1. From the Top: Product Review: LifeBEAM HR Sensor Helmet
2. News & Reviews: An Expanded Take on Structured Training
3. Question of the Week: How Long Does it Take You to Warm Up?
4. Ask Coach Fred: How Can Senior Cyclists Warm Up Faster?
5. Sponsors: Cycling Products from our Sponsors
6. Jim's Tech Talk: Pre-Flight Check
7. No Problem: Finding Your Cadence ‘Sweet Spot’
8. Quick Tips: Use the ‘Wave Them Through’
9. Cadence: Should You Eat Breakfast Before Exercise?
10. RBR eBookstore: The Best Cycling Bookstore on the Internet!
By John Marsh
Cost: $199 (plus $14.99 shipping and handling in U.S.)
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: company website, Lazer website
RBR Affiliate: yes
Tested: 30+ hours
The results of a reader poll we did a while back revealed that the majority of RBR readers strap on your heart rate monitor before every ride. I do the same. Or at least I used to.
No, I haven’t given up measuring my HR. Instead, I’ve found a way to do it without bothering with the strap anymore.
The LifeBEAM helmet, which we first wrote about in March 2013 during its crowd-funding pre-launch days, is the answer. The helmet features an optical sensor built into the lid that measures your pulse rate (and calories consumed) and transmits the data via Bluetooth 4.0 or ANT+ to the array of devices we use these days (Garmin and other computers and head units, smart phones, etc.).
LifeBEAM is an Israeli tech company that got its start developing biosensor equipment for aerospace and military applications (pilot and astronaut helmets, and special forces troops). That tech has trickled down into cycling helmets, running hats and similar applications now.
It looks like any other helmet, until you peer a little closer and notice the unit housing the battery and transmitter built seamlessly into the back of the helmet (see top, right photo). Then you see the small optical sensor at the front of the helmet (built into the headband padding on the helmet, see photo at left) where it contacts your forehead to measure heart rate and calories consumed. Small wires route through the fitting system on either side of the helmet, connecting the optical sensor to the transmitter.
It’s all built into a Lazer Genesis model helmet that meets both U.S. and European safety standards. Lazer is a well-respected Belgian manufacturer. The transmitter/ battery compartment adds 50g in weight to the helmet, according to the maker. The standard Genesis helmet (without the LifeBEAM technology) has a stated weight of 280g.
That’s an all-in weight of 90g more than the lightweight helmet I’ve been using for most of the past two years. However, that extra 3 ounces is not that noticeable, and in the grand scheme of things is a miniscule addition to the total bike-plus-rider weight. And it’s partially offset by excising the weight of the HR chest strap.
The box includes a bit of extra padding, a quick start guide and a micro USB cable for charging. Yes, you already charge your bike computer, and possibly your lights, so why not your helmet!
To charge the lithium-ion battery, you simply plug the cord into the small port that rests under a rubber cover on the transmitter at the rear of the helmet, and the other end into your computer or wall outlet if you have a transformer (not included).
Once charged, you turn on the unit by pushing the small button on the underside. A chirp and a slow on-and-off blue light tell you the helmet is on and operational. Then you can pair it with whatever device you’d like using the pairing protocol of the receiving device.
In my case, that was the Cyclemeter app on my iPhone, via Bluetooth 4.0. It paired quickly and easily. Once paired, it stays paired, so that the next time you put on the helmet for a ride and turn on your device, you’re good to go.
My favorite aspect of this device – and, really, any new technology that obviates the need for an existing piece of equipment – is that I no longer have to mess with that confounding chest strap when I’m suiting up for a ride, and undressing afterward.
Even after wearing the strap for years, I still sometimes forget to put the darn thing on, slipping my bib straps over my shoulders and zipping up the jersey before realizing it. Which, of course, requires half undressing again to strap it on. It requires a separate battery to stay on top of, and it can be binding. Oh, yeah, I’ve had straps break in the past, too. And, finally, there’s the required wipe-down after each and every ride. In short, I’ve always hated messing with the strap – and I’m quite pleased to move beyond it!
Now, getting ready for a ride means simply kitting up, putting on the helmet, and then pushing the “on” button. The helmet automatically links to the devices you’ve already paired it to, so you can simply hit the road.
When you turn on the helmet, that chirp mentioned previously, along with a slowly flashing blue light, indicate it’s operational. And the 17-hour battery life means a recharge is needed only once a week or week-and-a-half, depending on how much you ride.
To conserve battery life, the helmet automatically shuts off after 10 minutes if you forget to turn it off after a ride. A beep tells you that the helmet is not as forgetful as you are and has shut itself off!
Until recently, you had to choose either a Bluetooth 4.0 or ANT+ helmet, but LifeBEAM has replaced those with one model that uses both communications protocol, so you can link simultaneously to, say, your Garmin computer, and your Strava app on your phone. The new model is now available.
I tested the older Bluetooth-only model, before the new model had reached the market. On a few rides, for the sake of comparison, I wore my Garmin HR strap and the LifeBEAM helmet on the same rides. I found that the helmet’s readings matched the strap’s nearly exactly, with the average and max HR numbers being spot on the same.
The resulting graphs from each device showed very slight variances in spots, but that’s to be expected based on transmitter and receiver technology, etc. In short, there was no real difference in the functionality between the two.
The Genesis helmet is comfortable and was easy to get dialed in when it came to sizing the straps and adjusting the fit. It features a simple Rollsys™ retention system, with a small dial at the top, rear of the helmet that is turned to tighten or loosen the entire fit “basket” that circles your head. The 19 vent openings allow ample airflow, and the optical sensor is integrated into a rubberized headband up front that is designed to force sweat to roll off toward either side.
I tested the helmet in the middle of an Atlanta summer, including several heat-soaked days with humidity in the upper-90s-percent range. That’s like riding through a hot, wet blanket. Pouring sweat is inevitable, and the helmet handled the deluge just fine, thanks.
Everything worked well and pointed up the fact that the technology is truly seamlessly integrated into the helmet. No one I rode with during the several weeks of testing even knew my helmet was anything more than just a helmet.
I’ve stashed my HR strap in the closet and hope never to use it again. (I’m getting myself one of the new LifeBEAM models that connects to Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ devices simultaneously. The helmet is $50 cheaper on the company website, www.life-beam.com, than it is on the Lazer website.) Why bother with an extraneous piece of equipment to do something that can be accomplished in the one piece of equipment you’re never going to leave home without?
And if you should ever suffer a crash wearing the LifeBEAM helmet, the company works with Lazer to follow Lazer’s crash-replacement policy.
Editor's Note: Jim Langley and I are at Interbike this week checking out what the industry has to offer, or in some cases hopes to offer, over the next year in terms of bikes, gear, all manner of accessories, etc. We’ll do our annual reports over the next couple of issues about what we think are the most noteworthy new products and trends. And I'll be posting to Facebook and Twitter from the show. See you next week.
See all our Product Reviews (230+, in 30 categories, available to Premium Members) at http://www.roadbikerider.com/product-reviews/25
Our other recent Product Reviews include:
Safety Wing, by Jim Langley
Garneau CB Carbon Bib and Jersey, by John Marsh
Giro Attack Shield Helmet, by Jim Langley
HubBub Helmet Mirror, by Jim Langley
Foam Roller Primer and Product Review, by Rick Schultz
Niterider USB Stinger Tail Light, by Paul Smith
Niterider Lumina 700 Head Light, by Paul Smith
Niterider Lumina 220 Head Light, by Paul Smith
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By Coach John Hughes
Two weeks ago Samantha V. asked Coach Fred Matheny about the need for a structured training plan.
She wrote: “I started riding five years ago, logging about 3,000 miles a year, including centuries and cross-state rides. Now I have more time to train and want to improve. Do I need a structured training program, or can I just increase my miles and add more intensity when I feel like it in the form of hills and group rides?”
In sum, Coach Fred responded that it depends on the rider’s personality. Some riders thrive on precision and like to follow a plan. Many roadies don't like to be so constrained. They simply love to be on their bikes, and training is secondary.
I agree with Coach Fred that whether a detailed training plan is appropriate depends on a rider’s personality. Some riders like data and others don’t.
I think it’s worthwhile to expand on what Coach Fred said.
If a cyclist is training, then he or she is trying to reach a goal, not just riding for fun on the bike. There’s nothing wrong with riding for fun—that’s what I do these days—but if a rider is training, then at least a little structure is necessary.
One of my first tasks as a coach is to determine how much structure is appropriate for each client. Some riders want workouts that say “Repeat 5 times: 5 minutes at XXX bpm and 3 minutes easy.” Other riders want “Ride really hard and really easy for 40 minutes.” Both work! In all of my eArticles for RBR I included both detailed workouts and more free-form workouts.
For every rider who is training I suggest, at a minimum, three forms of structure to help you reach a goal. These simple ways of structuring workouts are all based on the principle that improvement comes from overload and recovery.
1. Weekly structure. Each ride has a purpose and planned intensities. Some rides overload your body, forcing it to do more than you are used to doing. Some rides are very easy rides for recovery. And some rides are with buddies to have fun! Many roadies don’t improve because they ride at basically the same intensity all the time.
2. Monthly structure. Remember that improvement comes from overload and recovery. You need harder and easier weeks! And to continue to improve, the harder weeks in September should be tougher than harder weeks in August. But not too much harder. As a rule of thumb, you can safely increase your training volume by 10-20% month to month.
3. Annual structure. You can overload your body in different ways, and each way brings about different metabolic adaptations. For the big picture structure (which may or may not be a full year) I suggest four phases:
4. Main season. Go for it! Put all your training together to accomplish your goals.
The weekly, monthly and annual structures don’t require a lot of detailed planning and precision but they’ll help you to reach your goal(s).
For more information see my eArticle: Intensity: How to Plan and Gauge Your Most Beneficial Training Efforts. It gives more information on how to lay out the four basic structures to reach different goals and sample workouts explained both in terms of perceived exertion and heart rate.
Editor’s Note: My thanks to Premium Member Barry Sherry for sharing this story with me. Barry is a cancer survivor himself, and a supporter of this ride who rode with this group for two days in Pennsylvania and one in Oregon. -- J.M.
Many cyclists set out to ride across the U.S. each year in many different forms. Many are solo, many are guided. Some are charity rides and, of course, there's the Race Across America (RAAM).
But what happens when a good ride goes bad? The worst possible thing that could go wrong, does? Do you carry on? How can you ride on?
Those were the questions faced by 26 riders of the 4K for Cancer, riding from Baltimore, Maryland, to Portland, Oregon. On June 13, Jamie Roberts, 24, an assistant basketball coach at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., was struck and killed by a motorist while changing a flat off the road near Lexington, Kentucky. (The poignant photo of Jamie was taken by fellow rider Brady Stroh.)
After three days’ down time and, later, a return to Bethesda, Maryland, for Jamie's Celebration of Life, the group rolled on, reaching Portland as planned on August 9. Jamie's father rode her bike with the team the final 20 miles, finishing the ride for his fallen daughter.
An account of this trip can be found at http://caitlynepps.wordpress.com. It was written by Caitlyn Epps. One of Jamie's teammates and an R.N., she was struck by the same truck. While she too needed emergency care at the hospital, she performed CPR until the EMTs arrived. Her account is a day-by-day blog of the trip including the highs and lows and riding through the grief.
“She was such a wonderful person and has gone on to raise over $300,000 for the Ulman Cancer Fund!” Caitlyn says of Jamie. “Even though the accident was traumatic, I found immense healing in getting back on the bike, finishing the ride, and taking turns with all my teammates riding Jamie's bike each day.”
Jamie Roberts had a fundraising goal of $6,000 to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. At the time of her death, she had raised $10,000. Since her passing, donations have exceeded $300,000 in her name. Her fundraising page continues Jamie's legacy even in death.
The ride is one of four that the Ulman Cancer Fund/4K For Cancer does each year now. They all start in Baltimore, and the destinations are San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. Each journey is 70 days and more than 4,000 miles (they don't ride in a straight line).
We thought you might enjoy reading this article in The Verge that details a contest in which design teams built “future” bikes specific to their city in a contest to win a limited production run of the winning bike.
The winner was The Denny from Seattle, which features an ingenious handlebar that is actually a removable bike lock, among other pretty neat details. Have a look.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to post Comments on The Great Helmet Debate articles from last week. It's terrific to have such an engaged group of readers, and this is obviously a topic that all road riders are interested in -- one way or another. Jim Langley and I will be checking out what's new in helmet technology at Interbike this week, and we'll hope to have reviews of some of the new "anti-concussion" models available for the road market in the near future.
Slowly but surely, we’re working to make available some of our best-selling titles in Kindle editions for those of you who use the popular reader. We will continue to work though our catalog, and as new titles go on sale we’ll work to get those up on Amazon as well. Because Kindle editions are sold exclusively through Amazon, and Amazon takes its cut, there is no Premium discount available on Kindle editions.
Here are the RBR titles currently available in Kindle editions:
Have you guys noticed that it takes much longer to warm up for a ride? Once upon a time I could jam from the gun. Now, 40 years later, it takes me close to 40 minutes to get comfortable going hard. And if I push hard too early, the ride seems to stay hard to the finish. Is this common among senior riders or unique to my physiology? -- Art W.
I'm afraid that difficulty feeling good and performing well without a warm-up is common among older riders. As the saying goes: "By the time I'm warmed up, I'm too tired to ride!"
When we were young, we could jump off the couch and start playing pickup basketball or touch football with nary a stretch. That ability slowly deteriorates as we age into our 30s and 40s. By the 50s and 60s, a good warmup is crucial for any activity to avoid injury and make sure we have fun.
I'm not aware of any studies that have explored the relationship between growing older and warming up. Certainly as the population ages while still remaining active, there will be research that might show us how to warm up most efficiently.
Based on experience, the best warm-up for cycling is cycling. Here are 4 tips:
1. Start slowly and gradually increase your pace. When riding with others, look for a friendly wheel to follow to make the start that much easier.
2. Avoid group rides that go from the gun. An immediate fast pace can be hard for anyone who has driven to the start.
3. If possible, pedal to the ride for a warm-up or get there early enough to spin around for 15-20 minutes. An on-bike warm-up is essential before a race, of course. If the location makes riding impossible, take your trainer and use that.
4. Stretch if it works for you. The jury seems to be out on how effective stretching is for warming up. Studies on whether stretching helps prevent injuries are inconclusive. Some show benefits, others have found a higher rate of injury.
The consensus at this time seems to be that stretching after the activity is fine but it shouldn't be done "cold" before cycling, running or other sports. Of course, everyone is different. You'll find people of any age who swear by pre-ride stretching.
Another strategy is to ride easily for 10-15 minutes to a grassy park or other place you can park the bike. Get off and do a short stretching routine before continuing. This might quicken your overall warm-up.
Bottom line: You're not in your 20s anymore, Art. Avoid hard efforts and, thus, the risk of injury, before you are warmed up -- however long it takes.
Coach Fred Matheny has decades of experience as a competitive racer and cycling coach. He is the author of 13 RBR eBooks and eArticles.
For new, and renewing, Premium Members, we’ll kick in One Free eArticle of Your Choice. That’s a rebate, in effect, of $4.99 off the annual $24.99 membership. You can choose from among any of our 70 individual eArticles (bundles are excluded). Click to see the entire array: http://www.roadbikerider.com/all-earticles.
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Editor’s Note: Jim took last week off to compete at Masters Nationals, and this week he and I are at Interbike, so we’re running this Best Of column while he’s away. It’s fitting, though, as he wrote this a couple years ago – just before leaving for Masters Nationals. It’s still just as useful today, and I’ll bet he followed his own advice before leaving! – J.M.
I’m writing this on the eve of my departure for the USA Masters National Championships, which takes place this week in Bend, Oregon. By the time you read this, I will have raced the time trial and will be kicking back waiting for the criterium tomorrow and maybe the road race on Sunday.
Today, I’m giving my race bikes what I like to call a pre-flight check, and what I consider an essential thing to do before any important ride. Note that I’m doing this 3 days before my first event. That gives me time to test ride the bikes and deal with any issues. You definitely don’t want to replace a shift cable the night before your big century and then discover in the first miles that it has too much slack in it and you can’t shift.
Here’s a step-by-step checklist to use to make sure you’re ready to ride on your big day. Note that I am assuming you know how to make any repairs needed. If not, you have time to take the bike to your LBS.
1. Do the tighten up. Stand in front of your bike, holding onto the handlebars and clamping the front wheel between your legs. Now, apply gentle, steady force to the handlebars to see if they are tight and cannot move left and right on their own. Next, rest your hands above the brake levers and push down with some of your weight to make sure the bars won’t slip down. Then put your hands on the brake/shift levers and gently push in to make sure they’re tight. If anything moves, tighten it and make sure it won’t move.
Tip: Do NOT overtighten your levers. They should be just tight enough not to move when you’re holding them when standing to climb or sprint. But you want them to move if the bike falls over or you crash, or else they can break.
Stand beside your bike, grip the seat in your hands, and try to move it laterally. Also try to tip it up and down. It shouldn’t budge. If it does, tighten it until it stays put. It’s a good idea to check your seat height too. Sometimes seatposts slip down slightly and it’s better to find this and fix it than to ride with it too long and injure your knees (if you put a wrap of electrical tape on your post, you’ll be able to see at a glance if it has slipped down).
Tip: Even if the parts seem tight on your bike, I recommend taking the right wrench and checking EVERY nut and bolt to make sure they are all tight, right down to the derailleur-pulley bolts and bottle cage screws. Everything. We mechanics have a saying that it’s always the nut that you didn’t check with a wrench that is the loose one that ruins your ride. It only takes a minute to check every one with a wrench.
The last part to check for tightness is the headset or steering bearings. There should be no play in the headset or the fork can rattle when you hit rough pavement and could cause a loss of control if it loosens more. To check for this, grab the fork with your dominant hand and the down tube of the frame with your other hand.
Now push and pull to feel for a knocking sound/feeling that indicates the headset has loosened and needs to be tightened. Another way to check is to try to move the parts beneath the stem. If they are loose or turn easily by hand, the headset adjustment should be checked.
2. Make sure the wheels will go round and round. Check the quick releases on both wheels to make sure they’re tightly fastened. Look closely at the fork, chainstays and seatstays to make sure the wheels are centered in the fork and frame. You can also slip the same finger on each hand between the rim and frame to use your fingers as feeler gauges and feel if the wheels are centered.
Also, grab the wheels at 12 o’clock and gently push and pull sideways to feel for play in the hub bearings. If you feel any, remove the wheel with play, check the hub and fine tune the bearings to remove the play.
Next, spin the wheels and make sure they are nice and true. Also, start at the valve stem and go around the wheel and wiggle each spoke to make sure there are no loose ones (even if the wheels look true, you could have a loose spoke that could cause the wheel to go out of true on the ride).
Finish your wheels by carefully checking the tires for good tread, no sidewall issues and no glass or debris embedded in the tread that could cause a flat.
Tip: Checking for rim cracks at the nipple holes in the rim is another good thing to do. Look closely at each nipple hole in the rim to make sure there are no rim cracks.
3. Stop watch. You already checked your levers, so they should be tightly fastened to the bars. Now squeeze them and make sure they operate the brakes smoothly. Binding or roughness in the cable pull suggests that there’s a fraying cable, cracked or pinched piece of housing somewhere -- and you’ll want to find it and fix it.
Also operate the brakes and look closely at the calipers, making sure the brake pads have ample thickness (when the grooves on the pads are worn out, it’s new-pad time) and that they strike the rim squarely and retract the same amount on each side when you release the levers. If not, center the brake.
Tip: Even if everything feels great when you operate the brake lever, do a visual check of your cables and housing. They’re probably fine if they feel fine, but it’s good to double check since a cable might be rusted and about to break if you have to slam on the brakes.
4. Chain check. Since it’s the key component moving you down the road, get down close to your chain and inspect every link. It’s possible to have a cracked or broken one and still ride but you want to catch it and fix it so it can’t ruin your big day. If the chain checks out, make sure it’s adequately lubricated.
Tip: A good final chain check is to pedal backwards and watch the links as they go over and around the rear derailleur pulleys. If there are any stiff chain links or if there’s a chain pin protruding, they will usually trip up the pulleys and make the derailleur cage snap back and forth a little. That’s a sign that your chain needs fixing or perhaps replacement.
5. Make sure your drivetrain is dependable. Put your bicycle on a bike rack or support it so the rear wheel is off the ground, and shift through the gears repeatedly to make sure the front and rear derailleurs, the cables and the levers are functioning properly.
Carefully inspect the shift cables for any signs of fraying, rusting or weakness. Be sure to check beneath the bottom bracket where the cables often run over a nylon carrier. Make sure the cables are sound and they’re lubricated there.
If you didn’t already, put the appropriate wrench on every bolt on your crankset, such as the crankarm bolts, chainring bolts, and pedals, and make sure that everything is tight. Also, turn the crankset by hand to make sure it spins smoothly. Significant resistance or crunching noises indicates that the bottom bracket bearings that the crankset turns on are worn out and need to be replaced.
Tip: Another good bottom bracket check is to hold onto both crankarms and to push and pull laterally to feel for play or knocking in the BB bearings. There shouldn’t be any play.
6. Go over your gear. Are the cleats on your shoes tight? Have the straps on your helmet stretched and need adjusting to protect you properly? Do you have the right lenses in your glasses for the conditions on the ride? Do you have the right clothing packed? How about your energy food and drink?
Tip: Don’t forget to check your seat bag to make sure you have a good spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, mini-tool, etc.
Have a great ride!
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for 38 years. He's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check his "cycling aficionado" website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 7,545.
If you have a power meter and a heart rate monitor, ride one of your favorite climbs using a high gear and low cadence. Note your wattage, heart rate and feeling of perceived exertion. Recover, then ride the climb again. Keep wattage the same but decrease the gear and raise cadence. Again, note your heart rate and feeling. (We showed you over the past 2 weeks how to calculate watts without a power meter.)
You’ll probably need several such experiments over a couple of days or a week to see a pattern. But one will eventually emerge. You’ll see that lower heart rates are associated with a particular cadence at a given wattage. You’ll probably feel better when you find your cadence “sweet spot,” too—more in tune with your body as you’re climbing.
One more important point: Your preferred cadence may be related to muscle fiber type. There’s some evidence that riders with predominantly fast-twitch fibers—sprinters, for instance—do better with a faster cadence. Endurance riders with a preponderance of slow-twitch fibers ride more efficiently at a lower cadence in a larger gear.
In a study conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Wyoming, 8 experienced cyclists rode at an intensity of 85 percent of V02 max (about 90 percent of max heart rate) for 30 minutes in 2 different trials. First, they rode at 50 rpm in a high gear. Next, they lowered the gearing and increased rpm to 100.
The riders' oxygen consumption rates, heart rates, power production and blood lactate levels were similar in both scenarios. Slow-twitch muscle cells lost comparable amounts of their glycogen at 50 and 100 rpm, but fast-twitch cells lost almost 50 percent of their glycogen at 50 rpm and only 33 percent at 100 rpm, even though the exercise bouts lasted 30 minutes in each case.
This rapid loss of carbohydrate in the fast-twitch cells during slow, high-force pedaling demonstrates why slow pedaling is less efficient. Low-rpm pedaling depletes glycogen from fast-twitch muscle cells because it’s associated with high gears and elevated muscle forces. On the other hand, fast cadences coincide with low gears and less-forceful muscle contractions.
Because fast-twitch fibers are more powerful than their slow counterparts, they activate at low cadences when lots of muscular force is needed to propel the bike. Conversely, more rapid pedaling rates of 80-100 rpm are not too fast for slow-twitch fibers to handle. They can contract 80-100 times per minute, easily within the range of force required to pedal in low gear.
The bottom line: Like so many other aspects of cycling, pedaling cadence is highly individual—perhaps even more than other personal choices in the sport like whether you prefer to climb seated or standing. Your job is to find out what works best for your body, then hone that technique.
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This week’s QT comes to us from Chris Vanden Bossche, who followed up on last week’s QT. Here’s what Chris wrote:
This is an extension of last week’s suggestion of using "BIG WIDE motions that over-exaggerate your intentions."
When cyclists and drivers approach an intersection at the same time and the driver has the right of way, drivers are often uncertain of what cyclists are going to do. The cyclists tend to slow down, giving the driver time to proceed. However, because the cyclists are still rolling, the driver often waits to see if they're going to stop.
But most cyclists don't want to come to a full stop (I'm setting aside the question of whether they should come to a full stop -- the fact is many don't want to).
At this point, some cyclists, seeing the driver hesitate, go ahead, even though it isn't their turn, but this just alienates drivers and gives cyclists a bad name.
In our group we have developed a gesture that I call "wave them through." It is a sweeping gesture of the hand in the direction the driver is traveling, so if the driver is to our right, we wave from right to left to indicate we are yielding and the driver should proceed.
It is really key, as in last week's suggestion, that this be a big wide gesture or the driver just won't get it. Of course, sometimes drivers wave the cyclists through in turn, but the cyclists' willingness to yield helps build goodwill among drivers.
We’d like to hear from our readers with any Quick Tips you might have. To contact me, just hit the reply button on any email from us, or use the Contact Us form on the website: http://www.roadbikerider.com/contact.
By Gabe Mirkin, MD
Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight or cause you to gain weight. Last month's issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition contains three studies on breakfast. One study shows that whether you eat breakfast or not doesn't affect your weight at all (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014;100:507-13).
Three hundred volunteers who were trying to lose weight were told to 1) skip breakfast, 2) always eat breakfast, or 3) continue their current habit regarding breakfast. Sixteen weeks later, none had lost much weight.
The second study showed that people burn calories at the same rate, and have the same body weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, whether or not they eat breakfast (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014;100:539-47).
Thirty-three people who were not overweight wore machines that determined how many calories they burned throughout the day. After six weeks, the breakfast eaters were more active and burned about 500 more calories during the morning, but they also consumed 500 calories at breakfast, so they neither gained nor lost weight. The breakfast skippers didn't move around as much in the mornings as the breakfast eaters, but they did not make up for their lost breakfast calories by eating more during the rest of the day.
The third study showed that eating breakfast improves a child's ability to solve problems and do better in school (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014;100:626-56). This study confirms many previous studies showing that breakfast benefits school children. They have better memory and attention (Appetite, 2012 Dec; 59(3):646-9), they perform better with their school work (Pediatrics, 2008 Aug; 122(2):279-84), they learn faster (Physiol Behav, 2011 Jul 6; 103(5):431-9), and they solve math problems faster and better (Physiol Behav, 2012 Jun 25; 106(4):548-55).
It depends on how hard you plan to exercise. When you are going to exercise at low intensity, you don't need breakfast. However, when you are going to take an intense workout or compete, you are better off eating first.
You should eat before you try to exercise intensely for more than an hour. Your brain gets more than 98 percent of its energy from sugar in your bloodstream, but there is only enough sugar in your bloodstream to last three minutes.
Your liver must release sugar constantly from its cells into your bloodstream to feed your brain. There is only enough sugar in your liver to last a little more than an hour when you exercise vigorously. When you run out of liver sugar, your blood sugar drops and your brain tells you that you feel tired. You have to take additional sources of sugar during intense exercise lasting more than 70 minutes.
The limiting factor to how fast you can move your muscles over distance is the time it takes to move oxygen into muscles. Your muscles burn both sugar and fat for energy, but sugar requires less oxygen than fat does. You have an almost infinite amount of fat in your body, but store only a very limited amount of sugar in your liver and muscles.
When your muscles run out of their stored sugar supply, they hurt and you have to slow down. So, you have to take a source of additional sugar when you exercise intensely for more than 70 minutes. Taking sugar while you exercise intensely increases the amount of training you can do, and does not lessen the benefits of your increased training (Journal of Applied Physiology, June 2009).
You pre-workout or pre-race meal can include anything that will not upset your stomach. However, do not take a lot of sugar from three hours up to 10 minutes before you exercise intensely. Eating sugared foods or drinks can cause a high rise in blood sugar that causes your pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. Then, when you start exercising, the combination of high blood insulin levels and exercising muscles drawing sugar rapidly from the bloodstream can cause low blood sugar levels that will make you feel very tired.
Instead, take sugar within five minutes before you start to exercise, and during prolonged exercise. Your contracting muscles will draw the sugar so rapidly from the bloodstream that you will not get a high rise in blood insulin level and avoid the resultant low blood sugar and tired feeling. Chocolate, jelly beans, a sugared drink or any other quick source of sugar will work.
A high rise in blood sugar can cause sugar to stick to the outer surface of cell membranes. Once there, sugar can never get off and is eventually converted by a series of chemical reactions to sorbitol, which destroys the cells.
All of the horrible side effects of diabetes are caused by sugar sticking to cells. You do not have to be diabetic to suffer nerve, brain and blood vessel damage from a high rise in blood sugar. Therefore what is good for you during exercise can harm you when you are sedentary.
Contracting muscles can draw sugar from muscles without requiring insulin, but resting muscles cannot. During exercise, sugar intake is usually harmless, but when muscles are not contracting, blood sugar levels can rise very high and damage cells throughout your body.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine. Gabe Mirkin, M.D., is a sports medicine doctor and fitness guru. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin has run more than 40 marathons and is now a serious tandem bike rider with his wife, Diana, often doing 30-60 miles in an outing. His website is http://drmirkin.com/.
Coach John Hughes' Cycling Past 60, Part 2: For Recreation builds on the foundation of information for 60+ riders in Cycling Past 60, Part 1: For Health and uses the concept of “Athletic Maturity” to design more rigorous programs for more athletically mature riders. Part 2 builds on Part 1 and assumes that you have read it and taken the test to determine your Athletic Maturity. latest is for both health-focused and recreational cyclists who ride with more intensity. This 23-page eArticle includes the six different health maintenance objectives for different components of your physiology, eight basic (and four advanced) training principles, types of rides, cross-training and recovery tips.
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