The free speed nobody is talking about – The GCN Show

Are you an efficient cyclist? Dan and Si talk about how to ride smarter, not harder, plus all the usual GCN Show features

Clock18:52, Tuesday 30th April 2024

Efficiency savings: a phrase that strikes fear into the heart of many, and bores the rest of us to sleep. Stick with us, because this week, Dan and Si have found some new research that could be really interesting for cyclists.

What the researchers found is that inherent efficiency varies between cyclists. In fact, it can explain up to 30% of the variation in power output between equivalent cyclists. So you can have two cyclists with the same VO2 max, the same ‘engine size’, but one of them can produce more power than the other.

The reasons for that aren’t entirely clear, but the researchers have found that it’s possible to improve your efficiency through training — they’re just not sure what type of training quite yet.

It’s difficult to read too much into, but it got Si and Dan thinking. If you think about efficiency as the distance we travel for a given amount of energy, there are loads of things cyclists can do to improve it.

First of all, we can ride harder when the road conditions make us go slower. It’s more efficient to push yourself on hills and into headwinds, and relax on descents and tailwinds.

Secondly, to ride more efficiently, resist grabbing the brakes. Of course, you often need to brake to stay safe on the open roads, but sometimes, it can be avoided by anticipating what’s to come.

Thirdly, hit tough sections with a bit of speed. A few pedal revolutions before a short climb can carry you up the first part of the slope.

Group riding is much more efficient than riding alone, but master the wind angles, and you can save even more energy.

Finally, think about bike set-up. You could reduce your frontal area, make sure your tyre pressure is right, and generally focus on being slow and steady with your effort, not spontaneous and wasteful. For a long day on the bike, it could make a big difference.

For the full discussion, give the video above a watch.

In totally different news, have you ever wanted a Visma-Lease a Bike bedspread? In Cycling Shorts, we talk about the Dutch team's strange merchandise offering of duvet cover and pillow, an ingenious hack for getting oil out of clothes, and much more.

Hacks and bodges

Bill6 sent us an unusual saddle he’s spotted for sale online. This strange-looking seat has a platform for each cheek, and each side has its own spring. We know that independent suspension is the thing to have on a car, so who knows? Maybe this is the future? Or maybe it’s nonsense. It’ll take a thorough test ride to find out.

What do you get when you cross a mountain bike handlebar with a set of Shimano road shifters? Madonius found out the other day, when he found this bizarre bike while on a lunch walk. We can get behind this idea, but we’re not sure drilling through the stem to accommodate canti brakes is a good idea.

No question that this one is a bodge. Humpy125 sent in this photo of a bike with a jerry-rigged drop bar/flat bar combo. With brakes that look almost impossible to grip, we hope the owner never rides down any big descents.

Are your valves slowing you down? Overcookit thinks so. He’s developed a special valve that is hidden in the rim. To inflate, he puts a valve extender on top, then removes it for a slick, valveless wheel. It looks like a lot of hassle to us, but if you’re all about marginal gains, this is one for you.

Coming up on the channel this week

Wednesday 30 April: Things you should take to your next bike event

Thursday 1 May: What you need to go bikepacking

Friday 2 May: Retro vs modern cycling kit

Saturday 3 May: Dan’s fitness journey episode 2

Sunday 4 May: Don’t let a mountain biker take you on a gravel ride

For all things general news, check out this tab on the GCN website.

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