Road cycling: what is it, equipment, racing, how to ride and training plans

Road cycling is a form of cycling that typically takes place on paved roads by using specially designed road bikes with thin tires, drop handlebars and lightweight or aerodynamic frames. It differs from other cycling like mountain biking in that it focuses on speed, distance and efficiency on smooth surfaces, as opposed to the rugged, off-road terrain of mountain biking which requires bikes with more suspension and wider tires. Road cycling rules are similar to motorists following traffic laws by wearing appropriate safety gear such as helmets, and being mindful of signals and road signs for safe riding. Regarding fitness, road cycling can burn a significant number of calories, often ranging from 400 to 1000 calories per hour(calculated by the METs method), the exact amount of burned calories from road cycling depends on factors like speed, distance, and the cyclist’s weight, 

Road cycling equipment includes a variety of items: road bikes come in types like endurance, race, aero, gravel and electric, offered by brands such as Trek, Specialized, Giant, Schwinn, Cervélo and Diamondback. Key parts of the road bike are the frame, wheels, and handlebar system. Essential road bike gear includes helmets, groupsets, cycling apparel (jerseys, gloves, socks), shoes, pedals, and saddles. Road bike accessories encompass lights, pumps, road tires, road cycling glasses, and water bottles, and additional accessories like indoor trainer and fenders.

Road cycling racing typically includes road race events like individual time trials, stage races, criteriums, circuit races and team time trials. Road racing tactics like drafting, breaks, climbs, crosswinds, speed and gruppetto are commonly seen among best road cycling riders and UCI professional road cycling teams.

Road cycling for beginners can be easy, starting with how to ride a road bike, including how to shift gears, how to brake, where to look during riding, how to descend and uphill, how to improve road cycling skills and how to plan for road cycling trips. Road cyclists need to know how to make road cycling training plans with nutrition knowledge, health benefits, and risks of road cycling.

In this article, we will explain what is road cycling, what road cycling equipment is necessary, road cycling racing events, how to ride a road bike and how to make road cycling training plans.

Table of Contents

What is Road cycling?

Road cycling is a form of cycling sport conducted on paved roads, characterized by its emphasis on endurance, speed, aerodynamics and efficiency over long distances. It involves specially designed road bikes with lightweight or aero frames, narrow tires, drop handlebars, and multiple gears to optimize performance and handling. Road cycling is known for its popularity both as a competitive sport, evident in events like the Tour de France, and as a recreational activity, it attracts enthusiasts seeking fitness, adventure, and the challenge of distance riding.

What is the difference between a road bike and a regular bike?

The difference between a road bike and a regular bike lies in the road bike’s design for speed and efficiency with lighter equipment, more precise handling, typically higher cost, and a culture focused on performance and long-distance riding, compared to a regular bike’s general utility and comfort for casual use.

What are the differences between Road cycling and mountain biking?

The differences between road cycling and mountain biking include their intended purpose, frame geometry, gearing and brakes, wheels and tires, suspension, handlebars, and riding position.

  1. Purpose: Road cycling is designed for speed and efficiency on paved surfaces, focusing on endurance and long-distance travel, while mountain biking is tailored for off-road terrain, emphasizing agility and control.
  2. Frame Geometry: Road bikes have a more aerodynamic geometry for efficient riding in a straight line, whereas mountain bikes feature a sturdier build with a more upright geometry for navigating rough terrain.
  3. Gearing and Brakes: Road bikes typically have a broader range of gears suitable for various road gradients and lighter brakes, while mountain bikes have gears optimized for steep climbs and descents and more robust braking systems for rugged terrain.
  4. Wheels and Tires: Road bikes are equipped with thinner, smoother tires for reduced rolling resistance, whereas mountain bikes have wider tires with aggressive tread patterns for better grip on uneven surfaces.
  5. Suspension: Most road bikes lack suspension to maintain lightness and efficiency, while mountain bikes often have front or full suspension to absorb shocks from rough trails.
  6. Handlebars: Road bikes use drop handlebars for aerodynamics and multiple hand positions, while mountain bikes have flat or riser bars for better control and maneuverability.
  7. Riding Position: The riding position on a road bike is lower and more forward-leaning to reduce wind resistance, whereas mountain biking adopts a more upright position for stability and visibility on technical trails.

What are the differences between Road cycling and mountain biking

What is the point of road cycling?

The point of road cycling is to provide a range of health benefits, both physical and psychological, as well as to offer an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Physically, road cycling enhances cardiovascular fitness, builds muscle strength, particularly in the lower body, and promotes weight management. Psychologically, road biking can reduce stress, improve mental well-being, and provide a sense of community among cyclists. From an environmental perspective, road cycling serves as a sustainable transport option, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and decreasing air pollution. Additionally, road cycling as a sport encourages personal challenge and achievement, whether in casual rides or competitive events.

Road cycling rules

Road cycling rules are established guidelines that ensure the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, promoting harmonious coexistence on the road. These rules emphasize compliance with traffic laws applicable to vehicles, prioritizing safety and predictability in traffic.

  1. Obey All Traffic Laws as a Vehicle: This ensures cyclists are predictable to other road users and helps prevent accidents.
  2. Yield to Pedestrians: Prioritizing pedestrian safety is crucial, as they are the most vulnerable road users.
  3. Use Biking Hand Signals and Look Before Turning: Signals communicate intentions to other road users, reducing the risk of collisions.
  4. Stay Alert on the Road: Being attentive helps in avoiding unforeseen hazards and reacting appropriately.
  5. Ride with Traffic Flow, Not Against It: Riding in the same direction as traffic flow increases visibility and predictability.
  6. Use Bicycle Lane and Road Properly: Utilizing designated spaces for cyclists ensures safer and more efficient travel.
  7. Help Yourself to Be Seen and Heard: Using lights, reflectors, and bells enhances visibility and audibility, especially in low-light conditions.
  8. Never Ride Bike Under Alcohol or Controlled Substances: Impaired cycling greatly increases the risk of accidents.
  9. Wear Helmet if You Can: Helmets provide critical head protection in the event of a fall or collision.
  10. Don’t Use Cellphone During Cycling: Avoiding distractions like cell phones ensures better focus and control.
  11. Keep Kid Rider Close and Aware of Child’s View: Ensuring children are closely supervised and understand road safety is vital for their protection.
  12. Use Extra Caution When Biking with Infant and Baby: Special care is needed when cycling with very young children to ensure their safety.

Road cycling rules

Road cycling hand signals

Road cycling hand signals include indicating a left turn, a right turn, slowing down or stopping, and pointing out hazards on the road. These road cycling hand signals are essential for communicating intentions to other road users, thereby enhancing safety.

  • Left Turn: Extend the left arm out horizontally to signal a left turn, making your intended direction clear to those behind you.
  • Right Turn: There are two options: extend the right arm out horizontally or raise the left arm up at a 90-degree angle with the hand flat, both signaling a right turn.
  • Slowing Down or Stopping: Extend the arm downward with the palm facing back to indicate slowing down or coming to a stop, warning riders or vehicles behind you.
  • Pointing Out Hazards: Point directly at road hazards like potholes, debris, or obstacles to alert cyclists following you, ensuring they can avoid them safely.

Road cycling hand signals

Road cycling safety

Road cycling safety involves adhering to specific rules and laws designed to protect cyclists on public roads which includes wearing a helmet for head protection, using bike lights and reflective clothing to enhance visibility, especially during low-light conditions, and opting for clipless shoes and pedals for better control and efficient power transfer. Compliance with traffic laws is fundamental: road cyclists should follow the same rules as motorists, such as obeying traffic signals, riding in the direction of traffic, and signaling turns or stops. Using designated bike lanes where available and maintaining a safe distance from parked cars to avoid “dooring” accidents are crucial for road bike cyclists.

Calories burned road cycling

Calories burned road cycling often range from 290 to 1176 calories per hour, as calculated by the Metabolic Equivalent of Task (METs) method. The exact number of calories burned during road cycling depends on several factors, including the cyclist’s speed, distance covered, duration of the ride, and the cyclist’s weight. 

Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks(METs) method for calories burned road cycling formula:

Calories Burned per minute =MET value × body weight in Kg × 3.5/200

For instance, a faster speed and longer distance will generally result in higher calorie expenditure. Similarly, a cyclist’s weight plays a role, with heavier individuals typically burning more calories for the same duration and intensity of cycling compared to those who weigh less. This variability means that the caloric burn from road cycling can be quite personalized, making it an effective exercise for both weight management and cardiovascular fitness for a wide range of individuals.

Below is an example table of one-hour calories burned from road cycling for different levels of road cyclists with a body weight of 175 lb(79.4 kg).

Experience LevelAverage Speed (mph/kph)METs ValueCalories Burned (1 Hour)
Beginner10 mph/16 kph6.8454 cal
Average Rider15 mph/24 kph10668 cal
Regular Training20 mph/32 kph15.81058 cal
Professional25 mph/40 kph161072 cal

Calories burned road cycling

In short, a road cyclist with a body weight of 175 lb(79.4 kg) will burn 454 calories in one hour under an average speed of 10 mph but will burn 1058 calories under an average speed of 20 mph.

Is road cycling good for weight loss?

Yes, road cycling is good for weight loss because it is an effective cardiovascular exercise that can burn a significant amount of calories, often ranging from 400 to 1000 calories per hour depending on factors like intensity, speed, and the cyclist’s weight. Achieving weight loss typically requires creating a calorie deficit, where more calories are expended than consumed. Since 3,500 calories are roughly equivalent to one pound of body fat, consistently incorporating road cycling into a fitness regimen can contribute significantly to this calorie deficit, thereby aiding in weight loss and belly fat loss. Coupled with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices, road cycling can be a sustainable and enjoyable way to achieve and maintain weight loss goals.

What does road cycling do for your body?

Road cycling benefits your body by providing a comprehensive cardiovascular workout, strengthening lower body muscles, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, and improving joint mobility, especially in the hips and knees, contributing to overall physical fitness and endurance.

Is road cycling a hard sport?

Yes, road cycling can be a hard sport because it demands a high level of fitness to handle long distances and challenging terrains, and it often involves a significant investment in terms of quality equipment and maintenance costs.

Road cycling equipment

Road cycling equipment encompasses a wide range of specialized items to enhance the cycling experience. Road bikes come in various types including endurance, race, aero, gravel, and electric, with popular brands like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, Canyon and Giant offering diverse options. 

The equipment of a road bike typically includes a frameset designed for aerodynamics and efficiency, lightweight wheels, and a drop handlebar for various riding positions. Essential road bike gears include a safety helmet, road cycling apparel for comfort and performance, clipless shoes for effective pedaling, a comfortable and ergonomic saddle, and a groupset that comprises the bike’s drivetrain and braking system. Accessories for road bikes are extensive, ranging from water bottles for hydration, lights for visibility, pumps for tire maintenance, durable and efficient tires, to cycling glasses for eye protection. Additional accessories like a trainer for indoor cycling and fenders for riding in wet conditions are common among road cyclists. 

Road bike

A road bike is a bicycle specifically designed for fast and efficient travel on paved roads, characterized by a lightweight or aerodynamic frame, narrow tires, drop handlebars and multiple gears. Road bikes come in various types including endurance, race, aero, gravel and electric bikes, catering to different styles of road cycling. Prominent brands in the market include Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, Canyon and Giant, each offering unique designs and features. The equipment on a road bike typically comprises a streamlined frameset, often made from materials like carbon fiber or aluminum for a balance of strength and lightness, aerodynamic wheels, and a drop handlebar that provides multiple hand positions. These bikes are built for speed and distance, offering cyclists a blend of efficiency, agility and performance, making them ideal for long rides, racing and fitness cycling.

Road bike types

Road bike types are diverse, including endurance, race, aero, gravel, and electric bikes, each designed to cater to specific cycling needs and preferences based on riding style, terrain, and performance goals.

  • Endurance Bikes: Built for comfort over long distances, these bikes feature a more relaxed geometry, providing a smoother ride, which is ideal for extended rides and touring.
  • Race Bikes: Designed for speed and agility, race bikes have a lightweight construction and aggressive geometry, making them suitable for competitive racing and fast-paced riding.
  • Aero Bikes: Focused on minimizing wind resistance, aero bikes incorporate aerodynamic frames and components, offering efficiency and speed, particularly in flat and straight sections.
  • Gravel Bikes: Versatile and robust, gravel bikes are designed to handle a mix of terrains, featuring wider tires, a durable frame, and a comfortable riding position for off-road and on-road adventures.
  • Electric Road Bikes: Integrating electric motors for pedal assistance, these bikes enhance riding capability and reduce effort, making them suitable for riders seeking extra support on challenging terrains or for commuting.

Road bike types

Road bike brands

Road bike brands are numerous and diverse, each offering unique features and designs. Notable brands include Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Giant, Cervélo, Canyon, Scott, Bianchi, BMC, Pinarello, Colnago, Wilier Triestina, Diamondback, Ridley, Marin, Merida, Fuji, Lapierre, Raleigh, Orbea, and Felt.

  • Trek: Known for innovative designs and high-quality builds, offering bikes for both professional racers and recreational riders.
  • Cannondale: Renowned for pioneering technology in aluminum and carbon fiber frames, providing exceptional performance.
  • Specialized: Offers a wide range of road bikes, known for cutting-edge technology and design.
  • Giant: The world’s largest bike manufacturer, known for great value and advanced manufacturing techniques.
  • Cervélo: Specializes in producing aerodynamic road bikes, often used in professional racing circuits.
  • Canyon: A direct-to-consumer brand known for high-quality bikes with a good price-performance ratio.
  • Scott: Offers a broad range of bikes, known for innovation and premium build quality.
  • Bianchi: One of the oldest bicycle manufacturers, famous for its iconic ‘celeste’ green color and Italian heritage.
  • BMC: Swiss brand, is known for its sleek designs and emphasis on performance.
  • Pinarello: Italian brand, widely recognized for its association with successful racing teams.
  • Colnago: Another prestigious Italian brand, renowned for high-quality craftsmanship and innovation.
  • Wilier Triestina: Italian manufacturer known for elegant designs and a rich history in cycling.
  • Diamondback: Offers a range of road bikes catering to both entry-level and experienced riders.
  • Ridley: A Belgian brand, emphasizing robust and durable bikes suitable for various road conditions.
  • Marin: Known for producing reliable and affordable bikes, suitable for a range of cycling styles.
  • Merida: Taiwanese brand offering a wide spectrum of road bikes, known for their quality and value.
  • Fuji: An American brand with a long history, known for its versatile and innovative bike designs.
  • Lapierre: French manufacturer, combining style and performance in their bike designs.
  • Raleigh: One of the oldest bike brands, offering a range of road bikes with a classic appeal.
  • Orbea: Spanish brand, known for customizability and high-performance bikes.
  • Felt: American brand, recognized for producing aerodynamic and speed-focused road bikes.
Road bike equipment

Road bike equipment typically includes essential components such as the frameset, wheels, and drop handlebars, each playing a crucial role in the bike’s performance and the rider’s experience.

  • Frameset: The foundation of the road bike, the frameset comprises the frame and fork and is usually made from materials like carbon fiber or aluminum, providing the perfect balance of strength, weight, and responsiveness.
  • Wheels: Critical for speed and efficiency, road bike wheels are typically lighter and thinner than those on other types of bikes, designed to reduce rolling resistance and improve aerodynamics.
  • Drop Handlebars: These allow for multiple hand positions, enabling riders to change their posture and aerodynamics; they are essential for comfort and efficiency during long rides and in various riding conditions.
Road bike frame materials

Road bike frame materials commonly include aluminum, steel and carbon fiber, each offering distinct characteristics that affect the bike’s performance, weight, comfort and cost.

  • Aluminum Road Bike Frames: Aluminium is a popular choice for its combination of lightness and stiffness, offering a responsive ride at a more affordable price than carbon fiber. These frames are known for their durability and strength, making them a great choice for everyday road cycling and racing.
  • Steel Road Bike Frames: Renowned for their classic feel, steel frames offer superior strength and durability, often with a smoother ride due to the material’s natural ability to absorb road vibrations. While heavier than aluminum and carbon, steel frames are favored for their longevity and repairability, appealing to traditionalists and touring cyclists.
  • Carbon Fibre Road Bike Frames: Carbon fiber is the material of choice for high-performance road bikes, known for its exceptional lightness and ability to be molded into aerodynamic shapes. These frames provide excellent stiffness-to-weight ratios, enhancing power transfer and ride quality, but they typically come at a higher cost and require more careful handling to avoid damage.

Each material brings its own advantages and trade-offs, allowing road bike cyclists to choose based on their specific needs, budget, and riding style.

Road bike popular colors

The most popular road bike colors are blue, red, green, orange, silver, and brown, each offering a distinct aesthetic appeal to cyclists with varying preferences.

How do different road bike types affect performance?

Different road bike types affect performance by catering to specific riding conditions and rider preferences because each type is designed with particular features that optimize for certain aspects of road cycling. 

  • Endurance bikes offer a more comfortable ride with a relaxed geometry, absorbing road vibrations better, making them ideal for long distances. 
  • Race bikes, on the other hand, are built for speed and agility with a lightweight and stiff frame, suitable for competitive racing and fast-paced riding. 
  • Aero bikes are designed to minimize wind resistance, incorporating aerodynamic frames and components, which make them faster on flat and straight roads. 
  • Gravel bikes offer versatility with a robust frame and wider tires, capable of handling mixed terrains, thus bridging the gap between road and off-road cycling. 
  • Electric road bikes provide pedal assistance, which enhances riding capability and reduces effort, especially beneficial for riders tackling challenging terrains or requiring additional support.
What is the difference between men’s and women’s road bikes?

The difference between men’s and women’s road bikes lies primarily in the frame geometry, with women’s bikes often having a shorter top tube and stem, narrower handlebars, and a wider seat for a more comfortable fit tailored to the general body proportions of women compared to men.

Road bike gears

Road bike gears include essential components and attire such as the road cycling groupset, helmet, apparel (kit, gloves, socks), shoes, pedals, and saddle, each contributing to the overall cycling experience and performance.

  • Road Cycling Groupset: This refers to the bike’s drivetrain and braking system, including gears, chainrings, cassette, derailleurs, and brakes, crucial for controlling speed and ensuring smooth shifting and stopping.
  • Road Cycling Helmet: A vital safety gear, helmets provide head protection, are lightweight, aerodynamic, and often come with ventilation for comfort during long rides.
  • Road Cycling Apparel (Kit, Gloves, Socks): Specifically designed for comfort and efficiency, cycling kits are made from breathable, quick-drying materials, gloves for grip and vibration absorption, and socks for comfort and moisture management.
  • Road Cycling Shoes: These are typically lightweight, with stiff soles for efficient power transfer, and are used with clipless pedals for secure and consistent foot placement.
  • Road Cycling Pedals: Often clipless, these pedals enhance the rider’s connection to the bike, allowing for more efficient pedaling through a full range of motion.
  • Road Cycling Saddle: Designed for comfort and proper weight distribution, saddles vary in shape and materials, catering to different riding styles and anatomies.

Road bike accessories

Road bike accessories enhance the cycling experience and include items like a water bottle, light, pump, specialized tires, cycling glasses, and additional accessories like an indoor trainer and fenders.

  • Water Bottle: Essential for hydration during long rides, water bottles are typically carried in cages mounted on the bike frame.
  • Light: Important for visibility and safety, especially during early morning, evening, or night rides.
  • Pump: A crucial tool for maintaining tire pressure, available in portable and floor models for pre-ride inflation and on-the-go adjustments.
  • Tires: Specialized road bike tires vary in width and tread pattern, chosen based on riding conditions for optimal performance and durability.
  • Cycling Glasses: Protect the eyes from wind, debris, and sunlight, enhancing visual clarity and comfort while riding.
  • Indoor Trainer: Allows for stationary cycling, useful for training or exercising indoors, especially during unfavorable outdoor conditions.
  • Fenders: Useful for wet weather riding, they protect the rider and bike from splashes and debris.

Road cycling racing

Road cycling racing encompasses a variety of event formats, each demanding distinct skills and tactics, and has seen some of the greatest riders excel in these challenging competitions. Key events in road cycling racing include Individual Time Trials, Stage Races, Criteriums, Circuit Races, and Team Time Trials. These races test cyclists’ endurance, speed, team coordination, and strategic thinking. Tactics such as drafting, breakaways, and sprint finishes are integral to these events, showcasing the sport’s complexity and the athletes’ versatility. The rich history of road cycling racing is marked by legendary riders who have mastered these varied formats, contributing to the sport’s dynamic and competitive nature.

Road cycling events

Road cycling events encompass various competitive formats, each with its unique set of rules and challenges, including road cycling Olympics, Individual Time Trials, Stage Races, Criteriums, Circuit Races, and Team Time Trials.

  • The Olympic road cycling: It is a prestigious competition featured in the Summer Olympics, where elite cyclists from around the world compete in road races, showcasing endurance, strategy, and speed on varying terrains and distances.
  • Individual Time Trials: In these races, cyclists compete against the clock, starting individually at set intervals. The focus is on maintaining the highest speed over a set distance, requiring excellent pacing and aerodynamics.
  • Stage Races: These are multi-day events consisting of several segments or stages, which can include time trials and varied terrain. Overall winners are determined by cumulative time or points, making endurance and strategy crucial. The top 3 major stage races in professional road cycling include the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España, collectively known as the Grand Tours, renowned for their challenging routes, prestigious history, and attracting the world’s elite cyclists.
  • Criteriums: Short, fast-paced races conducted on closed-loop courses, often in city centers. These events demand exceptional bike handling skills and tactical nous, with a series of laps to complete.
  • Circuit Races: Similar to criteriums but usually on longer circuits and involving more laps. These races blend the demands of endurance with the tactics of criterium racing.
  • Team Time Trials: Teams of cyclists race against the clock, working together to achieve the fastest time. Coordination, uniform pacing, and aerodynamic drafting within the team are key factors in this event.

Road cycling events

Road cycling racing tactics

Road cycling racing tactics include a variety of strategies used by cyclists and teams to gain an advantage, including attack, breakaway, bridge, chase, counterattack, drafting, wheel sucking, operation drizzopple, pacelining, echelon, pulling through, lead out, blocking, managing climbs, dealing with crosswinds, controlling speed, and forming a gruppetto.

  • Attack: A sudden acceleration to move ahead of other riders, often used to break away from the peloton or catch up with a breakaway group.
  • Breakaway: When a rider or group of riders separates from the main peloton to gain a lead.
  • Bridge: The act of a rider or group catching up to another rider or breakaway group ahead.
  • Chase: When the peloton or a group of riders works to catch up to a breakaway.
  • Counterattack: A strategic move where a rider or group attacks immediately after being caught or when a breakaway is caught.
  • Drafting: Riding closely behind another cyclist to conserve energy by reducing wind resistance.
  • Wheel Sucker: A rider who drafts behind others without taking a turn at the front.
  • Operation Drizzopple: A less commonly known tactic involving sudden changes in speed or position to confuse competitors.
  • Pacelining: A formation where riders take turns at the front, maintaining a consistent pace and reducing wind resistance for the group.
  • Echelon: A diagonal line formation of riders, used to combat crosswinds effectively.
  • Pulling Through: When a rider takes their turn at the front of a paceline or echelon before peeling off.
  • Lead Out: A tactic where a rider accelerates to create a slipstream for a teammate, usually in preparation for a sprint finish.
  • Blocking: A team tactic where riders deliberately slow down the peloton to protect a breakaway that includes a teammate.
  • Climbs: Managing steep inclines, often involves specific positioning and pacing strategies.
  • Crosswind: Adjusting formation and position in response to side winds to reduce wind resistance and maintain pace.
  • Speed: Controlling and varying speed as a tactical move to tire out competitors or prepare for a sprint.
  • Gruppetto: A group of riders who form at the back of a race, typically in mountain stages, focusing on finishing within the time limit rather than competing for position.

Road cycling racing tactics

Best Road Cycling riders to watch

Best Road Cycling riders in the history are Eddy Merckx, Alejandro Valverde Belmonte, Sean Kelly, Gino Bartali, Francesco Moser, Joop Zoetemelk, Raymond Poulidor, Roger De Vlaeminck, Felice Gimondi, and Jacques Anquetil, recognized for their remarkable achievements and enduring legacies in the sport.

In 2023, the top road cycling riders are Tadej Pogačar, Jonas Vingegaard Rasmussen, Remco Evenepoel, Primož Roglič, Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Adam Yates, Mads Pedersen, Sepp Kuss, and Jasper Philipsen, showcasing the current elite of professional cycling with their impressive performances and victories.

The top cycling teams in 2023 include Jumbo – Visma, UAE Team Emirates, Soudal – Quick Step, Ineos Grenadiers, Bahrain Victorious, Lidl – Trek, Bora – Hansgrohe, Groupama – FDJ, Alpecin – Deceuninck, and EF Education – Easypost.

All rankings are based on cyclingranking data.

How fast are road bike races?

The speed of road bike races varies significantly based on the rider’s skill level:

  • Beginner Riders: In beginner-level races, average speeds can range from 12 to 16 mph (19 to 26 km/h), as participants are still developing their endurance and skills.
  • Average Riders: For those with more experience, such as club riders, average speeds typically range from 17 to 20 mph (27 to 32 km/h).
  • Regular Training Riders: Those who train regularly and participate in more competitive amateur races often maintain speeds of 21 to 24 mph (34 to 39 km/h).
  • Professional Cyclists: In professional road races, speeds can be impressively high, often averaging over 25 mph (40 km/h) and even higher during sprints and descents.
What does it take to become a professional road cyclist?

To become a professional road cyclist, one needs to start with a strong foundation in cycling, join a cycling club or team, participate in amateur races, consistently train and improve performance, get noticed by scouts or teams, and then sign with a professional team.

  1. Strong Foundation in Cycling: Begin by developing your cycling skills and building endurance, speed, and technique.
  2. Join a Cycling Club or Team: Engage with a local club or team to gain experience, receive coaching, and learn race tactics.
  3. Participate in Amateur Races: Enter local and national races to gain competitive experience and improve racecraft.
  4. Consistent Training and Performance Improvement: Follow a rigorous training regimen to enhance physical fitness, technical skills, and tactical understanding.
  5. Get Noticed by Scouts or Teams: Stand out in races and through consistent performances to attract attention from professional scouts and teams.
  6. Sign with a Professional Team: Transition to professional status by securing a contract with a professional cycling team.

How to ride a road bike?

To ride a road bike, beginners need to understand the basics of bike handling, learn how to shift gears smoothly, master effective braking techniques, know where to focus their vision while riding, practice safe descending and climbing techniques, work on improving their road cycling skills through regular practice and training, and learn how to plan a road cycling trip.

What to know about road bikes for beginners?

What to know about road bikes for beginners includes understanding the bike’s geometry and components, choosing the right size and fit, learning about gear and brake systems, the importance of a comfortable saddle, the benefits of proper cycling attire, and basic maintenance needs for optimal performance and safety.

How to Shift Gears on a Road Bike?

To shift gears on a road bike, use the shifters mounted on the handlebars to adjust the position of the chain on the front chainrings and rear cassette through the action of the derailleurs. The front chainrings alter significant changes in resistance, while the rear cassette allows for finer adjustments.

  • Front Chainrings: Typically, road bikes have two or three chainrings. Shifting to a larger chainring increases resistance, making it harder to pedal, suitable for higher speeds and flat terrain. Shifting to a smaller chainring reduces resistance for easier pedaling, ideal for climbing hills.
  • Rear Cassette: Consists of multiple cogs with varying sizes. Shifting to a larger cog (towards the wheel) makes pedaling easier while shifting to a smaller cog increases pedaling difficulty, useful for gaining speed.
  • Chain: Moves across the chainrings and cassette cogs as you shift, transferring the pedaling force.
  • Derailleurs: The front derailleur moves the chain between the chainrings, and the rear derailleur shifts it across the cassette. They are controlled by the shifters.
  • Shifters: Located on the handlebars, used to control the derailleurs. One shifter operates the front derailleur, and the other operates the rear. Typically, pushing the lever inward shifts to a higher gear, while a smaller lever or button shifts to a lower gear.

When shifting, pedal lightly and smoothly to allow the chain to move cleanly from one gear to another without straining the gears or causing the chain to slip.

How to Brake on a Road Bike?

To brake properly on a road bike, it’s essential to understand the mechanics of your brake system, whether you have rim brakes or disc brakes (hydraulic or mechanical), and apply the brakes smoothly and progressively.

  • Rim Brakes: These are common on many road bikes. To brake, gently squeeze the brake levers on the handlebars. Rim brakes apply pressure to the wheel’s rim to slow down. They are effective but can be less responsive in wet or muddy conditions compared to disc brakes.
  • Disc Brakes: These come in hydraulic and mechanical variants. Hydraulic disc brakes offer more consistent performance and require less force to operate, while mechanical disc brakes may require more manual adjustment. Both types apply braking force to a rotor attached to the wheel hub. To brake, use the levers similar to rim brakes. Disc brakes provide more consistent performance in various weather conditions and are more efficient in terms of stopping power and control.
  • How to Brake: Apply both front and rear brakes evenly for smooth deceleration. Avoid slamming on the brakes suddenly, which can cause skidding or loss of control. For controlled braking, especially at high speeds or in descents, apply more pressure to the front brake while maintaining some rear brake for stability.

Where to Look When Riding a road bike?

When riding a road bike, you should always look ahead, focusing on where you want to go and scanning for potential hazards, because keeping your vision up and forward allows for better anticipation of traffic, obstacles, and changes in road conditions, ensuring safer and more efficient cycling.

How to Descend on Your Road Bike?

To descend on your road bike, you should lower your center of gravity by slightly dropping your body closer to the bike, keep your hands on the drops for better control, modulate your brakes smoothly without locking them, and look ahead to anticipate turns and obstacles, because this position enhances stability and control, allowing for safer and more confident descending at higher speeds.

How to Climb on Your Road Bike?

To climb on your road bike, you should shift to a lower gear to maintain a steady cadence, lean forward slightly to distribute your weight, keep a rhythmic breathing pattern, and focus on a consistent and efficient pedaling motion because this technique helps in sustaining energy and maintaining momentum during uphill sections.

How to improve road cycling skills?

To improve road cycling skills, one should practice regularly, focus on building endurance and strength, learn advanced riding techniques, engage in interval training, ride in diverse conditions, analyze and learn from each ride, and consider professional coaching or joining a cycling club for structured guidance and support.

How do I plan a road cycling trip?

To plan a road cycling trip, one should determine the route and distance, check the weather forecast, ensure the bike is in good condition, pack necessary supplies and tools, plan for hydration and nutrition, consider any lodging or rest stops, and inform someone about the trip itinerary for safety purposes.

Road cycling training plan

A road cycling training plan varies based on the cyclist’s level and goals, with amateurs focusing on foundational skills and endurance, professionals on intensive conditioning and tactics, both men and women requiring tailored workouts for their physiological differences, while all should pay attention to nutrition needs and be aware of the health benefits and risks, as a well-structured plan based on FTP cycling is essential for improving performance, preventing injuries, and ensuring overall physical and mental well-being in the sport.

Road cycling training plan for beginner

A road cycling training plan for beginners typically includes gradually increasing distances and intensity, incorporating rest days, and focusing on basic skills like gear shifting and riding posture, designed to build endurance, improve bike handling, and ensure a safe and enjoyable introduction to the sport.

Below is an example of a weekly beginner road cycling training plan.

DayActivityDuration/DistanceNotes
MondayRest DayRecovery and muscle repair
TuesdayEasy Ride30 minutesFocus on a steady, comfortable pace
WednesdayInterval Training30 minutes (including intervals)Alternate between 2 minutes fast, 3 minutes slow
ThursdayRest or Cross-TrainingOptional light activity like walking or swimming
FridayMedium Ride45 minutesModerate effort, focus on endurance
SaturdayLong Ride1 hourSteady pace, focus on distance
SundayActive Recovery30 minutesEasy pace, relaxed ride

Road cycling training plan for beginner

Road cycling training plan for amateur

A road cycling training plan for amateurs is structured to build upon foundational skills, focusing on increased distance and intensity, incorporating varied workouts like hill climbs and speed intervals, and balancing training with adequate recovery, aimed at enhancing endurance, speed, and overall cycling proficiency.

Here is an example of a road cycling amateur’s weekly training plan.

DayActivityDuration/DistanceNotes
MondayRest DayFocus on recovery
TuesdayInterval Training1 hourShort bursts of high intensity followed by recovery
WednesdayMedium Distance Ride2 hoursModerate pace, consistent effort
ThursdayHill Training1.5 hoursIncorporate hill climbs for strength
FridayActive Recovery1 hourGentle ride, low-intensity
SaturdayLong Ride3+ hoursEndurance pace, longer distance
SundayCross-Training or RestOptional non-cycling activity or rest

Road cycling training plan for amateur

Road cycling training plan for professional

A road cycling training plan for professionals is meticulously structured to maximize performance, focusing on high-intensity workouts, advanced techniques, specific race preparations, and strategic recovery periods, tailored to meet the demanding requirements of competitive racing and peak physical condition.

Here’s an example of a professional road cycling training plan.

DayActivityDuration/IntensityNotes
MondayRecovery Ride1-2 hours, Low intensityGentle ride to aid muscle recovery
TuesdayHigh-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)2-3 hours, High intensityShort bursts of maximum effort with recovery periods
WednesdayThreshold Training2-3 hours, Moderate to high intensitySustained effort at lactate threshold
ThursdayLong Distance Endurance Ride4-5 hours, Moderate intensityFocus on building endurance and stamina
FridayRest or Active RecoveryComplete rest or light cross-training activity
SaturdayRace Simulation or Group Ride3-4 hours, Race paceSimulate race conditions or participate in a competitive group ride
SundayMountain or Hill Training3-4 hours, Varied intensityFocus on climbing techniques and strength

Road cycling training plan for professional

Road cycling training plan for women

A road cycling training plan for women is tailored to address the unique physiological needs and strengths of female cyclists. This often includes focusing on building core strength, managing endurance training with menstrual cycle considerations, and specific nutritional strategies to support intense physical exertion. 

The training might emphasize developing power over shorter durations, as women typically have a higher proportion of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Additionally, attention is given to flexibility and injury prevention, as women cyclists can have different biomechanical tendencies compared to men, such as wider hips affecting knee alignment. This specialized approach ensures that female road cyclists can train effectively and efficiently, optimizing their physical capabilities and addressing their specific health and fitness requirements.

Road cycling training plan for men

A road cycling training plan for men typically focuses on maximizing strength, power, and endurance, tailored to the physiological attributes commonly found in male cyclists. Such plans often emphasize high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to improve anaerobic capacity, sustained power output exercises to enhance overall strength and speed, and extended endurance sessions to build cardiovascular efficiency. 

Given that male cyclists generally have a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, the training might lean more towards developing explosive power and sprinting abilities. Attention is given to core stability and flexibility, as these areas are crucial for injury prevention and maintaining optimal cycling form. Nutrition and recovery strategies are integrated into the plan to support intense training loads and facilitate muscle recovery and growth, ensuring that male cyclists can perform at their best while minimizing the risk of injury.

Nutrition needs for road cyclists

Nutrition needs for road cyclists include a balance of macronutrients like carbohydrates for energy, proteins for muscle repair, and fats for long-term fuel, along with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals for overall health, and proper hydration through water and electrolyte drinks, all crucial for maintaining peak physical performance, recovery, and overall health in the demanding sport of road cycling.

Health benefits of road cycling

The health benefits of road cycling are numerous, including aiding in weight loss, increasing muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina, enhancing balance, posture, and coordination, improving joint mobility and fortifying bone, promoting better lung health, boosting the immune system, strengthening defense against cardiovascular disease and cancer, alleviating fatigue, elevating sexual well-being, assisting with pregnancy, extending lifespan, boosting mental health and brainpower, helping against anxiety and depression, and improving sleep quality.

Health risks of road cycling

The health risks of road cycling include the potential for triggering neck pain, upper and lower back pain, hip pain, groin pain, hand and wrist pain,  knee pain, and foot pain, causing numbness, nerve damage, and artery compression, exposing muscles to cramps, loss, and injury, inducing issues like piles, prostate, genitourinary and urinary problems, decreasing bone density leading to bone loss, elevating stress on the heart and causing headaches, exposing riders to injuries from road accidents, and exposing cyclists to air and noise pollution.

How can I find local road cycling groups or clubs?

You can find local road cycling groups or clubs by checking with your local bike shop for community postings, joining Facebook groups dedicated to cycling in your area, exploring Strava segments and groups for nearby cyclists, and connecting with riders in online platforms like Zwift for virtual group rides or clubs.

What are the top 6 best road cycling magazines?

The top 6 best road cycling magazines are Velonews, Bicycling, Road Bike Action, Mountainflyer, Procycling and Cycling Plus.

What are the top 5 best road cycling news websites?

The top 5 best road cycling news websites are Cycling News, Cycling Weekly, Bike Radar, Road.cc and Cycling Plus.

Does rowing, running and walking help road cycling?

Yes, rowing, running, and walking can help road cycling because they improve cardiovascular endurance and leg strength, with running and walking offering weight-bearing exercises that enhance bone density, and rowing providing a full-body workout that strengthens the core and upper body, complementing the lower-body focus of cycling.