cycling introduction


I believe my training fits into the top end of recreational cycling and the bottom end of competitive cycling. I retired from long distance cycling (over 100km/62miles) 5 years ago. I have only just got back on my bike. I am now 6o years old.

My brother invited me to be in a competitive social team to do a relay section of the Round Mount Taranaki event in the last weekend of January That got me cycling again.

I've decided that the maximum distance I am going to ride in training is 50km/31miles. I started training at the beginning of December, eight weeks before the event. I achieved a 29km/18mile section in the event averaging 32km/20miles per hour and a 17km/10.5mile section with another team member averaging 33km/20miles per hour. The weather was ideal, cycling through undulating country side. This is the training program I used to get up to that level and the cycling technique I use.

The same program would be suitable for a person of medium fitness just starting out cycling. Having an event to aim for is a great incentive to train. It would not be suitable for anyone with ambitions of doing events much over 40km/25mile in distance or highly competitive cycling. Your training would have to be more intense and longer training distances but this could be a stepping stone to that.

support gear

Riding and Support Gear

A list of riding and support gear
  1. The bike.
    I do not claim to be an expert on bikes. I had to go and note the specs off my bike to record it here. I do know that it rides well and I feel very comfortable with the aero dynamics and gearing. It would be the best bike I've owned in the 14 years I've been road cycling. It is six years old (but only one year's use). I've had it from new. As a member at the local bike club said, "Technology has moved on". Maybe but I will not be getting another bike.

    Specs: Giant TCR compact road, SL ALUXX superlight aluminium alloy frame, aero composite forks, componentry Shimano Ultra, Wheels are Shimano 16 blade spokes, peddle gearing large front 53 cog and the small 39 cog, rear 9 gears largest 23 cogs and the smallest 11.

  2. On-Bike Computer.
    I believe that I could not train without one. It records your progress such as average speed per km/miles, distance travelled, time, maximum speed. There are a number of different options. The type is a personal preference and how much you want to spend. I have a wireless Echo-W1.
  3. Pumps.
    I own two pumps. One hand pump that clips onto the bike and the other a foot held hand pump with a pressure gauge. The hand pump is only suitable to pump up your tyre after a flat to get you home. It is very difficult to get the required pressure (80 to 90 psi) for training and racing. The foot held hand pump is excellent and easy to get the required pressure.
  4. Lights.
    A battery powered flashing rear red light. Have it on for safety when the light intensity is low. Days that are heavily overcast or its raining.
  5. A Repair Kit.
    A repair kit to carry when riding. It contains, tyre levers, a spare tube, a small length of tyre (70mm long) to use as an inner sleeve of a gashed tyre, patches and a piece of coarse sand paper to mend a tube, and a folding cycle tool kit (looks a bit like a pocket knife). This all goes into a small pack that I carry in a rear pocket of my riding jersey.
  6. A Mobile Phone.
  7. Identification.
    Carry ID. In case of an accident I have an engraved tag with my name, address, phone number, and my wife's cell phone number on. I wear this on a chain around my neck but you could carry something like a drivers licence in your pocket. Make sure what you carry is water resistant.
  8. Wrap-a-round Glasses.
    To protect your eyes from the wind and insects. Mine are from the $2 shop but you can go for "brand" if you wish.
  9. Cycle Fingerless Riding Gloves.
    I do not like riding without them.
  10. Sweat Band.
    Sweat running down your forehead into your eyes is a problem. I have tried different brands but all were too thick to wear under the helmet. I ended up using a cotton "canteen" bandana. I cut it in half corner to corner, you end up with two, so the band was not too thick, fold it into a band and sew it to keep it together. I tie it at the back of the head. This works very well.
  11. Clip-on Shoes.
    These are a must. No serious cyclist can ride without them. I still have my original pair. So they must be 14 years old. Yes, technology has well and truly moved on but they do me just fine. A warning to first time users. Un-clip one of your feet well before you come in to stop. It becomes a habit after a while. It is embarrassing coming to a stop and slowly falling over because both your feet are locked onto your pedals.
  12. A Helmet.
  13. Sun Screen.
    Lots of it. Lip balm. Anti-chafing cream to apply to the upper inner legs that rub on the seat.
  14. A Drink Bottle.
    This fits into a holder that bolts onto the bike frame.
  15. Your Cycling Clothes.
    • A Riding Jersey - Designed road cycling jerseys have three pockets across the back. These are very useful. The jersey should be tight fitting to minimise wind resistance and brightly coloured for safety.
    • Cycle shorts with a padded crutch - I find wearing a G-string underneath minimises chafing.
    • A light-weight zip on vest to wear on cooler days - This can be rolled up tight and put into your back pocket when not required.
    • A fitting rain jacket to minimise wind resistance - It is best to buy a specially designed road cycling jacket with reflective tape for night riding.
You are now geared up and ready for some serious training.



The wind evaporates the sweat off you so you may not realise how much moisture you are losing when cycling. Everyone has their own theory on what to drink. This is what I do.

Before I go out training I have a small glass of high sugar drink, e.g. lemonade. Sugar is supposed to be slower to release into the blood stream than glucose. My theory is that as you are just starting out there is a good store of energy in your body so a slow release of energy would be just fine.

sports drink
For a 50km/31mile ride; I would take ¾ a drink bottle of glucose energy drink that I make myself.

For the 34km/21mile ride; ½ a bottle.

I make sure I have finished drinking the bottle about ½ to ¾ of the way round the circuit to ensure I get the benefit of the glucose . As cycling goes these are not great distances.

When I get home I have a large glass of water with 2 heaped tablespoons of whey protein (available from the health section of supermarkets) and 1 heaped tablespoon of glucose. I mix this up before I leave and put it in the fridge to chill. Great to sip on as you cool down. I call this my recovery drink.


Riding Safely

  1. I always wear bright, easy-to-see coloured jerseys. I stick to red but yellow or the floro range of colours are all good. The danger colours are blue, green, black and grey. All these colours blend into the country side and make it difficult for motorist to see a cyclist. A cyclist is very narrow when seen from the front or back.
  2. A battery powered flashing rear red light. Have it on for safety when the light intensity is low. Days that are heavily overcast or its raining.
  3. Helmets are compulsory in New Zealand. If they are not in your part of the world I would strongly advise you to wear one. It has saved my head at least four times!
  4. I prefer cycling on country roads rather than city streets. The city streets, even with cycle lanes, have a lot of glass on them. Cars in town often underestimate how fast you are going and this can cause a hazard.
  5. Don't dither when taking the right-of-way on the road. The road rules are the same for all vehicles. If you muck about it causes confusion and potentially - accidents.
  6. Ride defensively. Try to anticipate what other road users are going to do.
  7. For night riding have good front and rear lights. There are really good ones on the market these days. Wear clothing (a jacket) that has reflective tape.

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