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On Cycling

  • How Cycling And Aerobic Exercise Can Take Your Health To The Next Level

    If you are looking to make some health improvements are getting all set to get a proper workout program into place, you want to make sure that aerobic exercise is included in the mix. Cycling is a perfect way to get your cardio in as not only is it fun, it’s highly effective as it works all the major muscles in the lower body.

    Some people aren’t fully aware of all the benefits that aerobic exercise presents over and beyond fat loss, so let’s go over a few of the main points to consider so that you can clearly see why it is that you should be doing these workouts.

    Improved Circulation 

    The very first reason to get your cardio training in is because it’s going to really work to improve overall blood circulation. This in turn helps keep your organs working optimally and will help to deliver nutrients to all the working tissues faster as well.

    Circulation tends to decrease with age, especially if you adopt a sedentary lifestyle, so you will want to make sure you’re doing something to bring it up.

    Improved Heart Health 

    Next, regular cardio training will also boost heart health. Remember that your heart is a must as well and it must be trained. The stronger you get it through regular aerobic exercise, the better it’ll be at pumping blood throughout the body all day long, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and related problems.

    Reduced Toxins 

    Another big benefit of aerobic exercise that far too many people completely overlook is the fact that it can help to reduce the level of toxins in the body as well. We all experience toxins in our environment on a day to day basis and over time, these can really amount to significant levels for some people.

    By doing your cardio training and allowing perspiration to take place, you can help cleanse your system and eliminate these toxins. Be sure to wear a jersey that is well ventilated as you ride however to maximize the cleansing effects.

    The point here is to get your body sweating and boost your respiration rate as that is what directs the cleansing process.

    Improved Mood 

    Finally, the last reason to consider adding aerobic exercise to your workout week is because it’ll help to improve your mood and allow you to easily combat stress. Stress itself is one of the most damaging things to your health, so it’s imperative that you are doing something on a weekly basis to control this.

    Whenever you do intense athletic exercise, your body will release a number of ‘feel-good’ endorphins designed to help combat this stress and put you in a better state of general well-being.

    If for no other reason, cycle for this one. Reduced stress will carry over to improve every other aspect of your life, so is one not to overlook.

    So as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to be adding cycling to your weekly workout mix. Aerobic exercise has far more benefits than just burning calories, so make sure you take them into account to help prompt yourself to get started.

  • How Cross Training with Yoga Helps You Improve Your Cycling Performance

    Looking to improve your cycling performance? If so, you should be paying special attention to the cross training you’re doing. Many people are fast to just focus on adding more cycling to their weekly workout schedule, but in many cases, cross training can provide even better benefits.

    Cross training by adding yoga into the routine offers extra special benefits for those who are hoping to relieve back pain and boost their overall performance.

    Let’s look at why this is so that you can see how adding yoga can be such a wise move.

    Cycling And Back Pain

    First, it’s important to consider the fact that cycling is going to require you to remain seated in the same position for a lengthy period of time, which then translates to tight muscles in the body. Especially since the lower body muscles will constantly be acting against tension, this can mean you experience tight hamstrings in the process. Unless those hamstrings are fully stretched out, that in turn can lead to a tilted hip position, which then leads to back pain.

    It’s through this chain of events that very serious back pain often results – back pain that can take you away from cycling altogether.

    And this is precisely where yoga steps in.

    How Yoga Can Help

    First, yoga is going to help to lengthen all the main muscles in the body, improving flexibility and reducing any tension currently being felt. This in turn can help you sustain better posture, reducing the risk of back pain development.

    In addition to that, yoga can help to boost both blood circulation and circulation of the lymph system in the body, which then triggers improvements in your immune system strength and overall health as the lymph system helps to defend against infections.

    Yoga can also help to enhance the natural production of synovial fluid as well, which helps to better lubricate and nourish the joints, while keeping your body pain free.

    Particularly in cycling, where there is constant grinding of the knee cap with each pedal revolution you take, your joints really need to be adequately lubricated to keep you free from experiencing constant pain as you pedal.

    This increase in synovial fluid will also help to decrease the overall level of inflammation taking place in the body as well, further helping you be as pain free as possible.

    Finally, yoga is also a great way to help combat stress, which then means that you will recover faster from each of your cycling sessions and experience less muscle and tissue damage that could lead to lower back pain or pain in other areas of the body as well.

    So as you can see, there are many benefits to be had from taking part in yoga exercise. Yoga is a fantastic way to not only improve your cycling performance but also strengthen the main muscle groups and core of your body, ensuring you feel great regardless of what activity you’re performing.

  • Cycling and UV Damage to Your Skin – What You Need To Know

    If you spend a significant amount of time cycling outside, one thing that you must make sure you don’t forget to take into account is how UV rays may be impacting you. Many of those involved with biking completely overlook this because they are more concerned with keeping their performance levels up and preventing injuries.

    But, UV radiation is just as important to focus on because if you expose yourself often enough, you could be putting your health in serious danger.

    Let’s look at what you should know and consider regarding this topic.

    The Most At-Risk Locations for Cyclists

    First, it’s important to think about which areas of the body will be most at-risk for UV radiation on your bike rides. Think about the areas that are going to be in the direct sunlight and where you most often aren’t wearing clothing to cover them.

    For most cyclists, this is going to be the nose, the shoulders, and the knees. Since these are directly perpendicular to the sun, they are going to be hit directly while other areas may still experience UV contact, but it won’t be quite as harsh since it’s coming from an angle.

    So as you go about practicing good sun safety, it’s these areas that you want to be most concerned with protecting.

    Smart Solutions

    So what can be done about this problem? First, realize that dressing wisely is going to be half the battle. Many people take the time to consider their forearms and will wear arm covers, but then because they’re feeling so hot as they’re cycling, they choose to go with a sleeveless jersey instead.

    Now they’ve just exposed an even more massive total surface area of the skin, upping their risk of UV damage even further. If you do this often enough, you’ll also see skin discoloration and potential UV damage scarring taking place on the shoulders while the forearms stay protected.

    In addition to making sure you are paying attention to all exposed areas, you should also consider using biking capris, which cover more of the legs than regular cycling shorts would. If you purchase a good pair of breathable capris, you shouldn’t find that these become too warm as you ride, so will still help you maintain good comfort.

    Practicing Good Sun Safety

    Finally, also practice good sun safety in general with your biking. Avoid biking in the primary daylight hours of the late morning into early afternoon when the sun will be shining down at its brightest. If you can, schedule your cycling sessions to avoid the noon period as this is when the sun will be directly over your head and emit the strongest UV rays since they are not going to be filtered by the atmosphere’s layer, which offers an element of protection in itself.

    Not only is UV damage less likely outside of this time, but you’ll often find you’re more comfortable as well as it won’t be quite so hot outside.

    So don’t overlook the potential effects of UV rays any longer. This is just as important of an issue to consider while biking as any injury risk is, so be sure it’s always on your mind.

  • Bone Growth Stimulators And Cycling

    As a cyclist hard in training, you cannot neglect the fact that there will always be an inherent risk of injuries as you go about your training. Just like any sport, constant movement presents the risk of wear and tear on muscles, bones, joints, and tendons, and this doesn’t even account for the fact that if you make one wrong move with your training, you may also find yourself in a high amount of pain due to an injury that occurs should you crash.

    If you crash your bike, especially when going at top speeds, a bone break is highly likely. And, these aren’t exactly going to be easy injures to overcome. Not only are broken bones painful, but the recovery process can get quite extended depending on how severe the break is.

    One solution however that can ease the process is bone growth stimulators. Let’s look more closely at what this is and how it applies to you.

    What Are Bone Growth Stimulators?

    First let’s address what bone growth stimulators are. They can be classified into one of two groups – electromagnetic or ultrasound stimulators. These stimulators are going to be surgically implanted into various places in the fracture site and will help to stimulate faster bone regrowth than what would naturally take place without stimulation. Bone regrowth is a very involved and complicated process and in a less than perfect environment, which is what the case often is with the ‘real world’, optimal bone growth won’t take place. These stimulators work around that.

    The Two Types

    Electrical stimulation will work by sending electrical impulses throughout the body tissue while ultrasound stimulation will work by increasing the incorporation of calcium ions right into the bone matrix and surrounding cartilage, helping it grow back stronger. With electrical stimulation, a stress load is placed onto the bone, which causes it to react in the same way as a mechanical load would – by growing stronger as bone remodeling takes place.

    Right now the primary use of bone growth stimulators is with tibial stress fractures in which it seems to be very beneficial. Beyond that however, this process can definitely be used in the areas where cyclists tend to see the greatest rate of bone breaks including in the collar bone, elbow, and hip.

    Prevention: The Best Medicine

    Now, one final point to remember is that regardless of the fact that these bone growth stimulators will enhance your recovery speeds, you must not overlook the fact that prevention is still the best medicine.

    If you can strengthen your bones enough that they don’t break in the first place, that’s your best bet. Proper bone strengthening practices for the cyclist includes first ensuring you are doing some weight baring form of exercise each week such as walking, weight lifting, or jogging (since cycling is not weight baring, your training won’t count towards this). A proper strength training program can go a long way towards combating bone breaks and other injuries.

    Then in addition to this, make sure that you are eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Don’t neglect the vitamin D element of this as most people do – it’s a must-have vitamin for proper bone formation.

    Finally, you’ll also want to assure you increase your training intensity and duration slowly. Don’t overdo things because you feel fine – remember, you may feel fine while you’re cycling but if you do an extra intense or long session, you’ll be feeling it the next day.

    Add no more than 10% intensity or duration at once to keep your body happier.

    So there you have the facts about bone breaks and what can be done to manage or prevent them as a cyclist. What are you doing to take care of your bones?

  • Prevent Saddle Sores Altogether with Hoo Ha Ride Glide

    Hoo Ha Ride Glide
    If you bike a lot, I mean a lot, then you know that saddle sores are a part of cycling. For years I tried all kinds of saddle creams in a futile effort to prevent them. After all this time, I can finally say with absoute certainty that I have found a cream that works.The terrible thing about saddle sores is that once you get one, they take a very long time to heal and go away. I haven't had a single saddle sore since I started using this cream regularl - not a single one! Others women cyclistss agree with me, and one gal who wrote this article about the same cream claims that it finally healed a particularly stubborn and infected one that she already had.

    For me, I am just delighted that I can avoid them altogether now. I'm not sure, but I think all the ingredients are natural anti-bacterials as well :)

  • Cleats need lube, too

    Having a hard time clipping in? Cleats need to be cleaned and lubed just like the other moving metal parts of your bike, although they are frequently overlooked until they stop working.

    Of course this depends on what kind of pedals and cleats you have. I have speedplays, and the cleats themselves are all metal. If they aren’t cleaned and lubed, I have trouble clipping in and out.

    So if you’re a problem with sticky pedals, give this a try and see if it does the trick.

  • Save your wrists on bumpy roads

    Cycling Ventura County

    A few weeks ago a friend and I were cycling on a road that has needed re-paving for quite some time.  It is a road I am well familiar with and as we went along my friend mentioned that the road was so bad it hurt her hands and wrists to ride on.  Mine were just fine.

    It occurred to me that while her bike was carbon, her handlebars might not be.  Aluminum does not have the vibration dampening effect that carbon does.  Sure enough, she had aluminum bars.

    I have had carbon bars and a carbon stem for so long now that I have forgotten what it's like to have my wrists jangled by crappy roads, but evidently it was sufficiently uncomfortable that I do remember it.

    So if you find that your hands, wrists, or arms feel like they've been through the wringer after a ride, a carbon stem and handlebars would be worth looking into.

    Oh, and if you don't already have one, a carbon seat post might be something else to consider.  Happy riding   :)


    A few miles of this could loosen your fillings....Cycling on cracked pavement
    This even looks like it hurts!Crappy road on LA - Ventura county line
  • How to get your chain back on without getting your hands dirty

    Ever tried switching to an easier gear on a hill and dropped your chain?

    We’ve all done it. Pop! And the chain slips right off the front rings and you have zero power, your pedals are spinning freely in the air. If you are really lucky, the hill is not very steep.

    Instead of getting off your bike and putting the chain back on with your hands (yuck!) if you just stay calm (ah, the key to everything) then you can slowly and deliberately KEEP PEDALING while you move the left shifter (the one that shifts the big gears in the front) to get the chain onto the biggest ring in front, then the front derailleur cage will pick up the chain for you and move it back onto the rings.

    Of course sometimes you don’t think of it in time and it becomes too hard to pedal so you may not be able to do this without getting off your bike first.

    Fear not, if you do need to stop, you can still try the same trick off your bike. Just click the shifter to move the chain up to the biggest ring in front, then pick up your back wheel and turn the pedals with your hands to spin the chain back up onto the front rings.

    Hope this helps. Keep pedaling :)

  • Rosarito-Ensenada Bike Ride 2012

    Damn it Baxter--you know I don't speak Spanish!


    I like where all of your heads are at on this one.  September 29th works great for our schedule.  We are definitely in.  Jeff and I have done this ride before.  Here's what to expect:

    The Ride:  The ride goes through what is absolutely some of the most beautiful scenery EVER!

    Yes, it's 50 miles.  We did it in under 4 hours.  The attendance is somewhere in the ballpark of 10,000 people; so, the two aspects to consider on this ride are: difficulty factor and the-stupidity-of-other-riders factor (both listed here on an ascending scale from 1-10):

    The first 3-5 miles takes you about 45 minutes because there are so many people, then the pack begins to separate (Difficulty: 1, Stupidity: 8).

    From there it's a moderate ride of rolling hills for 20 Miles (Difficulty: 4, Stupidity: 4).

    Then comes El Tigre, over 2 miles of steep hill.  The incline on this hill is 7.5%--frame of reference: the Grapevine is 6%.  You can walk if you need, but your won't want to. Also, the density of riders thins out significantly here (Difficulty: 8, Stupidity: 4).

    Next, 4-6 miles of moderate inclines/declines (Difficulty: 3-6, Stupidity: 2).

    Then comes the very steep downhill for about 4-6 Miles--be very miindfull of the fact that this hill is EXTREMELY FAST, STEEP, AND DANGEROUS.  Stupid people have died on this downhill.  You should be on the brakes almost the whole time--your legs will rest, your forearms will burn (Difficulty: 2, Stupidity: 6).

    The last 10-12 miles are cake, negligible hills, eay peddling, spectators cheering you on, road conditions worsen but morale peaks--especially when you start to see the Ensenada port (Difficulty: 2, Stupidity: 2).

    Equipment:

    • You absolutely need to do this ride on a bonafide Road Bike.  You can do it on a mountain bike, but it will be much more difficult, and too slow for you to keep up with the road bikers--and a cruiser will be even more difficult.  YOU CAN RENT.  Contact your local bike shop to find out details--tell them what it's for, they for sure know about this ride.  Keep your eyes open for deals--they happen every day; my brother found my bike abandonded at some truck stop/bath house he frequents ($45 tune up and it was up and going).
    • You will want to have either Clip-in peddals or toe-cages (you might find them awkward at first, but you'll adapt quickly and be amazed at the results. (twice the power output, half the effort, all the sexy).
    • Helmets are a must.  Feel free to have fun with this though... i'm thinking Jack Nicholson in "Easy Rider".
    • Tires:  Go with thicker/heavier tires like 23's or even some of those kevlar types.  The course is mostly over the "free road" route to Ensenada; so, even though these tires are slower, you don't want to be changing a tire if you don't need to.
    • Repair equipment to carry with you:  1-2 spare innertubes; 1 multi-tool/tire repair kit & pump (this can be split between several riders if you all plan on staying together).
    • General equipment to carry with you:  they have aid stations, but there will all ways be 1,000 people in line there, so bring your own.
    • FOOD--you will need to refuel while riding after the 1st 15 miles and again after El Tigre (think: banana, cliff bar, gel pack).
    • WATER: Have 2 drink cages on your bike--you'll be happy if they're filled with gatorade (this ride is a bit too intense for beer--unless you're a real badass).
    • CASH: you'll finish your drinks after El Tigre (about 1/2 way), but you can buy more Gatorade from vendors set up on the side of the road (candy bars too, if needed) ($20 in ones and fives should do it).
    • WALKIE-TALKIES: It's easy to get separated during the first 10 miles, these help keep the group together before, during, and after the ride.
    • US IDENTIFICATION: God forbid anyone should get hurt on the course, there are helicopters ready to transport severe injuries, but, they have to land at the border to show your ID.  If you have a California Drivers License you go to Scripps, if you don't, you go to a hospital in Tijuana (I shouldn't have to tell you which one you want to go to).
    • WEATHER PROOF SHELL:  When Jeff and I started the ride it was a sunny 85+ degrees at 10 AM--we were concerned about overheating and dehydration--we did the last 27 miles of the race in very cold pouring rain.  You will want to pack a light weight weather shell/wind breaker to carry with you, just in case.  If nothing else, have a trash bag with you to turn into a poncho.

    COSTUMES are a big part of this eventFun to see on others, not so fun to ride 50 miles in one. That's all I've got to say about that.

    AFTER THE RIDE:  The after party in Ensenada is really fun... lots of massage tables, beer vendors, taco stands, live music stages... it's really fun.  You may want to have extra cash for this stuff--if the chase team hits traffic on the toll road, they may arrive a couple hours after us.

    ITINERARY: We try to get down there early Friday to make sure that we get a room and a head start on the festivities (this often involves a day off from work).  The ride starts at 10 am on Saturday, so there's plenty of time to sleep in and register and all that.  We'll reach Ensenada around 2pm.  Redezvous with the chase team, party and enjoy the sunset on the way back to Rosarito.  By then the "free road" portion of the course has been opened to traffic--it's really nice to see it after the ride (longer drive, but it's beautiful and free).  Head for home Sunday around noon after checking out the local bazaars.

    LODGING: Some of you may remember Los Pelicanos hotel from some of the college trips to Mexico.  This is still our hotel of choice.  $55/night ($65/night w/ ocean view) for one or two queen beds in a room, clean, great restaurant and bar on site, armed guards in the parking area, 8 blocks from the "cool" bars, and on the beach.  We will need someone who speaks Spanish to book the hotel rooms in the next couple of weeks.  I have all of the information for the hotel.  Be ready to pay cash for your room, because even if they mess up/lose your reservation, every clerk down there answers to the name Cash.

    CROSSING THE BORDER: 

    • INSURANCE:  Stop at the San Ysidro exit (last US exit) and get mexican auto insurance from one of the drive through auto insurance vendors (~$20-40 for the weekend).  Sure, you can probably get it ahead of time through a reputable carrier, but there's far less excitement in that; and, it's acually harder than you might think (these border-shop places are actually legit, cheap, and easy)--YOU DEFINITELY NEED THIS.
    • PHONE:  Check with your cell phone provider and make sure your phone will be set up to work in Mexico.  This is difficult in that most customer service agents have no idea how to do this, but they tell you it's done anyways--the best part is that when you realize they didn't do it, you're in Mexico and can't call and complain for them to fix it until you get back; but, if enough of us try before hand, maybe one or two of us will have a phone that works.
    • ID:  Passports are required for crossing the border since 2008.
    • DIRECTIONS:  Before the event, I'll put together maps to get everyone down there, but suffice it to say for now that you need only follow the signs that say: ROSARITO/TECOLOTE CUOTA, SCENIC ROUTE, TOLL ROAD.  Exit Rosarito (right).  proceed until you see a building that has "Thrifty Ice Cream" in faded paint on the side of it (turn right).  Los Peliconos is on your left at the end of the street.

    TRAINING:  I had never been clipped into a road bike until two weeks before the ride:  I road a flat 19 mile course 9 or 10 times, took 2 days off and did the ride without incident--El Tigre and all.  Most importantly, get used to the seat--it takes some time to build up a tolerance to being in the saddle for 3-4 hours.

    TIPS: Don't drink the water.  Avoid Ice and fruit.  I recommend sticking to bottled beer and neat booze (no ice).  The hotel has fresh water set out in each of the rooms; I've heard that it's good, but I've never had to try.  Good rule of thumb: 2-3 gallons of water per person (along with gatorade and booze, this should cover everyone); also, bring your own fruit.  Don't eat the popsicle treats that people walk around selling (these are actually made with water from the gutters).  Try to avoid waking up in a bathtub of ice less one kidney.  Do not try to make drunken conversation with the Policia--more importantly, don't let me make drunken conversation with the Policia.

    If you take nothing else away from this lengthy expose:

    Keep the fire lit!

    S. Wild Bill Reiman


    Article By Scott Reimann, who was kind enough to give me permission to publish his hilarious, and very helpful guide to the ride!


    • 10am start, not too early in case you had a late night prior...
    • Nice mellow start. The hammerheads are long gone.
    • Go Piggy!!!
    • Great ceramics & knick-knacks for home & garden.
    • Along hotel row.
    • Chayito catching up to little red riding hood & the big bad wolf.
    • My, what big ears you have gramma!
    • Red doesn't look very scared to me.
    • Viva Mexico!
    • Lots of policia. No monkey business (except for the costumes, of course).
    • Miles and miles of cyclists.
    • Beautiful hand made pottery.
    • Much of the ride is along the coast.
    • Of course the picture doesn't do the turquoise water justice.
    • Puerto Nuevo. I think this is a well known tourist resort.
    • Roasting chicken.
    • Pretty ballerina.
    • Group ride with lots of spectators on the toll road above.
    • Not to worry. This is a very well supported ride.
    • Another creative costume.
    • Powerade is a long time primary sponsor.
    • Lots of support from the local folks.
    • Magana's Tacos has the BEST breakfast burritos!
    • Weird guy with blow up doll.
    • Climbing El Tigre.
    • This is an official rest stop. All the cup are a dead give away.
    • Cow crossing area leaving the rest stop.
    • Are those horses or cows?
    • More rural then you though?
    • Life is goooood for us horses.
    • Winery. Many of baja's wines are award winning.
    • This is a winery that had 2 beautiful big wooden boats.
    • Finish in Ensenada.
    • Big sign to quickly locate the BAR. My kinda place.
    • Good times.
    • Food and music included.
    • One of the many conveniently located beer stands. $2/can of Tecate.
    • Mmmmmm....muy delicious tacos. I wish I could get some just like these north of the border.
    • Make sure to get TP *before* going in; there's none in the stalls!
    • The long wait to cross the border into the US. Go very early or be prepared to wait. And wait.

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