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How to cycle 5km as fast as possible

07th September 2016

No matter what your ability, the key to increasing your cycling speed involves a combination of preparation, strategy and execution.  By following our simple guide you’ll not only torque the talk, but walk the walk too! 

A 5 kilometre cycle is something of a benchmark for cyclists - for elite riders, it’s a high octane sprint to the finish, whilst for less experienced riders, it’s a twenty minute slog of the mind and body.

Preparation
As the old adage goes - if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. As with any fitness challenge, it’s important to do all your thinking before the race, giving you the ability to clear your mind and focus on beating the hard yards when the going gets tough.

So, what do you need? The bike is sat ready for action, but what pre-ride tips can you utilise in order to shave the seconds? Firstly, you can think about your pre-ride meal. A fast ride requires high levels of energy, and a glucose-heavy snack thirty minutes before might just work wonders. A banana or maple syrup oatmeal is a popular choice of sprinters.

Make sure you drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your cycle and that you don’t feel thirsty. A well hydrated body feels strong and healthy, and reduced hydration levels make any exercise more mentally and physically demanding.

You can also prep a playlist, or one continuous track that will mirror your energy levels on the bike. Make sure you pack a decent pair of headphones - your biggest battle is between the ears, and you don’t need discomfort to distract you.

Strategy and execution
Your strategy will depend entirely on your fitness levels, and whether you’re likely to treat this challenge as a sprint or a slog. Either way, be clear on your form and ensure your aim is clear - splitting the distance into three sections is good practice.

The first section should be relatively long, and the focus here should be on setting yourself up for the rest of the race. Push yourself into steady, positive and repeatable cycles, and enjoy that endorphin release - going at around 70-80% intensity is good practice for an experienced cyclist. The hard work is yet to come, so a period of positive self-talk is useful here.

As you enter the second stage of your cycle, lactic acid will build up in your legs. Fight it. This is the most painful section of the race, and your pace and cycles should now be constant. Keep a strong and positive headspace before giving it all you’ve got as you enter the last kilometre.

This is where the race can fall to pieces. Keep your head up, your back straight, your legs steadily pumping, and give it all you’ve got. Try to keep your breathing regular and your eyes forward - and don’t leave anything on the bike.