The Power Up Cycling Podcast digs deep into the world of cycling and indoor training. Coaches Kevin Poulton, Matt Rowe, and Greg Henderson bring decades of pro racing experience and talk training, nutrition, racing dynamics, and everything else under the saddle. Listen in and come away stronger and faster for any road you take on!
It is human nature to want to be better at whatever it is we do. The urge is often heightened in athletes looking for that little extra performance gain.
As amateur cyclists, it is unlikely that we can make wholesale changes to our cycling and lifestyle, i.e., you probably can’t make significant increases to your training load due to lack of available time. Similarly, you likely can’t afford a 20-minute nap each afternoon to aid recovery, or jet off to a training camp!
Instead, there are likely many smaller ways for you to improve, which added together can create a big difference. Team Sky’s Dave Brailsford coined the term "marginal gains" when referring to these small tweaks which can lead to significant performance gains.
Marginal gains is a fascinating concept for all walks of life. If you are anything like me, the idea will set your mind racing about how you can make a series of small, seemingly insignificant changes that lead to a better outcome.
I spoke with Joshua Poertner in episodes 28 and 29. He is one of the world’s leaders in marginal gain thinking, having spent over 15 years as the Technical Director at Zipp.
Let Your Tyres down
Of the many weird and wonderful marginal gains out there, the one that hit me the most, and applies to us all, is selecting the correct tyre pressure. I would be pretty confident that 90% of our listeners (and cyclists in general) ride with their tyres pumped up too hard.
While not relevant for the virtual world, 90% of us, if not more, would cycle faster, with more grip and increased comfort, with softer tyres. To put some numbers on it, for an 80kg rider, riding 25mm tyres, you are looking at around 80psi as an optimal tyre pressure for ‘normal roads’, i.e., a little bumpy tarmac. So, it turns out I have been riding with my tyres 10-15psi too hard for years. Tour de France here I come? Not quite, but alongside a few other tweaks and changes, you may see some new PB’s.
If you are like me and train on Zwift before and after work, that means some early mornings and late nights rocking around Watopia. So when my alarm goes off, having my bib shorts and socks laid out next to my bed reduces the obstacles to training. Also, having my cycling shoes next to my bike helps make my journey from bed to Watopia as simple as possible. This is one of my simple yet effective marginal gains.
What is your best marginal gain, and what new marginal gain are you going to adopt?
Matt, Greg, and Kev want to hear from you! Add your questions and topic ideas to the forum, and they could be featured in an upcoming episode.