What are a few things I can do to take my performance to the next level? I could come up with countless ways to improve stagnant race performances, but the simplest things are often the most difficult to put into practice. Below are a few practical suggestions.
Tweak your training: Consider changing up your training stimulus in order to push through plateaus. A balanced programme is always best, but there are a number of ways to reach the same end results. For example, if you’ve always prescribed to an aerobic, high- volume training programme, try adding some intensity into your schedule.
Address your weaknesses: Take an objective look at yourself to consider areas where you could improve. Often a coach will have an easier time making an honest, unbiased assessment of an athlete’s weaknesses.
Pace better in races: Are you maximising your pacing to get to the finish line in the best time possible? Could you bike 10 minutes slower to run 20 minutes faster? Does your racing reflect your training? Try race simulation training days where you practice pacing and nutrition.
Try new technologies: Consider investing in modern-day training tools. A power meter is very useful for quantifying your efforts.
Optimise your equipment: Start paying attention to forces that inhibit forward motion.
Rider position: The body makes up the majority of the aerodynamic drag— upward of 80 per cent. As a general rule, I find the lowest back angle that allows the rider to maintain proper biomechanics/ability to produce power, while maintaining a level of sustainable comfort.
Helmet: An aero helmet is a reasonably cheap upgrade that will give you more “free speed” than a standard one. Helmet choice depends on the person—body shape, bike position and riding posture— just make sure it’s comfortable and somewhat ventilated if overheating is a concern.
Other items you can tweak to be more aerodynamic: tyres, wheels, clothing, bottle setup, bearings, bike frame, cables, flat and tool storage.
Mat Steinmetz is the performance adviser and Retül bike fitter for many top pro athletes and now owns his own performance business, Fifty One Speed Shop (Fiftyonespeedshop.com).