SEPTEMBER - Short & Sweet: Some tips for those new to cycle training
July 2008 - CYCLING THROUGH THE SEASONS(Wet and Cold Weather Cycling)
By preparing for the elements, cycling safely and defensively, and using the proper equipment, it is possible to ride your bicycle throughout most of the year. For some, riding in a light rain or on a brisk day can provide a refreshing and energizing workout.
Important tips from an article taken from www.peterboroughmoves.com:
Keeping Warm and Dry
• When cycling in cold weather, start slowly to let your muscles and joints warm up.
• Dress for longer rides if feeling a little cool, your body will quickly warm up due to the physical activity.
• Wearing several thinner clothing layers, allows you to remove or add clothing as your body heats up or cools down. Try experimenting with clothing combinations to find out what is good for you. Generally speaking, a perspiration-whisking material is best against your skin, followed by wool or pile (as many layers as needed) and finally a wind-breaking, preferably breathable, jacket or top.
• Waterproof jackets and pants will make your ride in the rain manageable.
• Full fenders for your tires will keep you fairly dry in wet conditions and help protect your bike.
• To keep your body warm and dry, consider: shoe covers (booties), a skull cap for beneath your helmet and full finger cycling gloves.
• Don't forget to have water on hand. Remaining hydrated is important for keeping warm.
Wet weather cycling requires special precautions:
• Braking can take up to six times longer when rims are wet. Squeeze your brakes in small, gentle spurts while you are riding (without coming to a stop) to keep your rims clean of water build up.
• Puddles can hide dangerous potholes and hazards, so avoid riding through them.
• Rainy weather can cause many surfaces to become extremely slippery, such as painted lines, metal bridges and railroad tracks. Take special care and dismount and cross when possible.
• Corners should be taken more slowly than in dry conditions.
In cold and wet weather, visibility is often poor and requires extra precaution. Bright, well-lit streets are usually the best for cycling. As daylight hours decrease in the fall and winter months however, it is necessary to take extra care to ensure you are visible to motorists.
• Use a constant white light in front of your bike and a red light in the back (flashing red lights are more visible to motorists). Since you are using your lights everyday, use rechargeable batteries and carry an extra set with you. Reflectors, white in the front and red in the back of your bicycle are a good back-up.
• Use reflective tape: white on the front forks and red on the back of your seat.
• Make sure you wear bright and reflective clothing! Consider adding reflective tape to your jacket, pant legs or arms. Cycling jackets often already have reflective material sewn on them.
• Remember to consider your own ability to see! Glasses with high contrast lenses increase night vision. Spraying your glasses with anti-fogging spray will stop them from fogging up. Prescription cycling glasses are also available.
Equipment and Maintenance
Water, and extra dirt on the road means you and your bike will need a little extra care. Consider using an old or inexpensive bike for wet and winter weather riding.
Use these tips to keep your bike in tiptop condition:
• Clean and lubricate your chain, and oil the freewheel regularly.
• Put a small drop of oil at the end of each spoke to slow down corrosion.
Make sure the rims are clear of oil afterwards so that your brakes work properly!
• Wipe your bike down at the end of each day to remove the salt and reduce rust and corrosion.
• Keep your bicycle protected and covered from rain.
Here are other important tips to remember to ensure you are safe on the road in wet conditions:
• Lessen the tire pressure to the low end of the recommended range to increase your traction on the road.
• Toe clips are not recommended for winter conditions - you may have to put your feet down in a hurry!
• There are many types of tyres: each operating best under certain conditions. Know what your tyres can handle!
May 2008 - On your Head
Cycle helmets are designed to work as shock absorbers for your head. In a fall the primary danger is not the cuts or grazes to the scalp, but the impact energy to your brain which can slosh about inside your skull. The helmet’s job is to soak up as much of this energy as it can. It does this by crushing and breaking.
Cycle helmets are made mostly from a thick layer of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which takes the crushing and breaking force. The EPS is covered with a plastic shell, which will flex a bit on impact and distribute the shock through a wider area beneath to soak up more energy. The shell should also “skid” better, rather than biting into the road surface and twisting the head like raw EPS could.
To achieve a secure, comfortable fit, helmets cradle the back of the head with a harness (adjustable with a ratchet or dial) and / or use removable foam pads. A buckled chinstrap keeps the helmet in place. Some helmets also have a peak. It’s better if this is detachable, so that it will break off in an accident rather catching on something, potentially halting or twisting the head.
The protective capabilities of cycle helmets are often exaggerated. A bicycle helmet is not a motorcycle helmet. Cycling is an energetic activity and for any helmet to be tolerable it must be lightweight and well ventilated, or you would swiftly overheat. This limits the amount of available protection.
Cycle helmets are designed to protect the head in a fall from a bicycle at impact speeds of around 20 km per hour where no other vehicle is involved. That’s all: simple falls, and not at high speeds. They have extremely limited capacity in crashes involving motor vehicles, which can account for 93% of serious cycling injuries and fatalities – and which can introduce forces greater than that which even Formula One motor racing helmets are designed to withstand.
Nevertheless a fall by itself – whether from a bicycle or not – can be very serious. Helmets are of greatest use not as a protection from traffic, but rather where falling off is relatively common, for example; among young or learner cyclists; among mountain bikers who ride on trickier terrain; and for any cyclist on icy roads. Cycle helmets can also help prevent (and arguably, do a better job at preventing) lacerations to the scalp. These can be ugly and painful, even though few are life threatening.
Wear and care
When wearing a helmet, it is vital that you wear it correctly. The helmet must protect the forehead. Do not wear it at a jaunty angle on the back of your head. The brim should be no more than a couple of fingers’ width above your eyebrows and just visible in the top of your vision.
The straps should be fairly snug but not tight. The ‘Y’ of the straps should meet just under the earlobe. You should be able to get one finger under the chinstrap (a useful precaution while buckling a child’s helmet to prevent pinched skin), but no more. It takes time to sort out the strapping and cradle arrangement in a new helmet until it’s just right. Take that time.
Of course, the helmet must fit to begin with. If it is loose on the head it could slip out of position. Space between head and helmet also means there’s room for the brain to accelerate inside the skull, before the energy-absorbing EPS does its job. Measure your head with a tape measure (circumference just above the ears) and compare it to the size range of your chosen helmet. And try it for size in the bike shop, too (as you would shoes); some head shapes fit some helmets better than others.
Cycle helmets are designed to crumple. If you have a fall and bang it, you should replace the helmet. Even if it is not visibly damaged there may be hairline cracks in the EPS that will prevent it from functioning properly next time. Some manufacturers have a crash-replacement policy, which is worth asking about in the bike shop. You send off your crashed helmet and they’ll send you a new one.
Even if you don’t crash you helmet it will have a limited lifespan. Most manufacturers suggest five years – a fair guideline, although not an absolute limit. Given a good degree of care, a helmet can be used for longer. That means avoiding unnecessary knocks when it’s being stored or carried (got a box for it?), not putting anything too heavy on top of it, and letting it dry out naturally if it gets wet. Those are all good precautions in any case.
Helmets are made from inexpensive materials. A more expensive helmet won’t necessarily offer better protection. What it will offer is lighter weight, better ventilation and more style.
Style is important in a helmet insofar as a lack of style may be a barrier to wearing the helmet at all. If it looks geeky, you may not wear it; if it doesn’t, you will. This is a particular issue with teenage children. Ventilation is more of an issue the further and faster you ride. If you are using cycling as a form of exercise (or racing), more air-cooling will help prevent overheating. Conversely, infants in child seats need relatively little ventilation as they are not exercising. Weight is something all cyclists want less of, but with modern cycle helmets weighing around 250g-350g it’s not the issue it used to be.
The standard design of a cycle helmet is a ribbed shell with vents. Helmets for mountain biking have a detachable peak, which can be just as handy to keep the sun or rain out of your eyes for other types of cycling; only for riding hard on drop handlebars is the peak a problem – you can’t see where you are going!
Helmets for infants are much deeper at the rear to protect the back of the head. You’ll sometimes see riders doing stunts – on jump bikes or BMX’s – wearing hardshell helmets that look more like skateboarding or climbing helmets. These are tough, but seldom well ventilated enough for riding along in, which is why you rarely see adult cyclists in them. Teenagers like them, however.
Also hotter but offering more protection – most especially to the chin and face – are full-face helmets. These look like motorcycle helmets, although they are much lighter and more fragile. They’re worn almost exclusively by downhill mountain bikers, who need protection more than they need ventilation. They’re worth the investment for anyone into riding down tricky terrain. (Adapted from Enjoy your Bike magazine - August 2006 article).
March 2008 - Child Safety and Bike Riding
Being able to ride a bicycle is a developmental milestone in the life of a child. Riding a bicycle is a rite of passage, a passport to worlds beyond the front gate. Bicycles represent fun, freedom, exercise and fresh air ... everything that is special about being a child.
Children and bicycle riding
Children of all shapes, sizes and abilities can ride a bicycle; there are even bicycles developed for children with disabilities. Bicycle riding is a wonderful activity which can be enjoyed by the entire family together. The level of traffic and traffic speed in today's urban environment have created greater risks for bicycle riders, particularly children and it is vital to instill safety messages to your children from an early age without discouraging them from riding. A growing body of evidence suggests that children's fitness is declining and their obesity is increasing. This is in large part attributable to the fact that children lead more sedentary lifestyles. As a parent you are in a unique position to encourage your children to be physically active every day in as many ways as they can through play, transport and recreation. Why not take your child on a ride with you when they are too young to ride on their own and instill in them the joys of bicycle riding and the outdoors and familiarise them with trails, roads and traffic environments? The attitudes parents instill in their children from an early age will determine how they will ride for years to come.
When is a child ready to be taken for a ride on a bicycle?
Your child will need to be able to sit upright unattended and hold his or her head up while wearing a helmet. Generally this is true when the child is around a year old, but if in doubt about your child's neck strength, check with your family doctor. Remember to familiarise your child with wearing a helmet before you are taking him or her for a ride. Let them play and feel comfortable with wearing a helmet and being strapped in. If they are comfortable with the equipment, they are more likely going to enjoy the ride. There are several options available for taking your young children for a ride.
Trailers are pulled along at the back of the bicycle and can seat up to two children and still have space for bits and pieces. Bicycle balance is not affected much by pulling a trailer and most trailers have rain flaps to protect your child from the elements. Road rules for towing children in trailers can vary between countries. Generally a person may be legally be towed in a bicycle trailer, provided: " the person riding the bicycle is at least 16 years of age " the person in the trailer is under 10 years old the bicycle trailer has been constructed to carry a person " both the person riding the bicycle and the passenger are wearing approved bicycle helmets.
Children's seats come in a range of varieties, most attach to a rear rack. If you have a mountain bicycle or a touring bicycle with eyelets, you should have no trouble fitting a rack on the back of the bicycle. Some child seat models recline, which is better for younger children, who might fall asleep. There are even models that put the child in front of the adult. Depending on the weight of your child, a bicycle seat may affect your balance. If you are used to using a rear rack and panniers, you should have no trouble with a child seat.
Trailer cycle or tag-a-long
A natural step up from a bicycle trailer and a wonderful way to share the joy of cycling with your child are trailer cycle or tag-a-long devices which are easy attached to your bicycle. They enable your child to pedal along with you being in control of steering and braking. It is a great way to teach your children the road rules as well as basic bicycle riding skills before they graduate to their own bicycle.
When is your child ready to ride a bicycle?
Just as babies must learn to crawl before they can walk, tricycles are perfect for preschool children to test their new found motor skills before they graduate to a two-wheeler. Between 5 and 6 years old, depending on your child's coordination and strength development, she or he will be ready to tackle a two wheeler. Balancing a bicycle, braking and steering at the same time requires certain coordination skills. Always choose a flat and safe piece of land, without cracks, potholes or hazards to teach your child to ride. Some parents prefer to use training wheels to build their child's confidence first, where as others will hold onto the back of the seat to assist their child to find the balance and confidence to steer and pedal at the same time. Remember when learning to ride, falling is part of life. It can be hard to watch your child learn this lesson. Reassure your child that falls will happen, talk to them about proper ways to fall. Riding a bicycle is a skill which will not be learned overnight, and can be frustrating for both parents and children. The joy and pleasure will be great when one day, off they go, as if they have been riding forever. Remember safe riding skills need to be developed through practice and guidance; many bicycle related injuries are caused by rider inexperience and lack of expertise. Take your children on regular bicycle rides and check their riding skills and understanding of road rules.
How to select a bicycle for your child
In today's market place there is a large range of children's bicycles to choose from. Get advice from a professional at a bicycle retailer to ensure that the bicycle fits your child. The child should be able to sit on the seat, with hands on the handlebars and place the balls of both feet on the ground. Oversized bicycles are dangerous, as younger children will not have the skills or coordination needed to handle a bigger bicycle.
Single speed bicycles
A child's first two-wheeler should be a one-speed bicycle with back pedal brakes. Most children are not ready for hand brakes or gears until they are 9 or 10 years old, when their hands are larger and stronger.
Multi speed bicycles
Once your child is ready for a larger bicycle with gears and hand brakes, they can start riding independently on quiet streets and bicycle paths. Find out the bicycle paths and routes in your neighbourhood by contacting your local council. Remember to teach your children safe riding skills and ride the routes they are allowed to ride with them
first. Night riding requires special skills and special equipment. Never allow your child to ride at dusk or after dark.
Riding to school
Check if your child's school offers bicycle education and if not encourage the school to implement a bicycle education program. Ride or walk with your child to school to model good road safety practices and ensure that they are confident using the route. Children under 10 years old should be supervised in traffic environments at all times.
January '08 - "Prepare for your Ride"
When you embark on a planned ride or race, the last thing you want is to run out of energy! By following a few simple steps before setting off on your ride, you can ensure you have an enjoyable experience.
#1. Carbo-loading before the event ensures you have sufficient energy reserves to complete the ride. Carbohydrate is the primary fuel for your muscles and should be increased prior to an event. By increasing your intake of foods like spaghetti, potatoes, bread and rice over the 3 days prior to your ride, you can ensure your muscles have sufficient fuel stored away for you to complete your ride.
#2. Hydrate your body before the event. You may not think of water as a nutrient, but it is the most critical one in your diet. Without sufficient water intake, fatigue will set in and your performance will decline. Carry a bottle of water around with you and take a sip at regular intervals to keep your body topped up before the event.
#3. The right foods to eat on the morning of the event should be low in fat and fiber, and high in starch. Foods like muffins, waffles and pasta are easily digested and help to maintain your blood glucose levels during the ride. The closer this meal is to the start of the event, the smaller it should be in order to avoid stomach cramps. Balanced liquid meals may be an excellent alternative for cyclists who have difficulty eating solid foods before events.
#4. Take the right snacks and eat on the ride. This is vital to ensure your muscles do not run out of energy. Energy bars and energy drinks are ideal for keeping you’re your energy levels topped up and are easily digested while on the move. Snacking at regular intervals also keeps your stomach full enough to optimize water absorption – essential to your performance.
#5. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate yourself during the ride! This is the most critical part of any ride. Dehydration of as little as 2 – 3% of your body weight can impair your cycling endurance and prevent you from finishing your ride. Take regular sips of water or energy drinks during the event and you’ll have a pleasant ride.
Taking regular bites of your energy bars and drinking small amounts of carbohydrate rich energy drinks or water throughout your ride will ward off any hunger pangs, provide needed calories, help maintain your blood sugar levels and meet your bodies fluid needs.
December '07 - "Rules of the Road"
1. Act like a motorist, but don't forget you are a cyclist
In most places, bicycles are granted the same rights and carry the same responsibilities as motorized traffic.
Cyclists are expected to yield the right of way as a motorist would, ride in the same direction as cars, obey traffic signs and yield to pedestrians. However, a bicycle is not a car. We cannot ride at the speed of traffic and therefore we are expected to stay to the left side of the roadway. "As far to the left as is safe and practical".
2. Be predictable by Obeying Traffic Laws
No one wants to be involved in a collision, and one of the best ways to avoid one is to correctly predict the other person's next move.
3. It is Better to Be safe than Legal
No one ever really owns the right of way. Rather, it is required that one party yield to the other. Give up the right of way if it will prevent a collision.
4. Do not hug the curb
It is more likely that there will be debris alongside the curb. If you are up against the curb, you have nowhere to go if the road is not clear directly ahead of you.
5. Taking the Lane
There are times when you don't want to remain on the left side of the road. On very narrow roads where there is not enough room for a car to safely pass you, it is better not to tempt them by snuffling up to the curb. Ride in the middle of the lane until it is safe for them to pass.
6. Left-Turn Lanes are for turning left
If you are continuing straight ahead, do not ride on the left side of a left-turn lane. Sometimes drivers are not looking to their left when they turn.
7. Passing on the left
Be very cautious when approaching an interesction with cars linked up waiting for their turn.
8. Passing buses and trucks
You can safely pass trucks or buses on the left if there is a bike lane. Be very careful, these vehicles are larger and wider and have large blind spots.
9. Riding in groups
When riding with others, it is the responsibility of the person at the back to avoid hitting the person in front, just as it is with cars. Keep enough of a following distance so that if the person changes speed or direction you will be able to avoid a collision. Pass on the right only and give warning, passing safely.
10. Make your own decisions
Approach each situation ready to decide for yourself what is best.
11. Stay together
If one of your party falls behind, slow down or stop and wait. Your trip will be more fun if you stay together.
12. Remember how you would like to be treated
In any situation in which you are uncertain of the proper action, put yourself in the other person's position.
November '07 - 3 Keys to selecting the right tour
1. Where? Don't throw a dart.
Know where you want to go. Do your home work, as this will give you both ideas and a feel for the places. Then dig deep to find the gems.
2. What? Build your criteria.
After you have considered the “where”, narrow the field further by considering the “what”. Define the ideal tour for you. You may have to relax a few of your constraints in the end, so categorize the list into “must haves” and “nice to haves”. Use your “wish list” as your benchmark. Look at the example below...
Max 5 Days
South Africa, Eastern Cape
40-60km per day
Fully guided with back-up vehicle support
Chalet accommodation, including all meals
March or April 2008
Includes game viewing / wildlife
3. Who? Put the pieces together.
Now, evaluate the fit between what’s available and what you want. Visit Leisure Cycle Tours & Adventures and you will find many tour options available. Go to our site and look at the tours we have on offer and the pictures from various tours. Then talk to us and we'll advise you on your best options. Score each option based on your checklist and then go with the best one. Then enjoy the ride!
October '07 - Pre-ride bike check
Putting your bike through a pre-ride check will save time and help prevent mishaps out on the Road. Here’s a simple list to make sure you don’t miss anything. Too often valuable riding time is eaten into fixing bikes before a ride or stopping en route to put things right. Well, there’s a simple solution that should keep your wheels rolling without a hitch – and it’s called the M-Check. Start at the front wheel, move up to the handlebars, down to the chainset, up to the saddle then back down to the rear wheel and gears to form a letter ‘M’. The check will also help you when buying a second-hand bike to ensure that you don’t miss anything.
Check that the wheel nuts are tight and that the wheel runs true. If the wheel’s buckled you could try retensioning the spokes with a spoke key, but unless you know what you’re doing it’s best left to a bike shop. Read More. Look too for broken or very loose spokes. Moving onto the tyres, check the pressure (which will be on the sidewall of the tyre) and the condition of the tread. Operate the front brake to see that the brake blocks are striking the rim at the right place and adjust if necessary. If the levers touch the bars, then you will need to adjust the brakes accordingly. Check too fro any frayed brake cables.
Apply the front brake and rock the bike back and forth. If there’s any free movement, chances are the headset is loose. Tightening is best left to a bike shop. Check that the brake levers and gear shifters are fitted tightly to the handlebars, and that the bar ends are covered by grips or plugs to avoid injury in the case of an accident. Now grip the front wheel between your legs and check that the handlebars don’t twist or rotate in the stem. Check the markings on the stem to see that it’s not been extended beyond its height limit.
Check that the frame itself is not bent or damaged, which indicates that it has been involved in an accident. Sure signs are fractured paintwork or peculiar alignment. If the Front wheel’s too close to the downtube, then chances are it’s been ridden into a wall and the forks are bent.
Take hold of the cranks and check for any looseness. Do the same with the pedals. Lift up the back wheel, turn the pedals and shift through the gears from top to bottom to make sure everything runs smoothly. Make sure the chain and cables are all well lubricated, and that none of the cables are frayed.
Grab the saddle and rock it to make sure there’s no movement. If there is, tighten in the correct position. Check too that the seatpin is tight in the frame and not extended beyond its maximum height.
Almost done. Lift the rear wheel to spin it and check fro trueness in the same way as the front. As before, check the condition of the tyre and the action of the rear brake. Before you set off, there’s just one more check – your accessories. Make sure pumps, lights, mudguards, panniers and racks are all safely secured. And that’s all there is to it. Now go get out on that ride.
Pack your bags
As well as your bike, prepare a bag of essential kit to avoid wasting time hunting around for things before your next ride. Include a puncture outfit, spare inner tube, multi-tool, a spare mobile and some cash (just in case your batteries fail!).
Soure: Enjoy your bike magazine
September '07 - Turn the “owsome” into “awesome”
How to beat the “back-on-the-bike” blues!!! Think X, Y, Z.
X is for eXamine:
Know and check your bike settings regularly. Seats, seat posts, bars and brake hoods can all move with repeated use. If you know where they should be you’ll never be guessing where your ‘sweet spot’ of comfort lies.
Over time your muscles, joint flexibility or style of riding may change. Don’t stick with the same position if your body or goals are different - the bike, like your training and aspirations, must adjust to suit your present (not past) needs!
Z is for ZZZ:
Sleep is when your brain and body get time to recharge, re-boot and recover. You can often spot comfort issues or overexertion from the way that you feel when you first get out of bed. If muscles don’t appear to like your set-up it may be time to tweak your bike settings!
- Drink plenty of water during the ride, e.g. have a good sip every 15 minutes to stay hydrated;
- For a long ride you might also like to take some light snacks or energy bars;
- - Ensure your diet is healthy and includes food from all the food groups, including carbohydrates.
- This is especially important for active people, as these types of food are fuel for the body;
- Following each ride, include a 15-minute stretching routine to keep your muscles from tightening and help prevent injuries. This will also help you become more flexible;
- In the first few weeks of the program, ride the hills in an easy gear so you don't fatigue your muscles, and gradually build up to using harder gears.