What's the best way to become a faster rider?

If you want to get faster, you have to ride faster. A few suggestions for getting there:

  • Ride with fast riders.
  • Do the fitness rides (Sat, Tue, Thu). Go out with the lead group and try to hold on as long as you can. As time goes by, you should be able to hold on longer and longer. If you get dropped, try to hook up with other folks who've been dropped and ride together in a pace line.
  • Ride the hills. And ride them hard. Last year a bunch of NEBCers did hills on Wednesday nights - the route typically included about 6 moderate climbs (1/3 - 2/3 mile, 300 - 400 feet) and the group waited at the tops until everyone made it. Working to get up the hills as fast as possible really strengthened my hill riding.
  • Do the NEBC intro-to-racing series. This will give you some riding skills (pace lines, cornering, sprinting, etc.) and will allow you to do some faster riding with a group of people who are just learning how to do it. Even if you never race, this is a good way to learn more about riding.
  • If you've got to ride alone, set some realistic goals and work toward them. If you've got a 60 mile ride that you do regularly, keep track of how long it takes. If you're normally finishing it in 4 hours, set a goal of 3:50 and really go for it. Keep track of how you're riding to see if there are places you could ride harder. If you get to the 3:50 time, set another goal of 3:40. Etc.
  • Find a weekly time trial (NEBC does one, but there are others around) and do it every week. These are typically fairly short (10 miles or so) and you just ride them as fast as you can.
  • Practice speed work. Find some flat road somewhere and do a few intervals on it. If you've got a stop watch, pick standard start and stop points and see how quickly you can cover the ground. Do several reps each time, with recovery times in between.
  • Ride fast.

(answer courtesy of Dave Jordan)