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Ride like Sir Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins
BikesEtc
22 Aug 2016

We take a look at Britain’s most iconic cyclist and see what we can learn from Le Gent.

Hailed as one of the greatest-ever cyclists, Sir Bradley Wiggins has inspired a generation to get on a bike. The man affectionately known as Wiggo is Britain’s most-decorated Olympian for track and road events. He was the first Brit to win Le Tour back in 2012, a year that also saw him win gold at the London Olympics, BBC Sports Personality of the Year and a knighthood for his services to sport. Since then he’s broken the legendary Hour record, formed his own team, won another track World Championship and taken another gold in Rio. Famed for his versatility, there’s much to learn from the people’s favourite other than how to grow a superb pair of mutton chops!

Perfect your technique

What? If there’s one thing that Wiggo has become known for, it’s being a stickler for the finer points. ‘I always find myself thinking about pedal strokes and positioning on the bike,’ he told us. Evaluating your rides and being critical can allow you pathways to improvement as Wiggo explained. ‘I always find myself trying to replicate the best possible riding position when I’m on a ride.

How? By working on pedalling, you can produce a stronger rotation at higher cadences that ultimately makes you go faster. To improve it, avoid the higher gears and concentrate on pedalling smoothly, and quickly, in a lower gear. You may think you’re going slower initially but in the long term you’ll cycle faster and further. Go easy on the hills, too, as perfecting this takes time

Have a beer

What? After his Tour de France winning campaign in 2012, Wiggo went about collecting and drinking 365 varieties of Belgian beer, reportedly becoming a 12-pints-a-day kinda guy. ‘I was just bored sh*tless and didn’t know what to do,’ he said in an interview in 2012. As is the case with many athletes, after their greatest achievements comes an anticlimactic lull.

How? Wiggo’s drinking may have been a tad OTT but beer in moderation is OK. An Australian research paper published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that ‘adapted ales’ – with the alcohol content lowered to 2.3% and electrolytes added – could work as a sports drink.

Plan ahead

What? Throughout his career, the boy from Belgium has always had a love for track racing and road racing but, as many cyclists find out, it’s extremely hard to be good at both simultaneously. ‘I’d decided as a boy that  I wanted to be an Olympic champion and, a little over a decade later [after the Athens Games in 2004], I’d achieved it. I had four Olympic medals,’ he said. This lifetime ambition was achieved through years of planning and even after his initial victory in 2004, Wiggo adjusted his plans accordingly to focus on other goals he had in his sights including the track World Champs and tackling the Tour de France.

How? For many of us, it’s difficult to plan our holidays, let alone our cycling calendar, but if you’ve got a big event coming up you’ll be grateful come race day. It’s best to work backwards from the event, leaving a week to taper down before the big day. Before that final week, you’ll want to have a training programme that’s built up your fitness in readiness for the event. British Cycling has guides from 25-week beginner plans right the way up to modular advanced training programmes, which you can download for free at britishcycling.org.uk.

You’re as young as you feel

What? At the age of 36, Wiggins isn’t exactly old but in athletic terms he isn’t young either. However, the Brit showed this year that age doesn’t mean a thing. ‘There’s a bit of life left in me yet, and I’ve got another four or five months to get a bit better,’ he said afterwards.

How? A 2015 study at King’s College London, which examined a group of seasoned cyclists aged 55 to 79, found that they displayed significantly fewer signs of ageing compared to non-cyclists. This may be a stark leap from the tender age of 36 but cycling is one of the few sports that people can do into their 80s.

Get the world’s fastest chain

What? While preparing for his Hour record bid, Wiggo and Muc-Off joined forces to create the world’s fastest chain. Said to have cost £6,000 to develop, the standard Shimano Dura-Ace chain was put through a rigorous speed-development programme that saw a final six from 30 selected through a ‘speed graded’ system. Alex Trimnell, Managing Director at Muc-Off, told us, ‘What we essentially came up with is the fastest chain ever created.’

How? After Wiggo’s Hour record success, Muc-Off knew it had made something special and has since opened up the ‘Nano Chain’ for mass consumption. At £135, it’s one of the most expensive chains out there, but if you want to get everything from your bike this will give you power savings of up to 6 watts.

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