouthful if that at a time to prevent cramping.
4. Cycling shorts: A lot of cyclists/spinners will wear cycling shorts which have a padded bottom. Make no mistake if you are riding for 3+ hours the padding will feel like a folded napkin and nothing more but it does make a huge difference in your comfort level. Cycling shorts are also meant to be worn with no underwear and you should still apply a little petroleum jelly to the area that will be in direct contact with the saddle.
5. Pack nutrition for any ride over an hour: If you are riding for anything over 1 hour you will need to refuel your body whether you have to stop riding or not. My rule of thumb is every hour on the hour, eat something. I am a big fan of cliff bars, shot blocks, and power gels but if you want to save some $$$ on these items, a flax wrap with some nutella and sliced banana inside wrapped like a burrito is a great option as well (in a plastic bag of course).
4 days a week riding for one to 1.5 hours (3/4 rides mainly hills)
***Be sure to check back soon for a follow up blog on Advanced Cycling***
Jarrod Charbonneau is a spin instructor at Beacon Hill Athletic Clubs. He is also an avid road cyclist and has completed several rides in the New England area including the Pan Mass Challenge, Harpoon B2B and Point to Point. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.