23 year old Yorkshire-born cyclist Lizzie Armitstead has risen through the ranks of British Cycling’s academy to become one of our most exciting riders. She competes both on the road and on the track and will be one to watch at London 2012. Here she shares her tops for becoming a better cyclist.
Ride in a velodrome – I think riding on the track is one of the best things you can do to improve your skills because you’re on a fixed gear and you don’t have any brakes so if you want to slow down then you have to use the track. Your skills become more honed because you don’t have the same mechanisms as you would on the road.
Remember to use your gears – When going uphill make sure you choose your gear in plenty of time, and go through the gears according to the gradient. The steeper the hill, the lower the gear you need. But remember you can go too low. Ideally you want a gear that allows you to stand out of the saddle as that’s the most effective way to climb.
Make sure your saddle is set at the correct height – Your saddle height is very important, you don’t want to be too low because then you will find that you can’t get enough power from your your glutes. But you also don’t want to be too high because that will put too much pressure on your back. Your saddle is at the right height when your crank is on the bottom and your knee is slightly bent.
Don’t be scared of cleats – Perhaps just try them on grass first! It just takes practice but you need to have the confidence to give them a go. My mum has started using them and she’s 53 and not very brave! Just make sure that the cleats are set in the same position on both your shoes.
Don’t forget to eat – If you want to increase your mileage eating and drinking is crucial. I think a lot of people underestimate this. I wouldn’t be able to do more than 40 miles without eating; I’d be going dizzy and calling a taxi! I eat at least every half an hour – a banana, flapjack or energy bar.
Introduce intervals – if you’re short for time to train then intervals are the best training you can do. If you don’t have a turbo trainer at home then you could use your local hill and do reps up and down for a half hour session.
Hornby Hobbies Ltd. is an official product supplier to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Lizzie Armitstead is the company’s brand ambassador and was speaking at the launch of Hornby’s Team GB Scalextric Velodrome Cycling Set.
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine