Lessons learned: Five things I’ll take from cycling in 2015

  1. You will get faster. Two years ago the idea of a sub-twenty minute lap of Richmond Park was unthinkable: now, it’s normal. You might think that your current average speed is about as good as it gets – but trust me, you’ll look back at your old Strava times and be amazed at how far you’ve come.

  2. Don’t fixate on a single training strategy. To become a better rider, you need to alternate: sometimes you should focus on speed, but sometimes it’s about pushing yourself to ride further. Distance and endurance are vital building blocks on which to increase your strength and therefore build speed – while practising those sprints on shorter rides will boost your power for long outings.

  3. It’s no use waiting for the mood to take you. No matter how much you love cycling, you won’t always feel like riding. Yes, you’ll be tired; hungover; the weather won’t be ideal… but you have to ride. If you wait for ideal conditions you’ll never get any better. What’s more, you’ll be amazed by how often your best rides will be those you didn’t much fancy.

  4. Don’t be a lone ranger. Riding with others is a really enjoyable experience, and joining a cycling club will help you improve your technique and road craft. Take the plunge – you might not love the first one you try, but there are plenty around so ride out with a few groups until you find the one that suits you.

  5. It’s not all about the bike. You might tell yourself that you’ll be faster on a better bike – but actually, what will make you a better cyclist is a better you. Losing those excess pounds and taking care of yourself will make you faster, fitter and stronger. (That doesn’t mean you won’t want, or need, another bike as well. But don’t buy it until you deserve it.)

Vamper’s Matt took up road cycling in 2012 but 2015 was the turning point when it went from hobby to lifestyle.
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