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After watching this year’s Tour de France and Olympic track cycling, it’s hard not to be inspired to hop on a bike and ride. Whether the goal is to ride down a mountain faster than a car, beat friends in a race, lose weight, get fit, or have an excuse to buy a new toy — road cycling has it all. Here are the need-to-know facts every aspiring road cyclist should grasp before hitting the open road.
Pedalling the Pavement — The Need-to-Know
Lance Armstrong makes it look easy, but don’t be fooled — road cycling is no walk in the park. It requires concentration, balance, strength, endurance, and a little bit of craziness. It also requires a lot of energy, since it’s arguably the most calorically demanding sport. A 150 pound dude can burn around 700 calories an hour pedaling at a 14-15.9 mph pace (moderate effort). If our aspiring cyclist increased the pace to a more vigorous effort of around 16-19 mph, they could burn almost 900 calories an hour. While other sports like running can burn just as many calories per minute, an elite marathoner might use around 2,000 calories for the entire two-hour race, but a pro cyclist can sustain this effort even longer. They can burn more than 6,000 calories in a single day of racing, and do it every day for over three weeks.
Cycling is also relatively easy on the joints, which makes it a great exercise for overweight people or those with mobility problems. But don’t ditch the strength training. One study found that recreational cyclists had lower bone mineral density than runners, likely due to the fact that they weren’t placing as much strain on their bones . Even pro cyclists have lower bone mineral density than average Joes . Not only will strength training increase bone density, it can also improve cycling performance by boosting metabolism, building lean weight and shedding fat
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