About ten years ago, long before I had thought about taking up cycling, I used to go on a morning walk. It was a brisk walk but it was still just a walk. I had been doing the same thing for many years for exercise, but one day I decided to start jogging instead so that I was ‘getting more bang for my buck’. I figured, if I was going to exercise for 30 minutes every morning, then I should up the intensity to gain more in the short period of time.
Years later I realised that the same idea was behind interval training, but because the intervals are so hard you can’t sustain them over long periods of time. But they certainly give you more ‘bang for your buck’ and help you make real improvements in your fitness. I’ve recently started doing intervals as part of my ongoing training program on the bike and I’m seeing real results.
I prefer to do intervals when I’m on the stationery trainer in my garage because I can concentrate on metrics like my cadence, time, gear selection and heart rate. But I plan to do more of them out on the road as I get more practiced.
A couple of my cycling buddies have recently told me of their pregnancies so I thought it would be a good topic to cover on Women Who Cycle. In fact, one of them told me while we were riding along on a regular weekend ride. This is not a topic that I’m an expert on, because I have not completed any formal training in healthcare or fitness, and I’ve never been pregnant, but I’ve done some research and compiled some expert opinion from others.
The most important thing to note is that every women is different and so everyone needs to make their own decisions about how much to cycle during pregnancy or even if you cycle at all. Before you even consider it I urge you to discuss it and any other exercise plans with your doctor.
Women’s S-Works road shoes
A lot of women tell me that they are nervous about riding with clip-in pedals because they fear falling off and injury themselves or worse still embarrassing themselves. I’m really lucky that my partner coerced me into riding my road bike with clip-ins from day one and I never looked back. My suggestion is that you view the step-up from a flat platform pedal to a clip-in system as an important one, an indication of growing confidence in your bike-handling ability.
So to make it a bit easier here’s some background information about clip-in pedals and the different types and some tips to get started. I’ll focus mainly on road pedals and cleats because that’s what I know. There are however different systems available for mountain bikes and other types of riding.
There are some good reasons why you might want to become more attached to your pedals. Clipping in can stop your foot slipping off when applying power, help align your foot to ensure maximum efficiency, and potentially aid your pedal stroke by allowing you to pull up on the pedal as well as push down.
Me in the Pink Triathlon
If you going to do any physical training then you need to have a goal because without one you’ll come up with lots of excuses and never really get anywhere.
A great way to set a goal is to sign up for an event. It could be anything from a short fun cycling event like Sydney’s Spring Cycle (55 km) or Melbourne’s short version of Around the Bay (50 km option), right up to a serious level race. The key is to select an event that will challenge you but won’t break you.
I actually took up cycling four and a half years ago to participate in a charity bike ride – The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Ride for a Cure that is held in the Barossa Valley, SA in January every year. I’ve recently completed my fifth JDRF ride. The first three years I completed the 80 km course and not surprising it got easier every year. The fourth and fifth times I upped it to 160 km and once again the second year was easier than the first, particuarly from a mental perspective.
If you live in Sydney and you love road cycling like me then you’re probably a little frustrated at the moment. That’s because it’s the height of summer and we’ve had heaps of rain the past month which really impinges on getting out regularly on the bike.
So I thought it timely to talk about indoor trainers and whether it’s worth the investment or not. Rain aside indoor trainers are great for cold weather or when you’re short of time. I’m lucky enough to live in a place where the weather is conducive to cycling all year round. The coldest temperature I’ve ever recorded on my Garmin 500 in Sydney is 3°C (37.4°F) and that was freezing cold for Sydney standards.
I’ve also read that indoor trainers are time efficient – one hour spent on a trainer is the equivalent of two hours on the road because there’s no coasting so you’re constantly putting in the effort.
But rather than repeat what you can read in reviews on the Internet I thought I’d give you a brief rundown of my indoor trainer setup. If you want to read more about indoor trainers then I’d suggest you start with a great article in the May/June 2009 edition of Bicycling Australia magazine which I’ve scanned and you can read here - Wind trainer reviews.