procyclingThe pro cycle circuit isn't for the faint of heart, nor for those who enjoy a casual ride or commute to or from class and work. The physical demands cyclists put on their bodies push the limits of what humans can endure. If you want to be a pro cyclist, you must be in top physical shape and have the best possible equipment. Here's a look at what it takes to be a competitive cyclist.

Coach

Before you hit the trails or the gym, search out a cycling coach in your area. Coaches may be expensive, but they will guide you around common errors casual cyclists make when they explore the pro option. Since coaches do cost money, keep in mind that a successful pro cyclist doesn't necessarily make a good coach. Do some research on well-known coaches rather than well-known former pros who now coach. For more information, attend a regional development camp where established pros network.

Type of Cyclist

The type of races you participate in dictates the preparation, equipment and training you'll need. However, no matter if you seek competitive mountain bike tours like the Absa Cape Epic or street cycling tours like Tour de France, comfort is always a top priority. If you are uncomfortable on your bike, you won't be able to generate the same power as a cyclist who is comfortable. The Cape Epic is a race of 500 miles that includes rugged terrain and nine miles of accumulated climb. If you aren't comfortable on your bike, there's no way you'll be able to compete on such long rides.

Ride Style

The style you choose for your seat, handle bars and pedals should all focus on your comfort. They should also play to your strengths as a cyclist. Some cyclists prefer a level or upward slanted saddle, shorter seat stem and wide handle bars. Others prefer larger handle bars that are parallel to the ground and a more forward saddle position. Part of finding the most comfortable style for you is a process of trial and error. Before you change your saddle, handle bar and pedal positions, take measurements so you know how you like a bike set for you in the future. When you go pro you'll likely use a variety of bikes, so these numbers are important ones to know by heart.

Gear

Competitive cyclists have the most expensive, most meticulously built and most efficient gear, ranging from light weight, breathable cycle jerseys and polarized sunglasses to the best carbon fiber road bikes or mountain bikes. Keep in mind that until you win a race or show great promise, competitive cycling is extremely expensive if you aren't sponsored. While your physical condition is an important aspect of whether you'll win a race or not, the best, lightest and strongest cycles and components are the only ones that will see you through such intense races. Companies like Assos make state-of-the-art body wear, as does Fox Racing. MBC, Cannondale and Giant were all featured by riders in Tour de France in 2015, as their road bikes are some of the best on the market.