8. Clean your shoes monthly. Also: wash your gloves.
9. Warm Up
A slow start primes your engine by directing oxygen from your blood cells to your muscles. Spin easy for 20 to 30 minutes before you begin to hammer.
10. Always Carry Cash
Money can’t buy love, but it can buy food, water, a phone call, or a spare tube.
11. Race, At Least Once
It will push you to ride harder than you previously thought possible.
12. Drink before you are thirsty; eat before you are hungry.
13. Eat Real Food On longer rides, easily digestible calories are key—and they shouldn’t come from just energy bars.
14. Don’t Live in Your Chamois
When the shoes come off, your shorts should come off with them.
15. Ride Hard. . .
To become faster, you need to ride faster. Intervals squeeze every drop of fitness from your time on the bike. Try the following two or three times a week: Choose a route that includes a climb or stretch of road where you can go nearly all-out for three to five minutes. Warm up for 15 to 30 minutes, then ride hard—your exertion should be about a 7 out of 10—for three minutes. Recover for 90 seconds, then repeat the sequence four more times.
16. . . .But Not Every Day
Take 56-year-old mountain-bike legend Ned Overend’s advice: Rest often. And if you’re feeling cooked after a 30-minute warm-up, put it in an easy gear and spin home. “No workout is set in stone,” Overend says. “Your training needs to have structure, but it should be malleable based on how you’re feeling.” Which might explain why, 10 days before he won the 2011 Mt. Washington Hill Climb, Overend was surfing in San Diego.
17. Play the Terrain
Go hard on climbs and take it easy on descents.
18. Ride Another Bike
Explore the woods on a mountain bike. Mixing in different types of riding keeps you mentally fresh, boosts your skills, and reminds you that riding is fun.
19. Wear Out Your Shifters
You have lots of gears for a reason: to keep your cadence in the sweet spot. For silky-smooth gear changes, remember to shift before a punchy climb, sprint, or tight switchback.