Warm Up1 of 15
What the Pros Do: Warm up before races—even for events that may last more than 5 hours. A good warmup means their bodies are primed and ready to go, right from the gun.
What You Can Do: Bring a stationary trainer (or rollers) to your race. The shorter the event, such as a 20-minute time trial, the longer your warmup should be.
Cool Down2 of 15
What the Pros Do: Cool down to help clear lactic acid from their legs. Cooling down aids in recovery, which means they can go faster the next time they race—an important factor when racing consecutive days or events.
What You Can Do: Be a pro! If you brought a trainer with you for warm up, use it for cool down. No trainer? Find a nearby road—that's not being used for racing—and spin your legs out.
Follow a Training Plan3 of 15
Photo/Sander van Ginkel
What the Pros Do: Train on structured training programs, which have daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals with specific benchmarks. Training plans—often created by their coaches—help pros peak for specific races, so they can go their fastest on the most important race days.
What You Can Do: Get on a bike racing training plan—or hire a coach to create a custom plan. If you're a Strava premium user, check out the training plans offered for specific distances or durations.
Use A Power Meter4 of 15
What the Pros Do: They use a power meter, which helps them measure efforts during training and precisely gauge expenditure while racing.
What You Can Do: Don't go too hard, too soon. Going faster on the bike is most often achieved through effective training at target power outputs, as well as strategic race execution. If you're new to training with this pro-level tool, use our tips to learn how to race and train with a power meter.
Use a Heart Rate Monitor5 of 15
What the Pros Do: They use a heart rate monitor—in addition to racing and training with a power meter—to track how their bodies are responding to power output and the effects of external factors, like heat and humidity, on their bodies.
What You Can Do: Heart rate monitors for cycling may cost less than a new helmet. If you want to go faster, listen to how your body responds to training so that on race day, you'll know what to expect.
Actually Rest on Rest Days6 of 15
Photo/Richard Masoner, Flickr
What the Pros Do: On a rest day, they may do a little easy spinning—active recovery—but it is really easy, and they monitor their efforts on the bike. On other days, they may do no riding at all and just get a massage or do some light stretching.
What You Can Do: The best way to recover from hard efforts is to rest. If you want an active recovery day, leave your bike computer, heart rate monitor and activity tracker at home and take a ride to a local coffee shop, ice cream shop or both!
Be Flexible with Training7 of 15
What the Pros Do: Just because pros may be on a structured training plan, doesn't mean they are inflexible in their training. If they are feeling tired or simply having an off day, they may look at their wattage and their heart rate on the bike and adjust their workout accordingly.
What You Can Do: Listen to your body. Missing—or making adjustments to—one workout won't make or break an entire season, and responding to how you feel will allow you to feel properly rested and go faster the next time you race.
Fuel Up Before a Ride8 of 15
What the Pros Do: Have a full breakfast a few hours before racing to ensure their fuel stores are at maximum and that the likelihood of dipping into energy reserves, which can have a cumulative and detrimental effect, is minimized. Pro cyclists cannot go faster if their glycogen stores are tapped out.
What You Can Do: Eat like a pro cyclist before you race, allowing enough time for digestion so you'll have enough energy reserves go the distance, go faster and not bonk.
Fueling During a Ride9 of 15
What the Pros Do: They are constantly eating and drinking while on the bike for events lasting longer than an hour.
What You Can Do: Eat! Keep your energy stores up so you'll be ready to go faster on the bike by taking in enough nutrition. Plan on consuming 200-300 calories per hour when you're going hard for longer than an hour.
Eat Well After a Ride10 of 15
What the Pros Do: Refuel to satisfy the day's caloric deficit, as well as to improve recovery.
What You Can Do: Eat a post-ride meal, which will help you recover effectively and go faster for longer the next time you ride.
Bike Maintenance11 of 15
What the Pros Do: Pros don't want excuses for underperforming on race day. Professional athletes can't go faster on the bike if their bikes are not working.
What You Can Do: Learn basic bike maintenance and take your bike for a tune up at your local shop before and after every season. A postseason once-over by a professional mechanic may identify any unexpected wear from the just-completed season. You can't go faster if you bike is not in tip-top condition.
A Clean Bike is a Fast Bike12 of 15
What the Pros Do: Ride a shiny, clean bike. Have you ever seen a pro's road bike that's dirty? We didn't think so. When pros need their bikes to go faster, they are confident that the bike will respond as expected to the increased effort—without a squeaky chain or cassette that means speed-sapping friction.
What You Can Do: At a very minimum, wipe down your bike after every ride and clean and lube your drivetrain after riding in the rain. Your drivetrain will last longer if it's free from dirt and grime.
Study the Course and Competition13 of 15
What the Pros Do: study their competition and the race route. This knowledge helps them go faster just when they need to and maximize their strengths—like climbing or sprinting—when their competition may be least able to respond.
What You Can Do: Pre-ride—or drive—the course before a race starts. If that's not an option, check out Strava segments and routes, noting turns and elevation changes. Use online tools like road-results.com to check out your competition.
Have Fun14 of 15
What the Pros Do: Have fun. They are getting paid to race bikes.
What You Can Do: Smile—you're racing your bike! Any day on a bike is a good day. If you're smiling, you're enjoying the ride and are likely going faster than you were the last time you rode.