How to Conquer the 4 Cycling Disciplines

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Most recreational cyclists begin on the road. It’s a natural transition from the kind of riding you do as a child or the leisurely rides you might do on bike paths.

As recreational riding turns into more competitive cycling and you begin to dig deeper, you’ll realize that there many disciplines of the sport—and each have their own challenges.

While all four cycling disciplines involve riding a bike and pushing pedals in a circular motion, they each have different physical and mental demands with their own set of challenges. Transitioning from one to the other won’t be easy, but it will make you a stronger cyclist.

The variety you’ll get from racing multiple disciplines will keep your training fresh and different and prevent burnout.

Before you get started in a new discipline, it’s important to recognize the demands that lie ahead to make the transition a smooth experience. Here are a few key physical and mental challenges you’ll need to conquer to race each discipline and one key workout that will help you get started.


Physical Demands:

  • A high steady state and average power output are required to succeed.
  • Road cycling requires training for maximal efforts to initiate or chase down a breakaway, or to sprint for the finish.

Mental Demands:

  • You’ll need to learn how to draft and conserve energy.
  • Tactics, strategy, and patience play an important role in racing.
  • Recognize that the fittest/fastest person does not always win. When a large group comes to the line together, it takes a bit of luck to be in a good position. It’s a skill that can be improved. Road cyclists must learn from their mistakes and not judge their performances solely on their finishing results.

Workout: The 5-minute maximal “blow out” effort-Ride easy for 5 to 10 minutes. Complete 2 sets of 20 minutes at Zone 4 threshold with a 10- to 15-min recovery effort in between intervals.

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