“How do I get faster on my bike?"
The first thing you need to do to boost your average speed on the bike is to put in the time. It’s not uncommon for triathletes to gravitate toward the disciplines they are most comfortable with while avoiding the workouts that are the most frustrating or challenging. But the more you ride, the more efficient you will become and you will build the endurance and the muscle strength and memory needed for cycling. For starters, aim to ride 60-90 minutes two or three times each week.
Once you’ve committed to putting in the miles, it’s time to focus on efficiency; as you probably know, it’s not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect, and pedaling efficiently is key.
Many cyclists focus on pedal stroke drills, or Isolated Leg Training (ILT) on an indoor trainer during the off season. These workouts are intended to reduce and eliminate dead spots in your pedal stroke by allowing one leg to do 100 percent of the work while the other leg rests on the bike frame or a stool. The goal is to pedal as smoothly as possible while applying constant power to the stroke. There are a variety of cycling videos you can utilize while on your trainer or a stationary bike at the gym that incorporate pedal stroke drills. Once you’ve become efficient pedaling on the trainer in a normal configuration, you can try putting blocks under your front wheel to simulate hill climbing.
After you’ve achieved good form while doing ILT work indoors, try testing your skills outdoors on a flat course by relaxing and unweighting one leg while the other leg does 90 percent of the work, using a gear combination that allows you to apply consistent force to the pedals. Both feet should remain clipped in while doing outdoor drills. Once you’ve gained good ILT proficiency on flat ground, be sure to incorporate these drills while climbing hills. According to active.com, studies have shown that “cycling uphill decreases gross efficiency and is associated with changes in pedaling technique.” Therefore, if you train your legs to be as efficient as possible while pedaling uphill it will only help you in your quest to increase your cycling speed.
Continuous pedaling while riding is another way to achieve speed gains. Active.com notes that if you spend a lot of time coasting, you're not building the fitness necessary to keep high average speeds at a low metabolic cost. Focus on generating power with each pedal stroke and experiment with gear settings until you find a combination that allows you to maintain consistent force on the pedals, even when riding downhill.
Hill repeats, interval training, and riding in an aerodynamic position will also help to boost your overall cycling speed. Making just a few changes to your workouts and pedaling technique can make a big difference in your performance.