Robin Farina Shares 6 Tips for Getting the Best Workout From a 30-Minute City Bike Rental

Want to know how to get the best workout on a city bike? Because many cities limit your bike use to 30 minutes at a time before checking the bike in at a station, here are six tips to focus on getting the most bang for your bike buck in just a half hour.

Safety first. Before you even get on the bike there are a number of factors to consider. First, do you have a helmet? This is key, and it’s an element that is still lacking in the bike share world. Next, make sure the bike is in good, working condition. Do the tires feel full? Are the bolts all tight? Is the seat at the right height (you should aim for a level where your legs are almost straight when they’re extended on the pedals)? While the bike shares all have bike maintenance programs, keep in mind that the bikes have been ridden quite a bit, and they’ve spent a good deal of time outside. Make safety a priority before you begin your cycling adventure.

Work those intervals. If the bike you’re riding has gears, shift it into the most challenging gear and really push yourself. Keep going in high gear for one to three minutes, and then downshift and recover for a couple of minutes, but continue spinning those pedals. Repeat those steps several times. Interval work is a great way to get your heart rate up and bump up your fitness level.

Head to the hills. If you live near any kind of safe incline, take advantage of it on your bike. Get to the top of the hill as fast as you can and then coast down. Recover and then do it again. The more you master the mounds, the longer you’ll be able sustain that serious effort.

Get up, stand up. Riding a bike can be a full-body workout, as long as you strive to engage your core and your lower back. Try standing up while pedaling to add in some anaerobic activity to your ride. It might take a few times to get comfortable, but with a bit of practice, you’ll get used to it. Aim for standing up 15 to 30 seconds at a time, and build on that as your confidence grows. 

Track your progress. There are a number of great fitness apps out there to help you follow your own fitness routines. I recommend Stavra, which tracks time, distance, speed, calories burned, elevation gain and more. In addition to helping you set and monitor goals, you can also track your fitness level as your speed and distance increase over time.

Reward yourself. Rewards come in different packages. Maybe it means enjoying a cappuccino at the end of a ride, or meeting up with a friend when you’re finished. Maybe it means going on a social ride, with one person or a group of people. Find what motivates you and incorporate it into your workout. 

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