But it doesn't have to be. Heck, it doesn't even need to be!
Do you want to stand on the top step of an elite level race such as Red Bull Last Stand or simply be a weekend warrior out for some exercise with friends? These five simple exercises will make you faster, stronger and an all-around better cyclist—without all the extra, fruitless technology.
1. The Golden Rule of Cycling1 of 6
This rule matters more than any other. It is the reason I get on a bike every day, and it is what gives me the motivation to go that last mile. It's completely mental and you cannot be a truly good cyclist without it... HAVE FUN!
Cycling is all about having fun. As soon as it gets too serious, it turns it into a job or you lose interest and desire to get out and ride. You can be the strongest cyclist in the world, but you're not doing it right if you're not having fun doing it. After all, at the end of the day, you're just riding a bike.
2. Get Your Bike Fit by "A Professional"2 of 6
A professional—a term used loosely as many people claim to be a professional in this field. Talk to friends or other cyclists about who they got their bike fit by. Odds are you know someone who has had to get a fit, and they can tell you what they liked or didn't like about the process.
3. Ride the Correct Amount for the Level of Cyclist You Anticipate Being3 of 6
There are many different types of cyclist and many different disciplines of cycling. You need to have an idea of what type you would like to be. This doesn't mean saying to yourself, "I'm a road cyclist, I can only ride a road bike". This means getting an idea of the level cycling you are interested in as it helps in picking a training style.
If you want to be a pro, you need to ride your bike A LOT—and I mean a lot! A lot can be between 15 to 25 hours a week or anywhere from 250 to 500 miles over those seven days. If you don't want to be a pro but simply an enthusiast, you don't need all the miles or hours in the saddle. You do still need a good bit, though, to be comfortable on two wheels. The secret with riding those skinny, numbing saddles is the more you ride them the more conditioned you become and the more comfortable they will be.
4. Climb Hills for Power4 of 6
If you want to get stronger but don't know where to start, climb hills. If you don't have hills... Who are you kidding? You do, you just aren't being creative enough. Bridges, parking garages, stairs—they all count as hills. Climbing long hills will increase your strength because you naturally have to use more power on the pedals.
Parking garages are great tools to add some elevation to your ride but only do this if you have permission from the attendant and there are no cars going in or out. If you don't have access to a bridge or garage, climb stairs. No, not on your bike, unless you've got serious skills. Run up those stairs. Running stairs—or as I call them, stadiums—helps increase not only your strength but also your explosive power. This is a great way to develop those fast twitch muscle fibers that you don't always get to work on your bicycle. These allow you to get those legs moving in circles as fast as possible. These are the muscles you need firing to get yourself out of a pickle quickly during an event. They will also help you beat your friends in the sprint on your local group ride.
5. Ride Your Bike Off Road5 of 6
Yes, even if you have a road bike you can still ride your bike off road. Doing so helps you master your control of the bicycle. You can be as fast as possible but if you cannot corner or control your speed then all that speed does nothing but drive you off course. Riding off road introduces elements to your cycling that will force you to be creative in riding, adapt and maneuver your way around any obstacles that stand between you and your goals.