Category: Cycling Tips

10 Jan

The Sub 60 Minute Workout

The Under 60 Minute Workout: Cycling Tips 07



workoutWhen your short on time and day light but want to maintain your cycling fitness,  the general consensus is to perform high intensity workouts.

Here is a workout you can complete in under an hour and not only maintain fitness but work your the entire body as well.

The under 60 min. workout is basically a circuit workout you can do at home.  I have given this workout to my clients who are
are short on time and at the very least, maintain their fitness.  I’ve been using it myself for many years.

The workout consist of six exercises that requires very little equipment such as, your bike, trainer, and a pad or towels to lay on.  The entire workout can also be performed in a small area.

I perform this workout in the garage.  It’s cool and I have an overhead storage shelve that I can reach and perform the pull ups.  If you don’t have overhead storage, you can purchase a pullup bar online for as low as $19.00.  Check them out here:  pullup bars

THE BIKE

cycling tipsOnce everything is setup, start on the bike and warm up for at least 15 minutes.  I say at least 15 minutes because this is an intense workout and you want to make sure you are fully warmed up before getting started.

Once warmed up, start your first exercise on the bike.  Shift into a medium intensity gear and cycle at anaerobic threshold intensity level for 90 seconds to 2 minutes.

If you don’t know what your wattage or heart rate is at that level, use the revised Borg RPE (rating perceived exertion) scale to get close.  You want to ride at a RPE level of around 7 or 8 (see scale below).

BREATHING LEVEL

•    0 – Nothing at all
•    1 – Very light
•    2 – Fairly light
•    3 – Moderate
•    4 – Some what hard
•    5 – Hard
•    6
•    7 – Very hard
•    8
•    9
•    10 – Very, very hard

When done on the bike get off the bike.  You should be breathing pretty hard.  Recover for 60 to 90 seconds, but don’t fully recover.  Immediately start the next exercise.

PUSH UPS

workoutHit the ground and do 10 to 20 pushups or as many as you can do so that you fully complete the last one.  Use proper form, keeping your back straight.  Recover for 60 to 90 seconds and immediately start the next exercise.workout

JUMP SQUATS

Next,  jump squats.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms at your sides FIG A.  Squat down with knees at 90 degrees, feet flat on the ground FIG B. Then jump up as explosively as you can reaching for the ceiling as you rise up FIG C.

Lower your body back into the squat position when you land to complete one rep. Immediately perform the next rep.  Do 8 to 10 reps.  Recover for 60 to 90 seconds.  Immediately start the next exercise.

PULL UPS

workoutPull ups are next.  Use the palms facing away technique.  This utilizes less biceps and more back.  Somewhat harder that the palms facing you, which is actually called a chin up.
Again, do as many as you can, fully completing the last one.  Recover for 60 to 90 seconds.  Immediately start the next exercise.

BODY SQUATS

workoutNext body squats.  The body squat is one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen and tone almost all of the muscles of the lower body.  Since this exercise works various muscles, it results in increasing your body’s metabolism, thereby increasing your daily calorie burn.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms either on your hips or in extended in front of you. Bend your knees, and allow your body to sink towards the ground as if you were sitting in a chair.

Once your thighs become parallel to the floor, use the muscles of your lower body to push yourself back up from your heels, to the starting position.  Immediately perform the next rep.  Complete 10 to 20 reps.  Recover 60 to 90 seconds.  Immediately start the next exercise.

CRUNCHES

workoutCrunches. Yes crunches!  There are many schools of thought on whether or not you should do these.  I am 62 years old and have been doing these for many years with no back problems.  It’s very important that you use the correct technique.

One of the reasons for not doing these is that they say you will be wearing out the spinal discs due to repeated flexing of the spine.  First of all, if you perform these correctly your spine will not flex much.  Second of all, your spine is made to flex.  Thats like saying stop chewing food because it wears out your teeth.

Lie down on the floor on your back and bend your knees, placing your hands behind your head or across your chest.  Pull your stomach towards your spine, and flatten your lower back against the floor.

Slowly contract your abdominal muscles, bringing your shoulder blades about one or two inches off the floor and no further.  Exhale as you come up and keep your neck straight and your chin up.  Hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds, breathing continuously.  Slowly lower back down, but don’t relax all the way.  Complete 10 to 15 reps remembering to use perfect form for each rep.  Recover for 60 to 90 seconds.

An alternative method of exercising the abdominal muscles is sitting down on a chair or bench.  Place your hands behind your head or across your chest.  Start sitting straight up.  Pull your stomach in has you bend slightly forward.  Rise straight up and immediately perform the next one.  Recover 60 to 90 seconds.

After a brief recovery, immediately get on the bike and start your next set.  Perform at least 2, preferably 3 sets.  I can’t stress enough to concentrate on using the correct form for each exercise. 

When you have completed all of your sets, get on the bike, drop it in a low gear, and do a spin cool down.  Bring your heart rate down and spin the legs to loosen them up and remove any lactic acid that might have built up.

workoutPerforming the Under 60 Minute Workout just twice a week will keep you fit for those weekend rides and provide a total body workout. 

Before starting any strenuous workout regimen make sure your fit enough and free of any physical limitations or recent injuries.

Thanks for reading. 

28 Dec

The Pedal Stroke and The Over Under Drill: Cycling Tips 06

Develop Your Biking Brain:The Pedal Stroke and The Over Under Drill
Cycling Tips 06cycling tips

 

One aspect of cycling which is sometimes overlooked is the pedal stroke.  However, this is one technique that you definitely want to master.  To master the pedal stroke, we will give you a drill to perform to develop the pedaling part of your biking brain.

Performed correctly, a good pedal stroke will increase your power/speed output while decreasing the effort which in turn, saves energy.

There is a new school of thought in regards to the pedaling technique and foot placement over the spindle which we will review in this article.

BODY MECHANICS: Cycling Tips 06

cycling tipsThe human body was not designed to pedal circles with constant or even pressure around the entire pedal stroke.  We are finding that even though spinning all around the stroke creates a machine like efficiency it does not enhance the body’s natural POWER efficiency.

There is new evidence in recent studies that show when we try and spin circles we are actually loosing a significant amount of power (speed).

In order to take advantage of the way our bodies are built, it may actually be better to drive the leg and or foot from the 12 o’clock position all they way through the bottom or 6 o’clock position.

It’s not about mashing through the stroke but more about accentuating the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock area.

Lets first look at the pedal stroke, how the different disciplines and terrain affect the stroke, what muscles are involved and how we want the ankle to flex at the various points within the pedal circle.  (keep the tire pressure where it should be)

ROAD:

Long road cycling will normally involve many pedaling technique changes during the ride.

This depends on the area you ride in. Obviously, if the ride takes you mainly through flat areas your pedaling technique will not vary much.

During the flat part of your ride you simply want to push the pedal over the top, 12 o’clock area, keeping the heel down or low and pull around the bottom or 6 o’clock section with a slight downward pointing of the toe, around 10 to 20 degrees.

CLIMBING

When climbing, you want of keep your heel flat or parallel to the ground when at the 6 o’clock position and slide as far back on the saddle as possible.

Think about keeping the heel low at the bottom of the stroke.  This will help keep the heel low around the entire stroke which will save and stretch the calf muscles while engaging the hamstrings and glutes or butt muscles.

Sliding back on the saddle while climbing forces you to use your upper leg/hip muscles, hamstrings and glutes while giving the mid to lower area of the quads a break.

Studies have also shown that alternating between sitting and standing on long climbs is probably better overall.

As whether to sit or stand when climbing is an article for a different time.  French and Norwegian studies, when looked at as a whole, have shown that neither position is strictly preferable to the other.

Standing requires more energy but produces more power while sitting is just the opposite.

If your climbing up a short steep grade the standing technique usually works the best.  If its a longer climb and not as steep, sitting will save energy, however, studies are showing that mixing it up is better overall in terms of spreading the load over the different muscle groups.

TRIATHLON / DUATHLON

The triathlon and duathlon pedaling technique will be entirely different. For most of the ride you want to keep your heel low or down at the 6 o’clock stroke even on the flat part of the course.

Depending on the length of the ride, if your not use to pushing over the top of the pedal stroke and lowering the heel, a neutral or natural heel position may be best.  The goal is to preserve the calf muscles for the running part of the event.

cycling tipsSliding forward on the saddle for these events enhances the power efficiency of the stroke resulting in an increased mph.

Some triathletes slide their cleats all the way back on their shoes.  However, this will force you to lower your seat and possibly re-adjust the fore/aft position.

This results in a slower cadence which can actually have a negative impact when you transition to the run. Controlled studies have actually documented no increase in power in the rearward cleat position.  Still, some coaches have their triathletes position the ball of the foot slightly behind the pedal spindle.

MOUNTAIN BIKE:

A different animal all together, the extreme terrain variations greatly influence your pedal stroke.  The pedal stroke will involve high rpms and low gearing to get over, around and through various obstacles.

It will still be more power efficient to accentuate the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock pedaling area.  High rpms not only help to navigate the obstacles but will help with endurance as well.

SADDLE POSITION

For an efficient smooth pedal stroke, proper saddle height and fore-aft adjustment is a must.  If your saddle is too high or too low, you will either not be able to drop and drive the heel or you will develop knee pain.

MUSCLE UTILIZATION: Cycling Tips 06

This image below may surprise you.  I stumbled upon this chart during my research.  This chart seems to be based on an EMG that was performed during a pedal stroke.  It reinforces the new school of thought regarding the pedal stroke.

cycling tips

As you can see, all the muscle groups, including the main muscles behind the upper leg are engaged in the down stroke with an insignificant amount involved in the upstroke by comparison.

cycling tipsTwo of the three muscles that make up the hamstrings, the biceps femoris in red and the semitendinosus in blue, are much more involved in the beginning of the power stroke (12 o’clock) all the way though the bottom (6 o’clock).

Surprisingly enough, the hamstrings play a greater roll in the downstroke than the upstroke.

This image demonstrates how the muscles interact with each other during the pedal stroke and how one group does not necessarily work alone in any one area or phase.  It’s more about how they work in conjunction with the other muscles during entire stroke.

This really hit home when I forgot my cycling shoes and had to do the club ride in my sandals.

Yes, I refused not to ride and had to ride in my sandals.  I also forgot to bring them on a mountain bike ride and rode with them in the Whiting Ranch area of Southern California.

The sandals I wore were pretty wide and had straps across the top of my foot. I was riding on clipless pedal, so the platform under my foot was pretty narrow on the mountain bike but a little wider on the road bike.

cycling tipsThis forced me to ride heel down, lower than my toes, from the 10 to 11 o’clock position to push all the way through the top or 12 o’clock position.  My foot  then flattened out once over the top and stay that way to the 4 to 5 o’clock position.

At this point, I would start to point the toes downward and pull through the 6 o’clock position, then letting up on the upstroke around the 7 to 8 o’clock area, since there was nothing to pull up on.

I realize that pulling through the bottom is not part of the new school of thought, but for me it was the best way to keep my feet on the pedals and still power through, letting the momentum carry me through the upstroke.

I still believe that the toes slightly down position through the 6 o’clock area is the best technique to use when not competing in a triathlon, duathlon or climbing.

I also noticed I was using my hips more at the top and almost eliminating my hamstrings through the up stroke.

BTW, I was also able to keep up with most of the other cyclists

Correct Alignment

cycling tipsYour ankle, knee and hip should all be in a straight line vertically, throughout the entire pedal stroke.  The goal is to have the legs moving straight up and down.

Have someone check your stroke from the front and determine if your entire leg is in line when pedaling.

If there are any exaggerated deflections from this line with either your knee or ankle, you might need some sort of bio-adjustment.

This can be something as simple as orthotics or leg strengthening exercises.

You may want to see a physician or a physical therapist to make sure there is no structural problems that need attention before correcting the problem on your own.

THE OVER UNDER DRILL

So, what can we do to improve and use a more power efficient pedal stroke?

cycling tips
Fig.1

After one of your normal rides, find a flat area that you can ride without turning. Pedal slowly for a little bit then stop pedaling with one leg in front of the other.  (Fig. 1)

With the rear or trailing leg, make sure your heel is dropped and push or drive over the top and stop at the 3 o’clock position. (Fig 2)

cycling tips
Fig. 2


Coast for 10 to 20 seconds then do the same motion with the opposite leg/foot.

Keep alternating and perform this technique for 5 or 6 reps.  Feel the power and remember the feeling.

Now, for the second part of the drill, we will start with the leading leg/foot.

 

cycling tips:
Fig. 3

Start with the heel flat or were you ended up with first part of the drill. 

Push down on the pedal and at around the 4 or 5 o’clock position start to point your toe downward (Fig. 4)  and pull through the bottom or 6 o’clock

cycling tips: The pedal stroke and the Over Under Drill
Fig. 4

position, letting up and dropping the heel back down ending up at the 9 o’clock position and stop.  (Fig. 3)

Again, coast for about 10 to 20 seconds and repeat with the opposite leg/foot.

During the drill, I would point the toe downward more than you normally would just to get the feeling of the motion and muscles being used.

Complete about 3 to 4 sets of each over the top and through the bottom drills.

When finished, spin for about 5 to 10 minutes to loosen up.

As with all drills, you want to get the feeling and create new neuro pathways so that the desired outcome will become second nature.

Some exercises to perform to strengthen the pedaling muscles are squats and deadlifts.  When pushing upward concentrate on pushing up with your heels and not your toes.  This will incorporate more of the hamstrings and glutes.

cycling tips: The pedal stroke and the Over Under Drillcycling tips: The pedal stroke and the Over Under Drillcycling tips: The pedal stroke and the Over Under Drillcycling tips: The pedal stroke and the Over Under Drill

cycling tipsAnother drill you can perform is try riding around the neighborhood in your tennis shoes ( I wouldn’t recommend sandals).

The sensation will become more dramatic as you pedal while trying to keep your feet on the pedals.

As with any new drill or exercise, make sure your physically able to perform the drill and won’t aggravate any previous conditions or injuries.

Thanks for reading and send any comments to info@pacelinebikes.com

 

 

 

 

17 Dec

Develop Your Biking Brain: The AFR Drill Cycling Tips 05

DEVELOP YOUR BIKING BRAIN:  THE AFR DRILL Cycling Tips 05 cycling tips

cycling tipsThey say it takes a few years or more to become a professional cyclist.  One of the reasons why it takes this long is not just to develop the cycling physiology but to develop the basics of bike handling and control.

Braking, cornering, and just riding in a pack of riders at 30 mph or faster takes quick reactions and balance.   Various cycling drills are necessary not only to ride the bike more efficiently but to ride with more control and confidence.

Being balanced on the bike and creating a sort of symbiotic relationship between your brain and the bike is a way to develop more control and to use appropriate reactions to various unforeseen situations.

To ride safely, you must always expect the unexpected, especially when riding in a group.  Your reactions dictate what happens to you and the riders 360 degrees around you.  Your reactions must be quick and accurate but not excessive.

Take a scenario in which your either riding by yourself or with a group.  Lets say, you have to make an emergency stop.  You can’t always dictate which way your bike will lean or which direction your evasive maneuver will take you.

You do, however, want to be able to release from either foot with ease and without having to think about it or worry about going down because you didn’t click out of the so called, normal foot.  The point is, there should be no normal foot to click out of.

cycling tipsIf you remember when you first tried the clipless pedals, it was awkward and you might have even fallen once or twice.  You eventually felt comfortable and more stable unclipping from your dominate side or leg because it is normally stronger and more coordinated.

One of the reasons you probably fell was because you pulled your ankle slightly upwards instead of keeping the heel down when moving the ankle outward.
The more you performed this action the easier it became.

You want to condition the other leg or foot to become just as easy to unclip from for a couple of reasons:  1. to keep balanced on the bike and 2. to be able to react quickly, easily and accurately with either leg of foot.

Balance: Cycling tips

If you unclip from the same side all the time, it becomes subconscious thought, that you must unclip from the dominate or normal side in order to support yourself.  This creates an unbalanced state of mind when riding.

Fast Reaction Time: Cycling tips 05

When you are balanced and the situation arises where you have to unclip fast, there will be no thought process just reaction from the appropriate leg of foot.

cycling tipsIf what you’re trying to do is difficult or unfamiliar, nearby neurons are drawn into the process to help you out.  The brain’s ability to adapt and grow—reorganizing neural pathways and even creating new ones—is called “neuroplasticity.

The drill I came up with and suggest to my riders is the AFR drill, or the Alternating Foot Release drill.

cycling tipsFirst, in order to feel comfortable before doing this drill on the road,  I suggest that they first practice unclipping out of the non-dominate or normal foot.  For safety, I would suggest they practice this on a home trainer or a spinning bike at the gym.

DIFFERENT MECHANICS:

Get use to the feeling of the mechanics involved with unclipping with this foot while in the saddle.  The un-clipping motion actually involves the whole leg so, we want to first, condition the opposite foot and leg to use the heel down, outward motion, when sitting in the saddle, while the bike is already stopped and your standing upright.

To perform these workouts, the brain is forced to strengthen, reorganize and even create new neural pathways. In other words, brain training “rewires” the brain to perform more efficiently than ever before.

When you become comfortable with un-clipping from the opposite foot, you then can actually start the AFR drill on the road.  Every time you come to a stop sign or stop light,  alternate the foot you un-clip from.  Remember, in the early stages of practicing this, start your stop from way out when unclipping.

by repeating the action many times and sending the corresponding nerve impulses down them many times, you create strong neuro-connections.  In contrast, if you repeated the word or action only a few times, then the connections among the new neurons would be weaker, and the new circuit would be harder to reactivate.

THE DRILL:

Start practicing this drill after a normal training session on the way home.  For the first few times, use this procedure:

cycling tips1. Slow way down

2. Unclip from the opposite foot, and coast for a little bit with the unclipped leg
down and slightly bent.

cycling tips3. Come to a stop a slow as possible.

4. Just before you stop, lean the bike TOWARD the unclipped side.

5. Turn the wheel AWAY from the unclipped side slightly before you put your foot down.
cycling tips

The more you practice this the more natural it will become, eventually feeling  normal to unclip from either foot.

This drill should provide better balance, reaction time, confidence in your bike handling skills, as well as, create new neuro-pathways resulting in a better biking brain.

Another advantage of alternating the foot you unclip from is that your pedals and cleats will wear evenly .

Thanks for reading.

Please send comments to info@pacelinebikes.com

10 Dec

Cycling Tips

NSAIDs AND CYCLING: Cycling Tips 04 cycling tips

The intent of this article is to help you better understand NSAIDs and to make an informed decision on whether you should even consider or continue using this type of pre-medicating as an athlete.

Cycling tipsSo why do some cyclist take these medications before a specific event or hard training session? Simply because they believe they will decrease inflammation and pain that can occur either during or after the exercise/event.

There is, however, no scientific evidence for this type of self medicating. This misuse can create various problems, such as, interfering with the healing process, reducing the body’s ability to adapt to taxing workouts, and subject yourself to several side affects and complications.

We have to remember that the pain is there to tell you that something is wrong. If you need to take NSAIDs to train or complete an event, then you should question whether or not you should even take part in the event or limit or stop training until you see a trained physician.

What Are NSAIDs

NSAIDs are Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They are utilized for an array of ailments and a large segment of the population use them on acycling Tips daily basis.

There are many advantages to this type of medication, however, they can produce several side effects which you should be aware of.

Some of the frequently occurring symptoms consist of the following: Headache, fatigue, rash, dizziness, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea or stomach distress. Some of the more risky affects are bleeding and/or cardiovascular problems .

NSAIDs are one of the most widely used pain relief medicines on the planet. This medication is used by people with, but not limited to, sprains, headaches and arthritis. Not only can NSAIDs provide pain relief but they can lower a fever and ease or reduce swelling as well.

How Do NSAIDs Work

I will try to keep this short and sweet but it is important to understand how NSAIDs work and how they affect your body.

NSAIDs function by altering the body chemically. They inhibit the effects of cyclooxygenase isozymes which are necessary to synthesize the chemical prostaglandins.

cycling Tips The chemical prostaglandins transmit the pain signals to the brain, as well as, produce fever and generate tissue swelling. By limiting the quantity of prostaglandins the body manufactures, NSAIDs are capable of relieving pain and reducing swelling that come with specific types of injuries.

The prostaglandins also protect the lining of the stomach and improve the blood clotting capability of the platelets.

Ramification Of Taking NSAIDs Before Endurance Events

cycling Tips The most glaring to reason to seriously considering whether or not to take NSAIDs before an event is the effect on the kidneys. Recent medical research shows that NSAIDs may be harmful to an athlete’s kidney function if taken within 24 hours of an endurance event. The risk increases as the distance of the event increases. For example, the risk of this occurring during an Ironman-distance triathlon would be higher than a Sprint-distance triathlon

NSAIDs are thought to increase the possibility of hyponatremia during endurance sports caused by decreasing blood flow to the kidneys and interfering with a hormone that helps the body retain salt. Hyponatremia is a metabolic condition in which there is not enough sodium (salt) in the body fluids outside the cells.

What are the symptoms of hyponatremia?

The spectrum of symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech, confusion, and inappropriate behavior. As it progresses, victims may experience seizures or coma, and death can occur. Severe hyponatremia is a true medical emergency.

Some of the complications of hyponatremia are congestive heart failure, liver failure, renal failure, or pneumonia.

If you absolutely have to take a medication before or after an event, it is recommended that on race day (specifically beginning midnight before your event) you do not use anything but Tylenol if needed until 6 hours after you have finished the race, and provided you are able to drink without any nausea or vomiting, you have urinated at least once and you feel mentally and physically back to normal.

Proper use of NSAIDs can sometimes help speed recovery. The reasoning is that when we’re in less pain, we’re more comfortable so we are more relaxed and sleep better, which enables the healing process. Also, do not combine NSAIDs with other drugs that have the same side effects.

ALTERNATIVE PAIN RELIEF

cycling Tips The M.I.C.E. Method For Pain Relief

In conjunction with the occasional use of NSAIDs, use the M.I.C.E method to take care of small trauma or injury. This method incorporates:

M = Move gently – gentle movement of the injured area increases blood flow the specific are eliminating atrophy and accelerating the healing process.
I = Ice – apply ice for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hrs for first 3 days
C = Compression – apply an elastic wrap to reduce swelling
E = Elevation = raise extremity above the level of the heart

Ice Baths?

Several professional endurance athletes take “ice baths” and actually immerse their whole body into a bath of ice after a hard event or training session. The idea is that cold reduces swelling and initially restricts blood flow, providing a natural compress on the microscopic tears in the tissue that are leaking blood into the traumatized area. Shortly, the body will recruit new blood to the cold area that flushes out metabolic wastes and lactic acid – byproducts

Homeopathic Pain Management

Since there are many mild to severe side effects and symptoms of NSAIDs, many athletes/cyclists choose to take the homeopathic direction for pain management and anti-inflammatories.

Arnica is a perennial herb native to North America and Eurasia. It is used topically to treat sore muscles and bruising. Several conventional drug stores stock arnica and the cream is also carried at health food stores and businesses that carry natural health care products.

Traumeel is a pill that works by modulating various cellular and biochemical pathways. Even though symptomatic relief may be immediate, therapeutic improvement typically takes up to a week, depending on dosage, how severe the condition, and the general health of the paticycling Tips ent.

Hope this article is helpful. Please do your own due diligence in determining if NSAIDs are for you and always consult a physician before taking any over-the-counter medication on a regular basis.

Thanks for reading.

What Type Of Bike Should I Buy: Cycling tips 03 cycling tips

You’ve decided to start riding a bicycle for exercise or pleasure but not sure what kind to get. Here are the basic types of bicycles and a description of each to help in the buying process. If possible, always try to rent one first or take one for a test ride from your nearest shop. Figure out what type of riding you will be doing, where you will be riding and how often.

Road Bike

Cycling Tips GMC Denali road bikeRoad bikes can be very light and highly maneuverable. They are quick to accelerate and can stop on a dime. The price range runs the gambit from a couple hundred bucks to tens of thousands of dollars. Some road bikes are built for comfort, others for speed and performance. As with any bike, decide on what kind of road riding you will be doing, such as racing, recreational riding, long distance riding or commuting.
Each one of these disciplines requires the bike to have different geometry (tube angles), components and materials.
Racing requires a light, stiff machine that incorporates steeper frame angles which enable the bike to accelerate and maneuver quickly.

Recreational riding does not require a light or stiff bike. In fact, comfort is most likely to be the priority. These frames have a much more relaxed geometry and can be made out of less expensive materials. The setup of a recreational bike will result in the rider having a more upright riding position, versus the low aero position of someone who races.

Long distance bikes will be made of materials having increased shock-absorbing qualities. The geometry will be slightly more relaxed than the full on racing model. The thickness of some of the frame’s tubes may be thinner in strategic areas to aid in comfort, while still maintaining performance and maneuverability.

Commuter bikes also have very light frames but have the upright positioning of a recreational type bike. They can come in a single speed format or have a racing type gearing setup. Some will come with fenders to protect the rider from the elements and utilize baskets or racks to carry groceries, briefcases or what have you. Wheels and tires for the various road bikes will vary depending on the type of surface you will be riding on, the type of riding you will be doing and sometimes your weight.

Mountain bike

Cycling Tips Diamondback mountain bikesWhen it comes to mountain bikes you’ll find that there are not only many makes and models but many types of mountain bikes as well. Mountain bikes are very stable and relatively easy for people of all ages to ride. The upright position and wide tires make it comfortable and easy to handle. There are various types of road tires in case you plan to ride mainly on paved roads. Mountain bikes are on the heavy side but have a much wider range of gearing making it easy, even for the novice rider, to conquer most hills.

Lets look at the different types of mountain bikes.

Rigid: This is your basic no frills bike. It provides a comfortable riding position, usually has very good shifting and braking and is great for all around riding on trails and roads as well.

Front Suspension Hard tail: This type has all the features as the rigid but has a suspension on the front fork. There is no suspension on the rear of the bike, hence the name hard tail. The front suspension provides additional comfort and increased control, especially on the trails.

Full Suspension: This MTB has a suspension involving the rear wheel, as well as the front. I intentionally used the word ” involving” because there are several configuration and setups that provide suspension to the rear of the bike. Most of them work well and it’s hard to go wrong with any of them.

The FS bike provides all of the features of the hard tail plus the rear suspension. The FS bike offers additional comfort and control over the HT, resulting in less impact on your body and on the bike. They are fantastic for exceptionally rugged terrain or trails.

Dirt Trick/Jumping: These MTB’s are essentially hard tails that have low profile geometry and a reinforced frame. Strategic areas of the frame are built thicker for stunts and jumping. They are fun bikes for jumping, wheelies, tricks or just plain riding around.

Downhill: Similar to the DT/Jumping model, these fast, rugged full suspension MTB bikes are specifically built for racers and those who just like to bomb down hill as fast as possible. They incorporate robust frames, components, wheels and suspension forks that have the greatest amount of travel. These are the best MTB’s to take on the ski lift to the top of the mountain and take pleasure in riding or racing down the most extreme descents.

All Around: This is the most versatile and popular and great for all types of terrain. They are a full suspension bike providing excellent pedaling efficiency and durability. These bikes do everything well, from cross-country to off road and downhill as well.

29er: The 29er can be either a hard tail or full suspension bike. What differentiates them from other MTB’s is the size of the wheels. They have, you guessed it, 29-inch wheels! The standard MTB wheel is 26 inches. The larger wheels provide greater traction and do a better job of rolling over obstacles. They are another all around MTB and are another good choice for cross-country riding.

Single speed: Sounds crazy, but they do make single speed MTB’s. Why would anyone in their right mind buy a single speed mountain bike? Here are a few reasons.

Efficiency. A single speed’s chain runs directly from the chain ring to the rear sprocket and back. A geared bike’s chain snakes around two jockey pulleys to a sprocket that is out of line (left-to-right) from the chain ring by much as an inch. Even without the chain line issue the improvement is at least a couple percent, and compared to some of the more crooked chain lines you might run on a multi-geared bike, the difference can be quite a bit more than that. If you crank the pedals backwards on a SS MTB pretty hard and let go, you will notice how much longer the pedals spin on the SS bike than a multi speed MTB. That little drill demonstrates the difference in efficiency, and it’s even more dramatic under load.

Maintenance. No derailleurs to adjust, no jockey pulleys to lubricate, no cables to clean. Most of the maintenance most of us do, other than tires, is on the drive train. With a single speed all you have to do is take care of your chain.

Durability. No rear derailleur to tweak on trail obstacles, no shifters to go bad, no front derailleur to jam, no 11-tooth cogs to wear out early and force you to replace your cassette before its time.

Weight savings. If you pull off your cassette and replace it with a single cog, your taking away about 220 grams. That’s half a pound. Go truly single speed by stripping off the derailleur’s, shifters and cables, and you can end up saving 2-3 POUNDS.

Hybrid

Cycling tips The Hybrid bike is a bicycle designed for general-purpose and commuting on a wide variety of surfaces, including paved and unpaved roads, trails, and paths. It combines features from the mountain bike and the road bike. Hybrids have a more upright posture than road bicycles, offering a more comfortable riding position, and utilize either linear or disc brakes.

Hybrids have a stouter frame than a road bike, which can handle more weight, such as extra cargo. This also aids in absorbing the day-to-day punishment of potholes and any other obstacles you might encounter in a commute. They normally have the larger road bike type wheel (700c) for higher speed. The wheels on a hybrid bike are a true combination of what you find on road and mountain bikes. Wider, like a mountain bike for greater stability and durability, but then with a higher recommended air pressure that puts them in the same level as a road bike when it comes to inflation level. The higher air pressure allows them to go faster by reducing rolling resistance.

Fixie

Cycling tips fixie bikesFixies are single speed bikes that are very light and have a limited amount of components. This provides less maintenance making them less expensive and easier to maintain. Normally, Fixies have no brakes but you will see some with a single hand brake. Fixie riders slow down or stop with their legs, quickly stopping the pedaling motion and reversing the pedaling direction. You can purchase most fixies with both a fixed gear and a free wheel gear on the same hub. To change from one to the other, you simply remove the rear wheel, flip it a 180 degrees and re-install it.

Fixies originated from track racing where its all about speed and tactics, resulting in a bike that is very light and responsive enabling you to maintain speed more easily.

Going up hill as well as down hill is challenging, since you only have one gear and your legs are always turning. This constant movement along with the gearing builds strength and refines your cadence or pedaling to a much smoother rhythmic and efficient style. From that point of view the fixie is really a great training tool for the road bike cyclist.

Since the Fixie is somewhat challenging to ride, it is really for the more experienced cyclist or for someone who at the very least has been riding more recently.

If its been a while since you’ve been riding and you still get the bug for one, I would suggest riding with the free wheel side installed first to get used to the handling and quick acceleration. You may also want to consider one with a handbrake until you master the braking with your legs.

Cruisers

Cycling tips Cruiser BikesToday beach cruisers are more popular than ever because they offer a combination of style, comfort, and durability all at an affordable price. Cruiser bikes are generally less expensive compared to the road and mountain bikes. Cruisers are best for short rides on relatively flat paved roads. It may not be the best choice if you plan to ride fast or over long distances. If you live in a hilly area or plan to ride in a hilly terrain you may want to consider a different type of bike or at least a cruiser with more than just one gear. The bike as a whole is just not designed for riding hills. They are fun to ride at the beach, the park, or just around the neighborhood.

There are essentially four things to take into consideration when searching for a cruiser. They are style, size, gearing and what type of brakes. The two different types of brakes to consider are coaster brakes, which you reverse or pedal backwards to brake, or the hand brakes.

Today there are many styles to choose from. There is the classic 50’s style, very upright positioned setup, some with lights and racks. There are more contemporary styles, such as the low rider, which were originally built on old Schwinn Stingray or other “muscle bike” frames. They can include accessories such as springer forks and bullet headlights. Low rider bike magazines and catalogs also feature cruisers and are a great source of accessories for cruiser owners. Another is the chopper style, which usually features a lower center of gravity, suspension forks, hot rod paint jobs, and large rear tires. Some manufacturers have also introduced the comfort bike category, to combine the soft ride and upright posture of cruisers with a more conventionally styled bike. Comfort bikes have such features as fenders, suspension seat posts and forks, and large padded saddles with giant springs.

Size: Traditionally, wheel diameter is what determines cruiser size. This is due to the fact that even though two different cruisers have the same wheel size, the frame size does not vary greatly between them. Virtually all standard adult cruisers are considered to be 26-inch. This is a measure of the diameter of the wheel. 26” cruisers are intended for women between 5’1” and 6’2” and men between 5’4” and 6’2”. Variations in frame size will change from model to model even within one manufacturer. The most dramatic of these differences is found in cruisers that utilize an “off-set/forward pedaling”. On these specific models, the complete crank set is moved forward, and/or the seat tube is angled backwards to allow for increased leg extension. This results in a bike with a longer wheelbase and a shorter seat tube height than the standard 26” cruiser. This makes the perfect frame for anyone over 6’2”, the elderly, heavier set individuals, and people with knee problems. If you are a female under 5’1” or a male under 5’4”a 26” cruiser will likely be too large for you. It is recommended that you consider a smaller sized beach cruiser, such as a 24” which are intended for individuals between 4’3” and 5’3”, and are also perfect for children ages 8 and up.

There is plenty of choice today when it comes to gearing. They range from single speed cruisers all the way up to 7 gears or more. Again, decide how and where you will be riding the bike. You might want to rent one to try it out.

The type of brakes will also depend on how and where you will be riding the bike. The coaster brake will be a slower reacting brake, since you have to reverse your pedaling to stop. You also loose some braking power. The good news is that the coaster brake is not affected by weather and needs little to no maintenance. The hand brake is quicker and easier to use while providing more stopping power. On the down side, water or dirt on the pads can affect braking performance, and brake adjustments and pad replacements may be necessary.

BMX

Cycling tips Kink CurbBMX bikes are fun for all ages, but typically for kids 8 to 14 years old. However, they can be popular with some in their early 20’s, especially if they want to get into racing. BMX bikes ride well in any terrain. It may not be optimal for long distance, but you can rest assure that it is stable and handles well on any surface. Since they are closer to the ground than mountain or road bikes, they can make tighter turns and accelerate quickly.

BMX bikes are easy to work on and normally do not require many specialty tools. Most BMX riders work on the bikes themselves, saving money and time. They are relatively easy to upgrade in case the rider decides he wants to get into trick or dirt track competition.

Hope the information provided here helps in the decision making process and encourages you to get out there and ride. Remember to ride safe, obey all traffic laws, and wear protective gear including helmets at all times. The pavement or asphalt is still hard regardless of your speed.

 

The Brake Down: Road Bike Disc Brakes: Cycling Tips 02 cycling tips

Manufacturers Taking Their Time

Currently there are only a couple of bikes spear heading the road disc brake era, Colnago, Lynskey and Volagi. Volagi chose Avid’s BB7 mechanical brakes, Lynskey went with Shimano’s CX75 mechanical disc brakes, and Colnago, utilized a formula hydraulic brake design specifically for the C59.
However, most bike manufacturers are not jumping on the bandwagon just yet.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

The reason more manufacturers have not jumped in quite yet, is that there are quite a few obstacles to get passed with road disc brakes since it is an unproven system. Some of the obstacles include rotor size, mounting areas and standards, weight, fork and frame design, wheel design, and disc fade, and how to incorporate disc brakes into component groups. We’ll address a few of these obstacles below.

Disc Fade:

A major concern is the fade on disc brakes. This is created by glazed pads resulting in decreased friction and requiring increased hand force on the levers. Also overheating of the hydraulic/DOT fluid can lead to the spongy feel, or even worse, the loss of braking altogether. This happens because when the fluid overheats you lose compression and therefore lose your brakes.
Because there is a general consensus that road bikes build up more heat on descents than mountain bikes, you can see how this becomes a concern.

As a rider, you have to find a braking system whose heat dissipating ability is adapted to your descending skills, body weight, and the terrain you ride in.
The overall consensus, however, is that there are many ways to avoid the brake fade concern with disc brakes. Using the right compound to match rotor material will reduce friction and heat demands to reduce pad glazing. It’s always advisable to use the manufacturers recommended replacement parts.
New technologies such as Shimano’s IceTech addresses the problem with rotor and caliper heat up which attributes to fluid overheating. Larger rotors with metallic pads will also aid in reducing heat build up.

Frames Design:

Frames and forks will have to be reinforced to handle the different torsion loads. If you just take a fork that’s developed for rim brakes and add disc mounts, that fork is not prepared to take the braking force on one side down at the lower end. Also, the spacing in the rear will most likely have to be changed to 135mm.

Wheels:

Since there is now a disc on the front wheel, it will need to be offset like the rear wheel. To handle the narrower spoke flange width, you will probably have to add more spokes to the front wheel to make it strong enough. Radial lacing designs won’t work and you won’t be able to use certain types of spokes, as it will result in less aerodynamics. This may be more of a concern for the wheel manufacturers, since they will face changes and concerns that will affect wheel design and manufacturing.

Bikes may initially be heavier, up to 500 grams heavier than bikes equipped with rim brakes. Aerodynamics will definitely be affected. Some recent testing was not encouraging. It seems that disc brakes were tested at the Texas A&M wind tunnel about ten years ago and according to Cervelo’s senior advanced R&D engineer, Damon Rinard, they faired poorly.

WHY DISCS BRAKES?

Safety is the biggest issue. With discs brakes you will eliminate rim damage, heat build up, and pressure changes, which can affect the glue on tubulars or tire blow off on clinchers. Clincher and tubular wheels will be manufactured differently, thus lowering the weight at the apex of the wheel resulting in less rotating inertia and weight savings. Your braking performance will be the same in any weather condition, and if your rim becomes out of true or you break a spoke, braking will not be compromised.

You will have a greater degree of control. The small braking surface diameter on a rotor compared with the braking surface diameter of a rim, results in the disc brake having to work harder in order to stop. Because its working harder, it also means you have better modulation or control. According to Wayne Lumpkin, founder of Avid Brakes and creator of the Ball Bearing mechanical brakes and Juicy hydraulic disc brakes, there are some differences. Disc-brake pads must squeeze with about 1,000 pounds of force to achieve near-lockup, while a rim brake needs only 200 pounds for the same job. The larger span (0 to 1,000 pounds versus 0 to 200) is a bigger window in which to control braking force, therefore, better modulation.

The brake calipers on most road bikes are relatively flexible and are mounted to the fork with a single, small diameter bolt. Since caliper pads compress against the rim they can have a spongy feel. Disc brakes have a stiff caliper and squeeze non-compressible pads against an incompressible rotor, resulting in a solid, precise feel along with more power. There will be a learning curve for most dedicated road cyclists, but in the long run they will come to appreciate the feel, power and increased control.

As the number of riders using carbon rims increases so does the need for a safer braking system. Carbon rims are notorious for subpar braking. In recent years, manufacturers have mitigated this concern by making pads out of materials better suited to carbon wheels, and producing brake surfaces that are better able to distribute heat.Also, the surface on most carbon rims is not consistent. Some carbon rims are manufactured in segments, so the braking track will vary and deflect the pad.

Carbon rims do not redistribute heat over a large surface area like aluminum rims do, so they develop concentrated hot spots under prolonged, heavy braking. In very extreme cases, this can compromise the integrity of the carbon whether it be clincher or tubular. Once the carbon is weakened, spoke tension and other forces can pull the rim apart, causing a wheel failure and potential injury.

MECHANICAL OR HYDRAULIC DISCS BRAKES?

There are debates over the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical disc brakes and hydraulic brakes. As discussed earlier, the main difference is mechanical disc brakes don’t have a fluid which at some point is prone to boiling, resulting in loss of braking action. If you ignore all signs of heat build up on your mechanical disc brake (fading brake force, smell, change of noise, glowing rotor), you will eventually destroy the rotor, the pads, and eventually the caliper. You will still be able to stop your bike, not so with hydraulic brakes.

Hydraulic brake cables are lighter and bend easier. The braking force is symmetrical against the rotor, unlike mechanical brakes, which apply even pressure without bending the rotor. Heat and torque stress due to the single load with mechanical brakes reduces the life span of the rotor. Where hydraulic brakes automatically adjust for the wear on the pads, mechanical discs have to be manually adjusted. Hydraulic brakes are impervious to dirty conditions with an enclosed system.

The hydraulic caliper is much lighter than mechanical caliper. Mechanical calipers have a camshaft, roller balls, external lever and sliding system.
Hydraulic hoses are also lighter and flexible, resulting in easier installation.

SUMMARY

It’s inevitable that high-performance road bikes will have disc brakes within the next few years. At this point in time, it seems that bike and component manufacturers are each waiting for the other to commit to this technology.

There are many factors to overcome, however the technology is out there to make it work. We will have to see if the manufacturers will decide to move forward. The frames, wheels and components will need to be redesigned from the bottom up with aerodynamics taken into consideration.

Standardization needs to be addressed. There are currently no standards regarding bottom bracket sizes, which is causing confusion and frustration among consumers and retailers alike. Throw this new technology in the mix with no standardization, and consumers will be stuck with more confusion and limited options when they purchase a high end road bike.

It looks like the road disc brake era has begun, and hopefully the road enthusiast will be able to take advantage of this exciting new technology without reservations.
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Winter Spin Class Cycling Tips 01 Spin Class

BENEFITS AND CHOOSING THE RIGHT CLASS.

If you have never tried a spinning class, then you should definitely consider trying one. There are a number of benefits that can be reaped from taking spinning classes. Below are some of those benefits:

Weight Loss
Spinning class is a great choice for people who want to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. The average person can burn between 450 calories and 1,000 calories per hour by taking a spinning class. That is why many people lose weight after they start taking spin classes.

Build Lean Muscle
Not only can you lose weight by taking spinning classes, but you can also build lean muscle. You have the option of increasing the resistance throughout your workout. This can help you get a cardiovascular and resistance workout simultaneously. Spinning is also great for shaping your legs and thighs.

Easier On Your Joints
Even though cycling can be quite strenuous, it is still easier on your joints than other forms of aerobics. That makes it a great choice for people who suffer from arthritis.

Improves Heart And Lung Health
Spinning helps improve cardiovascular endurance, which can improve your heart health. Spinning can also increase your lung capacity. Furthermore, spinning can reduce anxiety and lower your resting heart rate.

It Is Fun
Most people exercise to improve their physical health. However, many people end up quitting their exercise program because they become bored with it. Spinning is a very fun exercise, so you will probably not be bored with it. You will be surprise at how fast time goes by when you are in spin class.

It Makes You Feel Good
Many people feel tired after they finish working out, but if you take a spin class, then you will probably feel energized after you have completed your workout. Additionally, when you cycle, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins have been shown to have a calming effect on the body.

What Should I Watch Out for When I In Spin Class?
Spin class is a fun way to exercise that offers a number of benefits, but there are things that you should watch out for when you are exercising. If you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, joint pain or headache, then you should stop exercising immediately. You should also see your doctor if you experience any strange symptoms while you are exercising.

How Can I Choose The Right Spin Class?
One of the things that you should take into consideration when choosing a spin class is the instructor’s qualifications and training. Your instructor should be accredited with a professional fitness organization. He or she should also be certified in CPR and first aid.

You also need to consider the time and the location when you are choosing a spin class. If you are very busy, then you need to select a class that is available at different times. You should also select a class that is conveniently located near your house or job. Cost is another thing that you should consider when choosing a spin class.
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Your Winter Cycling Tips. cycling tips

Winter is here and if your one to brave the elements and train out doors, stay safe and pay attention to the details. Although these areas are important throughout the year, these next 5 cycling tips are even more important during challenging riding conditions.

1. LIGHTING
Although this sound obvious, it’s worth mentioning. We all know it gets dark much earlier. Make sure your bikes lights are in working order and that the batteries are still good and holding a charge. You want to make sure you can be seen by checking and making sure your batteries are charged, lights are in working order and all wires are intact with no cracks. Blinking lights are the best option and more effective when mounted on your bike, either on your saddle or bike rack. This way, you can aim them more accurately. If you mount them on back packs or clothing they tend to move around and are not as effective. It is often beneficial to have two rear lights where one is positioned higher and one lower. Combined reflective clothing with your lights and increase your visibility.

2. TIRES
Geography plays an important role in regards to they types of tires you will use, however, no matter what type of tire you do use, you normally want to keep the tire pressure lower than normal, around 10 to 15 psi lower. You may have to play with to see what feels right. In rainy conditions, again the lower pressure will always work better. In snowy conditions, most riders will use studded tires. When changing your tires for winter make sure there is adequate tread and no cracks or threads hanging out.

3. CLOTHING
As we know cycling generates a lot of heat so utilize clothes that are warm and comfortable yet provide the ability to control the buildup of heat and moisture as well as insulate and provide protection from the wind. Normally, your individual metabolism and how you ride will dictate what clothing will work to keep you warm. In milder regions when it tends to warm up as the day progresses, you will need to layer, so you have the option to remove certain clothing to keep from over heating. Clothing next to your skin should be able to keep you dry and warm, yet breathable. I don’t usually pitch products here, but I highly recommend Craft clothing. They excel at providing clothing that keeps you warm and dry during various riding conditions.

4. KEEP YOUR BIKE CLEAN
Since there is more road debris and water on the road and trails during this time of year, your bike will naturally need to be cleaned more frequently than during other times of the year. Do a quick wipe down after every ride and make sure the brakes are well lubricated and free of dirt and grime. Wipe down your tires and check for any objects stuck to them that may cause issues on your next ride. Check and clean out the gears and derailleurs and makes sure your shifting is working accurately before you take off too far from home. Wipe down the chain and re-lube with a lubricant that is appropriate for your area. Goretex cables are your best bet, since they do not need lubricant and therefore work well in any conditions.

5. NOURISHMENT / TECHNIQUE
It’s very easy to become dehydrated in the winter. During cold dry conditions you become dehydrated and since it is not hot, most riders tend to not drink nearly enough. It is even more critical that you stay hydrated during winter rides. Dehydration can cause a decreased in blood volume which makes you more prone to hypothermia and frostbite. It’s important to drink water frequently if you’re riding for more than one hour. Try to remember to drink every 10 minutes. This is a good rule to follow anytime of the year during rides of 20 miles or more. Carry food with you at all times so that it is always on the bike.

In regards to riding technique, always pedal relaxed and smoothly. When roads are wet or slippery keep your body up right and when turning, do not lean into the turns. Turn the bike using the “steering method”. Use the following technique: Keep the bike vertical and actually turn the handle bars in the direction you want to go, while leaning just your upper body slightly into the direction of the turn instead of leaning the bike into the turn. This technique should be used in a slippery conditions, such as, sand, water, etc.

When the bike starts going sideways, make small corrections rather than oversteering and weaving down the trail. Practice riding in a straight line when the trail is good so it’s easier under bad conditions.

Hope this prove to be a good refreasher and stay tuned for more Cycling Tips.
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