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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 7 March 2021
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It may be March but it's never too late to make fitness resolutions

Here are 10 cycling suggestions for 2015.

1) Go on a cycling holiday

The above may sound like a bit of a paradox, but if you think cycling in Ireland is fun then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Get yourself off to the south of France, the Pyrenees or the Dolomites, this summer for a long weekend or a week-long trip.

Do some research on some of the climbs in the areas and set yourself some targets. Might we suggest the Col du Galibier — all 2,645 metres of it? Or the slightly higher Stelvio Pass, or perhaps the Tourmalet?

All these are very accessible from Ireland, and you’ll almost be guaranteed favourable weather if you travel in the peak summer season.

Cycling Tour de France Alessandro De Marchi speeds down Tourmalet pass during last year's Tour de France. Source: Christophe Ena

2) Try to get your other half into it

If he or she detests the bike and your addiction to it, try to ascertain why. Is it the hours you spend training? The mood swings you have after a hard few days or a poor result? Or the fact you bring the bike into the kitchen to wash it but wouldn’t dare grab the hoover?

Suggest a (short) weekend bike ride, buy him or her some cool kit, or if you can stretch to it, a shiny new bike? Take his or participation seriously – your relationship could depend on it!

3) Learn the ‘lesser’ races

Yes, there is more than the Tour de France.

There’s the Giro d’Italia (the one that came to Ireland last year and we all dressed up in pink), the Vuelta A Espana and a truckload of races known as Classics or Monuments, such as the Tour of Flanders, Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris Roubaix and Fleche Wallone.

They’re pretty epic in their own right, and Ireland will be well represented in most of them this year.

4) Improve your bike handling skills

Crashes will happen and while some are unavoidable, plenty more can be prevented.

The rider is often at fault, be it having a malfunctioning bike or just a lack of knowledge on how to handle the bike. The best place to learn is in empty car parks or industrial estates, or sportives.

General view of the riders on their way to Skerries Riders on their way to Skerries during the An Post Rás. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

5) Learn how to fix simple problems

Dropping your machine into the nearest bike shop to get fixed can be a costly exercise. You should be easily able to get the hang of things like changing gear and brake cables, brake blocks and so on.

It’s only when you try it that you’ll get more comfortable, so don’t be afraid to have a go. There are plenty of books on the market to guide you through it and a search on Google for any job will unearth invaluable step-by-step guides.

Once you get the hang of it; when your chain starts jumping you’ll know that either it or your block — your set of sprockets or your rear wheel — are worn out. That’s just one example of how your extra knowledge will help.

Getting to know these things will save you money, draw you further into the sport and should ultimately mean your bike will be in top condition and won’t let you down.

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If you’re in Dublin or not too far away, try these guys: BikeMaintenance.ie.

6) Get a bike fit done… once and for all

Not the five-minute kind. The kind that takes three or more hours. The kind of fit where you feel 100% comfortable on your saddle. You’re not reaching too much, you’re not crunched too much, you’re not rocking in the saddle and you transmit maximum force into the pedals.

Very few get it done because it costs too much… but you’ll remember the quality of your training long after you forget the price of the bike fit. These guys are a good place to start.

7) Ride a 100-mile sportive

A bit of a monster, yes, but you cannot call yourself a cyclist until you shave your legs, have a crash or ride a century.

Why not aim for the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle in early July; 112-miles of breathtaking scenery and lung-bursting savagery? The 10,000 people or so who do it every year can’t all be lunatics, can they?

PA-15266223 Get on your bike and savour some of what the Ring of Kerry has to offer. Source: Press Association Images

8) Join a club

Joining a club will improve you as a rider and introduce you to more like-minded people. Only cyclists understand cyclists, after all.

You’ll make more friends, learn about the sport and be part of the fastest growing pastime/sport/hobby/pursuit in the country.

It will also motivate you to get out more and train. Have a look at Cycling Ireland’s directory of clubs to find the one near you.

9) Stop taking up half the road

We tend to think we own the road sometimes, especially on weekends. But try not to attract the attention of motorists by getting in the way.

Stick to your own side of the road, use hand signals as often as you can (not the two-fingered salute) and just obey the rules of the road. If you break a red light your fate is in the lap of the Gods.

10) Clean your machine

Failing to do this is probably the worst habit of all. Try to get into the habit of cleaning the bike as soon as you come in from a ride. The mud and slick is probably wet and will come off a lot easier than when it’s dry tomorrow morning.

Five minutes is all it takes — and doing so will prolong your bike’s life span.

Originally published on 19 March, 16.03

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