Biking is fun but biking at high altitude is fun only if you are physically fit. You will be cycling on the most spectacular roads, unbelievable landscape that the Himalayan region has to offer. The route can have dramatic change of climate with increasing altitude. To be able to enjoy the exotic views and take the challenge head on one needs to be aware of preparing the body right well in advance of the trip. As much as determination plays an important role in the successful completion of the expedition, you must have enough endurance and strength to stay till the end.
Cycling in the Himalayas is an exciting thing to do, so why not work a little bit harder to enjoy it thoroughly! The ultimate and only reason one goes riding is for fun and how wonderful it would be if riding through the winding roads, plains, ups and downs seemed like the smooth flow of water in the river flowing alongside the road you are on. All you need is tad bit motivation and the will to get started with the training routine.
In the mountain, the key is to be able to hold enough air in your lungs and breathe easy. The more relaxed your breathing process is, the faster your body can replenish the burnt energy. A healthy aerobic/cardiovascular system will sustain a mountain biker longer. This is the system that will help you with all the power required to push the pedals forward on the hills.
You can work towards getting fitter gradually and you don’t necessarily need to hit the gym. But if you do have a gym membership, you may make use of the cardio related equipments- stationary bike, rowing machine, treadmills etc. available to build your endurance and strength, for stronger bones and flexible joints. Do not forget to stretch your muscles before and after the exercise routine. You don’t want to end up with sore muscle.
Core- strengthening & Flexibility
Cycling can induce back pain and this can be pretty bad in the hills. One must remember to strengthen the core. All you need is to invest 15-20 minutes a day to do the following exercises.
Your side to side muscles need to get worked out. Engaging in other sport activity such as basket ball or tennis can help in cross training. Your body will adjust to the fatigue and heat while riding in the hills better.
Bench-press, seated -row, pull-ups, arm curl, triceps press-down, front-raise, lateral-raise, elliptical/ cross trainer are some of the exercises you could follow.
Perform all the exercises slowly and smoothly. If, during the process you experience back pain, you must seek professional advice.
Yoga, especially Surya-namaskar (Sun salutation) is also one of the go-to exercises for increasing your flexibility and it’s a great cardio exercise too when done at a fast pace. It’s important to do it right to derive the best benefits. You might end up hurting yourself badly otherwise. If you are new to yoga, it’s recommended you get professional help to learn the moves.
Having said that, off road cycling is the best bet for cycling related fitness including strengthening the core. If you have access to a rough trail, there is nothing like it. Your body will get accustomed faster to the harsh atmosphere and ruggedness of mountain biking.
Tips & Points to remember
» Find the right balance between work, family and training for the expedition.
» Start the training routine 4- 8 weeks before your expedition.
» Make your training goal oriented in order to train efficiently.
» Make it a point to never hold your breath while exercising. Your breathing should be in a nice rhythm. Achieving that should be the goal.
The rest will follow.
» Commute to work on your cycle. That way you derive some benefit out of the limited time available in a day.
» Remember, one needs to be consistent in the efforts. Spending four to five days of quality time a week is recommended than working out crazy
one day and then not being able to move a leg the next day.
» Take adequate rest, one or two days of rest in a week is ideal to recover in order to train better.
» Stretch your body before and after to avoid muscle ruptures.
» It is recommended you consult your doctor to identify any potential health issues and your fitness instructor who can help with techniques
and tailor a plan to your individual needs.
» Gradually increase your training activity and intensity. When the going gets tough, visualise the hills and its beauty. You are sure to work harder.