Monday, September 9, 2013

1,000 All-Time Best Bicycling Tips

Bicycling Magazine's 1000 All-Time Best Tips: Top Riders Share Their Secrets to Maximize Fun, Safety, and Performance

My name is Triathlon Mom and it's been two months since my last post. 

Clearly I am a delinquent blogger, but I do manage to post daily tidbits on Facebook.

But, recently, I read Bicycling Magazine's 1,000 All-Time Best Tips: Top riders share their secrets to maximize fun, safety and performance. 

From triathletes to mountain bikers, there's something for every cyclists. This 168-page book covers topics ranging from training techniques, skill builders and safety, to distance riding, bicycle racing, health and fitness, nutrition, and bike care and repair. 

But, if you are short on time to kick back with a book, consider this the CliffsNotes version. My gift to you :) What follows are some of the tips I found most interesting, insightful and helpful. So, be safe, have fun, and train smart!  

* Be aware of the mental stresses of training as well as the physical stresses. “I think your mind will burn out before your body. Your body can adapt to almost anything.” –Greg LeMond, America’s three-time Tour de France champion.

* The key to training with a heart-rate monitor is knowing your heart’s maximum beats per minute. You can get a rough estimate by subtracting your age from 220, but it’s much better to have it determined by a stress test or VO2 max test. Once you have the figure, training becomes a matter of percentages, using these four levels of exertion:

·  Less than 65% of max heart rate to promote recovery
·  75% of max to build aerobic endurance
·  85% of max to approach your lactate threshold, the point at which the      greatest aerobic improvement occurs.
·  95-100% of max, done in short bursts, to train for sprints, attacks, chases,    hill jams, etc.

Few things in life are guaranteed, but here’s one: If you routinely train in the range between 65-85% of your max heart rate, you will become fitter.

* In general, three peaks in one season are the most anyone should try. A physical peak is just one step from a tumble into over training.

* Fact is, cycling is one of the best things you can do for your short and long-term health and fitness. It tunes the cardiovascular system, sheds extra pounds, and, because it’s non-weight-bearing, is easy on the joints.


Tips to clean a water bottle or hydration bladder and reduce the plastic flavor:

1. Fill the bottle or bladder with hot water and put in four drops of bleach. Let it stand overnight; then rinse the alternating hot and cold water to break the molecular surface tension of any remaining bleach. This kills the bacteria and leaves no taste.

2.  If the idea of bleach doesn't appeal to you, use a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice. It won’t kill bacteria, but it’l freshen the taste.

3.  Rinse the bottle or bladder with warm water containing a teaspoon of baking soda.

4.  Wash bottles in dishwasher.

* Ways to score against saddle sores:

1. Dress right. Wear shorts with a soft, absorbent, padded liner known as a chamois.

2.  Lubricate. A cycling-specific skin conditioner, such as Assos Chamois Cream, all but eliminates the risk of chafing when it’s applied before riding. Afterward, it washes away easily, making it superior to lubricants, like petroleum jelly, that clog pores and liners.

Assos Chamois Creme
3.  Keep clean. Wash yourself and your shorts after every ride. Have at least two pairs of shorts so that one is always clean and ready.

4.  Be a quick-change artist. Never hang around after a ride in your cycling shorts. The damp liner is a breeding ground for germs. Even if you can’t wash right away, put on dry clothes next to your skin.

    * Consider altering your riding schedule if the forecast high temperature (in Fahrenheit) plus the relative humidity adds up to 160 or more. In such conditions, heat-related maladies become much more of a threat.

* The hazards of consuming more than 2 ounces of alcohol per day are well-known, and here’s another one: It can hurt your cycling performance by disturbing your body’s delicate balance of iron and other vital elements. It also increases fluid loss through urination, which can cause dehydration. In fact, your body needs 8 oz of water to metabolize 1 oz of alcohol.

If you party on Friday night, don’t expect to ride well again until Sunday. Studies show that it takes at least 36 hours before the performance-impairing effects of alcohol to wear off.

* Insufficient sleep won’t necessarily hurt your cycling. Researchers have found that strength, aerobic ability and heart rate don’t change significantly even after 60 hours of sleep deprivation. What does change are moods and perception. On long rides this may reduce performance.

* Stay off the bike during the two or three (on average) colds you'll catch each year. If you must ride, take it easy because viruses often travel to muscles where they can cause microscopic damage and fatigue. In fact, a 15 percent loss of strength has been found among people who recently had a virus.

* Inhaling frigid air during winter rides will not damage your throat or lungs. Exercise markedly increases body temperature, and the extra heat you generate instantly warms each breath you take.

* Keep riding as your age if you want a better quality of life. Research has found that older adults who exercise regularly have sharper minds than those who don’t. In one study, the active group scored higher in tests for reasoning, memory vocabulary and reaction time.

* Relieve foot discomfort by occasionally not pushing down for several strokes. By only pulling up, pressure is reduced on your soles and circulation restored.

* If you eat pasta before a big event, you’ll be in the company of 83% of world-class cyclists, according to one poll. Their pasta of choice is spaghetti, and 60% of them eat it at least three times per week. Some favorites of the pros: 
~pasta topped with honey
~cold spaghetti with cottage cheese and cinnamon sugar
~pasta smothered with peanut butter.

* During hot summer rides, keep your on-bike drinks cold by starting with frozen bottles, using ice cubes, or using insulated bottles or covers. Temperature plays a role not only in a drink’s taste but also in its effectiveness. A cold beverage is refreshing, and studies have shown that it lowers core body temperature. Plus, it digests and goes to work faster than a warm drink.

* Installing lighter inner tubes is an economical way to improve your bike’s performance. This is because wheel weight has a profound effect on acceleration and speed. An ultralight tube may weigh half as much a s a standard one yet cost only $2-$4 more. That’s a bargain compared with the cost of reducing wheel weight by replacing tires, rims or spokes.

* If your saddle is a source of discomfort, it’s probably too narrow to fully support your “sit bones.” It might also have inadequate padding or it may have too much. Extra-thick foam or gel can exert excess pressure in the center as your sit bones sink into the sides.

* Service your bike right after each wet ride. Hose it off, wipe it down with a towel, and then lubricate the chain and spray a water-dispersing product, such as WD-40, everywhere cables go into or out of housings. Give a spritz to the pivot points on brakes and derailleurs as well.

* To prevent your glasses from fogging, smear both sides of the lenses with a little gel toothpaste. Rinse with cold water, then dry with a towel.

* Grease the quick-release and mounting bolt threads on your car rack to prevent them from seizing with corrosion.

* Put your patch kit, tire levers, and other tools in an old sock before storing them in your seat bag. This keeps everything organized and quiet. When you need to make a repair, pull the sock over your hand if you need to touch greasy parts.