19 Cycling Tweaks With Huge Results

Stay Fueled

After an hour on the bike, drink every 10 to 15 minutes and eat every 20 to 30. Set a timer on your computer or phone if you need a reminder. Better yet, map out your meals with our Foods That Make You Ride Faster eating plan.

Eat Real Food

Energy bars are useful, but you can dial in your unique caloric needs (and save money) by making them yourself. "Making your own power bar is a simple and tasty way to get the exact ingredients and nutrients you're looking for," says Julie Hunter, founder of Flourish, an exercise and nutrition consulting business. Try this:

Nut and Date Balls

  • 1 cup raw, shelled nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans)
  • 1/3 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • A pinch of sea salt (add more salt if needed during warm months)

Process nuts into a fine meal in a food processor. Add dates, vanilla, cocoa, honey, and salt, then process again until the mixture forms a dough that holds together when squeezed between two fingers. Roll the dough into balls or, with a rolling pin, flatten it and cut into 1-inch-thick squares. Store in refrigerator for up to a week or in freezer for up to a month. When rolled into balls about the diameter of a quarter, they are about 30 calories each, with about a gram of protein. Prep time: 5 minutes.

Get Fit

A professional bike fit, that is. The investment in a two-hour session can increase your comfort, power, and endurance.

More: 10 Bike Fit Myths Debunked

Soften Up

When inflating your tires, put about 10 PSI less in the front. You'll improve your bike's handling and increase your endurance by eliminating some pounding on your upper body.

Do a Quick Change

If you don't know how to do it already, learn how to change a flat, then practice until you can swap out a tube in less than 10 minutes. You'll spend more time on your bike and less time kneeling by the side of the road.

More: How to Change a Flat Tire

Strike a Pose

Practicing yoga for even 20 minutes a few times a week can help you through hours-long rides. "Most cyclists at some point will suffer from hip, glute, or back pain because their flexibility and strength are out of balance," says Uma Kleppinger, author of BikeYoga: A Simple Practice to Tune Up Your Body and Mind. "Relaxed, supple muscles are stronger," she says. To that end, she prescribes pigeon pose, which opens hips and glutes and strengthens the back, and kneeling bridge, which lengthens quads and hip flexors.

Pigeon Start: on your hands and knees. First, bring your left knee forward toward your left hand, then move the left foot toward your right hip. Straighten your right leg behind you. Keep your torso upright and hands on the floor; lean into a slight backbend. Hold at least one minute on each side.

Kneeling Bridge: Sit on your heels, knees hip-width apart. Place hands on the floor a foot behind you. Lean back and press your hips upward until you feel your quads stretching. Arc your back and chest, stretching arms and shoulders. Hold for 10 breaths.

More: 12 Weeks to Stronger Cycling

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