With 11 World Championship track cycling wins and six Olympic gold medals – plus one silver – under his belt, Sir Chris Hoy certainly knows a thing or two about cycling.
Since announcing his retirement from competitive cycling in 2013, the Edinburgh-born 39-year-old is still passionate about bikes, and now spends much of his energy ‘pedalling’ his HOY Bikes and HOY Vulpine cycling clothing and accessories ranges.
The legendary bike-rider will be speaking and showcasing his latest product lines at the London Bike Show in February, but first, he shares his top tips for becoming a better cyclist.
BUY THE RIGHT BIKE FOR YOU
Bikes aren’t one-size-fits-all, and designs can vary significantly. Also, ensuring your bike ‘fits’ you correctly will not only affect performance, but will play a big role in your comfort and avoiding injuries.
“It’s important that your bike is suitable for what you intend to use it for. If I was purely commuting, I’d choose a hybrid like the Shizuoka, that can go anywhere and take pannier racks. Someone riding sportives would need something different. Ensuring the bike is the right size is crucial. Spend time with people in a bike shop, such as Evans Cycles, and get them to make sure the bike fits correctly. An ill-fitting bike will easily put you off riding.”
GET FASTER AND FITTER BY RIDING INTERVALS
If you want to improve your fitness on the bike, it pays to factor in some training tactics.
“Time constraints often affect training, and it can be tough to make gains in the face of a busy work/life schedule. Intervals [which means alternating stints of high and low-intensity effort in one workout] help solve this problem, and often produce breakthroughs when your training has felt stale for a while. If you have a favourite climb, where there’s not a lot of traffic, try doing 30 seconds of effort followed by 30 seconds recovery. If you are at home on the turbo and listening to music, you can incorporate this by riding hard for one song, and easing off the next. Make sure you have warmed up properly first, and try to do around five efforts to start with; and just make sure the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody don’t get stuck on repeat.”
SET SOME GOALS
You don’t have to start big with your goals, but having set targets to aim for will help keep you motivated, enable you to monitor your progress and improvements and ensure your efforts are rewarded.
“Setting yourself a target and writing these down can make the difference between achieving them or not. I used to set myself long-term goals, like becoming Olympic champion, but it’s important to include shorter-term goals to help measure success and keep you motivated. It doesn’t matter whether it’s to be world champion or to ride your first sportive, it’s important to have something to aim for.”
INVEST IN SUITABLE CLOTHING
There may have been a time when the ‘Lycra brigade’ attracted sniggers, but there’s a reason people invest in proper kit - in fact there are numerous reasons, including enhanced performance, comfort and even safety.
“One of my more recent projects has been developing my HOY Vulpine kit. Wearing the right kit really does make a huge difference in performance and your comfort - you wouldn’t go running in a pair of leather shoes. Certainly get yourself a good pair of padded shorts, and make sure you dress appropriately for the weather, layering up when it’s cold and keeping yourself dry when it’s wet.”
Whether you’re a weekend rider in it for the fun, or hoping to work on those personal bests in sportives, getting the nutrition and hydration right is important.
“If you are going for a ride, always remember to take something with you. There are plenty of nutritional supplements that make it easy to get the energy you need. Science in Sport [SiS] GO gels are a great way to get a quick energy boost on the bike, and also, remember it’s crucial to stay hydrated. The best advice I can give is to drink little and often - as soon as you feel thirsty, you are already starting to dehydrate.”
• Sir Chris Hoy will be launching the latest HOY Bike Range at the London Bike Show, February 11-14. For more information and to book tickets, visit thelondonbikeshow.co.uk; For more information about HOY Vulpine, visit www.vulpine.cc