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Winter Cycling

Riding in Cold Weather

It is September and the cold air is coming in quickly. We will have a little excellent riding before it turns nice and cold. Do you plan to train in-doors all winter or will you be getting in some great winter riding time?

Riding in the winter time doesn’t have to be just for the hard core rider. With a little preparation you too can enjoy riding in the winter and even come to look forward to it.

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Preparation

Checking the weather forecast at least two hours before getting dressed for the ride is a good habit to get into as the weather can change from the forecast the night before. I find that I get the best information from the “feels like” portion of the forecast. This takes into account the wind chill and humidity and tells you what the weather will feel like and that is what matters to me.

How should you dress for the ride?

The most common dressing mistake that first time winter riders make is overdressing. Overdressing can lead to overheating as well as dehydration from excessive sweating. The best rule of thumb is to dress a little on the cold side and as you warm up you will break even. It usually takes about ten minutes of steady riding to reach your upper temperature.

Layering is a good technique that will help you to stay warm on those cold rides. This is the process of trapping insulating air in between layers of clothing thus trapping the heat in. You should try to use clothing that’s designed for cyclist that uses a wicking system that moves moisture from your skin upward. This will keep you from getting soggy wet underneath and thus getting cold on your core. Then on the outside I prefer to use a nylon windbreaker that will block the wind form coming through. Blocking the wind is at least half of the battle as the wind chill factor definitely comes into play when cycling in the winter.

Lastly you will want to determine whether you need to protect your head from the cold. There are many different hoods that can be worn underneath your helmet that will not only keep your head warm but some have flaps on them to keep your ears warm as well. I prefer to only wear ear protectors when I can get away with it to help keep me from overheating as I tend to run a little hotter than some people but that is where you have to learn yourself and your preferences.

 Conclusion

As you can see there is no reason to miss out on riding just because it gets a little cold. There are many products that when used properly can make riding in the winter even more enjoyable than trying to ride in the summer’s 100 degree weather. So this year don’t let the cold keep you in. Get out there and spin those wheels.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

Clip-N-Pedals

Clipless Pedals

To clip in or not to clip in that is the question.

What are clipless pedals?

clipless shoes

Clipless pedals

The clipless system consist of special shoes that you attach a cleat to and a special set of pedals that your cleat will lock onto when you are riding. To lock your shoe to the pedal you will step down onto the pedal lining the cleat with the pedal. You will be able to tell when it engages. Don’t worry. It is easier than it sounds. After riding with clipless pedals for two or three months I found that I would lock in without even thinking about it.

This clip system will secure your foot to the pedals while you are riding.

To release the cleats from the pedals twist your heals outward. You will feel the cleats release.

Benefits of using clipless pedals

Clipless pedals hold your feet in place making it easier for you to keep a steady pedaling rhythm. This is important as it allows you to learn to pedal without thinking about it.

Clipless pedals are safer because they will keep your feet from slipping off of the pedals causing you to dump the bike and possibly injure yourself.

Clipless pedals also allow you to pull on the pedals with you up-stroke. This is an excellent technique used while climbing to keep your feet from falling asleep from the pressure that you are putting on the pedals. I use it all the time. It can make all the difference between making it to the top of a hard climb and having to get off and walk it. While there is no shame in having to get off and walk it (I have done it more than once) the optimal idea is not to have to.

Last but not least they are simply more comfortable. While there is a learning curve to using them it is well worth it.

Alternatives to clipless shoes

If or when you start looking for clipless shoes you will undoubtable see what is referred to as basket pedals. I started out with them myself and I do not recommend them at all. They seem to be easier looking at them but if you buy them you will be wasting your money (in my opinion). They are so hard to get into that you will have an accident looking down at them. They constantly role upside down because they are heavier on top.

Buying Guide

I have never paid for any companies high end pedals (not to say that any of them are cheap) and I have never had any problem with the ones that I have used. Some people are really caught up in having as little weight on their bikes as possible and if that’s their thing then more power to them but I would rather have some money left over to buy a new jersey or water bottle.

After looking around online to familiarize yourself the product and its high and lower price range I wouldn’t worry about trying to figure out which ones to buy or getting the right fit. I personally think that from there it is well worth it to just find your local bike shop and let them set you up with the rest. Let them know where you primarily ride and what your concerns and price range are and they will work with you from there. You may have to tell them no a couple of times when they try to push the more expensive pedals at you but they will set you up with what you need far better than you will ever be able to by studying about them.

Getting used to riding clipless

The trick to getting used to riding with clipless pedals is just like anything else, practice. You have to clip in and out of them until the motion becomes a reflex. Warning. This does not happen overnight. The number one thing to remember is to unclip about thirty or forty feet from where you need to stop. This allows you to be relaxed. Panic is the thing that will cause you to get locked up and fall every time.

Two, it allows you to find something to grab ahold of if you get stuck and can’t get out.

You are sure to get the hang of it in no time but please be sure to get very good and comfortable with it before you ride trails and definitely before you get out on the road. It is probably a good idea to ride with a friend at the park for a while until you have mastered the technique.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

Work out Day

Being Focused

For me work out day means having to stay focused on saving some energy for myself and my home. I work a very demanding job that will suck the life out of me if I were to allow it.

I try to stay focused on saving both physical energy and mental energy for myself. This enables me to be able to work out on the days that I am going to work out without or to work around the house on the in-between days. Life is about balance and sometimes we have to work really hard at finding that balance but it is well worth the effort.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

Indoor Training

Riding a Recumbent Bicycle Trainer

If it were up to me I would ride my bike 7 days a week or more but unfortunately there are these things called bills and they require me to work 10 and 12 hour days to pay them.

In the past I have been sneaking in a ride on any occasion that I could find. Take a day off, holiday, sick day, and when I could muster up the strength I would even ride after work.

My wife has a recumbent trainer that I have been reluctant to get on because I thought that it would be too different for me since I am so used to riding a standard road bike. However, since I have decided that I am going to train to ride a century (100miles) next year I figured that I am simply going to have to develop a consistent training schedule. So I decided to give the indoor bike a try. I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised at the workout I got from riding that bike.

exercise bike
exercise bike

My legs felt like they got the exact workout that I would receive on a standard bike but my core seems to have gotten twice the workout that it would have normally received. I am pleasantly surprised and I have decided that I will no longer assume that something will not work for me without trying it.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Sincerely, Tony R

Cycling: A Great way to Lose Weight

Have you ever wished that you could just have fun and lose weight at the same time?

Are you sick of gyms telling you that you have to pay their ridiculous membership fees to be able to get into shape? Are you sick of the television commercials telling you that you have to take their pills that may or may not kill you? Or are you just sick of confusing diet plans that no one working a real job could ever have time to keep up with?

If you answered yes to these questions then you and I have something in common already. I don’t have the determination or drive to work out like a professional athlete. I can’t afford to pay the gym hundreds of dollars to provide me with the machines and trainers to get me healthy. I am pretty sure that the pills that they are selling on television will shorten your life dramatically and I can’t afford to have a chef in my kitchen designing my food for me so that I am eating the right amount of all of the right things. I am even happier to be the one to tell you that it isn’t necessary to do any of those things. You don’t have to be a slave to media or weight gain anymore.

My Story

I was never the skinny guy but after I quit smoking I found myself about 87 pounds heavier. Even though I am 6’1” and have a medium size frame 322 pounds is still a lot of weight to carry around every day.

I have had inherited high blood pressure all of my life and the weight wasn’t doing it any good either. So I was taking more and more medicine to keep it under control.

However the real kick that got me motivated was when the doctor told me that I may be a diabetic and then the following A1C test confirmed that I was. I knew that I had to do something so I decided that I needed to change my eating habits and decided to start cycling. Of course I made all of these decisions along with the doctor’s blessings. It is important that you know how healthy you are before you start riding.

Cycling along with a healthy eating plan is a great way to lose weight and to keep it off. I myself lost over 75 pounds. Was it always easy? No. Were there set-backs along the way? Absolutely. Everything you try to accomplish in life has its ups and downs but those are the very things that are worth fighting for because they can change our lives and often the lives around us. Following is my method for losing weight through eating healthy and cycling.

I Never Starve Myself

Starving yourself to lose weight is a myth told by the devil himself. Starving yourself is the best way to gain weight not lose it. You should eat at least four small meals a day. It is ok to eat some starchy foods but they should be kept in small portions. Your meals should consists of more protein and veggies than anything. I try to stay away from bread altogether but you don’t have to but if you are going to eat bread then I would at least eat whole wheat and still very sparingly. Try to have lean caught fish at least twice a week. Farm raised fish is not bad for you but caught is much better. Chicken and unprocessed turkey are also good staples for eating health as they both can be prepared in many different ways that will help to keep from getting tired of them.

Drink primarily water throughout the day. No sodas and less diet sodas. Sorry for this one but the sugar has to go. There is no time that sugar is good for you.

It’s not Exercise, its Recreation

It really doesn’t take as much exercise as you might think to lose weight. You can burn between six and eight hundred calories by cycling for twenty to thirty minutes. Although you can find many charts on the Web that claim to tell you how many calories you burn per ride its actually impossible to say exactly how many calories you burn per ride because there are so many variables to take into consideration. Such as: How much you weigh, how fast you ride, how far you ride, how many hills you climb, and what kind of condition you are in.

I find that it is easier to determine how long you should ride by how tired you get. When you start to get tired then go just a little farther then turn around and head home. It isn’t necessary to train like “Rocky Balboa” to lose weight. It is much more important to enjoy yourself while you ride. That’s what keeps you riding. That’s the secret that kids have that makes them so active. That and they have no bills.

Getting Started Riding

If you don’t already have a bike I would recommend that you find a nice 200 dollar bike at Wal-Mart that is made of aluminum rather than opting to buy one of the cheaper metal bikes or one of the very expensive aluminum or carbon fiber bikes. With the two hundred dollar bike you haven’t blown a lot of money if for whatever reason you decide that riding isn’t for you and if you get one of the cheap metal bikes you will not enjoy yourself because the bikes are just too heavy to peddle up hills.

Be prepared to get a little saddle sore from the bicycle seat. Unfortunately there is no easy way around it you will get sore. The further you ride the more you will start to notice that the seat will make you sore and/or numb in your hind quarters. About the only thing that you can do about it is to invest in some good riding shorts that have cushion in them but even with them you will still have to get used to the seat before the pain will go away. But it will. I assure you it will. I don’t recommend you getting a bigger or fluffier seat as they will only tend to make you sore in different places.

It is also a good idea to plan to get a computer for your bike. No. Not a laptop but a small computer that sets on your handle bars that tells you how far and fast you ride. They help to motivate you to do a little more than before as you start to see patters in your riding habits.

Food Cravings are not a Sign of Weakness

After about a week of eating small meals and exercising be prepared for your body to start to want a little more to eat. This is a perfectly natural thing so prepare yourself for it. Don’t let it catch you off guard. You are not feeling this because you are weak or because or have poor self-discipline. You are feeling this for two reasons; (1) is because you are simply used to eating more and (2) is because your body is starting to burn more energy. So you should be happy to fill that void with a piece of fruit but not too close to your next eating time or you will be eating on top of it. However, before you eat that piece of fruit take a moment to decide if you are truly hungry or if you are just eating out of boredom. If you are truly hungry then have that fruit and enjoy.

 

Visualize Your Sugar Graph

One way of understanding why eating like I do works is by visualizing your sugar graph. Eating small portions of food per meal with smaller amounts of carbohydrates allows your sugar levels to remain constant. If you eat too much you will spike your sugar levels which causes two things: (1) Your body will be unable to burn the sugar that it has created meaning that all of the extra sugar is turned to fat and (2) you will become hungry soon after; creating a never ending cycle of eating. If you want to lose the weight then you have to break that cycle.

Don’t be Afraid of Flavor

Sometimes we seem to think that healthy food has to be bland. Having so little taste that most dogs wouldn’t care for it. This is simply not true. I have read time after time and proven it with my own experience that food that taste good is more satisfying. Food that taste good also keeps you satisfied longer. So don’t be afraid to eat a little Salt, Pepper, and Spices on your food. Another added effect of having a little spiciness in your food is that it tends to raise your metabolism therefore burning more calories.

Weighing Yourself Could be Dangerous

Weigh yourself in the morning but not every morning like some would suggest. You don’t want to develop an addiction to weight loss. Not all people are susceptible to this but it is better not to test it to find out. It will drive you crazy stressing over your weight being up or down a pound or so every day when your body will normally go up or down water loss and water gain. I recommend that you weigh in on Mon. and Thur. to keep you motivation positive and focused. If you stick to it you will lose weight so don’t stress over the scale.

The Two Number One Keys to Success

(1)Do not beat yourself up over bad days. Just reset yourself and get a fresh start the next day. Most times you will not even see a gain or loss from one day of bad eating.

(2)Take time both in the morning and in the evening to set somewhere comfortable and relax, not sleep, relax and clear your mind. Throughout the day slip back to the memory of that restful mindset so that you are able to keep your stress levels in check. Low stress levels help to keep your body working at peak performance. It is widely know now that stress is one of the triggers that causes your body to make hormones that lead to weight gain along with a host of other ailments.

 

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R.