Powering forward: Cycling through the next phase of lockdown

With lockdown restrictions on exercise starting to ease throughout the UK, cyclists can head out and enjoy some spring sunshine. The extra freedom is welcome but staying creative and flexible with your training schedule will help you maintain your strength, fitness and sanity whatever happens during this next phase.

Remember, none of your training is a wasted effort. It will keep you healthier and happier in the meanwhile – and build an excellent base for when you next line up at an event start line!


Training outside

However often you choose to ride, it seems wise to not venture too far from home. Think fresh air sanity rides, rather than endurance adventures – save that for the Dragon Devil! Though the chances are slim, you could fall or have a mechanical, putting pressure on health care professionals and social distancing rules. Or as British Cycling puts it:

“It is important to stress that at this time, when the NHS continues to operate under extreme pressures, it is important that you ride within your ability level and take appropriate precautions.”

In England, cyclists can now team up with one other cyclist, though social distancing guidance must otherwise be followed. Cyclist magazine goes as far as to argue that for “cyclists in single file, the suggested safe distance could be as much as 20 metres”. Either way, we will have to wait a little longer for those much-missed group rides! British Cycling have updated their guidance for more information.

Gearing up for the inside

Indoor cycling is still an optimum way of building bike fitness. There are many apps and sessions available online to keep your training fresh and your mind entertained. Combining cycling with yoga, mind and strength work, Sufferfest is a comprehensive training app and they have a free 14-day trial. As part of their Covid-19 #RideItOut campaign, the new RGT Cycling app has made all of its Premium features free. Similarly, the Peloton app has boosted its free trial to 90 days. The classic obviously is Zwift, where you can race and train with amateurs and pros from around the world. The app is free, and they even offer a 30-day home trial of their Zwift-approved trainers – but don’t blame us when you don’t want to send it back! If you don’t have the right gadgets, switch your sessions to heart rate or rate of perceived effort (RPE). You can even link with other riders via Skype or Zoom to do a training session ‘together’.

Stuck for session ideas? A classic would be to ride easy for 20 mins to warm up, then add in 10 max 1 minute efforts with 2 minutes of rest in between, with a 10-20 min cool down. The Global Cycling Network has endless videos to keep you entertained and informed. Check out their Train With GCN | Cycling Workout Classes playlist which is regularly updated and includes some live sessions. British Cycling also has a ton of indoor sessions to work through.

Indoor cycling tips

You can go all pro ‘pain cave’ and set up with gear designed especially for the job, or you can just get a little creative. Firstly, set up your trainer on a rubber training mat to reduce the vibrations and keep the noise down – your family, housemates or neighbours will thank you! Even a bathmat will help, but make sure your trainer set up is sturdy. If you are using a trainer that works with your rear wheel, it can help to have a dedicated training tire – or even training wheel – to switch out with the tire you ride outside with.

A fan is useful, as is some sort of stand for your laptop/phone and nutrition. You will need to really watch your hydration as you will sweat a lot more than when riding outside. Add electrolytes if possible and don’t forget to eat. Towels are essential. Some strategic sweat wiping will help keep stinging sweat out of your eyes, and more importantly (!), you must keep as much sweat off the bike as possible. The salt in your sweat is corrosive and will damage your bike. When you are finished, clean the bike well.

No trainer? No worries

If you can’t get hold of a trainer, work in some cardiovascular cross-training, whether running, skipping, walking up and down your stairs or exploring the world of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The Global Triathlon Network’s 15 Minute HIIT Workout video is a good place to start.

Many of us are guilty of not doing any strength work off the bike and so think of this as an opportunity to build your core and strengthen your frame. With gyms closed for the time being, these core exercises by TrainingPeaks can be done any time, whilst GCN has you covered for core and hips and lower back and Bicycling magazine has a great selection of leg workout exercises.

Mental strength

It helps to remember why we are doing this. Smart social distancing will likely save lives. That said, it is important to recognise that the current situation is a sharp and disappointing shift from our usual realities.

It does give us the opportunity to sharpen our mental toughness and to train our minds to overcome setbacks. As LeBron James says, often “we are so focused on strength, we forget to strengthen our focus.” There are many apps to help guide you. The Calm app has a mental fitness series aimed at athletes whilst Headspace have put together a free pack specifically for Covid-19 pandemic called Weathering the Storm. Check out other tips in our guide to keeping your spirits up in times of uncertainty.

We are in this together. Let’s keep active, build strength and stay sane during these extraordinary times. See you on the bike soon! For more general ideas for keeping active during self-isolation check out our training article here.