I’m not sure how other cyclists define a long ride but for me it’s anything over about 100 km. For others, it could be many hundreds of kilometres or even as short as a 50 km ride like Sydney’s Spring Cycle.
In planning my training program, I firstly factor in that I ride on a regular basis, usually about four times per week with a total of around 150 km so I’m fairly ‘bike’ fit. However the ride I’m undertaking in about four week’s time is 160 km (or a century if you’re from the US) so for me that means I have to undertake some extra training. I’ve done the same 160 km ride a year ago so I know what to expect but this time I’d like to do it better and improve on my time.
Most things I’ve read on this subject and other more wise individuals say that you don’t need to ride the full distance in training but you do need to up your kilometres and get some extra ‘kms in your legs’.
When you live in a country like Australia it is pretty difficult to avoid sun exposure while you’re riding your road bike. The summer sun can be pretty fierce so here’s my tips for handling it.
Ride early and late
I do most of my riding early in the morning. There are a number of reasons for riding early but one of them is definitely sun exposure and heat. You’ll also avoid traffic if you ride early in the day. But if you can’t ride early in the morning then try a twilight ride to avoid sun exposure.
Women who love cycling also love getting presents from Santa that reflect their favourite past-time. Here’s a few ideas for the female road cyclist in your life.
S-Works women’s road shoes
Specialized has recently launched new S-Works road shoes for both men and women. I have the predecessors and they’re great. The new ones are lighter and look even better. The retail price is $450 and they are available only at Specialized dealers like Ashfield Cycles.
For those of you who read this blog regularly you’ll know that I’m a Specialized fan. So for this week’s blog post I’m going to share a really short video that for me sums up what cycling is all about. The video was made by Specialized but it features some regular female cyclists talking about what riding a bike means to them. One woman describes the complete sense of freedom she gets from bike riding. Their words really resonate with me. I hope you enjoy it.
At the recent Camp de Femme women’s training camp I attended there were a number of great sessions and one of the ones I’d like to share was a talk by coach Jenny Triggs on stretching for female cyclists.
I think that stretching is really important for everyone to include after exercise. Some people advocate stretching both before and after exercise but I prefer to stretch when my muscles are warm so I always make it an after exercise discipline. If I don’t stretch I find that when I get out of bed in the morning I have tight calf muscles and feel a general stiffness in my leg muscles.
Here’s Jenny’s suggested cycling stretches. She recommends (and it’s certainly what I do) that you hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds to get a benefit.
I found a great article on bikeradar.com entitled 30 reasons to take up cycling so I’ve edited them down and adapated my favourite 11. If you want to read the full article you’ll find it here.
1. Look younger
I’ve been blessed with good genes and many people tell me I look younger than I am but I’m glad to hear that cycling is also playing a part. 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. UK 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.”
2. Increase your brain power
It’s also comforting to hear that cycling can also make you smarter. Researchers from Illinois University found that a ﬁve per cent improvement in cardio-respiratory ﬁtness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 per cent 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.
Specialized dealers around Australia are participating in women’s ride month.
Tonight I’m attending a ‘Performance women’s night’ at Jet Cycles in the Sydney CBD and next week I’m helping to organise an event at Ashfield Cycles. I actually started working at Ashfield Cycles a couple of weeks ago as a casual shop assistant and I’m loving it.
Nutrition for cyclists is a pretty big topic. Firstly, there’s general nutrition that encompasses what you should eat and when in your daily life. Then there’s specific pre-event and post-event requirements and there’s even during the event. I wouldn’t even attempt to cover everything in one brief blog post.
I do find the topic pretty interesting and it’s something all cyclists who are serious about their pursuit should focus on more. When I attended the Camp de Femme in Bathurst a couple of weeks ago we were treated to an interesting presentation by one of our coaches Melanie Reiter.
Mel is not a nutritionist but has learnt a lot about how to eat correctly from her own research and trial and error as an athlete.
The key things I took from her presentation included:
A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying my usual Saturday morning ride with a bunch of friends and a car came up behind me and beeped aggressively to indicate that she thought I should get out of the way and let her pass. Legally I was in the right, but I decided to move across so that she could get past and leave me alone.
Many cyclists, and particularly women are not keen about riding on roads because they are quite legitimately worried they’ll be hit by a car.
So as a consequence I thought I’d share my thoughts and experiences on this very important subject in the hope that both drivers and cyclists might read it and learn.
I’ve just returned from an awesome long weekend in country NSW where I learned so much about bike riding in a short space of time.
The four day event, organised by Donna Meehan under the auspices of Cycling NSW was held in the central western NSW town of Bathurst and was attended by about 30 women who all have one thing in common – a love for cycling.
It was informative, fun, exhilarating and exhausting and ran from Friday morning to Monday mid-morning.
As you would expect with 30 women we all came from different backgrounds and varied in age from early 20s to 60s so a great mix of people to learn from each other. Most were from Sydney in various locations but there were also participants from Canberra and Bathurst.