Cycling provides outdoor enthusiasts with an opportunity to experience natural scenery along city or back country roads and trails. As an added benefit, cycling also improves cardiovascular health and increases leg strength. If you prefer to ride indoors on a cycling machine, you can still benefit from incorporating stretching, fitness and nutrition tips into your cycling routine.
Stretching before and after a bike ride reduces muscle tension and fatigue. The most effective way to stretch for cycling is to target core areas of your body including your feet, calves and back. Stretch your feet by curling your toes in and pushing them forward. Your calves need sufficient blood flow to minimize cramping, especially on a long bike ride.
Stand up with both your feet on the pedals. Keep one foot low to the ground and the other at the 12-o'clock position. Lower the heel closest to the ground and lean forward to stretch your calf.
Work your back frequently to maintain overall strength. Sit upright with a straight back. Remove your left or right hand from the handlebars and reach around as far as you can without causing strain. Repeat using your other hand.
Work your abdominals by performing two to three sets of crunches. Maintain an even and fluid motion as you pull your upper body forward and up off the ground. Lengthen your neck and keep your chin extended away from your chest with each lift. Alternatively, perform leg and arm repetitions using weights to improve general fitness. Perform two to three sets of 14 and increase the amount of weight you use as your strength allows.
For a long-distance ride, continue with a diet rich in carbohydrates, at least 600 grams per day three to four days before your ride. Stay away from processed and high-fat foods immediately before your ride and eat one last 300 gram carbohydrate meal 3 to 4 hour before you start.
Eat a 300 gram carbohydrate meal immediately after your ride. Stay hydrated with water, drinking one bottle per hour. For casual cycling, eat a diet made up of 60 to 70 percent carbohydrates. Eat a breakfast high in carbohydrates 30 minutes before your ride and drink one bottle of water per hour.
Foods high in carbs include pasta, bread, cereal, potatoes and chocolate.