Category Archives: Cycling Information

Bicycling’s 50 Golden Rules

Cyclists are innovators, constantly hunting for an edge. Over the last half-century, we’ve tried thousands of methods to become stronger, faster, and smarter on a bike—many of which have been discarded through the years. These have endured.
ByBicycling Magazine

1. To corner, enter wide and exit wide.

 

2. Brake Less
It sounds counterintuitive, but the harder you yank on the brakes, the less control you have over your bike. The best riders brake well before a corner. Plus, laying off the stoppers forces you to focus on key bike cornering skills such as weight distribution, body position, and line choice.

 

3. Look Where You Want to Go
“When riding a tricky or dangerous section of trail (or road), focus on the path you want your bike to follow, not the rock, tree, or other obstacle you’re trying to avoid,” says globe-trotting mountain-biker Hans Rey.

 

4. Avoid Helmet Hair
“For God’s sake, make sure your hair is under your helmet and not poking out the front,” advises Garmin-Cervelo pro Christian Vande Velde.

 

5. Take the Lane
You have a right to the road, so use it. It’s safer than riding on the shoulder, which is often cracked, covered in gravel, or worse. But don’t be a road hog, either.

 

6. Ride with the Best
Before he built his first mountain bike, GARY FISHER was an aspiring road racer. But his decision to stay in America rather than train in Europe derailed his chances of joining the pro peloton. “To be the best at the sport, you need to go to where the best are riding,” Fisher says. “If you’re a mountain biker, spend a couple of weeks at Whistler and you will be changed forever. If you’re a road rider and want to be a better climber, go to Colorado. Find the best, train with them, watch what they do, and learn their secrets.”

 

7. Set Your Suspension—And Check It Often
It’s frightening how many riders hit the trail with poorly adjusted forks and shocks. Not only will droopy suspension make your bike feel like a wet noodle, it can also be downright dangerous. A few simple adjustments are all it takes to have your suspension smoothly sucking up bumps.

 

Here are some general guidelines, but be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations (found online or in your owner’s manual) because they will provide the starting point based on your bike’s suspension design. And because air can leak through the seals, remember to check your pressure monthly.

 

Sag
(How much the suspension compresses when you sit on the bike)
Compression
(Controls the rate at which the suspension compresses in response to a bump)
Rebound 
(The rate at which the suspension returns to full extension)
For XC: 20–25% of travel
For trail: 25–30% of travel
For DH: 30–35% of travel
For how to measure and
set sag, visit Bicycling.com/video
.
Start with the dial in the middle setting, and go ride. If the bike feels harsh, dial the damping down a click. If it feels mushy, add a click. Repeat until it feels smooth and supple. Again, start in the middle setting. Ride a short, rough section of trail. If the fork or shock seems too springy, add a click of rebound. If it bounces back too slowly, dial it back a click.

8. Clean your shoes monthly. Also: wash your gloves.

 

9. Warm Up
A slow start primes your engine by directing oxygen from your blood cells to your muscles. Spin easy for 20 to 30 minutes before you begin to hammer.

 

10. Always Carry Cash
Money can’t buy love, but it can buy food, water, a phone call, or a spare tube.

 

11. Race, At Least Once
It will push you to ride harder than you previously thought possible.

 

12. Drink before you are thirsty; eat before you are hungry.

 

13. Eat Real Food On longer rides, easily digestible calories are key—and they shouldn’t come from just energy bars. James Herrera, MS, founder of Performance Driven Coaching, has a favorite: spread some almond butter on whole-grain bread and top with sliced bananas and agave nectar or honey.

 

14. Don’t Live in Your Chamois
When the shoes come off, your shorts should come off with them.

 

15. Ride Hard. . .
To become faster, you need to ride faster. Intervals squeeze every drop of fitness from your time on the bike. Try the following two or three times a week: Choose a route that includes a climb or stretch of road where you can go nearly all-out for three to five minutes. Warm up for 15 to 30 minutes, then ride hard—your exertion should be about a 7 out of 10—for three minutes. Recover for 90 seconds, then repeat the sequence four more times.

 

16. . . .But Not Every Day
Take 56-year-old mountain-bike legend Ned Overend’s advice: Rest often. And if you’re feeling cooked after a 30-minute warm-up, put it in an easy gear and spin home. “No workout is set in stone,” Overend says. “Your training needs to have structure, but it should be malleable based on how you’re feeling.” Which might explain why, 10 days before he won the 2011 Mt. Washington Hill Climb, Overend was surfing in San Diego.

 

17. Play the Terrain
Go hard on climbs and take it easy on descents.

 

18. Ride Another Bike
Explore the woods on a mountain bike. Throw down in the local cyclocross race. Mixing in different types of riding keeps you mentally fresh, boosts your skills, and reminds you that riding is fun.

 

19. Wear Out Your Shifters
You have lots of gears for a reason: to keep your cadence in the sweet spot. For silky-smooth gear changes, remember to shift before a punchy climb, sprint, or tight switchback.

20. Train Your Weaknesses
Professional endurance racer Mark Weir makes his living blasting through corners. But that wasn’t always the case. “I was a semi-pro downhiller racing in Park City, Utah, and there was a corner that I thought just sucked,” he recalls. “I told Jan Karpiel, one of my sponsors, about it, and he said: ‘The corner doesn’t suck, you suck at that corner.’ I realized then that training my weaknesses is far more important than sticking with my strengths.”

 

21. Check Your Tire Pressure
Here are some basic guidelines from Michelin.

 

Road/Commuter: If you weigh more than 180 pounds, inflate to the maximum on the tire sidewall. If you weigh 110 or less, fill to the minimum. Somewhere in between? Inflate to somewhere in between.

 

Mountain Bike: Target somewhere between 27 and 32 psi for most tires. Ultraskinny XC tires may require as much as 35 psi. Figure on 20 to 30 psi for tubeless tires.

 

22. If your knee hurts in the front, raise your saddle; if it hurts in the back, lower the seat.

 

23. Buy a Torque Wrench and Learn How to Use It
This is mandatory for carbon parts, but will also extend the life of all stems, handlebars, bottom brackets, seatpost clamps, and suspension pivots. Our favorite is Park’s TW-5.

 

24. Learn to Bunnyhop on Your Road Bike
Doing an unclipped hop shows you how changes in body position affect your bike’s behavior—knowledge that will boost your confidence on steep downhills, rough roads, and in corners.

 

A: Replace your clipless pedals with platforms and your cycling shoes with soft-soled sneakers.

 

B: Ride across a flat, grassy field at slightly faster than walking speed, standing on your pedals, cranks level with the ground, elbows and knees slightly bent.

 

C: Push down on the handlebar while bending your knees even farther so you are crouched over the saddle. Then immediately pull up and back on your bar as you shift your weight back to get the front tire up.

 

D: With the front tire off the ground, shift your weight forward as you push the handlebar ahead and hop up with your legs to lift the rear wheel.

 

To see a video of these moves in action, visit BICYCLING.com/bunnyhop.

 

25. Fitness Takes Time
No crash diet or hell week of training will magically propel you into top form. “You’ve got to work toward it all season long,” says Pierre Rolland, the best young rider of the 2011 Tour de France.

 

26. Take short pulls at the front.

27. Wash Your Bike
Especially after a wet or muddy ride. Mist it with a garden hose or soak it using a bucket of soapy water. Wipe it down and rinse, then dry it with a clean rag or towel. Don’t forget to lube your chain.

 

28. Speaking of Your Chain. . .
A well-maintained and lubricated chain could last 3,000 road miles or more, but check it every 500. Here’s how: Take a ruler and place the 0 at the rivet of one link. If the ruler’s 12-inch mark aligns closely with another rivet, you’re in good shape. If it’s more than a 1/16th of an inch away, replace the chain.

 

29. Respect Your Front Brake
Applying 60 percent front brake will bring you to a smooth, controlled stop. But on steep descents or during rapid decelerations, you’ll want to rely even more heavily on the front.

 

30. Stick with Your Group
Whether you’re embarking on a 500-mile charity ride or racing Paris-Nice, there’s safety in numbers. Teammates and friends can pull if you’re feeling tired, share their food, or help fix a mechanical. “I’ve seen this so many times,” says Chris Horner. “A guy is leading the race and is really strong and so he goes into a breakaway. But what happens if he crashes or flats? He is all alone. Stay with your group as long as possible.”

 

Be sure to shift your weight behind your saddle to prevent yourself from sailing over the handlebar.

 

31. Layer Like a Wedding Cake
Easily removable layers make it a snap to regulate your temperature. Booties, vests, and skullcaps, as well as arm, knee, and leg warmers, can all be stashed in pockets as the day warms up.

 

32. Keep Your Head Up
Looking far down the road or trail will help you see approaching traffic, spot the best line through corners, or recognize when someone’s making a break.

 

33. Carry a frame pump. And a spare tube. And a multi-tool with a chain breaker.

34. Listen to Your Bike
“A click or pop or scraping noise doesn’t heal itself,” says Calvin Jones, director of education at Park Tool. Pay attention to the sounds emanating from your ride and you’ll know when it’s time for some TLC.

 

Noise: Rattling over bumps
Common Culprit: Loose bottle-cage bolts or quick-release skewers
Solution: Tighten them

 

Noise: Thunk/shudder during braking or over bumps
Common Culprit: Loose headset
Solution: Adjust headset to remove excess play

 

Noise: Squeaking while pedaling
Common Culprit: Dry chain
Solution: Lube

 

Noise: Pop, followed by a skipping chain
Common Culprit: Frozen chain link; worn cassette and chain
Solution: Find and free frozen link…or replace chain, chainrings, and cassette

 

Noise: Grinding noise during braking
Common Culprit: Grit in brake pads
Solution: Sand pads lightly to remove grit and grime

 

Noise: Clicks, squeals, or whines
Common Culprit: Could be any number of problems—from a loose stem to worn bottom-bracket bearings
Solution: Head to the shop

 

35. Have a Plan
Improvement does not come accidentally. If you want to take your riding to the next level, you need to craft a strategy and set incremental goals to reach it. “Better yet, hire a coach to guide your way,” suggests three-time Leadville 100 champion Rebecca Rusch.

 

36. Embrace the Rain
Unless you live in the desert, soggy rides are a part of life. Just dress appropriately: Layers and a rain jacket are optional in the summer, but become essential when temperatures start to drop.

 

37. Keep a Spare Kit in Your Car
You never know when you’ll have the chance to sneak in a ride. Borrowing or renting a bike is easy, but it’s harder to find a spare helmet, shoes, and chamois. Keeping a kit in your car all but ensures you’ll never miss an impromptu ride. Scour bike swaps for secondhand shoes, pedals, and other items, but buy a new helmet—decent models can be found for about $75.

38. It’s Okay to Stop
Don’t be afraid to pull over for a good swimming hole, hot spring, ice-cream stand, cafe, bakery, or dive bar. In fact, some of the best rides are planned around these diversions.

 

39. Keep Your Perspective
Like most young professional riders, Ted King is learning how to balance the demands of training and family obligations with the extensive travel and training his job requires. Here’s what he’s learned so far.

 

When training, set a goal for every ride—even if the goal is recovery.

 

When racing, ride smart, don’t chop corners, and remember that the local Tuesday-Night Crit is not the World Championships.

 

On the road, think like a motorist. Maybe there’s a reason the guy in the pickup truck was pissed at you.

 

40. Refuel Right
The key recovery window is the 30 minutes following a ride; that’s when your body needs protein to repair muscles and help reload its energy stores, so make sure to get at least 20 to 25 grams. Stacy Sims, a nutritionist at Stanford University, recommends six to eight ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt with walnuts or berries. Or try this protein-rich smoothie: Before heading out, put 1.5 scoops whey protein powder, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries or blueberries, 1/2 frozen banana, 2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal, and 1 cup vanilla almond milk into a blender (but don’t blend it yet). Store in the refrigerator. Whirl and drink when you return.

 

41. Wait to eat and drink until you’re at the back.

 

42. Don’t half-wheel.

 

43. Work Your Core
Most cyclists have weak cores. To fix it, try the pedaling plank. Here’s how.

 

A: Assume the plank position, as if you’re doing a push-up, but rest on your forearms with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Your legs should be extended, with your weight balanced on your toes.

 

B: Pull your right knee toward your chest without allowing your butt to rise.

 

C: Extend the leg back out and swing it to the side and back without your foot touching the floor. Perform eight to 10 times for one set, then switch legs and repeat.

44. Know What The Wind Is Doing
On blustery days, pick a route that heads into the wind first. Then get aero to minimize drag—slide into the drops and bring your elbows and knees tight to your body. In a group, ride in a single-file paceline to slice through headwinds. If the breeze is whipping across the road sideways, form an echelon (an angled paceline created by overlapping your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider ahead of you) to keep the wind out of your face. Pedal at a higher-than-normal cadence even if it means riding a little slower. Then, turn around and enjoy a tailwind as you speed home.

 

45. Know Your Gear
“Don’t ever use anything new in a bike race,” says former pro racer and cycling commentator Frankie Andreu. This advice applies to backcountry mountain-bike rides, charity events, or exotic cycling vacations. Log some miles on fresh equipment before embarking on any serious ride. You don’t want to be 60 miles from home when you discover that you and your new saddle aren’t soul mates after all.

 

46. Get Fit To Your Bike
There is no faster way to improve your comfort or performance on the bike. “Your ideal position will change over time,” says Andy Pruitt,EdD, director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Colorado. “As you get older—say, over the age of 35—you should consider a professional bike fit every few seasons.”

 

47. Bring Beer
It is the currency of cycling. A cold one can serve as payment for a borrowed tube, a tip for your mechanic, or a way to celebrate another great ride.

 

48. Pass Fast
In a mountain-bike race, make your presence known, then pass quickly. And if someone’s passing you, let him or her by.

 

49. Riding Hurts
Sometimes riders at the front aren’t there because they’re faster, but because they can suffer more. Train your legs for speed, but also condition your mind to love the pain.

 

50. Go—Even For A Short Ride
No matter what the excuse—it’s cold, you’re tired, Shark Week is airing on the Discovery Channel—you can always shoehorn in a short ride. Head away from home for 30 minutes. If you’re still miserable, turn around—you’ll have logged an hour on the bike. Or, just keep riding.
Like this? Get MORE rules you’ll love about riding in a paceline.

 

7 reasons cycling is not only for “cyclist”

Biking family by Colville-Anderson-555.jpg

A mother, child, and grandmother all bike together in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Mikael Colville-Andersen.

Traveling the world’s great bicycle cities, I fell in love with cycling. The ease, safety, convenience… (dreamy sigh) But as my six-month love affair came to an end, I began to realize the reason for my infatuation: cities like those in Denmark and Holland simply make themselves lovable. They don’t just build cycle tracks; they inject fun, whimsy, compassion, and even romance into cycling.

Certainly, many Americans love their bikes, but more of us would if we learned these lessons on cycling’s soft side from the world’s active-transport capitals.

1. Human powered is romantic. I bike home from work with my boyfriend almost every day, and it’s one of the best parts of my day. We talk about what we see along the way or what smells are coming from the Hostess Cake Factory. When it’s sunny, we sometimes stop for a beer along the way. When it’s a crisp winter night, we stop and watch the ships pass under the Fremont Bridge.

We don’t often talk about the way our transportation choices make us feel—physically or mentally. Maybe we should.

When it’s raining, we talk about what kind of soup we want to make for dinner.Biking together through the elements bonds us in a way that would never happen if we were strapped into a car. Throughout my travels, I saw all kinds of romance on the cycle tracks—teenagers kissing at stoplights in Paris, older couples holding hands while pedaling in Amsterdam, and a post-wedding getaway bicycle in Copenhagen.

The average U.S. worker now spends about 48 minutes commuting each day. Despite the billions of hours we collectively spend commuting, we don’t often talk about the way our transportation choices make us feel—physically or mentally.

Maybe we should.

2. You don’t have to be a “cyclist” to ride a bike. Recreational sub-cultures have owned cycling in North America for a long time. That’s starting to change, and it’s an important cultural shift. “None of these people consider themselves cyclists,” Andreas Hammershøj from the Danish Cycling Embassy explained to me last June as we stood on a sidewalk watching swarms of Copenhageners pedal across the Dronning Louises bridge, as 10,000 to 30,000 do daily.

“These are just people getting to work, school, or the grocery store, ” Hammershøj said. It turns out there are Cascadians who, like Copenhageners, would like to get from A to B on their bikes but don’t ever want to ride a “century.” (They might not even care to know what a century ride is.) That’s fine. You don’t have to identify with the recreational side of cycling to use a bike for transportation. Just ask Blake Trask, the Statewide Policy Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. “I’m not much of a cyclist. I just ride my bike to work most days.”

3. Remember kickstands? Henry Cutler, the Dutch-American owner ofWorkCycles in Amsterdam, is convinced that urban cycling will explode once Americans get off high-performance bikes and on to bikes that are upright, comfortable, and utilitarian.

Why don’t bikes have kickstands anymore?

“Americans ride bikes that are like race cars; Dutch bikes are like Honda Civics and mini-vans,” Cutler joked last July as I admired his fleet of practical bikes. They come outfitted with child seats, baskets, bells, chain guards, and front and rear lights powered by your pedaling. Oh, and kickstands: Why don’t bikes have kickstands anymore?

Tom Fuculoro, author of the Seattle Bike Blog, got it right when he wrote recently that buying a bike ought to be more like buying a car. “Most people aren’t fascinated by the technical aspects of car engines; they’re sold by the sunroof or cup-holders.” David Schmidt, owner of The Dutch Bike Shop in Seattle reports that the useful-bike trend is gaining steam. “Ninety percent of our clients haven’t ridden a bike since they were kids. They’re rediscovering cycling because it’s fun and simpler than driving. These aren’t the crusader commuters. They’re just people who want to start biking to the grocery store.”

4. Does your city have a bike culture? North Americans all understand what “car culture” means, but it’s a term that increasingly comes with a negative connotation. Cars are now being called an “older generation technology.” Despite the billion-dollar marketing budgets of car companies, many millennials would rather not own a car.

Unlike car cultures, bicycle cultures are in demand. Many of the world’s most vibrant and thriving cities are going to great lengths to support their citizen cyclists because having a “bicycle culture” has suddenly become an asset and an important part of “attracting the types of workers that an innovation economy wants to attract.”

“Demographics is destiny,” said Brian Surratt, business development director at the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, while speaking about the importance of developing a bike culture. “People no longer relocate for industry. Industry relocates for talent. Seattle wants to be recognized as a bike-friendly city because it simply helps attract good talent. The most successful cities—economically, culturally, and socially—must compete for intellectual capital and talent.”

5. More cyclists encourage more compassionate roads. Numerous studies document the relationship between an increase in the volume of cyclists and an increase in cyclist safety. The relationship between these two factors is sometimes remarkably linear. Odense, Denmark, embarked on an ambitious, multi-year cycling promotion campaign and saw cycling levels increase by 20 percent, while traffic accidents involving cyclists decreased by 20 percent.

Why? People behind the wheel become more accustomed to seeing people on two wheels on the roads. Also, it’s often the same people: drivers and cyclists are the same folks at different times of the day, or at least drivers are more likely to have cyclists in the family.

Driving “with your heart” becomes a much easier sell when citizens—like in Groningen, Holland—have friends and family members who commute by bike or on foot. Lucky for us, cycling rates have increased dramatically in many American cities: bike commuting doubled in Seattle and tripled in Portland as a share of all commutes from 2000 to 2010, according to the League of American Bicyclists, while New York City’s Department of Transportation reports that commuter cycling there doubled between 2007 and 2011. This growth helps make roads a lot safer for everyone—even roads that lack cycling infrastructure.

Why can’t activity just be engineered into our daily lives so that we can stay healthy without the added chore of working out?

6. We don’t have time to compensate. Most people reading this article are sitting in front of a computer. More and more of us are “knowledge workers” who sit in front of computers for much of our careers. If you also choose to use passive forms of transportation such as driving or taking the bus, doctors recommend that you compensate for your sedentary lifestyle by “working out.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t find much time in my schedule to compensate—and I wasn’t alone. The Center for Disease Control reports that 80 percent of Americans fail to meet federal guidelines for physical activity despite the $19 billion we shell out for gym memberships each year. Why can’t activity just be engineered into our daily lives so that we can stay healthy without the added chore of working out? Cycling has been the solution for me. I typically burn about 500 calories a day pedaling myself to the places I need to go, and going to the gym is never on the to-do list anymore. Having one less chore means I have more free time to spend with the people I love.

 

Bike bus
4 New Ideas for a Bicycle Planet

A school bus pedaled by kids, the world’s largest bike-share, and other innovations that are changing how we cycle.

7. Focus on women. Women are the “indicator species” of a city’s cycling ecosystem.Studies have shown thatwomen are more risk-averse than men, so a profusion of women pedaling in a city shows that cycling feels safe there.

Women are also far more likely to participate in and benefit from cycling encouragement and training programs than men. A study done in London showed that 73 percent of London residents who participated in on-road cycling training programs were women. The same study interviewed female cyclists and found that “cycling helps bolster a self-confident, independent identity” for many women. An Australian study shows that cycling outreach and support events have a greater positive impact on behavior change among women than among men. Why else is it important to get more women riding? American women make more major household decisions than men and can hence influence the entire family to get out of the car and on to bikes. Some people also assert that more women cycling can contribute to a more visually pleasing urban environment.

None of these ideas are revolutionary. I’ve witnessed each across the world. What’s important is that sometimes it’s not just about infrastructure. Getting folks to fall in love with cycling will take more than signage and street paint (although those are important, too!).

What bicycling could really use is a good marketing department.

Chrisitine M. Grant is the active transportation lead at Cascadia Consulting Group. You can learn more about her travels and see more of her pictures of great cycling cities on Shift, her personal blog

Granada Sponsors UFD Womens and Juniors Races!

This race season, Granada will be partnering with United Federation of Dirt and will be donating $1200.00 worth of  gift cards to be used for the end of the season championship points series winners. Despite whether you have or haven’t raced before, this is a great opportunity to get out there and race!

The break down will look something like this:

Women Cat 1 2 and 3 1st $125 2nd $50 3rd $25 gift cards for each category totaling $ 200 per category and $600 total for the women’s divisions

Juniors 1st $125 2nd $50 3rd $25

Kids 11-14 1st $125 2nd $50 3rd $25

Kids 3-11 1st $125 2nd $50 3rd $25.

$600 total for the Junior and kids divisions as well.

To view UFD’s website and race info,  click here

30 reasons to take up cycling

Whether it’s to boost your fitness, health or bank balance, or as an environmental choice, taking up cycling could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Not convinced? Here are 30 major benefits of taking to two wheels.

1. You’ll get there faster

Commute by bike in the UK’s major cities and you’ll get there in half the time of cars, research by Citroen shows. In fact, if you drive for an hour in Cardiff’s rush hour, you’ll spend over 30 minutes going absolutely nowhere and average just 7mph, compared to averaging around 12-15mph while cycling.

2. Sleep more deeply

An early morning ride might knacker you out in the short term, but it’ll help you catch some quality shut-eye when you get back to your pillow. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers asked sedentary insomnia sufferers to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. The result? The time required for the insomniacs to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost an hour.

“Exercising outside exposes you to daylight,” explains Professor Jim Horne from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre. “This helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync, and also rids your body of cortisol, the stress hormone that can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.”

3. Look younger

Scientists at Stanford University have found that cycling regularly can protect your skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation and reduce the signs of ageing. Harley Street dermatologist Dr Christopher Rowland Payne explains: “Increased circulation through exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to skin cells more effectively, while flushing harmful toxins out. Exercise also creates an ideal environment within the body to optimise collagen production, helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles and speed up the healing process.” Don’t forget to slap on the factor 30 before you head out, though.

4. Boost your bowels

According to experts from Bristol University, the benefits of cycling extend deep into your core. “Physical activity helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, limiting the amount of water absorbed back into your body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass,” explains Harley Street gastroenterologist Dr Ana Raimundo.

In addition, aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles. “As well as preventing you from feeling bloated, this helps protect you against bowel cancer,” Dr Raimundo says.

5. Increase your brain power

Need your grey matter to sparkle? Then get pedalling. Researchers from Illinois University found that a five percent improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests. That’s because cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the region responsible for memory, which deteriorates from the age of 30.

“It boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which fires and regenerates receptors, explaining how exercise helps ward off Alzheimer’s,” says the study’s author, Professor Arthur Kramer.

6. Beat illness

Forget apples, riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay. “Moderate exercise makes immune cells more active, so they’re ready to fight off infection,” says Cath Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital in London.

In fact, according to research from the University of North Carolina, people who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week take about half as many sick days as couch potatoes.

Riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay:

Riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay

7. Live longer

King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins and found those who did the equivalent of just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other influences, such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking.

“Those who exercise regularly are at significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity,” says Dr Lynn Cherkas, who conducted the research. “The body becomes much more efficient at defending itself and regenerating new cells.”

8. Save the planet

Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around five percent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces zero pollution.

Bikes are efficient, too – you travel around three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy and, taking into account the ‘fuel’ you put in your ‘engine’, you do the equivalent of 2,924 miles to the gallon. You have your weight ratio to thank: you’re about six times heavier than your bike, but a car is 20 times heavier than you.

9. Improve your sex life

Being more physically active improves your vascular health, which has the knock-on effect of boosting your sex drive, according to health experts in the US. One study from Cornell University also concluded that male athletes have the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger, with physically fit females delaying the menopause by a similar amount of time.

Meanwhile, research carried out at Harvard University found that men aged over 50 who cycle for at least three hours a week have a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than those who do little exercise.

10. It’s good breeding

A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you. According to research from Michigan University in the US, mums-to-be who regularly exercise during pregnancy have an easier, less complicated labour, recover faster and enjoy better overall mood throughout the nine months. Your pride and joy also has a 50 percent lower chance of becoming obese and enjoys better in-utero neurodevelopment.

“There’s no doubt that moderate exercise such as cycling during pregnancy helps condition the mother and protect the foetus,” says Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you:

A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you

11. Heal your heart

Studies from Purdue University in the US have shown that regular cycling can cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent. And according to the British Heart Foundation, around 10,000 fatal heart attacks could be avoided each year if people kept themselves fitter. Cycling just 20 miles a week reduces your risk of heart disease to less than half that of those who take no exercise, it says.

12. Your boss will love you

No, we don’t mean your Lycra-clad buttocks will entice your superiors into a passionate office romance, but they’ll appreciate what cycling does for your usefulness to the company. A study of 200 people carried out by the University of Bristol found that employees who exercised before work or at lunchtime improved their time and workload management, and it boosted their motivation and their ability to deal with stress.

The study also reported that workers who exercised felt their interpersonal performance was better, they took fewer breaks and found it easier to finish work on time. Sadly, the study didn’t find a direct link between cycling and getting a promotion.

13. Cycle away from the big C

There’s plenty of evidence that any exercise is useful in warding off cancer, but some studies have shown that cycling is specifically good for keeping your cells in working order. One long-term study carried out by Finnish researchers found that men who exercised at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes a day were half as likely to develop cancer as those who didn’t. And one of the moderate forms of exercise they cited? Cycling to work. Other studies have found that women who cycle frequently reduce their risk of breast cancer by 34 percent.

14. Lose weight in the saddle

Loads of people who want to shift some heft think that heading out for a jog is the best way to start slimming down. But while running does burn a ton of fat, it’s not kind to you if you’re a little larger than you’d like to be. Think about it – two to three times your body weight goes crashing through your body when your foot strikes the ground. If you weigh 16 stone, that’s a lot of force! Instead, start out on a bike – most of your weight is taken by the saddle, so your skeleton doesn’t take a battering. Running can wait…

15. You’ll make more money

If you’re cycling to lose weight then you could be in line for a cash windfall… Well, sort of. Researcher Jay Zagorsky, from Ohio State University, analysed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth – which saw 7,300 people regularly interviewed between 1985 and 2000 – to see how their obesity and wealth changed over that period. Zagorsky concluded that a one unit increase in body mass index (BMI) score corresponded to an £800 or eight percent reduction in wealth. So, shed a few BMI points on the bike and start earning.

16. Avoid pollution

You’d think a city cyclist would suck up much more pollution than the drivers and passengers in the vehicles chucking out the noxious gases. Not so, according to a study carried out by Imperial College London. Researchers found that passengers in buses, taxis and cars inhaled substantially more pollution than cyclists and pedestrians.

On average, taxi passengers were exposed to more than 100,000 ultrafine particles – which can settle in the lungs and damage cells – per cubic centimetre. Bus passengers sucked up just under 100,000 and people in cars inhaled about 40,000. Cyclists, meanwhile, were exposed to just 8,000 ultrafine particles per cubic centimetre. It’s thought that cyclists breathe in fewer fumes because we ride at the edge of the road and, unlike drivers, aren’t directly in the line of exhaust smoke.

Cyclists breathe in fewer fumes than drivers:

Cyclists breathe in fewer fumes than drivers

17. Enjoy healthy family time

Cycling is an activity the whole family can do together. The smallest tyke can clamber into a bike seat or tow-along buggy, and because it’s kind on your joints, there’s nothing to stop grandparents joining in too.

Moreover, your riding habit could be sowing the seeds for the next Bradley Wiggins. Studies have found that, unsurprisingly, kids are influenced by their parents’ exercise choices. Put simply, if your kids see you riding regularly, they think it’s normal and will want to follow your example. Don’t be surprised, though, if they become embarrassed by your tendency to mismatch fluorescent Lycra when they become teenagers.

18. It means guilt-free snacks

Upping your salt intake is seldom your doctor’s advice, but in the few days leading up to a big ride or sportive, that’s exactly what you should do. This gives you the perfect excuse to munch on crisps and other salty foods you might normally avoid. The sodium in them helps protect your body against hyponatraemia, a condition caused by drinking too much water without enough sodium that can lead to disorientation, illness and worse.

19. Get better at any sport

Whether you want to keep in prime shape or just improve your weekly tennis game, a stint in the saddle is the way to begin. A recent medical study from Norway carried the title Aerobic Endurance Training Improves Soccer Performance, which makes it pretty clear that the knock-on benefits to other sports and activities are immense.

20. Make creative breakthroughs

Writers, musicians, artists, top executives and all kinds of other professionals use exercise to solve mental blocks and make decisions – including Jeremy Paxman, Sir Alan Sugar and Spandau Ballet. A study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts at least one measure of creative thinking. Credit goes to the flow of oxygen to your grey matter when it matters most, sparking your neurons and giving you breathing space away from the muddle and pressures of ‘real life’.

21. You’re helping others

Many cyclists turn their health, fitness and determination into fundraising efforts for the less fortunate. The London to Brighton bike ride has raised over £40 million for the British Heart Foundation since the two became involved in 1980, with countless other rides contributing to the coffers of worthy causes.

22. You can get fit without trying too hard

Regular, everyday cycling has huge benefits that can justify you binning your wallet-crippling gym membership. According to the National Forum for Coronary Heart Disease Foundation in the US, regular cyclists enjoy a fitness level equal to that of a person who’s 10 years younger.

23. Boost your bellows

No prizes for guessing that the lungs work considerably harder than usual when you ride. An adult cycling generally uses 10 times the oxygen they’d need to sit in front of the TV for the same period. Even better, regular cycling will help strengthen your cardiovascular system over time, enabling your heart and lungs to work more efficiently and getting more oxygen where it’s needed, quicker. This means you can do more exercise for less effort. How good does that sound?

24. Burn more fat

Sports physiologists have found that the body’s metabolic rate – the efficiency with which it burns calories and fat – is not only raised during a ride, but for several hours afterwards. “Even after cycling for 30 minutes, you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop,” says sports physiologist Mark Simpson of Loughborough University.

And as you get fitter, the benefits are more profound. One recent study showed that cyclists who incorporated fast intervals into their ride burned three-and-a-half times more body fat than those who cycled constantly but at a slower pace.

Cycling can help you lose pounds – but don't take it too far!:

Cycling can help you lose pounds – but don’t take it too far!

25. You’re developing a positive addiction

Replace a harmful dependency – such as cigarettes, alcohol or eating too much chocolate – with a positive one, says William Glasser, author of Positive Addiction. The result? You’re a happier, healthier person getting the kind of fix that boosts the good things in life.

26. Get (a legal) high

Once a thing of myth, the infamous ‘runner’s high’ has been proven beyond doubt by German scientists. Yet despite the name, this high is applicable to all endurance athletes. University of Bonn neurologists visualised endorphins in the brains of 10 volunteers before and after a two-hour cardio session using a technique called positive emission tomography (PET). Comparing the pre- and post-run scans, they found evidence of more opiate binding of the happy hormone in the frontal and limbic regions of the brain – areas known to be involved in emotional processing and dealing with stress.

“There’s a direct link between feelings of wellbeing and exercise, and for the first time this study proves the physiological mechanism behind that,” explains study co-ordinator Professor Henning Boecker.

27. Make friends and stay healthy

The social side of riding could be doing you as much good as the actual exercise. University of California researchers found socialising releases the hormone oxytocin, which buffers the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Another nine-year study from Harvard Medical School found those with the most friends cut the risk of an early death by more than 60 percent, reducing blood pressure and strengthening their immune system. The results were so significant that the researchers concluded not having close friends or confidants is as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. Add in the fitness element of cycling too and you’re onto a winner.

28. Be happy

Even if you’re miserable when you saddle up, cranking through the miles will lift your spirits. “Any mild-to-moderate exercise releases natural feel-good endorphins that help counter stress and make you happy,” explains Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation. That’s probably why four times more GPs prescribe exercise therapy as their most common treatment for depression compared to three years ago. “Just three 30-minute sessions a week can be enough to give people the lift they need,” says McCulloch.

Related articles

Related links

29. Feeling tired? Go for a ride

Sounds counter-intuitive but if you feel too tired for a ride, the best thing you can do is go for ride. Physical activity for even a few minutes is a surprisingly effective wake-up call. A review of 12 studies on the link between exercise and fatigue carried out between 1945 and 2005 found that exercise directly lowers fatigue levels.

30. Spend quality time with your partner

It doesn’t matter if your paces aren’t perfectly matched – just slow down and enjoy each other’s company. Many couples make one or two riding ‘dates’ every week. And it makes sense: exercise helps release feel-good hormones, so after a ride you’ll have a warm feeling towards each other even if he leaves the toilet seat up and her hair is blocking the plughole again.

Original article posted at

http://www.bikeradar.com/road/fitness/article/30-reasons-to-take-up-cycling-23965/

Specialized Shiv review by Triathalon Plus

Specialized Shiv Pro

Shiv has been one of the most iconic yet unobtainable aero bikes of recent years, going through various frame-only iterations to comply with assorted time trialling rules.

This year, it’s available in several complete bike formats, and because it’s triathlon specific now, the gloves are off in terms of aero profiling. The Shiv Pro tested here wasn’t just impressively aero but outstandingly comfortable, too.

Ride & handling: Perfect for smooth cruising

The main draw of the Shiv is its chassis. The amount of positional adjustment available via the Control Tower makes it well worth booking time with one of Specialized’s in-house BG (Body Geometry) Fit experts if you’re not confident setting the bike up yourself.

Once it’s all fettled, the Shiv offers an outstandingly comfortable and friendly ride that made even first-time aero bar users feel relaxed within a few miles. It’s not just the position tweaking adjustment that makes it so welcoming either.

The steering is both composed and confident, so you pop between base bar and extensions without concern, even if you’re leaving the braking late. We found ourselves staying in a tuck through more corners than normal too, and when we were on the base bar it carved round with ease.

While the sheer size of the down tube made us very sceptical of Specialized’s claims of ‘crosswind-optimised aerofoils’, it really does reduce instability caused by wayward winds. You experience very little deflection when you pass gate gaps or other causes of turbulence.

The ride feels calm and controlled, and when we installed deep-section wheels for part of the testing they just added to the relaxed and restful ride experience.

The fork, frame, saddle and bar also suck a remarkable amount of shock from the road, leaving us sitting pretty and spinning smoothly when the stiffer bikes on test were knocking their riders out of rhythm.

The flip side to the smoothness is a noticeable sprinting reluctance from the Shiv, and it’s not a fan of steep muscle climbs either. The U-brakes feel a bit spongy, and this dents your confidence on steep descents and in tricky traffic situations.

Once you’ve coaxed it up to speed, though, it cruises beautifully, with the fatigue-reducing facets of its performance increasingly obvious the further you ride. Despite the high frame, cockpit and wheel weight, overall weight is still reasonable (8.67kg or 19.11lb as tested) so it climbs steady grades pretty well and sustains pace over rolling roads.

If you want something similar in a lighter, more responsive and versatile short-course shape, have a look at Specialized’s Venge aero road bike family.

Frame & equipment: Clever frame and cockpit

Now that the Shiv is free from the constraints of the tube ratio rules of the UCI, the massively deep down tube becomes the focus of this radical-looking bike. It’s so deep, in fact, that you can install an optional Fuselage drinking bladder inside the tubes.

The Shiv cockpit is just as innovative as the frame. A sandwich-style stem allows 60mm or 90mm effective lengths, while the extension clamps are on curved base sections for adjustable angle as well as fore and aft movement.

The integrated shiv cockpit is extremely aero and highly adjustable, but it’s certainly not light: the integrated shiv cockpit is extremely aero and highly adjustable, but it’s certainly not light

The highly adjustable cockpit on the Shiv Pro

The bike comes with a full toolkit of different spacers to raise the arms and rests, and the pads can be adjusted to different angles and widths. While the stem to steerer junction is conventional, the supplied spacers are aero shaped to sync with the humpback frame section for the internal cable routing.

A choice of three different back covers keep the stem streamlined whatever stem height you run. The stem alone is 277g though, and the whole cockpit comes in at  well over a kilo even without any extra spacers fitted under the armrests.

The conventional ‘plug in’ fork with front-mounted U-brake isn’t particularly light either. The fact that you get two different seatposts supplied with the frame is a nice touch, and each one is reversible to give four position options, from super-forward TT style to conventional, relaxed road angles.

More Specialized own-brand innovation comes in the form of the superlight FACT carbon armed, oversized axle cranks. A wider than normal 52/36-tooth chainring choice and an 11-28T cassette helps you to maintain cadence efficiency on hills, and the SRAM Red mechs, shifters and KMC chain shift confidently.

Specialized’s carbon crank is stiff and light, with a wide ring ratio for rolling terrain : specialized’s carbon crank is stiff and light, with a wide ring ratio for rolling terrain

The carbon crank is stiff and light, with a wide gear ratio

In common with a lot of affordable top-end bikes, the Shiv Pro comes with conventional training quality wheels, leaving you free to upgrade to your choice of aero wheel rather than second-guessing what you might want.

Keen bargain hunters should be aware that the same frame (with an alloy – rather than carbon – cockpit) is used on the £3,000 Shimano Dura-Ace equipped Shiv Expert and SRAM Rival/Apex/FSA based Shiv Comp, which costs £2,200.

This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine