Thursday, June 27, 2013

Group Riding Tips

Keep these tips in mind the next time you go out to ride with a group.
Be cautious of cars approaching from behind. The riders on the back have the responsibility of letting other riders know if cars are approaching. If there's not enough room to ride two-abreast, they should shout out to the group to go single file: "Car, single up!"

The key to an efficient pace line is to maintain speed. Fluctuations in speed quickly sap a group's energy just like when you're on your own doing a time trial. Try to maintain a constant, high speed.

Stay relaxed and don't grip the handlebars too tight. The famous French cyclist Bernard Hinault used to say, "You should still be able to play the piano when riding." When you're tight and stiff your front wheel will go wherever your head turns. Look right and your bike will go right. But if you're relaxed you can look right and still hold a straight line. Holding a line is very important within the context of a group as each member is reliant upon the other members to maintain safety.

Keep your head up. Watch for upcoming obstacles: cars, potholes, rocks, other riders, etc.

Pull off into the wind as others may be overlapping your wheel to the draft side.

Don't throw your bike back as you get out of the saddle. Stand up into the bike and bring the bike forward.

Go easy on the brakes and anticipate pace changes. Try to reduce the accordion or "yo-yo" effect as much as possible.

Recovery is key in a group rotation. Finding the right draft position and staying tight and close have a cumulative effect over time. Riders who know how to make use of the group will save enormous amounts of energy.

Individuals riding as a group can cover distances much faster than one individual and save energy at the same time, as long as the group works well together and safety remains the number one concern.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

12 health benefits from cycling

Cycling is good for health. For one, it reduces death risks. In Denmark, a 15-year study associates cycling with a 40% reduction in mortality for both sexes over all ages (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2000).

Basically, a person who cycles as a commuter consistently can expect, according to a report released in a 1986 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, to live longer than those who don’t.
Cycling can also give you a high fitness level. The average daily cyclist has the fitness level of someone 10 years younger.
Cycling is good for your overall health in the following ways:

1. REDUCES weight when done regularly. Cycling increases calorie consumption and raises the metabolic rate, which can help to lose weight.

2. IMPROVES control of blood pressure by 10/8 mmHg in patients with hypertension (Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 1995).

3. LOWERS resting heart rate. A high resting heart rate has been linked to increased death from cardiovascular disease and increased risk of sudden death after a heart attack in healthy individuals.

4. IMPROVES HDL (good)/ LDL (bad) cholesterol ratio. If the ratio of LDL to HDL is too high, that means your blood is being loaded with cholesterol faster than the HDL cholesterol can remove it, which means excess cholesterol is building up inside the tissues and arteries. Eventually hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which causes most heart attacks, takes place.

5. PREVENTS heart disease. Regular cycling halves the chance of suffering from heart disease, one of the top 3 killer diseases in Malaysia. A study reported a 50% reduction in fatal and non-fatal heart disease in civil servants who cycled over 20 miles/week.

6. BENEFITS cardiovascular health. Cycling also reduces the risk of stroke (a major killer in Malaysia) and coronary heart disease. In a study, regular exercise on a static cycle machine in patients with heart failure improves cardiac function (Lancet, 1990).

7. REDUCES diabetes. Exercise has been to shown to lead to a reduction in the rate of diabetes mellitus. In patients with diabetes mellitus, regular exercise leads to an improvement in control of blood sugar and can
help to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

8. REDUCES cancer. Physical activity has been shown to be associated with reduced rates of cancer (eg: bowel cancer, and possibly also breast cancer) (European Journal of Epidemiology, 2000).

9. REDUCES cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder) rates in women (New England Journal of Medicine, 1999).

10. REDUCES anxiety, depression and stress (Preventive Medicine, 1988).

11. TRAINS respiratory muscles (Report of the Royal College of Physicians, London; 1991).

12. IMPROVES muscle strength. Cycling is a non-weight bearing activity and regular cycling leads to improved muscle strength and improved mobility and coordination (Allot & Lomax and the Policy Studies Institute, 1998).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Guidelines to successful group rides

One of the best parts of bicycling is stumbling upon a community of people who enjoy the simple pleasure of throwing a leg over a bike—and then doing that together. That’s right, I’m talking about group rides. Whether you’re riding the road in a peloton of your friends or storming the single track with a small army, group rides can easily be the best part of your week.

Or they can be the most challenging.

Getting a group of people together with varying skills and fitness levels creates a prime environment for good intentions to get in the way of good times. To avoid that fate, follow these tips to ensure everyone—whether they’re newbies or have been riding since the days of Biopace—has a great time on the next group ride.

1. Break up into groups.
Wanting to ride together in the name of inclusiveness is so nice and well-meaning, but it’s also the easiest way to screw up a group ride. When riders of varying skill and fitness stay together, no one ends up with the experience they were hoping for. Faster riders spend most of the ride waiting on slower folk, and then they often bolt before new riders can catch their breath.

Slower riders hate feeling like they’re making people wait. Even when the fast riders insist they don’t mind, they will never be able to convince novice riders. By breaking into groups, riders get to ride with (and learn from) their peers without pressure to wait, or more importantly, the pressure to keep up.

2. Create a “No One Gets Left Behind” group.
By promising not to ditch any of the riders on a group ride, you create a welcoming and engaging space. This brings an influx of new riders, which delivers a constant stream of fresh faces and new energy.

3. Learn by teaching.
The ideal person to lead the “No One Gets Left Behind” group isn’t the most skilled rider. It’s someone who recently joined the group. When ride leaders can relate stories of how far they’ve come in the past year and talk about when they, too, had trouble remembering which brake was which, it makes new riders feel comfortable and demonstrates how far a little practice can go. It gives new riders the opportunity to say, “If I keep practicing, in a year I can be where they are.”

4. Choose your route wisely.The best tool in your toolbag is the power to adapt (well, that and a patch kit). Choosing rides that are easy to navigate, have bail-out points, and can accommodate an unexpectedly large turnout will give you plenty of options if a wrench is thrown into your plans.

5. Bring extra everything.It only takes one experience to realize that one person bonking, running out of water, or getting a flat tire can affect the entire group. While it’s every person’s responsibility to come prepared, having a bonus snack or tube can mean the difference between a short ride with a quick break or a long after-dark adventure home.

6. Build in a buffer.If you say the ride starts at 9AM, you’ll get two groups of riders – those who are chomping at the bit to ride at 9AM and those who are just rolling into the parking lot at 9AM. Instead, advertise that the ride meets at 8:45AM and leaves promptly at 9:00AM.

7. Go beyond the simple group ride.Bikes are fun. Themes are fun. Themed bike rides are definitely fun. Don’t be afraid to create a singlespeed ride or a ride for families with kids. You can throw together early morning weekend jaunts for parents who have limited time or let the hammerheads have a ride of their own where if you can’t keep up, you’re getting dropped. There’s grey-haired rides, singles rides, and rides where the pace starts slow and tapers back from there.