One of the first tools any cyclist considers is a basic Speedo which will measure the distance travelled the time taken average speed and top speed. These are a great encouragement to monitor your progress and improvement over a set course. Many riders utilise the same tried and proven route to train on or just to commute to work on. Keeping track of the average speed and top speed for a distance can have many variances such as the riders health on the day to a side, head or tail wind that can assist or hinder the progress. Over a few weeks one can see a pattern and makes some mile stone pegs in the sand to measure against.
As we progress on the quest to determining how we are progressing we might like to add to the measures how often we turn the pedals a full rotation or known in cycling terms as the cadence. Some more sophisticated Speedo’s have this as an added feature. These a great tool to develop your techniques of consistent pedalling circles and how much we drop off when we come up a rise or hill. There are suggested optimum ranges of cadences that we can maintain and need to change gears when we get to a certain point of loss of performance not unlike a rev limiter in a vehicle. We start to use this tool to fine tune our outputs and keep our performance improving.
Many cyclists these days are very interested in being aware of the manner in which their body functions. The heart rate is a key element to measure which is the palpitations of the heart per minute is the measure. It pays to know your resting heart rate and the best time to get a true resting heart is immediately upon waking up in the morning prior to getting out of bed. There is a rule of thumb of what the maximum heart rate is by taking the figure of 220 and minus your age which is reasonable guide but not necessarily a true reflection of what the body is capable of as an individual. Direct measurement of heart rate during exercise is the most accurate way to gauge performance. Your heart rate increases rapidly in proportion to the intensity of the training from start to finish. The heart moves blood from the lungs (where the blood picks up oxygen) to the muscles (which burn the oxygen as fuel) and back to the lungs again. The harder the training, the more fuel the muscles need and the harder the heart has to work to pump oxygen-rich blood to the muscles. As you get fit, your heart is able to pump more blood with every beat. As a result, your heart doesn’t have to beat as often to get the needed oxygen to your muscles, decreasing resting heart rate and exercise heart rate on all exertion levels. A decrease in resting heart rate is one of the benefits of increased fitness due to exercise. Before starting into any exercise regimen, however, be sure to consult with your personal physician.
Now there are even more people that are taking a keen interest in their outputs measure in wattage of power being exerted through the body into the pedals and rear wheel. There are a number of measuring tools utilising similar methods for the discerning cyclist to purchase these sophisticated devices. It is all relative to how much you would like to spend to understand more of your individual performance range. Remember, however, that it is important to check with your doctor and seek out a qualified exercise physiologist before your get started. An exercise stress test may be advised to help ensure the training parameters that are best for you.
It is humbling to remember that they are only tools that give an indication of mind body and soul and how well we feed nurture and grow our attitudes on the bike and to life.
See you on the road soon God willing