But when you get competitive about your cycling (because of the lack of validation you got during that repressive childhood of course) it gets expensive. So I thought I would share my top tip for getting bang for buck gains.
If you're not an obsessive cyclist yet, here's some background to the cycling bang for buck argument.
A disc wheel is a lot of buck: maybe a grand for a nice rear. But there's no denying that it gives you a lot of bang. I think I'd save about 30 seconds in a 10 mile time trial (which, I'm embarrassed to admit, takes me between 21 and 23 minutes, course depending*) riding a rear disc wheel compared to riding a spokey**.
A bottom bracket with ceramic ball bearings is also expensive, I think about £200 compared to a nice dura ace bottom bracket that would cost about £80. But where's the bang?! I don't actually have any made up stats to supply here, but it's marginal. Now, don't let the word marginal draw you into the 'marginal gains' conversation: that's not what we're talking about right now.
Everyone's favourite bang for buck is position. It costs nothing to be smart about the basics of aerodynamics and get your frontal area minimised yet the time saving can be huge when you don't need to push as much air out the way. Yes, to be accurate about it, and bring turbulence into account, and to analyse the way your equipment interacts with your body, you'll want to pay to go into a wind tunnel. But the ABC stuff can be done with a keen eye.
So here's my top tip!*** Spend your buck on shorts. I don't mean buy the most expensive pair of bibs in the shop, but keep investing until you've found a shorts and saddle combination that you love.
Once you've nailed that, don't keep wearing those same shorts until you can't tell them apart from your favourite lace thong because there's so many see-through patches and holes. Buy replacements. The lycra needs to be tight so the chammy stays in place but time is unrelenting and everything dies****. Buy replacements.
The bang that you get for this buck is hard to measure but, conveniently, I don't exercise good science (had you noticed?) so it doesn't matter. I can tell you that regularly cutting a road ride short because of discomfort will not improve your basic endurance. I can tell you that you will put out more power if you can sit still during your turbo efforts. And I can tell you that riding comfort will make you go faster in and of itself because, as a great British cyclist once said*****:
"Happy head = fast legs."
Though I guess in this case it's happy vagina = fast legs. But what's the difference? I make just as many decisions with once as with the other so they're really quite inter-changeable.
Now go! Go out into the world and treat your crotch well!
*Stop with the judgemental head tilt! I train for an event that last 4 minutes, okay?! I don't have to justify myself to you! I can love myself without your approval!
**This is possibly the worst statement ever. I've never tested it, I just made it up. And even for a made up thing it carries way too many variables. But the point is we all agree that a disc wheel makes a very significant difference.
***Did I ramble? Me?! Oh, we got there eventually.
**** Also, don't tumble dry them or use fabric conditioner and they'll stay tighter longer.
*****By "once said" I mean "once said every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year."