Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Always Be Prepared When You’re Out on the Road

July 24th, 2011

Today is the last day of what is often termed “the greatest bike race,” the Tour de France. One hundred and sixty seven  riders will be riding into Paris toward the finish at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This year’s race into Paris, which is usually more ceremonial rather than competitive, will mark the first time that an Australian, Cadel Evans, will be crowned the winner of the Tour de France and will end what has been one of the most dramatic and exciting Tours to date.

This Le Tour has been no exception to the fact that during July, cyclists around the world catch a disease that not only keeps them glued to the television or the internet for several hours a day, it also gets them motivated to train harder and go farther: Tour Fever. Tour Fever is described as that almost irrational desire to want to be in France to watch the tour, or at least stay informed about it as it unfolds via whatever medium is available to fans. It gets cycling fans riled up, gets them dressed in weird ways to celebrate the tour, and for those who do cycle on a regular basis, makes them want to get on their bike, ride off into the distance, overcome weak days, challenge their limits, and open themselves up to new cycling possibilities. Le Tour de France is, after all, more than just a race to many, it’s a culture refined through the years, one that induces extreme euphoria in almost every fan and encourages suffering for the sport (like the Tour’s participants do) in every cyclist –  yours truly included.

Because many cyclists will be taking to the streets more seriously following the tour, it is a good time to highlight some very important reminders to help make cycling not only safe and fun, but allow you to train longer and harder without having to worry about any problems you might encounter on the road.

First of all, don’t worry too much about looking Euro-cool when training. Training is training after all, and you’re not out there just to look good – unless you can fulfill the demands of looking Euro-cool even during long and arduous training rides. This basically sets the basis for all my other reminders, as often times, riding Euro-cool means that you’ll need to forego some of the equipment you might need on the road to make sure that your training ride goes well.

Looking Euro-cool demands that you never carry anything in your jersey’s pockets, because that would imply that you have a team car carrying all your gear for you, but unless you do have a team car, I would strongly advice against this. The suggestions in the PezCycling News article You Look Mah-velous: Cycling Style Etiquette are essentially the very basic things you should bring: a small tube, a tiny pump, and a tire lever. But I suggest that you bring a set of allen hex keys as well – you can get these in a set specifically made for cyclists, with only the sizes you’ll need to fix a bike in a small, light, Swiss Army Knife-like contraption for storage. And if you don’t mind a little extra weight, a complete cyclist’s multi-tool, and perhaps 2 or 3 tire patches, might also be a great idea, especially if your training ride is going to be a classics style 150 miles or more.

Nothing says Euro-cool better than riding with nothing more than a cycling cap for head protection, but the article You Look Mah-velous also goes on to say that crashing, getting a concussion, and drooling out the side of your head isn’t Euro-cool at all, too. So yes, wear a helmet! And on that same note, wear a good pair of gloves as well, as this will keep your hands from slipping off the handle bars if ever you crack and are too tired to keep a nice strong grip on the bars.

Make sure you also dress for the weather. If it’s cold, don’t forget to wear a long cycling jersey and pants. This will keep your muscles from getting too cold and causing you to be unable exert as much effort as you otherwise should be able to. When you’re out in the heat, wear something shorter to keep you from overheating. If it’s really hot out, don’t worry about wearing a sleeveless jersey, no matter how un-Euro-cool it may be – your ability to ride another day is more important than looking good on the road.

Also never go out on a night ride without a light. Gladly, many online wholesale shops offer LED lights – which don’t mark you as not being Euro-cool. On very long rides, it might be a good idea to equip your bike with one, even if you’ll be starting your ride during the day so that you’ll be prepared before it starts to get dark and you don’t have to have more weight in your pockets.

Finally, and most importantly, never go out on a training ride without bringing some fluids with you – whether you’re bringing water or some sort of sports drink it’s important to have something to replace lost fluids when you’re training hard. Cyclists riding road bikes will also be happy to know that a water bottle on the down tube can help to make a bike more aero, and mountain bikers will definitely find a good bladder installed in a hydration pack convenient.

So if Le Tour de France has got you hyped up for a ride, then by all means, get out there! But make sure that you’ll be prepared no matter what happens on the road. Train hard and strong and let the Fever push you farther!

Cycling, Chris Horner, the 2011 Tour de France, and Bigboxstore

July 13th, 2011

I know you’re probably wondering about the title right now, but there really is a bit of a connection between cycling, Chris Horner, the 2011 Tour de France, and Bigboxstore. Well, we’re not sponsoring the team Chris Horner is in, of course, that’s Radioshack’s business, nor do we have the resources to do so, but we are glad that Chris Horner is still alive after his crash in this year’s Tour de France – and that’s what this post is really all about.

Safety should be of the utmost concern when cycling, and the crashes that have riddled Le Tour de France 2011 really stand to drive that point home. Cycling after all pits a rider 1-on-1 with the open road, and all the dangers that are accompanied with it. Whether or not you’re riding with friends or alone, there are bound to be complications at some time or the other.

The biggest safety concern for any cyclist is protecting his or her head as no other part of the body is more susceptible to life threatening injury. It is because of this that helmets are an absolute necessity for any cyclist, whether he or she rides for recreational or professionally, occasionally or almost everyday, or on a road bike or any other type of bike for that matter.

Fortunately, there are a wide range of helmets out there that vary greatly in terms of price and quality – but never on safety. In fact, if you’re in the market for a good bike helmet, I have a few tips for you when it comes to choosing one.

The April 2008 edition of the cycling magazine Bicycling makes this suggestion when choosing bike helmets in their article Buyer Be Wise, “All helmets sold in the United States meet CPSC safety standards, so a $30 lid is equally as good at protecting your head as a $200 one. Many under-$60 helmets offer fit systems similar to pricier models, often head straps with buckles or dials for easy adjustment. They lack just flashy styling and extra vent holes” (page 32). In short, you simply have to make sure that the helmet you get passes CPSC safety standards and you can be sure that you’ll still be okay after you take a spill on the bike – so buying a helmet from a respectable online wholesaler shouldn’t be a problem as long as they pass those rather stringent standards.

Back to the subject of Chris Horner, it was probably his helmet that kept him alive. He broke his nose and sustained a concussion to his head when he crashed, but he survived – an equally hard crash made without the helmet would probably be fatal. True, you might have seen from the video, he was so disoriented after the crash that it isn’t even funny, but he can still get up from his crash to race another day. In fact, doctors have said that he is doing significantly better.

I have a friend who suffered a crash just two weeks ago, without a helmet, but gladly at significantly lower speeds. My friend suffered a broken collarbone and a similar temporary loss of memory and disorientation from a crash on a bike moving at around 23 kilometers per hour – the peloton was travelling in excess of 40 kilometers per hour when Chris Horner crashed. Now image might what might have happened if my friend was travelling at the same speed. It wouldn’t have been a good day at all.

Get a bicycle helmet today.