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Saturday, 2 September 2017

VIDEO. Vuelta:A spectator dropped Belkov, another is pushed by a policeman on a motorcycle

September 02, 2017 0
VIDEO. Vuelta:A spectator dropped Belkov, another is pushed by a policeman on a motorcycle


Waterfalls, waterfalls and more falls. The 12th stage of the Vuelta was not easy for the platoon. Chris Froome went twice to the carpet, and as if the riders did not fall enough without that help, that a 'crazy' spectator starts to push poor Maxim Belkov in full effort into a climb. Surreal.



The individual has immediately been neutralized by a member of the safety of the Tour of Spain while other spectators did their best to help the Russian, who did not understood what had happened to him, to recover more quickly.


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Last kilometer - Stage 14 - La Vuelta 2017

Monday, 31 July 2017

Tools You Can Use

July 31, 2017 0
Tools You Can Use



THERE ARE A LOT OF NIFTY TOOLS OUT THERE TO DO EVERY level of maintenance and repair under the sun. But bike shops have the big tools (and knowledge) so you don’t have to. A point in time may come when you want to learn how to do all the work on your own bike, but for now let’s stick to the basics. There are tools you’ll want to have at home to help with small repairs and routine basic maintenance. On the road you’ll want a lighter, more compact version so you don’t get stranded on your ride. Even if you don’t know how to use them, you never know who might be able to come to your rescue—as long as you have the tools to make the fix.

Home Tools to Keep You Rolling 

Truthfully, as you’re starting road biking, you don’t need much. But what you do need is pretty close to necessity.
img Floor Pump: This is a full-size pump that can quickly fill your tires to the proper pressure. Most come with options for both Schrader and Presta valves (see “Tire Inflation”), though the Presta is more commonly found on most road bikes. Be sure to purchase one with a pressure gauge so you know how much you’re filling up the tires and can get a sense of how much they lose between fillings.
img Tire Levers: These are your helpers for getting a tire off a rim so you can change a flat. One of the most used tools in a home bike shop.
>Bottle of Chain Lube: The only way to keep your chain moving well
> Degreaser: For keeping your chain clean and your frame wiped down
>Rags: Essential for cleaning chains, rims, and the inevitable spill
>Screwdrivers: To add or remove accessories
>Crescent Wrench: Not the finest-tuned instrument, but versatile and gets the job done
>“Y” or Tri 4-5-6mm Hex Tool: Most of the bolts on your bike are going to be one of these three sizes, as are water bottle cages and other accessories. This inexpensive tool gives you the three most common sizes with the benefit of better leverage than a travel-sized multitool.



Tools for Your Ride 

What you need to carry on the bike is essentially pocket-sized versions of what you have at home. You may not know how to use it all, but it’s still important to have it on you. The rider or driver who pulls over to help you on the side of the road can bring the skills—but you’d better back it up with the right tools. These include:
YOUR BASIC ON-THE-ROAD TOOLS

>Tire Levers
>A Patch Kit: For repairing punctured tubes
>Multitool: Includes hex wrenches and screw drivers
>Inflation Device: A hand pump or CO2 inflator
YOUR DELUXE TOURING OR LONG SOLO RIDE TOOLS

>Chain Breaker: For repairing
>Tire Boot
>Chain Links or Chain Pins
>Duct Tape
>Presta to Shrader Valve Stem Adaptor: Helps in a pinch if your pump breaks and you need to borrow one that may not have a Presta head on the pump
Note: For a more detailed list of everything else you should carry, see “Bringing Up the Rear.”



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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Basic Maintenance for your Bike

July 30, 2017 0
Basic Maintenance for your Bike


MAINTENANCE: SUCH A DREARY WORD. IT MAKES US THINK OF the handyman, the super, the janitor—the guy you call to clean up the mess or fix what’s broken. You don’t know how to do it so you call someone else. Plus it just seems like it takes way too long. Maybe you don’t think of yourself as very mechanically inclined. Besides, if you’re already crunched for ride time, how are you supposed to care for your bike, too?
Basic maintenance, in actuality, can be really quick, fun, and easy, as well as help you get to know your bike much better so you have more control over how it rides. By taking care of your bike, it will become less of a mystery machine beneath you and more of a trusty tool you wield to get you where you want to go. Not to mention that maintaining your bike is a huge money saver. By taking care of your ride, you won’t need as many expensive parts or repairs in the future.
At the very least, riders need to know how to clean the frame, air up the tires, clean the rims, and clean and oil the chain. These are the very basics of what you should be doing to care for your bike. By mastering them, you’ll be empowered to take on any ride, anytime. We’ll also give you some big tips on changing flats and how to make the most of your local bike shop so when you do head in for repairs, it’s with a smile.

Tire Inflation

Getting your tires aired up properly is the single most important thing you can do to make sure you have a good ride. It’s a little like the Goldilocks fable: too much and you’ll lose traction; too little can cause flats; somewhere in the middle is always best. To start, you’ll need to have a good floor pump with an accurate gauge, which you can buy at your local bike shop, so you know how much air you’re putting in.
In the United States, inflation is measured in psi (pounds per square inch) units. The amount your tire needs will usually be printed as a range on the side of the tire—sometimes into the rubber, where it’s a little hard to find. It will often read something like 80 psi min.–110 psi max. (5.5 bar–7.6 bar). This tells you the minimum and maximum recommended pressure (the “bar” measurement is a European standard).



As a general rule, the max is for a person who weighs 185 pounds or more. If you weigh less, the tire manufacturer will have different recommended inflations on its website. For example, if a rider weighs 140 pounds on one brand of tire, she would inflate her tires to 95 psi in the back and 85 psi in the front. Because more of your weight is on the saddle and centered over the back wheel, you should inflate the front a little less. Since the front wheel controls your steering, using a slightly lower pressure than your rear (by about 10 psi) gives improved traction for better control on turns and descents.
The valve stem is where you put the air into the tube. There are two kinds of stems: One is called Presta, the other Schrader.
Most road bikes come with Presta valves, which are skinny and metal with a little nubbin at the top that needs to be unscrewed to let air in or out. Practice depressing this to let air out. You’ll sometimes need to do this to prime the valve to let air in, too. Always have the valve stem facing down (between the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position) on your wheel to clamp your hose on. Having it there will make it easier to control and give you better positioning for removal of the pump head after inflation. When it’s full to the recommended pressure, unclamp the hose and, with both thumbs on the face of the head, push it gently toward the hub at the center of the wheel. You should hear a small gasp of air leave the hose after it’s depressurized. If you wiggle the hose or pull it to the side to remove it, you’re more than likely to release air from the tube or break the valve stem off.
Because the tube inside the tire is just a big, high-pressure balloon, it usually loses air over a few days to a week. Check your tires every 2 to 3 days, or if you’re riding less often, pump them every time you leave for a ride.

Cleaning: Getting Rid of the Grime 

The Chain

If you’re regularly oiling the chain, you shouldn’t have to clean it every time you oil it. Save cleaning for about every 500-plus miles when you can also clean your chainrings (gears in front) and cassette (gears in back). The important thing to remember is that your chain needs lubrication, so overcleaning it can actually wear it out.
Start by flipping your bike upside-down and spraying degreaser (409, a citrus degreaser) or a bike-specific chain cleaner (like the degreaser from WD-40 Bike) on the links and scrubbing with an old toothbrush. After you’ve lifted most of the dirt, wipe it clean with a rag—unless it’s the WD-40 Bike brand degreaser, which you rinse with water. If you’ve used a spray degreaser directly on the chain, you need to wait 24 hours before applying oil to give time for the degreaser to evaporate completely from between the links.
There are also gadgets on the market to clean your chain, but the toothbrush-and-degreaser method works just as well. If your chain is only lightly dirty or you want to clean it more regularly, you can spray the degreaser on a rag and wipe the chain clean with it. In either case, there’s never a need to remove the chain or the wheel. Both will just make the job harder, and breaking the chain apart will only decrease its life.
Always oil your chain afterward. We’ll talk more about this in “Lubrication Equals Love.”
If you want to clean the cassette and chainrings as well, this is a great time. The chainrings you can scrub with a brush and degreaser on the bike. To get to the cassette, take your rear wheel off your bike and lay it down with the gear side facing up. Spray degreaser on the teeth of the cogs and scrub with a firm brush. Get between the gears with a piece of cardboard or specially made gear-cleaning brush. Floss a rag between each gear and roll it back and forth to clean it free of any debris or black grime.



The Rims 

A little science lesson: Most rims are commonly made of aluminum. Like steel oxidizing into rust, aluminum also breaks down when it contacts air, but it breaks down into a strange black dust that is kind of like the graphite from your pencil. Every time it’s exposed to air, your rim oxidizes, but that same black oxidization dust protects the aluminum underneath from oxidizing more. Unfortunately, every time you use your brakes, you’re wiping the old layer off so a new one forms. When it rains, aluminum oxidizes even more and the black grime gets slimy and slippery—which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to stop on wet surfaces. If you live anywhere humid or rainy, maintaining your rims is extra important. In the desert or dry areas, it’s not as critical, but still nice to maintain.
The easiest way to maintain them regularly is to wipe them down with a dry rag every time you oil the chain (using a different, clean rag, of course), every hundred miles or so. You can also use rubbing alcohol, but avoid using a bottle of spray cleaner or degreaser to get rid of the grunge—it tends to smear around instead of coming off on the rag and leaves a soapy film that can make your brakes squeal. To clean, have your bike upside down and spin the wheel while holding the rag against the braking surface of the rim. It shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes to get both sides of the front and rear wheels.



Another option is to clean them while you’re cleaning the frame (see the next section). Although a spray cleaner makes a smeary mess, a bucket of soapy dishwater and a firm brush use enough fluid to lift the oxidized dust and let it run off the rim. This method cleans a little deeper than just wiping with a dry rag or rubbing alcohol—just make sure to rinse after soaping up.
The bottom line is, if you don’t clean them on a regular basis, the grit will build up—making it much harder to stop, which will make you squeeze the brake harder, which creates even more of the oxidization grit, which will in turn wear the rim out faster. Since the wheels are one of the most expensive parts of your bike, it’s a time (not to mention a life) saver that can also help your pocket book.

The Frame 

Like with your body, everything feels better and the world is a better place after a nice shower. In the case of your bike, it doesn’t have to be warm, but a shower is the best because it’s the fastest, easiest, and most thorough way to a clean bike. By getting rid of all the road grit, sugary drink drips, and salty sweat, you’ll end up with a nicer ride.
You’ll need:
>A hose (or shower if you don’t have an outside hose and can stomach bringing your bike into the bathroom)
>A bucket of warm, soapy dishwater
>A large, soft sponge like one used for washing a car
>A handheld, large-surfaced, medium-bristled car-washing brush and a smaller dishwashing brush
> Rubber gloves
Start by rinsing your upright bike gently with the hose or shower to loosen the grime. The keyword is gentle. Don’t use a strong spray or worse, or you’ll risk ruining your bike’s bearings by forcing water and dirt where only grease belongs; if you flip your bike over, all the water will run inside the frame. A good rule of thumb for washing your bike is to think of the water pressure as if it’s coming out of a watering can.
Use the soapy sponge to clean your frame (the brush might scratch the paint or clear coat). The brush is great for scrubbing off all the black oxidization grime from the rims and getting into harder-to-reach nooks and crannies—like in your brake arms or derailleurs.
Rinse the soap off after cleaning. If you’ve used the WD-40 Bike brand degreaser mentioned earlier, this is a great time to rinse that off, too. If you didn’t, wipe any excess water off the chain so it doesn’t rust. When you’re finished, pick up your bike a few inches off the ground and drop it a few times to help shake off the water.
You can also use a bottle of spray cleaner or degreaser (409, Simple Green, Citrasolve, or other citrus degreasers work great) and some rags following similar directions, but the shower method works better and cuts your cleaning time by half.
For a nice finishing touch, you can use furniture polish or some specially made bike products that protect the paint on your frame. It not only looks sweet, but it also keeps dirt from accumulating as quickly between cleanings.



Lubrication Equals Love 

There are a lot of moving parts on your bike, but nothing gets put through the ringer like your chain. You’re entirely dependent on it to make your bike move forward, so it’s working constantly with every push of the pedals. If you take a close look at the chain, you’ll notice it has plates on the sides, and little rollers in the middle with pins through them holding it all together. When you lubricate your chain, you’re trying to get oil into all the little parts inside of it where metal meets metal to help it move effortlessly.
The most common problems are:
>You don’t oil your chain enough (or at all).
>You put way too much oil on.
Both of these can cause your chain to wear out before its time—though not oiling your chain is the worst thing you can do. Your chain needs lubrication inside it to flex over all those gears smoothly. If it’s dry, it has to work harder to do its job—which creates resistance when you push the pedals. You’ll know when this happens, as it will start making a lot of noise that starts to sound like a gentle swishing with each pedal stroke and progresses to a loud, squeaky, creak. One easy trick to getting faster with less effort: Oil your chain every hundred miles—or more often if you get caught (or ride regularly) in the rain.
Too much oil on the chain is like grease on your stove—it collects dirt and makes a mess that’s difficult to clean up. Unfortunately, not only will it spatter a black, greasy film all over your frame and wheels (which, as you might guess, doesn’t help with stopping), the goopy, greasy dirt will work into those little spaces you’re trying to lubricate, wearing down your chain.
Luckily, oiling it is one of the simplest, easiest tasks to do—even for a complete novice. So every hundred miles, here’s what to do to keep your chain quiet and give it a nice, long life.
1. Flip your bike over. Your rear wheel will have to be off the ground to run the chain both backward and forward.
2. Where the chain is exposed and not wrapped around any gears, hold the straw or tip of the oil bottle against the chain and turn the pedals five or six times until you’ve gone around the chain at least twice. Pedal smoothly and at a moderate pace so the oil skims over the top of the chain and spreads out. Don’t put a drop of lube on every link—that’s a surefire way to over-oil it. Also avoid putting oil on the gears.
3. Wipe the excess lubricant off. While holding a pedal to keep the chain from moving, wrap a rag around an exposed part of your chain and wipe back and forth on the top and bottom until the chain looks clean and free of oil on the outside surface. Work in small sections until you’ve gone around the chain completely. Don’t just run the chain through a rag while pedaling; instead, really scrub the excess oil (and dirt) off the outside of the chain.
4. Work your way around until the entire chain looks clean and there’s little to no visible oil or dirt on the outside. This is the most important part of oiling the chain. You need to spend two to three times longer to wipe it down than it took you to put the oil on. This method uses the excess lubricant you’ve applied to help clean any accumulated dirt or old oil off your chain—like a two-in-one shampoo/conditioner combo!

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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Tuning Your Life: Finding Time to Ride, Cross-Training, and Life/Bike Balance

July 29, 2017 0
Tuning Your Life: Finding Time to Ride, Cross-Training, and Life/Bike Balance


WE’VE TALKED ABOUT TRAINING AS BEING A PATTERN OF stress and rebuilding, but your life is actually the same way. If you aren’t balanced in terms of how you fit cycling into your life, you’re not going to get stronger, faster, or healthier, or (worst of all) have much fun.
The truth of road cycling is that it takes time—not just in the sense of months or years, but in the hours. There isn’t really such a thing as a quick, 20-minute training ride. Unless you’re commuting or not as concerned with gaining fitness, you have to put in a minimum of an hour per ride (usually closer to an hour and a half and up to as much as 3 hours).
Riding that much can be a fun escape, but eventually the same routes will become monotonous, and all that time on the bike can even lead to injury. It’s also a good idea to add in fun alternatives off the bike that will help shape up the rest of your body (and mind). Some of us need a little extra inspiration to get on the bike, so finding people to ride with who challenge you or an online forum to “race” other cyclists can be motivating.
Of course, with all this activity and your regular, hectic life schedule, it’s sometimes a challenge to get enough sleep or to see your friends or family. Making road cycling a part of your life should never mean sacrificing quality in other areas, so here are some tips on how to integrate your new road cycling interest into your already busy life.

Carving Out Time to Ride

The most common pitfall to regularly getting on your bike is finding the time to ride. “My life is hectic enough, how am I supposed to find more time?” cry many new cyclists. There are spaces and ways to find time. Most involve manipulating the little pieces that are already there—most of us are just too busy checking in on social networks (again) to find it.
You likely just invested a good amount of money into your bike and gear, so don’t let them languish in your basement. You’re going to have to get creative about finding time. It will not magically appear like sunshine breaking through a cloudy day. The first step is to make riding one of your priorities: looking ahead at your week and planning your times to ride. Sit down and take a close look at your daily schedule. Where can you trim? Can you go to bed earlier and start your day a little sooner? Can your commute to work be a part (or all) of your ride?
Making the most of weekends is key. One tip is to prepare your dinners on Sunday evening for the whole week. You’ll create more evening time to ride during the week and have lovely, healthy meals to come home to. As for rides, starting early—before your kids or significant other is awake—allows for your ride time and a way to have a great breakfast with your family when you return—bed head meets helmet head. Maybe there’s a weekend family picnic you could ride to instead of driving, and your husband can meet you there with a clean change of clothes. If you can, consider investing in a babysitter or hiring the kid next door to mow your lawn. It’s a few dollars well spent if you consider riding a part of your mental health as well as your physical well-being.
Once you find the time, write it down on the calendar and stick to the plan—without pushing the start time back or skipping it altogether, both of which can quickly become a bad habit. Keeping a log of your rides—whether that’s uploading your cycling computer’s data to a program or simply keeping a little ride journal to track your miles and how you felt—will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated. Always remember: The key to cycling is momentum, and going for rides inspires going for even more rides.

Rise to the Occasion 

The quietest time of day is the morning, so take advantage of it. This is when your ride is least likely to be sabotaged by the rest of your life, and it gets checked off your list for the day. Mornings are quiet on the road, so you’re also least likely to be hounded by traffic. Guaranteed, you’ll also have more energy in the morning than after work.
It’s a little harder to be motivated early in the day, but this is where good prep work makes all the difference. The pull of a warm bed or hitting the snooze button one more time is a little less tempting when your riding clothes are laid out, your water bottles are waiting for you in the fridge, and you have a quick, easy breakfast planned to get your blood sugar boosted.
For example, Elise works full time and is the mom of three rambunctious kids under 12 with a husband who is in his residency on his way to becoming a doctor. There’s not a lot of extra wiggle room in her day, but most days of the week during her racing season she manages to get up an hour before her kids to ride her trainer. This time not only keeps her sane, but also has helped her create a successful, winning strategy for her local races.

Get to Work 

This is where commuting by bike starts to look like a great idea. It gives you the chance to readily add on more miles at the beginning or the end of the day, and you’ll also get to work wide awake and in a great mood—making your entire day more productive. To pull this off, it really helps to have a workplace that provides showers and lockers so you can put your damp clothes somewhere other than your desk, but there are a lot of innovative ways to get around this. One is a gym membership so you can use their facilities. If you can’t fully shower, use baby wipes or a washcloth and a portable, quick-dry camp towel.

Break Into Your Lunch 

Like commuting, this can be a little tricky to execute, but it’s worth the effort. It’s not only the perfect mid-day pick-me-up, it also feels a bit like you’re getting away with something. Remember how great recess was? This can help you capture that feeling again. Ask around to see if your building or local club has a regular ride. It’s so much easier to get motivated if you know other people are joining you—and if you’ve told them you’ll be coming.

After-Hours 

Although this might seem like the go-to time to get your ride in, remember that you’ll have a whole day behind you, so your energy may not be the brightest. You’ll also have to contend with traffic, working late, and all the other little things life tends to throw your way—like your kids’ schedules or community activities—that can interfere with your two-wheel time. To make the most of it, schedule your time carefully and absolutely stick to it. Finding a riding buddy who can go with you or posting your planned workout somewhere public like social networks can give you accountability so you stick to your plan.

Cross-Training 

If you find yourself always wanting to be on the bike, you may have fallen for road cycling pretty hard, which is great, wonderful, exciting, and motivating. However, like the rest of life, your body needs balance. If you find yourself wanting to ride year-round, you might want to take a little time either during your week or seasonally to switch things up a bit. This will not only refresh your muscles, it’s also a much-needed boost for your mind to wrap itself around another activity.
Most importantly, road cycling is an activity that is repetitive and holds your body in essentially the same position for the entire time you’re exercising. Which means your legs and butt get a great workout, and everything else . . . well, that just kind of tends to waste away a bit. Moving the focus to all those neglected parts of your body is important if you’re cycling 10 or more hours a week.

Weight-Bearing Fitness 

One of the great things about cycling is that it’s a non-weight-bearing activity, which essentially means it’s easy on your joints. This is a good thing if you’re recovering from an injury. However, without bearing weight on your joints during exercise, your bones can actually start to weaken. This is partially caused by all the calcium you’re sweating out and partially because impact exercise helps your bones strengthen. Between the two, it’s important to add in other exercises that help your bones buck up and keep their density.
This can be as simple as hiking, jogging, a step-aerobics class, circuit training, or even a dance class. Yes, swing dancing can make you a better cyclist. Don’t overlook weight lifting as well. High-rep, low-weight lifting for strengthening and toning can do a world of good for not only your legs, but also for those poor arms that are neglected while you’re riding.

Yoga, Pilates, and Isometric Exercises 

Speaking of neglected, let’s talk a moment about your core. These are all your muscles in the middle—in the front, on the sides, and around the back, too. Most of us think of them only in relation to situps or crunches, but those hit only a small portion of your total core muscles. All of these are so much more important than you’d think—especially on the bike, because any strength or power from your legs actually radiates from your core. If your middle is mushy and neglected, it won’t really matter how strong your legs are. It’s a little like trying to shoot a cannon from a canoe. You’re not going to get good results.
Yoga and Pilates not only help you strengthen these muscles—both are based on starting from a strong core—but also give you the added advantage of stretching. This will help stretch, strengthen, and lengthen your muscles and connective fibers after all the hard work you put into riding. These types of exercises often don’t seem hard—which doesn’t mean they’re not working or that you need to seek out an extra hot yoga session or the hardest Pilates class they offer. Feeling sore for 2 days after is not the goal here. Keep this part of your cross-training light, and you’ll have great results and be motivated to keep it as part of your routine.

Off-Season 

There comes a time of year when the days become too short and the weather too cold to cycle outdoors, so this is a great opportunity to explore. If you still want to brave the outdoors, skiing makes it easy to keep your legs and glutes in shape. Downhill helps keep up your agility, cross-country is a great aerobic workout, and backcountry gives you the best of both worlds. Or slow down a bit and try snowshoeing.
If you don’t have as much time, or weak knees or hips are a problem, head to your nearest indoor pool and take the plunge. It’s a power workout in both strength and cardio while being easy on your joints. Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises. It strengthens your core; relieves your poor cycling- and computer-hunched shoulders; builds up the little muscles between your ribs that help you balance and steer on the bike; and lengthens your tight hip flexors.

Life/Bicycle Balance: Paying It Forward 

At some point you may find yourself falling in love with road cycling. It’s a beautiful thing: the freedom; the call of the road; and gaining fitness, confidence, and an eagerness to explore. Although we talked a bit about finding time to ride, it’s also worth mentioning how to balance your newfound passion with all the other things in your life you love . . . like your friends, your family, your husband or wife, your kids. Let’s face it: Most people have insanely busy lives these days. Add in family and friends and your other hobbies, and it can be really tough to balance them all out.
Here’s a common scenario:
It’s Friday night and you’re ready to relax, already dreaming of your ride tomorrow with your friends. You have a beer, get your chain oiled and tires inflated, and are all ready to roll for the morning. As you head back upstairs, your wife asks, “So what time do you want to head over to Chloe’s game tomorrow?” A quick flash and you remember your daughter has her big league final soccer game, and you promised to be the driver.
These conflicts happen all the time, so it’s important to have a game plan to make sure that your time on the bike doesn’t take over and your friends and family aren’t getting the short end of the stick. There is no bigger troublemaker than taking off to leave your significant other saddled with the task of keeping the household running smoothly and taking care of all the details. Not only will he or she feel neglected, it will likely come with a big side serving of resentment, too. Here are a few ways you can make it all work so that cycling isn’t something that takes away from the rest of your life, but rather adds to it.

Organize 

Organization is the key, and some of us are terrible at it. If you want to fit cycling in, you have to be clear about what your other obligations and responsibilities are—as well as who wants a piece of your time. Sit down and make a list of all the things you have to do (lawn, laundry, cooking for the week), all the things you have scheduled like work or appointments, the people you want to spend time with (your daughter, your best friend who’s having a hard time right now), and, finally, your cycling goals. By being able to look at them all, you can get a better sense of what you’re up against.

Communicate 

Sit down with the other people in your life and ask them what they want or need from you that week. Maybe your husband wants a night out for a date, so it’s best if you tell him you were planning on riding after work Thursday night. Talk about when you’re available and coordinate so you can be around (maybe after your rides?) to do things together. Ask what you can do to give your partner some free time while you take up the slack. Volunteering to help take care of a bigger part of the household when you do have time will earn you big points and create reciprocity for when you want to train or ride more.
If you’ve got kids, ask them how they would like to spend time with you. Have them write down a list. Pick an activity or two a week to do with them so they realize that your bike isn’t more important than they are. Asking what’s important to them and truly listening to your husband, wife, kids, and friends about what they need will go a long way.
On your end, it’s very important for the people in your life who care about you to understand why cycling is important to you. Not as a justification for why you’re never home, but to give them perspective: Explain why you’re a better person—less stressed, happier, healthier, saner—when you get to ride your bike.

Prioritize 

Take the list and make some cuts. Your daughter’s soccer game should always win over the ride, but maybe you can hit the road early and make it back in time to be superdad and cheer her on. If the house needs to be cleaned, coordinate with your boyfriend’s schedule so you can do it together before you head out on your ride.



Get Them Involved 

You have a built-in support crew at your disposal. Maybe your wife would love to try out a new recipe for a nutrition bar (which are nice to snack on at home, too). Your boyfriend doesn’t ride? Ask him to go out with you. Bike needs to be cleaned? Teaching your kids about bikes and maintenance is a great way to connect and make them feel like they’re a part of that thing that keeps taking you away from them. Get them on their own bikes. If they’re not interested, still make an effort to connect with whatever makes them happy.

Take Off and Pay Back Your Time

Sometimes things get a little out of whack. Say you get to ride all day on your first century (100 miles). Next weekend, make sure more of your time is spent with the people who love and need you. Give your husband a free day from the house to go to a ballgame all day with his buddies.
If you can’t balance the time, try a nice night out to dinner, some flowers, or another special way of letting them know how much you appreciate them and the extra effort they give to help you spend time on two wheels. Keep giving as much as you get and your cycling, as well as your life, will be better for it.

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Friday, 28 July 2017

Finding a Training Plan

July 28, 2017 0
Finding a Training Plan



NOW THAT YOU HAVE ALL THE INFO YOU NEED TO TRACK YOUR efforts, it’s time to find something to do with it. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re interested enough to invest some serious time and effort. Your next step is to decide how much money you want to invest and how specific you need to be with your program to reach your goals. If you just want to get a little stronger on the bike overall or climb faster, you probably could do well with a book, website, or magazine. On the other hand, if your goals are to slim down or win the big Fourth of July criterium in your hometown, you might want to consider a coach.

Online 

In this day and age, we’re connected more than ever electronically. Websites and training apps on smartphones are affordable and can give you generic, comprehensive plans or individual workouts. This can be fun and interactive, as some apps are made to sync up to your computer or heart-rate monitor and will load up your daily or weekly totals for you. The downside is that if you have questions about your numbers or what the workouts mean, you’re going to have to try to research that yourself to find the answers you’re looking for. Although it’s a great way to get straightforward, easy-to-follow advice, since there are so many voices chiming in it can be difficult to wade through and know who and what is the best to follow. Bicycling.com is a great place to start if you’re looking for some simple workouts or training plans, and it has plenty of articles to answer most questions you might have.

Magazines 

Magazines are another great resource because all the material you need is in print, so it’s easier to sit down with and absorb the content. The beauty of most publications is that they offer information on that month’s theme, so you’re likely to find more information than just a plan—you’ll also find the details on why and how it works. Magazines can give you a chance to better educate yourself about what the possibilities are so you can make a well-informed decision on what’s best for you. Along with the website, Bicycling magazine features regular articles on how to train, including specific training plans, fitness tips, and more.

Books 

If you like magazines, books can be an even better choice because they tend to offer long-range cycling plans and provide more specific information. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and science behind training. You can expect expert advice that delves into the finer points of what you’re hoping to accomplish. Books are also more specific—you may want to lose weight but are short on time—so they help raise your chances of your training being successful.
Many of Bicycling magazine’s regular contributors—such as Selene Yeager, Chris Carmichael, and Ben Hewitt, all of whom have worked with professional athletes and beginner cyclists alike—have written books on how to go about training.

Coaching 

Having a professional to talk over your goals, formulate a plan, and check in with on a regular basis is the ultimate in both formulating and executing your training plan. A professional coach has the expertise to read your data, analyze your stats, and adjust your workouts to best meet your needs. A coach can also give you the most valuable thing a developing rider needs—feedback. Of course, this comes at a price. Hiring a coach is the biggest investment when it comes to training. Like a gym membership, most coaches or coaching programs offer different plans priced at different levels depending on personalization and the amount the coach will have contact with you. The more attention and specification you have, the more it will cost. This can vary from, at minimum, only e-mail or phone contact to the coach actually going for a ride with you and giving you a daily or weekly evaluation of your numbers.
Another advantage of coaches is having accountability. It’s easy for any of us to skip a day of riding or get off our program if we’re the only ones keeping ourselves honest. Having someone else to report to—especially when you’re paying good money for his or her expertise—is that little nudge to keep you going and motivated, even on days when the weather is bad or you don’t feel so hot.

Taking It Inside 

When you get to the point where you want to be pedaling year-round, this means heading indoors. Whether it’s the sweltering summers of the Southwest or the brutal winters in the north, long days at work or a life packed with your family’s schedule, there will be days—especially if you’re on a training plan—when riding outside is simply not an option.
Riding indoors is convenient, but hard and sometimes rather boring. The lack of coasting, cruising, or tailwinds makes your effort that much harder—which is good actually, because you can focus the intensity of your ride and still get great results. If you love to watch your numbers—like heart rate or speed—indoor cycling is free of other distractions like traffic or suicidal squirrels.
If you already belong to a gym, you can join one of their spin classes. This is a great opportunity to work on your pedaling technique and use some very nice indoor bikes with more computer bells and whistles. It also has the bonus of a professional teacher guiding a class through a specific workout aimed at speed, climbing, or power on the bike—like having a coach for a day. Riders often find that with this little extra focus, their riding improves more inside than it does outside.
If sticking close to home is a better option, stationary trainers are an affordable option (they cost about the same as a 3-month gym membership). The downside is that you lose the group aspect of the class as well as the teacher. The upside is that you can specifically dial in the workout you want to do—and when you want to do it. It’s also good to plan on setting your trainer up somewhere cool (possibly with a fan directed at you) and with some kind of entertainment, like a video or podcast.
Stationary trainers attach to your rear wheel, creating a stable platform so you can easily stay upright without having to balance. They come in three basic types.
Wind trainers are the loudest and most inexpensive, but they are pretty realistic when compared to riding outside on the road in terms of pedaling resistance. Your back tire spins a roller attached to a fan that provides more resistance the faster you go.
Magnetic trainers are in the same price range as wind ones, but are quieter. Also, when you pedal faster, your resistance doesn’t get harder, which makes hitting your workout numbers tough. Some come with resistance adjustments to try to overcome this flaw.
Fluid trainers are the most expensive, but for your dollar you get the quietest and most realistic road experience. One problem on older models was that the oil inside—which provided the resistance—would leak. Most current models have overcome this problem, but be wary of buying a used one.



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Thursday, 27 July 2017

How Much Effort Should You Put Into Finding Your Effort?

July 27, 2017 0
How Much Effort Should You Put Into Finding Your Effort?


HERE’S A SIMPLE GRAPH ON HOW INVESTED you might be in tracking your efforts during workouts. The more you spend, the more accurate your numbers will be—but that comes at a larger investment of both time and money.



Perceived Rate of Exertion: x = 10 min, y = $0
Online Software: x = 30 min, y = $0–$25
Heart-Rate Monitors: x = 1 hr, y = $50–$500
Power Monitors: x = 1–3 hours, y = $1,500–$3,000

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Tracking Your Efforts

July 26, 2017 0
Tracking Your Efforts



DEPENDING ON YOUR FOCUS, THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT types of training that vary in duration and effort. They all involve structuring a defined plan for the stress/rest model, which basically tells you which zones of exertion—or how hard you should go—you should be in and for how long. But how do you keep track of how hard you’re pushing your body and when you need to rest?

Rating of Perceived Exertion: The Big RPE!

If you’re in pain and you find yourself at the doctor’s office, they’ve created an easy and fairly accurate scale to learn how severe it is, simply by asking you how bad you feel on a scale of 1 to 10. The RPE (rating of perceived exertion) system is based on exactly the same concept. It’s the easiest (and most affordable) way to keep tabs on how hard you’re working because your own judgment of how hard it is for you is nearly as accurate as most of the other methods we’ll talk about. The downside is it only works if it’s used correctly, which is sometimes hard to do with consistency.
We have a hard time being truthful to ourselves if we have ulterior motives. When you eat that doughnut for breakfast but you’re supposed to have an easy day on the bike, wanting to work off those calories might sabotage your soft-pedaling. If you just had a fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend, it might be harder to concentrate and keep up the entire 15 minutes of high intensity you’re supposed to put out. In the end, having some of the more high-tech gadgets that give you hard numbers as you pedal can help keep you honest on both easy and hard days.
However, those can be an investment of both time and money, so the RPE scale is a great choice for most new cyclists who are just getting into training for the first time. The scale looks like this:
1–2: Easy. Sitting on the couch watching Netflix. You should be breathing normally, completely relaxed.
3–5: Not hard. Getting up off the couch and going for a walk—maybe even speed-walking. Your breathing is a little faster, but you can easily have a conversation in which you don’t have to take a breath until the end of the sentence.
6–8: Putting in the effort. Taking it up to a jog or, if you’re feeling frisky, a run. You might be able to talk in phrases, but your breaths are short, hard, and fast enough that holding a conversation would be a challenge.
9–10: Maxing it out. Running fast to running a sprint as if your life depends on it. No air for talking, you’re using it all to keep your body moving—to the point you might even be gasping for air.

Heart Rate 

The second most common and effective way of keeping track of your intensity level is using a heart-rate monitor. This little gadget works in conjunction with either a band on your wrist or around your chest that measures the electronic pulses of your heart in beats per minute (bpm), then sends them wirelessly to a monitor on your bike so you can keep an eye on what’s happening in your body. The most affordable of these are separate from your cycling computer that tracks your mileage, speed, time, or cadence, so you’ll have to find more room on your handlebars for another gadget, or pay extra for a computer that does all of these things in one package.
It will involve a little more math to get started. You have to use easy formulas to get some baseline stats for how many bpm your body needs to hit to be in a particular zone of effort. Keeping track of your heart rate can also lead to wanting to use software or websites to really track your results, since you’ll have concrete numbers to plug in. In other words, using heart rate is a great fit if you’re the type of person who likes to geek out a bit.
So, first off, you’ll want to figure out your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is the absolute highest number of beats your heart can kick out in 1 minute. All the other training zones are based off of this magic number, and it will differ for everyone based on age and fitness level. The easiest and quickest formula for figuring it out is 208 – 0.7 (your age). For example, for a 32-year-old man it would be 208 – 0.7(32) = 185.6 bpm. Note that this is a general formula, and there are others that work very similarly. Usually the results for each person will be within about 5 bpm of one another, so your zones will be close no matter the calculation you choose.
The most accurate way to find your max is by testing it on the bike—which is best done under the supervision of a trainer and with the green light from your doctor, and is the most accurate when you’re starting a training program. This is a good choice if you’re already very fit, because being in shape heavily influences your heart rate.
Although this is more accurate than just RPE, the best way to monitor your intensity is by combining your heart rate with your RPE. Together they can keep you in touch with whether you’re hitting the zone you’re aiming for. Your heart rate is also easily influenced—by caffeine, stress, adrenaline, and getting enough sleep. Whether you’re testing your MHR on the bike or trying to figure out if you’re hitting your targets on a workout, take intoaccount any extenuating circumstances that might influence it. For example, if you downed that double espresso before heading out for your ride, your heart rate might be sky-high, but your RPE low. Use your noggin—you know better than any trainer or formula if you’re hitting your goals for the ride.

Power Meters

This is the method of the pros and hard-core athletes—or other riders who want to invest heavily in their training methods. No way around it, power meters are expensive, starting at around $1,600 for the cheapest model (because some of them also need a special wheel or crank set to be installed). This device measures the watts—or power—the rider puts out. This is the cleanest, clearest, and most dependable method for measuring workload on the bike. Power meters don’t lie, they don’t fluctuate, and they can’t be influenced by other factors. You either hit your wattage goals, or you don’t.
However, to read it and use the numbers it provides, you also need to micro-monitor how your power varies on hills, flats, in the wind, and when riding for speed or endurance. Most athletes who opt for this also have access to software programs that allow them to upload their workouts so their professional trainers can follow every moment. These trainers are also likely to set up their training plans for them and monitor their numbers. If heart rate is the path to maximizing your effort, following your wattage is like getting a degree in your own fitness. Since this is beyond what most beginners need, it likely will be overkill for you. If you’re intrigued, talk with a professional trainer or coach about your options and how to get started using power meters.

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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Tuning Your Body

July 25, 2017 0
Tuning Your Body


FIRST LET’S TALK ABOUT WHAT TRAINING IS AND ISN’T. FOR many beginner riders, the simple act of riding a bike may seem like training. It’s true that getting out and spinning the pedals—however hard or fast or leisurely—is indeed exercising, but it’s not really training. Other new riders think it means pushing yourself as far and hard as you possibly can every time you ride. This is a speedy way to get injured or burn out, fast, and it’s not training either. Beginner riders also tend to frame the idea of training with fitness, but most times you’re on the bike you’re contributing to your well-being. Training is a lot more involved than just staying fit.
Training, at its root, means focusing, planning, and paying attention to specifically target-building your body’s ability to adapt. At the top, professional riders are training all the time—literally. When a rider decides to go pro, it’s a little like deciding to sign your life over to someone else. During their season (which runs between 10 and 11 months of the year), professional riders will have coaches, doctors, nutritionists, physiologists, and an entire staff of people telling them exactly what to do each day.
“Okay, so they have to go ride their bikes all day,” you think. “That doesn’t sound like such a big deal.” But for them, training not only dictates their riding and how that time is spent on the bike. It also touches every other part of their life as well, including how much to eat and when, how much to sleep and when, how much to walk or do any other movement off the bike and when to do it—down to each calorie and minute of shut-eye and weigh-in on the scale, down to the days and minutes riders will officially be “off.” Yes, this also includes their romantic and personal lives. There is no such thing as leaving work at the end of the day because their job is 24 hours day, 7 days a week, and affects every facet of their lives. Training at this level is a total life commitment, because it is a career where the workers are attempting to be at the absolute top of their field and concentrating every part of their day toward that goal.
Thankfully, training for the amateur cyclist is a lot easier, because it mainly involves following a plan only for your time on the bike, with a little tweaking of your life here and there. You get to decide what time of day you’ll do it and how you’ll spend the rest of your day around it, including what, how much, and when to eat, drink, and sleep—though there are recommendations on how to maximize those, too.
In the end, a training plan is designed to tune your body for a certain end goal. That can be as vague as “becoming a stronger climber” or as specific as getting your best result at a particular race or ride. Either way, it’s a concentrated effort to improve that is scientifically structured for you to succeed. Working toward a goal and meeting it can be one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.
If you follow a training plan, you will see improvements and get results. Every day you’ll be extra motivated to ride because your mindset will switch from thinking about what kind of ride you want—or if you even want to ride that day—to checking in on what’s on the schedule. Following a plan also gives you the chance to fully flesh out what success will look like for you, which is very helpful for achieving your goals. Off the bat, you know that there is a beginning, middle, and end to what you’re doing. It’s an adventure to tick off your highs and lows of how each week (and your body) shapes up and a countdown until the big day arrives.

Riding Hard vs. Riding Smart

When you were a kid racing your friends through the neighborhood, it was easy to see how to get faster—just grow a few inches and always pedal harder. As adults who have bigger goals, the childhood “pedal harder” method is pretty much a bust. But many people cling to it as a sure thing while never really hitting their full potential, which sounds a little backward. How can pushing hard keep you from attaining better results?
Much like nutrition, it’s all about quality over quantity. Over the years, physiologists have spent countless hours studying what can optimize your body’s output to get the best results. They have found that there are times to put the pedal to the metal, to go steady, or to soft-pedal and enjoy the day. Sometimes getting off the bike—or picking a different activity altogether—makes you stronger in the saddle overall.
This often involves daily, weekly, and monthly cycles with periods of stress, rest, and then allowing your body to adapt. To rebuild, your body must have periods of low stress—whether that’s physical or mental. Rest and exertion must each be held in a delicate balance, and in training both hold equal weight.
This is common throughout every training cycle. In a given ride, you may stress then rest. Most weeks, you’ll have stress days, easy days, and rest days. Monthly, you’ll have 3 weeks of building through progressively challenging workouts, then a week of easy pedaling to allow your body to rebuild.
Half of the work is pushing yourself, and the other half is letting yourself recover. How is recovery work? The number one way most riders sabotage their training is by doing too much. On a day you feel fresh and frisky, it will be challenging to go slow or not ride at all. If you’re sick or life gets in the way of your training plan, you’ll want to go harder to make up for it. Both of these are easy traps to avoid if you remember that going harder than your workout recommends is almost never helpful. Respect that your body needs quality time to repair and build, so you can hit your next goal even stronger.
Your long-term training will likely happen in seasonal cycles as well. You might follow an 8- or 12-week plan, hit your mark, then decide to take some time off from training before setting off toward the next goal. Some people only train once a year, others love it so much they train year-round—of course, with a few select months of rest.

Getting in the Zone 

Beyond tracking your efforts, you’ll also need to follow a structured training plan. We’ve talked about the rest and rebuild cycles and how to track your efforts. To put them together, you have to aim your efforts into particular zones for designated amounts of time during your ride. These zones are the first part of the building blocks that will help you to optimize your rides if you’re using them as workouts toward particular targets.
In most training plans, your daily workout is divided into either a description of a zone or some technical training terms. Here’s how they break down.
RECOVERY: This is the pace you should be at on rest or easy days. This is a breezy, unchallenging pace that most riders have a hard time staying in because it’s that slow. It might involve very light pedaling and a lot of coasting. Recovery gives your body a chance to rebuild.
ENDURANCE: This is a pace you could cruise along at for a whole ride without hurrying. Your body is getting into an aerobic intensity, but it’s never a ride you’d describe as hard or challenging. This is the effort you could do for a long haul while holding a conversation. This is the “fat burning” zone, though you’ll burn more when you combine it with harder efforts.
TEMPO: A somewhat hard effort. Like going from a slow jam to rocking out, you’re picking it up a bit. Your heart is starting to beat faster, but it’s a little more stilted. You don’t feel like you’re going too fast, but just a little harder than you’d normally feel comfortable cruising along at. You couldn’t hold this pace forever, but you could for a while—similar to how you might feel on a long, not very steep climb, or if you were riding with someone who was just a little bit faster than you. This pace helps you grow your aerobic capacity, which is the base on which you get stronger and faster.
RACE PACE: Even if you don’t race, this is how fast you’d go if you did. This is what you think of when someone says “go hard.” This is a focused, intense effort during which you should start to feel your legs burning and you’re reaching the edge of what your body can do for any length of time. You won’t be able to talk much, if at all, at race pace. Afterward you feel glad you backed off. Just like tempo builds a base, this expands your body’s capacity to make accelerations and hold on when the riding gets fast.
MAX EFFORT: This is the all-out effort. You won’t be at this pace for very long (usually 10 to 15 seconds) because it works best when done in very short bursts. While there you’ll be sucking in air, your heart will be pounding, and you’ll likely be in what cyclists describe as a “pain cave.” Thankfully, not only is it quick, but you also get a lot of bang for your buck. These efforts help you burn fat, build muscle, and increase power and speed.

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Getting Lean: Using Your Bike to Shrink Your Waistline

July 24, 2017 0
Getting Lean: Using Your Bike to Shrink Your Waistline


THE BIKE IS A GREAT WAY TO GET LEAN. IF YOU’RE NOT ALREADY fit or athletic, you’ll likely find that you’ll shed a few pounds as you go farther and farther on your bicycle. However, some people find that they gain weight when they start cycling. How could this be?
There are a few reasons. The most common is the reward system. Hey, you worked hard on the bike today, so maybe you have an extra cookie or two, or one more beer at the end of the night. But it’s a delicate balance between losing weight and treating yourself. Don’t overcompensate.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are the riders who cut their calories way back and hope to see the pounds magically melt away. Unfortunately, our bodies have a built-in safety system to keep us alive as long as possible. If you drop your calorie intake too much or too suddenly—especially when you’re exercising—your body goes into a panic and will try to conserve as many calories as possible to keep you from starving. Instead of burning calories, your body will be saving them.
The best way to shed a few pounds is to figure out how much on average your body can burn from cycling, and then take in just slightly fewer calories than that number. This can be challenging because you need fuel before you ride, fuel on the ride, and fuel to recover. To really be successful, you need to pay close attention to portions and trade out any bad eating habits—like too much processed food or sugar—for eating healthy, real foods rich in nutrients and the right kinds of fuels.
Take these tips from Dr. Sims. “The body is primed for carbohydrate consumption in the morning and becomes more sensitive as the day wears on. Protein becomes the goer in the afternoon and evening as most reparation occurs during sleep. To maximize the body’s natural hormonal rhythms, think of eating complex carbs with a bit of protein in the morning, combination at lunch, and more protein orientation with veggies and a bit of fresh fruit toward the evening.”
Some will find that they shed some pounds right off the bat, but eventually we’re all faced with this tipping point and when we get there, we have to either decide to love our bodies for all the wonderful things they can already do for us, or knuckle down, pay attention, and concentrate on getting lean. Neither one is right or wrong, good or bad. It’s up to your priorities and goals, not only when you’re on the bike, but just as much when you’re off it.

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Sunday, 23 July 2017

Recipes to Help Fuel Yourself

July 23, 2017 0
Recipes to Help Fuel Yourself


HERE ARE A FEW RECIPES AND IDEAS FOR foods and bars to make at home and eat on the bike. This is a great way to both save money and customize your ride food to your own tastes. Also, it’s a great way to get your family involved. You can make them together (or see if they’d be nice enough to make them for you!).
D. Sharp’s Energy Bars
(Makes approximately 18 bars)
2 cups rolled oats (can sub a cup of spelt or other rolled grains instead)
11?3 lb Medjool dates
½ cup chopped almonds (roasted, salted, or raw)
½ cup roasted/salted pecan pieces
1 cup large hazelnuts, chopped or bashed
3–5 Tbsp agave or maple syrup
½ cup coconut flakes, dried fruits such as cherries or raisins, seeds like chia or sesame, chocolate chips, or any other additions you crave
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread oats on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

Chop dates into ¼ -inch pieces. Chop nuts. When the oats are toasted, mix nuts, oats, and dates together in a large bowl. Add any dried fruit or your favorite fun additions.
Add syrup, starting with 3 tablespoons and adding more as needed until the mixture can be easily pressed together by hand and will hold together as a large ball.
Press ball into a well-greased or parchment-lined 7 x 11-inch baking dish, or in the corner of a greased or lined baking sheet until it is a rectangle ¾ -inch in depth. Bake for 20 minutes. Cut into 1 x 2-inch bars.
Store in a sealed, dry place. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap or parchment paper to easily carry in your jersey pocket on the ride.
Nutritional Value: Per bar: 230 calories, 9g fat, 40g carb, 5g fiber, 2.5g protein
Stacy Sims Granola Clusters
A wee snack pack that rocks in the pocket ...
1¼ cup rolled oats
1?3 cup chopped almonds or walnuts or sunflower seeds
1?3 cup raw cashews or pistachios
1 Tbsp vanilla bean powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
1¼ oz dried cranberries or raisins
In a heavy-bottom skillet, dry-roast the oats, nuts, vanilla, and cinnamon over low to moderate heat (watch and stir continuously, as it can burn quickly!). When toasty, transfer to a glass bowl and stir in dried fruit with 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup. Mix well until coated.
Spread onto a cookie sheet to cool. Break into clusters.
Dr. Stacy Sims Protein Power Bites
(Makes about 23 1-inch balls)
½ cup vanilla protein powder (can be vegan or dairy)
¾ cup natural chunky almond or peanut butter
¼ cup nonfat dried milk
¼ cup brown rice syrup
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder or coconut or almond meal (for rolling)
Combine all ingredients (except cocoa/coconut meal/almond meal) in a large prep bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Place dough in fridge for 20 to 30 minutes, until it hardens up a bit.
Roll into bite-sized balls (you can use a melon cuber). Roll formed balls in cocoa powder or coconut or almond meal to coat.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to use, put them in a sandwich baggie in your pocket.
Nutritional Value: Per ball: 80 calories, 4g fat, 5g carb, 5g protein
Rice Crispy Re-do
Make good old rice crispy bars (with marshmallows and cereal), but add 4 tablespoons of nut butter before completely melting the marshmallows.

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Saturday, 22 July 2017

On the Bike: Avoiding the Bonk

July 22, 2017 0
On the Bike: Avoiding the Bonk


OH. THE DREADED BONK. IF YOU’VE NEVER HEARD THE TERM, it’s usually uttered by cyclists under their breath when their rides go south. Most don’t like to talk about it too loudly—as if not saying the word will avoid its onset. It is the nemesis of a good, fun ride.
Sound dramatic? Bonking is what happens when your body’s levels of fuel or water (or both) gets too low. What does it feel like? Well, it not only affects your performance—though it can suddenly feel like you’re pedaling through cement while someone has a rope attached to you pulling you backward. Your body will sag, and you’ll feel like you can’t force your legs to move. Worse yet, since your brain also runs on glycogen and needs to be hydrated to process things, you can feel confused, fuzzy-headed, angry, and desperate. Crying, swearing, or lock-jawed silence from your normally chatty friend is not unusual or an exaggeration of symptoms experienced while bonking.
The funny thing about it is that it’s easily avoidable. Dr. Stacy Sims breaks it down for us. “There are two types of ‘bonks.’ One is the dead-leg fatigue that most people perceive as low calories; but really it is dehydration. This is the bonk you do not want to experience, as it takes hours to come back from dehydration. The second type is a true low blood sugar bonk. This is the light-headedness, tunnel-vision type of bonk that can be corrected easily with a bit of food and takes about 10 minutes to come right.”
It really doesn’t take much: Start hydrated and fueled, then eat and drink on the bike. Problem solved. But no matter how many times it’s said, cyclists often have a strange compulsion to be the hero. If you didn’t know, heroes don’t eat, drink, or stop—ever. They have the mentality that if you need sustenance, well, you must be some kind of a wimp. It’s the unspoken code of amateur cyclists. This is why bonking is so very, very common among us mere mortals aspiring to be heroes.
Of course, all the pros—those real heroes—know (and every book you read on nutrition, including this one, will tell you) that without food or water, bonking is inevitable. So the pros live by the code of religious eating and drinking. It is a part of their riding as much as breathing, and it should be for you, too.
Ignore your buddy who brags that he only needs one bottle for a 4-hour ride in 100-degree heat. Smile kindly on your friend who leaves for your all-day pedaling adventure with a single energy bar. Hero is something you earn when they’re on the side of the road, bent over their handlebars unable to go another pedal stroke, and you share your food or water. Because you came prepared, you have some to spare.

Eating vs. Drinking Your Calories 

There are two ways to get calories for fuel on the bike. One is eating, the other is drinking. New studies show that the best way to keep a steady intake of calories and hydration into your system is to keep your drink low in calories (which makes it trickier for your body to absorb the fluid) and, as much as possible, eat real food.
When you’re on the bike, you lose water and salt through sweat, and as that water transfers to your skin, your blood becomes thicker—which makes it harder for the blood to deliver what the muscles need. So to balance that out, you need to get water back into the system. In the meantime, your muscles and skin are battling for bloodflow—your skin to get rid of heat, and your muscles to keep riding. The more hydrated you are, the less severe this battle gets. In the end, if you don’t drink, your skin will always win the battle because being overheated will kill you, so your body will default to taking care of you by sweating. This is one way the dreaded bonk will set in.
Although it may seem like a great idea to get your calories and electrolytes through your drink, the problem is that many sports drinks made to use on the bike are too concentrated and focused on giving you calories, so they actually draw water out of your bloodstream to digest—even if they are in a solution of water. This can cause stomach cramping and bloating, not to mention dehydration.
The solution is to get the majority of your calories from food, and keep your fluids to a source that has some electrolytes but not too many carbs. Another benefit from separating the two is that on hotter days, you’ll need more fluid, but not necessarily more calories. Keeping the two in their own categories lets you regulate each as you need.

Fueling in the Saddle 

Your body already knows how to digest food well, so when someone says, “I can’t eat on the bike!” you know that’s just plain silly. You already eat at least three times a day, right? On the bike, your main priority is to keep a good input of carbs going. On longer rides, throwing in a little fat or protein is good, too. The general guideline for what to eat and when to eat it starts after the first hour of your ride. In other words, if you’re riding only an hour or a little over, you don’t need to eat (but you always need to drink). If you plan on riding over 2 hours, you should start eating 45 minutes to an hour into your ride, and keep eating small amounts every 15 to 20 minutes.
Overall, you need around 30 to 60 grams of carbs an hour, or about 3 to 4 calories per kilogram per hour of food, for a moderate ride. To give you some reference, one medium banana is around 30 grams of carbs and 120 calories. Spread out your eating into 15- to 20-minute intervals over the hour. Remember, your blood is already working to keep your muscles fueled and your body temperature down. If you eat the whole banana at once, it will force more of your blood to concentrate in your digestive system, pulling it away from the more important jobs it needs to do to keep you going.
It’s also harder for your body to digest a large amount of calories at once as opposed to small amounts. The trick to not running out of fuel is to keep eating small amounts of food every 15 to 20 minutes on your ride. Think of how you feel after a big Thanksgiving meal versus a small afternoon snack. When riders claim to not be able to eat on the bike, it’s usually because they’re trying to eat too much at once instead of spacing it out into small snack bites. “But I’m not hungry!” you insist. If you wait until you feel hunger, you’re already in too much of a deficit to catch up—and you’ll be behind for the rest of your ride.
To keep yourself honest, use your bike computer or watch to set a timer to go off every 20 minutes. Do not play the “promises” game, where you know you should grab food from your pocket but are going to wait until “the next intersection,” “the top of the climb,” “when we slow down,” or “at mile forty.” If it’s time to eat, eat. No compromises.
To find foods that work on the bike, look at what your body needs and how much space you have to carry it. Food needs to be able to fit in your pocket, be easily grabbed and manipulated with one hand, and have a high concentration of easily absorbed carbohydrates. Oh, and most importantly, it should be food that tastes good so you’ll want to eat it.
Choosing real, natural food is a good place to start. High-carb foods that transport well on the bike include bananas, nuts, peanut butter and honey sandwiches cut into quarters, or snack bars made with rice or quinoa—which are great if you want to switch from sweet to savory. It helps if it has fat or proteins, but the majority of your calories should be coming from carbohydrates. One thing to be aware of is to not take in too much fresh or dried fruit, or other high-fiber foods. These take more energy to digest, and can cause an upset stomach.
Real food not only tastes great, but it’s also much cheaper than energy bars and gels. These are also good things to have on hand, but it’s best not to count on them for all your calories. Energy bars are very calorie-dense, so it’s easy to eat too many or too much. Gels, goos, and chews are okay if you’re bonking or near the end of a ride that is over 3 or 4 hours—like a century or a bike tour—and you need a little energy but don’t feel like eating more food. But always remember that you need to drink lots of water with them if you want to avoid gut rot and dehydration. A better and more easily digested boost can come from foods you can find at the gas station (like gummy bears or jelly beans) or glucose tablets, which don’t take as much water from your system to digest. These are also great for racing where you’re trying to be as light and compact as possible, and when you may not have time to grab your food.
If you haven’t already practiced, it’s good to get in the habit of being able to reach into your jersey pocket while riding with one hand on your handlebars to grab and eat your food. You don’t want to stop every 15 to 20 minutes to eat. Find a parking lot or quiet street and practice grabbing, opening, and closing your food packaging and putting any leftovers or garbage back into your pocket while on the move. Concentrate on holding your line and not wavering from your position in the road. After a while, you’ll know how much speed you need to hold to smoothly grab a bite as you roll, and eating while you ride will become second nature.

Drinking and Riding

We’ve already talked a lot about how important hydration is and that even on the shortest rides you need to drink. First, get into the good habit of regularly reaching for your water bottle. You need to take in around one to two 16-ounce bottles of fluid an hour, no matter how long you’re on the bike. Like food, it’s hard for your body to take it all in at once, so it’s better spaced out over 10-minute intervals. Drink 3 to 4 ounces at a time—that’s a few big glugs, not sips.
If you don’t feel comfortable reaching down for your water bottle yet, spend a whole afternoon just practicing reaching down for it, taking a drink and returning the bottle to its cage. Sometimes this is harder than it looks, so investing an afternoon that you would be out pedaling to learning this small skill is huge if you’re going to have a good ride without getting dehydrated.
Again, hydrating is something that most nonprofessional cyclists forget to do all the time, so get in the habit by setting an alarm or watching the clock. After working on this regularly over weeks and months, your body will start to feel a little thirsty every 10 minutes without the reminders. If it’s hot out, aim for two bottles of water or an electrolyte drink an hour. No matter what, you cannot catch up if you get dehydrated. In fact, even if you follow this guide to the letter, you’ll still end up a little dehydrated at the end of the ride, as it’s impossible to keep up with what your body will use.

Caffeine: Friend or Foe?

Most of us have some kind of relationship with caffeine. Whether it’s a few cups of coffee to get your morning rolling or a simple cup of green or black tea, it’s a ritual we’d be loath to give up.
Lucky for us, caffeine has been proven to be an excellent performance booster on the bike as well. Beyond making you more alert and focused, it can help you burn carbs a little faster and stimulate the release of fatty acids, which help you save on your glycogen stores while still staying fueled.
It was thought for years that caffeine was to be avoided because it would dehydrate you—especially bad on hot days. Finally, a scientist thought to study it and found that it doesn’t make you sweat or pee any more than any other drink. It does, however, improve your strength, endurance, and perception of how hard you’re pushing—meaning you can go harder with less pain. The benefits last even after your workout is over, as it can also decrease post-ride soreness.
That being said, even if you consider yourself a regular coffee addict, you might want to cut back a little to conserve your boost. If you start your ride stimulated, not only will you make yourself jittery and anxious, but you also won’t be able to get the boost you need at the end of the ride when you may be hurting. Professional and amateur cyclists agree on one thing: In the last quarter of your ride, an icy cola on a hot day or a hot espresso on a cold one can be a game changer, turning your ride from a death march to a dance home. If you don’t have access to a store or café, a caffeinated gel or chew can do the trick—though it’s definitely not as tasty.

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