Ted's Top 10 Tips: Cycling

Ted's Top 10 Tips: Cycling

Photo credit: Ansel Dickey

By: Ted King: King of Gravel

With nearly two decades in the sport of cycling, Ted’s Top 10 Tips are designed to make every ride better. Indoor or outdoor, whatever the season, these tips will help you optimize your riding, training, or racing.

  1. Pedal with purpose. It’s easy to get caught in a rut where every ride looks the same. Hop on your bike, pedal the same hour or so, call it a day. While there’s nothing wrong with that program, I find it’s important to have a purpose for every ride. This can be as simple as, “Today I’m going to target cadence drills” or, “I haven’t dabbled into high intensity in a while, I’m going to do some of that”.

    This helps keep things fresh and fun so that you’re actually chomping at the bit to ride rather than seeing the bike as a rote exercise machine. While this helps mix things up from a training standpoint, rest assured there plenty of rides that are purely meant to be head-clearing or to make it to your favorite bakery.

  2. Prepare early. We live busy lives so it’s a commitment to fit in a proper bike ride on any given day. Indoors or outdoors, you need to kit up and either set up your training station or take the time to ensure there’s air in your tires.

    Being forwardly conscientious of your time will save you the last-minute scramble. In the literal sense, that means having your chain lubed, bottles made up and bike parked on the indoor trainer or ready to roll out the door even the night before if you know it’s going to be a challenge on ride day. We’ve all been there, late to a Zwift ride or trying to eke out a spin before the sun sets. To take the time well in advance will do nothing but improve your ride.

  3. Ted King
    Photo credit: Ansel Dickey

  4. Keep up a network. Some people are lone wolves while others are fish, in their element with the company of their school (or in this case, their peloton). No one knows everything there is to know about everything and having a connection of folks out there to lean on can pay big dividends.

    Whether it’s having a training buddy you ride with every day or once every month, a coach to help provide training programs and insight into the fitness side of the sport, or connections at a bike shop to help get your bike going as quickly as possible when you’ve found yourself beyond your mechanical capabilities, having a broad network is terrific. Hot tip: it’s not the worst idea to drop off a six-pack or some fresh baked bread to your favorite mechanic now and again.

  5. Be aware. Motorists and cyclist are part of a rocky relationship out on the road. There are a grotesque number of examples of absolute negligence on the part of the motorist; I'm not disputing that for an instant. There is, however, a great deal of protection cyclists can take in order to save them from becoming a statistic. I see so many cyclists taking up an unnecessarily high portion of the road, only stirring up more ire on behalf of vehement motorists.

    So some quick-fire, hot tips here: for goodness sakes, stay to the right. Don’t ever ride more than two abreast. Tuck in single file on dangerously narrow roads. Keep your head on a swivel and as best you can, be aware of what’s going on in front, to your sides, and behind. Basically, by assuming the worst behavior from behind the wheel, you’ll help make better decisions on the bike. When all else fails, that rocky motorist-cyclist relationship is never put into jeopardy as you’re happily pedaling indoors on your Saris bike trainer.

  6. Ted King
    Photo credit: Ansel Dickey

  7. Mix it up. Stand, sit, sprint, pedal a big gear, spin a small gear; handlebars are actually pretty darn long if you stretch them out, so move your hands all around and use every inch of them!

    Mixing it up is a way to get out of the tendency to ride the same rides all the time. Moreover, by shifting your position around often, this is good for your body as you’ll reduce the likelihood of orthopedic woes like pinched nerves, tingling fingers, or an unhappy undercarriage. If you ever find yourself bored or uncomfortable, mix it up.

  8. Fuel Properly. Nutrition is a nuanced facet of cycling, but there are some absolutes. If you don’t fuel properly, you’ll selling yourself short. A frequent complaint of “my stomach can’t handle food when exercising” is a recipe for falling short.

    No sports nutritionist in the world will recommend exercising without proper fuel. This is a matter of finding the right foods for you that are light, easy to take onboard, and won’t upset your digestion (cough cough… a shameless, but genuine recommendation: try UnTapped. We receive countless messages from runners – a persnickety bunch when it comes to nutrition -- who say they finally found the easy nutrition that works for them with UnTapped maple packets).

  9. Ted King
    Photo credit: Ansel Dickey

  10. Maintain the hardware. Some hip cyclists say, “that’s a really nice machine you’ve got there” referring to a bike. A crisply operating bike is a fine-tuned machine, and as much as it can take a licking and keep on ticking, it also needs at least the slightest level of TLC to love you back.

    At the most basic level that means lube your chain correctly. What’s correctly? Just like goldilocks, apply a generous amount and wipe away excess. Next, pump up your tires to an appropriate level. Contemporary engineering shows that we can run tires at a considerably lower pressure without suffering a loss in speed, gaining traction and comfort. While bolts don’t spontaneously loosen, it’s a good idea to check bolts throughout now and again.

    Plus, while it’s not for everyone, there’s something you may find therapeutic about stepping into your home workshop (which some people also call their “living room”) and fixing a nagging mechanical issue all by yourself.

  11. Take a break. Taking an occasional rest day, be it during the week or general down time in the calendar year, will pay big dividends. This message is of course more geared towards folks who currently ride 6-7 days per week rather than the people who joke that they’ve been tapering for the past decade.

    I oversee a small cadre of cyclists in training, and we often have the conversation that rest is the hardest interval. A related point here is train hard, rest easy. While not all your training should be hard, per se, this goes back to tip numero uno and pedaling with purpose. For those looking for noticeable gains, train specifically and then give yourself time to rest and recover; that’s where the adaptation and benefits occur.

  12. Ted King
    Photo credit: Greg Cali

  13. Set goals.Whether it’s to ride or race a particular event, if it’s to log a certain number of hours in a season, month, or year, or if you want to hit a new threshold number, goal setting can very valuable in seeing progress in your riding. It’s a carrot to chase and fire under your bum offering an additional layer of accountability.

    Goals here are never meant to let you down; if you didn’t achieve a specific aim, then it’s time to reassess why and set a new goal (or lob up the same one) with renewed motivation. Cycling is a sport that rewards cumulative persistence and it’s made all the simpler with specific targets in mind.

  14. Ted King
    Photo credit: Ansel Dickey

  15. Have fun. Maybe everything in the above nine tips flies in the face of your riding. If so, then forget everything I said (with the exception of please ride safely to help give a good name to all cyclists on the road), and just have fun.


Welcome to Ted’s Top Ten! This is a five part series spearheaded by the King of Gravel, Ted King, as he dives into his favorite cycling topics in list form. After a ten-year career in the World Tour ranks of professional road racing, Ted thought he was hanging up his wheels and setting off towards the horizon of retirement in 2015. But his fondness for the sport of cycling was too strong and it’s like he never left! Ted is a brand ambassador, gravel cyclist, racer, advocate, and consultant on all things two-wheels.

Get social with Ted @iamtedking or head over to his website.