Cycling | 2 comments
By Jill Barker
Spring cycling can be fraught with pebbles, potholes and the mental cobwebs of winter
Spring is in the air, and as cooler climates begin warming up for the spring and summer, interesting business concepts that cater to spring activities and interests take on a whole new appeal.
On the road again!
Gently return to pedal power
An early start to the season is every cyclist’s dream. After long months spent out of the saddle, however, enthusiasm often overcomes common sense. According to Michelle Paiement, fitness instructor, personal trainer and the 2007 Masters National Road Champ (she missed the 2008 title by inches), spring cycling isn’t about racking up the miles on your bike. Instead, spend the time getting your feel for riding back.
Spring signals the time of year when both cyclist and motorist relearn how to share the road. Motorists have fallen out of the habit of looking for cyclists at intersections and stop signs, so proceed with caution. Breezing through a stop sign is always risky for a cyclist, but even more so this early in the season.
Cyclists and motorist have to relearn how to share the road again
Keep the right side of the road
That lapse in on-road judgment holds true for cyclists as well — especially among those who’ve been diligent about keeping their cycling legs in shape at the gym. Indoor cycling doesn’t demand the same attention to what’s around you, so it may take a while to refocus your attention.
Then, of course, there’s the shape of the roads at this time of year. Potholes big enough to swallow your bike whole, and a buildup of sand, dirt and debris along the side of the road can turn a leisurely cycle into a dangerous slalom. Add to these hazards the occasional ice patch; a sure thing on mornings that follow a mild day and a cold night, and you can understand why spring cycling has its own set of challenges.
Paiement suggests cyclists check out their favorite route by car before heading out on the bike. Lots of bike paths and rural roads might still be snow-and ice-covered, so don’t assume just because your street is clear that the snow has melted everywhere. It’s also wise to delay your morning ride until the sun has time to thaw any ice that lurks along the side of the road.
Those large fluctuations in temperature can keep a cyclist guessing when it comes to choosing the right wardrobe.
Winter clothing – choosing the right wardrobe is important
Lots of layers is the answer — including essentials such as gloves, booties and a cap for under your helmet. And as always, make sure your clothing is bright and can be easily seen. When it comes to cycling, there is no such thing as too gaudy. If you’re looking for a new kit, here are several links to on-line shops with huge selection of professional cycling clothing:
Radsport Bekleidung: http://www.radsportbekleidung.com/
Pro Bike Kit: http://www.probikekit.com/ca/
Total Cycling: http://www.totalcycling.com/
Prendas Ciclismo: http://www.prendas.co.uk/
If you’re hauling your bike out of the garage for the first time, give it a quick tune-up to make sure it’s road worthy. Pump up the tires, clean and oil your chain and check the brakes. Spending those extra few minutes checking out your equipment can spare you an unexpected walk home.
Purchase set of winter clothing – If you live in Alberta, get all of it!
When you do get on the bike, rein in that early season eagerness to prove you haven’t lost anything over the winter months. Limit your mileage and don’t push too high a gear. Go easy, and all you’ll feel the next morning are a few muscles you haven’t worked in a while. Go too hard and don’t be surprised if your neck and back feel the effects of too long a ride.
This advice holds true even for those who have been diligently working out all winter. Riding on the road is very different from riding indoors, so don’t be fooled into thinking that spinning can replace the real thing.
Spring time: on the road again
“There are no vibrations, bumps or potholes indoors,” says Paiement, noting that it’s normal for your butt to be sore after those first few rides. You might also feel it in your hands, so padded gloves are an asset early in the season.
Paiement’s advice is to concentrate on building an aerobic base by slowly increasing mileage and your cycling fitness. That means leaving the sprints and hill repeats until you’ve accumulated lots of easy miles. Building that base should be done gradually. The cardinal rule when it comes to exercise progression is not to increase mileage or intensity more than 10% a week. Any more and you increase risk of injury and compromise long-term goals.
Your body isn’t the only thing that needs looking after: your bike also has special needs. The salt left on the roads is corrosive and will eat away at your bike. Clean off your bike after each ride. Wipe away any dirt with a rag and use a mild window cleaner for anything that doesn’t rub off.
Quick tune-up and spring cleaning
Make chain look like new
If you’re lucky and happen to have a second bike, use your backup model until the streets are cleaner and the potholes patched. You’ve waited months to get back on your bike, so relax, and don’t spoil your spring by putting you or your bike through the wringer.
Back on the bike and relax
Hope to see you on the road.
Follow Zdenko’s Corner on Facebook !
Tags: Coaching staff