We all live to go faster and stronger. Speed is addictive and so is the secret competitive challenge you have between you and your favourite ride buddy.
Both of you train and ride just as hard, so, how do you get an edge? Time to look at marginal gains! Here are 4 steps to give you that marginal gains against your bestie on the bike!
If you are on the tyres that were fitted to your bike when you first bought it, chances are, they are just tyres to roll on and nothing else.
Then there are those heavy, sluggish training tyres such as Continental’s Gatorskin, Vittoria’s Rubino or Schwalbe’ Durano. Get those out and in with properly fast tyres. The best part is, no one would actually notice!
Just look at the tests by the guys over at Bicycle Rolling Assistance! You are spoilt for choices from the top brands. Continental’s GP4000s series have been setting the standard for some time but competitors are fast coming up with their best products; Schwalbe One series and Vittoria Open Corsa series to name a few.
Is that all then? No. Do your research and you will find that by lowering your tyre pressure, it can actually help in lowering resistance! It’s common to pump 110psi for a 23mm tyre, but with the trend of wider rims, externally and internally, it allows for more volume of air inside a given tyre. So having too much pressure can actually be counter-productive on the tarmac.
In most of your cycling shoes, the insoles inside are soft and are just there to provide some sort of cushion and comfort. So how does getting an aftermarket insole make a difference?
Well, not only do they provide a very stable platform for your feet, it helps to stop your feet from moving from left to right in those ’empty spaces’ in your shoe. Your feet would also less likely ‘roll’ about, which is not efficient.
Here’s an example of an insole from Solestar, the BLK model. As you can see, it is very stiff. You can see it means business from the ‘balls of your feet’ imprints and the contours at the side and the end to make sure your feet are firmly stable.
How about the gains then? Well here’s my ride data from before I wore them (top) and when I started wearing them (bottom).
Improved performance in more than one area! All these contribute to marginal gains. So where to get them and try one?
Our local LBS Bikes & Bites brings in Solestar with different models available. Loue Bicycles also brings another brand, Sidas. They have even one which can be totally moulded to your foot type!
#3 Aero Dropbars
Lately, aerodynamics have been talked about more often than not. You even have aerodynamic features added to the pedal and cleat system, such as Look and Speedplay.
But here, I’m talking about what’s right in front of you, your handlebars. Frontal area is a factor is dictating your aerodynamic profile, so don’t stop from marginal gains here.
You don’t have to look far, but just look at all the time trial bikes and notice all the sleek and thin base bars. Obviously, it’s for a good reason! They are many options, from T3’s Aeronova & Aerotundo. And you also have the S Works Aerofly – don’t forget Zipp’s SL-70 Aero!
Obviously, speed doesn’t stop there with one piece aero stem and handlebar setup from Vision.
There are many options, so get one that fits you and get that un-aero round handlebar out of the way!
#4 Cycling Kit
Your body accounts for 70-80% of aerodynamic drag, so why not get yourself aero? Get those loose and relax-fit jerseys out of your wardrobe! You don’t have to look hard or far; the World Tour Teams are all decked with the best and fastest jersey available.
There are many options coming from Castelli, Endura and Sportful. All these do one thing – it’ll make you go faster. From head to toe, the kit is worn to make you as slippery to the wind as possible. It’ll also encourage you to keep the ‘body’ properly in shape in the tight skin fit suits. While you are at it, don’t forget to shave those hairy legs too!
You will probably be ahead of your cycling buddy from now on with all these gains!
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