How To Spend A Rest Day

25 May, 2017

How To Spend A Rest Day
While spending all day out on the bike is how most of us would rather spend our days outdoors, having a rest day from long days in the saddle is rather a necessary part of recovering. Plenty of average cyclists like myself will spend less time on a bike than an active cyclist training for an event, yet, even we also risk burnout, illness, and injury too. With rest days, there is also a factor of being active in recovery rather just sitting on the couch with legs up. In active recovery you are doing very light exercises to helping aid your body in flushing out metabolic waste to help in aid in faster recovery. Non-active recovery strategies like whole days off are beneficial too but like most cyclists, we are always finding active ways to feel good on and off the bike. Here are just a few ways how you can get the most out of spending an active or non-active rest day.

Just a note, I am not a medical expert or fitness coach, just a girl who loves riding bikes that has found her way through the training, natural nutrition, and recovery world to help aid her own performance. These ideas are based on my own experience, don't require a lot of money, and are practiced on a regular basis in my own training schedule. What works for me may not work for you but I'm sure you will enjoy some.
Epsom Salt Bath
One of my favorite recovery activities after a long ride is a hot Epsom salt bath. This is a simple and effective way to relax worked muscles while decreasing inflammation. It's also a good way to increase blood magnesium and prevent bloating from water retention. As a result, epsom baths can increase the rate of recovery and reduce muscle and joint pain from the inflammation response. You can boost up your recovery bath game by adding some lavender and almond oil for both it's soothing/smoothing effect and healing properties too. Relax and enjoy this one, just don't fall asleep.

Eat
My other favorite time spent recovering is eating, so much eating. While there are recovery quick fixes in protein powders, recovery drinks, gels, vitamins etc. it's easy to get nutrients from real food too. To get the most out of recovery eating it's best to eat one hour post ride with four parts carbohydrates and one part protein. This helps in replacing glycogen stores and protein for muscle repair. Another recovery favorite of mine is a smoothie made of banana, berries, almond milk, and greek yogurt for antioxidants, protein, fiber, potassium, and insulin replacement. As much as I want my muscles to recover, I also want to look out for my overall health and sometimes I have to choose the burger over a leafy veggie salad to feel like a normal human being again so eat what makes you feel good in the end but balance it out too. Also, hydration is part of nutrition recovery and is a no brainer to avoid cramping and dehydration.
Yoga
Sometimes over training can interfere with sleep, making us restless, and more tense without a proper resting period. While adaptation happens in recovery periods, cyclists can help maximize active recovery days with Restorative Yoga. A cyclist can only ride for so many miles and so many days in a row before the body gets tighter with repetitions of pedaling and static positions on the saddle. With stretching, or yoga, you can counteract imbalances on the saddle by maintaining flexibility. Adding yoga to your active rest day can also help aid with sleep, posture, and muscle recovery allowing your next cycling session to be even better.

Recovery Ride
Just like yoga, active recovery should fit into your training schedule once or twice a week following the hard days on the bike. When doing a recovery ride, they should be on a flat route and short, 30-60 mins, with very low levels of exertion and heart rate. Recovery rides help aid the process of blood flow to repair damaged muscles while flushing out metabolic waste. They can also help maintain general momentum in training and add smiles where you should be feeling better after than before.
Rest
While you may enjoy these activities, remember to take a whole day off while putting your feet up on the couch. Watch the races for inspiration, listen to cycling podcasts, and read a good cycling book to help get your mind off of aching muscles. Resting is also a fun way to spend with loved ones, catching up on favorite podcasts while cooking a recovery meal and stretching while catching up on favorite shows in the front of the tv. This may be only me but before I nod off to sleep, I like to turn off and keep all my electronics out of my bedroom before I lay in bed with a good book which also helps me drift into sleep easier. Sleep is your biggest ally to get the most marginal gains in recovery so treat sleep like it's your best riding friend.

While riding your bike can be great in keeping you happy, healthy, and fit, taking time off it also helps in increasing all these and performance. It would do us all good to remember that if your body is sending you signals to rest, do it. There is no point in trying to push to the next level when you're body isn't going to do what you want while potentially risking illness or injury. Instead, take a bubble bath, eat all the pasta, practice yoga till you're zenned out, and sleep like a newborn baby. You'll feel so much better and feel your performance and fun factors improve when you're ready for the next adventure.



New Bike Day

23 May, 2017

New Bike Day
I am a petite woman, 5'1'' to be exact. When I began cycling, I started out on a women's 1986 Schwinn World Sport road bike. It was perfect for me in height except my reach was too far, causing me shoulder and neck pain. I wanted to be more in an upright position for comfortable commuting so I did my research on how to convert my road bike to an upright commuter bike. At the time, women's specific designed comfort bikes were on the rise but personally I wanted the sports element with the comfort so I began the journey to converting my road bike to a more sporty upright commuter.

By changing stems, handle bars, and saddles over the years I found I could manage riding that bike comfortably with a few adjustments. Once it was stolen, gone were those days of long commutes and bike adventures. The last time I bought a bike was exactly for comfortable distances for commuting, with the occasional bike adventures on gravel, dirt, and uneven terrain with my trusty Trek FX S. This worked out fine till I joined my local cycling club and found myself struggling to keep up at a comfortable pace. In addition, cycling the local terrain of country roads had new challenges, hills, lots of hills. Wanting to spend more time outdoors, I thought the hybrid road bike would be fine but going long distances up hills was difficult, so I started looking to the road bike.

When I was in California over winter, I used Spinlister to test out a few different types of women's road bikes, from a Trek Lexa 3, Cannondale Synapse, Liv Avail, and Specialized Dolce. Not only was I looking for comfort but also an affordable price point. As much as I would love to drop a couple of thousands of dollars on a bike, I'm not at that stage where I am comfortable enough to drop that kind of money, especially with a mortgage, car/insurance payments, and a wedding to fund. It's also important to note that the average woman cycling (like myself) probably isn't racing or doing any century rides so an investment return matched with lifestyle convenience was also something I took on board.
With all these factors to consider, I drew out my list of pros and cons. Some bikes were better at shifting on climbs, some had more gears, some bikes were lighter than others, some bikes absorbed all the shocks, and some had better reach. Each rider is different and every bike is too but what worked for me was the reachable shifting/braking, comfort, and shock absorption. When I returned home to NY I visited a few bike shops that carried each brand so I tested some of their women's specific designs but was more disappointed by the color ranges than anything else. I have to admit, as function was my main focus for a bike I couldn't fancy the thought of buying a bike with a speck of pink on it or bad taste in decorative design. So, my options dwindled down to two bikes but what I ultimately chose was the Specialized Dolce 2017.

Over the weekend, I took the bike out for our first official rides together. On Saturday, out on the scenic Putnam Rail Trail, we managed to cover a steady 40 miles without feeling fatigued. In fact, I was wishing to ride longer but time and weather weren't on my side. On Sunday, I packed in another 20 miles on hilly terrain, still feeling pretty good and ready to ride more. What surprised me most was how fast I was and how easy climbing became. I wouldn't call myself a climber but how I quickly got up the hills sure surprised me! On the downside, I did begin to feel some aching in my neck so I will definitely be making adjustments before the next ride.

What I've concluded, without going into great detail, is that the Specialized Dolce is more of a beginners road bike at a friendly price point packed with a lot of purpose. With leisure endurance design in mind, the Dolce allows me to cycle longer distances faster and it sends me climbing uphill easier while flying me downhill. While these things are great to a novice road cyclist, an experienced road cyclist may wish for higher quality components, more shifting options, shock absorption, and a lighter frame. What I found to work for me on the Dolce was it's simple design, beginner friendly control, smoothness, comfort, and riding enjoyment. Personally, I don't think I'll be upgrading till I've improved my road cycling skills and have a bit more cash to trade in. At least for now, I'm having a blast and am extremely pleased as a petite woman smashing hills and distances on this bike.

Riding With CycloFemme

19 May, 2017

Riding With CycloFemme
On Sunday, CycloFemme hosted 270 rides, in 28 countries, raising 218 bikes for schoolgirls in Kenya with partnered efforts with World Bicycle ReliefBy going the distance together, we put more bicycles into the hands of girls and women fighting for their education and independence. To me that is astounding but this is just the beginning as there is always the goal of putting more women on bikes. As we build communities together, on and off the bike, we set a motion forward for the next generation of female cyclists and to be honest, I'm already excited for next years goal for putting more girls on a bike.

Looking in hindsight, I wasn't sure I was going to attend this ride. Mainly because it was a very wet week and forecasting to be a very wet weekend. At some point, I had to just suck it up and set my focus on the positive, I was riding for a good cause and I was going to meet women who loved cycling too. So I packed up my weekend bag and bike in the car and headed down to NYC in the heavy rains to be welcomed and hosted by my new friend and new cyclists Shannon. To kick off the bicycle filled weekend, we celebrated our new friendship over fish tacos, cider, and conversations of the bike life.
Saturday night we prepare for an early Sunday morning rise, setting aside our kit, prepping our bikes, morning breakfast, and snacks for the ride ahead. Waking up for an early 7:30am meet up for a ride almost sounded crazy to me for a Sunday but when I rolled into SOHO in the morning sunlight, I understood why: the streets were glistened in solitude and silence. 

Bicycle Habitat, along with Women's Cycling NYC, were our hosts organizers for the ride. When I entered the shop, the vibe was a morning chill yet everybody's eyes were glistened with tiredness and excitement. We knew our purpose for this ride which was enough to get us up so early on a Sunday. 

As our organizers began the event, they opened with a warm welcome and brief reminder of why we were doing this ride. A sleep inducing yoga session was had and then we set our way into our ride groups. The ride was sorted into three groups, all suitable for those who were having their first group ride and for those who were experienced in group riding with a choice in distance. As we each meet our groups, smiles were exchanged, new bonds were made, and away we set pedaling.
When riding with a group of just women, something stirred in me. I thought about my weekend rides with my cycling club and recognized how different it was in comparison. In this group of women, I felt acceptance, a desire to bond, an openness to feedback, and overall care for one another's safety. There was a point where I forgot my city cycling etiquette and a gentle reminder that a cop may look for an opportunity to ticket me was enough to remind me of everything I knew of city commuting.

At our destination, friendly exchanges were made, snacks were eaten, and a bit of city knowledge was shared. Heading back to Bicycle Habitat, the ride back became a bit more challenging. There were runners, other cyclists, and families along the way. Safety was definitely on the radar. For some new to group riding, I could see the unsure tension in their pedal, and for those experienced, I could see the sense of control in their directions. What I saw in these exchanges was interesting to me. It certainly reminded me of my early days of cycling, not knowing how to behave on the road and not knowing if I was adequate in my skills. I think there is a lot to say for those leading our group ride, the confidence and care for riding safely together was certainly infectious and comforting.

When we made it back to Bicycle Habitat, we all sighed with a wow. It felt empowering, riding with a group of women who were confident on the city roads made me feel invincible, as if we were parading down the open avenues. That feeling is what I always hope to bring with me on a ride now. It's what I hope all women new and old in cycling will feel on a ride. It's what I hope the girls and women in Kenya will feel. And I think that feeling is what will drive me to ride with more women and get more on bikes at home too.

photo courtesy: womenscyclingnyc

Women's Cycling Podcasts

17 May, 2017

Women's Cycling Podcasts
In the wee hours of the morning there are two things I love the most: coffee and a good podcast. If it's not the dooming daily U.S. news I'm listening to, it's probably a podcast on cycling. When listening to cycling podcasts there are specific things I look for. First, I enjoy learning about the inspiring women making a change in women's cycling whether it's industry or sports. Second, I enjoy lessons and stories of adventure, struggle, growth, and conquer. Third, if it's honest and relatable content to women's cycling, even as a hobby. And fourth, the races, boy do I love them. Just to note, because I'm passionate about women's cycling I'm only sharing podcasts that features women's cycling voices, so sorry dudes, you can pass this on to your lady cycling friends unless you enjoy learning about the badass work these women do.

So whether you're waking up with your morning coffee for that early ride, commuting to work, fixing your bike, or cooking your recovery meal, here are some of my favorite podcasts that feature the grit, gear, and tears (of laughter) of women's cycling.
Voxwomen Insider
Hosts Abby Mickey and Loren Rowney aim to bring you an “insider” look into the women’s professional peloton. The weekly podcast, released every Monday, will deliver you the rundown on what’s been happening at the UCI Women’s World Tour races. As well as analysis of the races and the who’s who of the peloton. Hosts interview a guest on the show every week. From professional riders, to the women behind the scenes in the sport, the Voxwomen Insider powered by Canyon will deliver all your need to know about what’s going on in women’s cycling.

Cycling Podcast Feminin
Cycling Podcast Feminin is a monthly show dedicated to women's cycling. Presenters Orla Chennaoui, Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe – and a few special guests along the way take us into the world of women's professional cycling. With a mix of harsh realities, insights, and analysis, journalists cover not just the big talking points but take you behind the scenes. If you love enjoy looking into the minds of the racers, this is a good one.
The Joy Ride
The Joy Ride is a podcast hosted by Cat Caparello celebrating women on bikes - featuring bike love conversations with all kinds of women who ride covering topics from advocacy, bike touring, pro-racing, mechanics, to cycling books. This is another one you can appreciate for the everyday female cyclist making a difference in her community. It truly celebrates women cyclists.

Wheel Suckers
Wheel Suckers is a "tandem" cycling industry comedy podcast hosted by Alex from Look Mum No Hands! and Jenni from the London Bike Kitchen. Wheel Suckers are my favorite Monday morning listen as it's usually packed with lots of laughs and talk about the cycling scene, cycling culture, and bike stuff. They also have interviews with some of the greatest in the industry and sport and are pretty candid in their conversations. While there is lots of laughing involved, there are some serious moments too.
Pro-Women's Cycling
An offshoot of the Unofficial, Unsanctioned Women's UCI Cycling blog, this podcast features interviews with pro women and people involved in women’s cycling. Host Sarah Connolly is one of the best-known voices in women’s cycling and happy to share her “unashamedly enthusiastic and unapologetically sweary” thoughts on the often-neglected women’s side of the sport.

Hope you will give each a listen and perhaps a nice review of their work. Every time we listen and share the work of those promoting women's cycling, we open the door and light the way for the next generation of great female cyclists. Happy listening!

CycloFemme 2017 + Ride Day Tips

11 May, 2017

CycloFemme 2017 + Ride Day Tips
This Sunday, 15 countries with 152 cities worldwide will join in an all women's global group ride to set a movement in motion, CycloFemme. Celebrating on Mothers Day, rides will be carrying the ongoing theme of COME AS YOU ARE. CycloFemme celebrates women by honoring the past and celebrating the present to empower the future of women's cycling everywhere. This year CycloFemme will be partnering with World Bicycle Relief with a new call to action: Empower the Girl, Ignite the Woman.

By joining forces with CycloFemme, donated funds will be raised for World Bicycle Relief to deliver bicycles to female students in Kenya. The goal of this partnerships is to get a bicycle in the hands of a girl to provide options, independence, and access to education. 

If you would like to join a ride in your area, please visit CycloFemme's Ride List.


To help empower girls and women with bicycles, please visit World Bicycle Relief and CycloFemme's  community page. Participation in Cyclofemme is open and free to all while participation in fundraising is optional. I hope you'll consider contributing to World Bicycle Relief or raise awareness of this effort on the day of your CycloFemme ride.
While group rides can be a lot of fun you may not be sure what to do, bring, or wear. Here are just a few tips to guide you on prepping for a ride with CycloFemme.

Prep your bike - to make sure you're bike is ride ready give it a little TLC. Check your brakes, tire pressure, chain, gears, and for any loose parts like your hub, headset, and brackets. You may also want to put on your lights and pack any other fix it items in your saddle bag. Don't wait till the last minute to take your bike in for repairs.


Ride Etiquette - riding with a group can be fun but it can also be dangerous. Knowing the rules of the road and group will keep you and others safe. Hand signals, pace riding, passing, and communication is all part of knowing how to ride safely in a group. Here are videos by Global Cycling Network with a few tips on road etiquette and how to ride in a group. If this is out of your comfort, do know that most rides on CycloFemme will be more social and laid back on trails.

Ride Day Essentials - snacks, water, helmet, saddle bag (tool kit, patches, pump, tire levers, spare tubes), phone, ID, cash, credit cards, insurance card, sunscreen, arm/leg warmers, jersey, gloves, sunglasses, cycling cap, cycling shorts/tights, shoes, plastic bags (water protection for money and phone), socks, wind/rain jacket. Did I miss anything?
Nutrition and Hydration - hydrate well the day before, drink plenty during and after your ride. Eating a solid carb meal hours before a ride will give your body the proper energy it needs. I personally love a good oatmeal with nuts and fruit before a ride and will definitely be packing fruit bars and peanut butter jelly sandwiches. If your ride starts early, best to prepare these the night before so they properly fit in your jersey pockets.

Safety - be visible and stay visible. Watch, listen, obey traffic rules, and communicate. Always keep pedaling. If you fear being dropped ask another rider to stay with you, it's always nice having others looking out for each other.

Make Friends - this is a ride to empower each other, not a competition on who can get the QOM at the top. I think the best things about cycling with other women is that rides are more social, fun, and there is a sense of looking after each other with great care, cheering eachother on the climb and making sure you don't bonk, snacks anyone?


This is a great way to celebrate Mothers Day, make new riding buddies, and bring along any curious or new riders interested in cycling. Hope you'll join CycloFemme and please if you're in NYC, come say hi to me. I'll be attending CycloFemme in NYC with Bicycle Habitats Women's Cycling ride on Sunday. I'm hoping to meet new people and followers I've known over social media for some time, it's always nice to do so. Happy CycloFemme!


Supporting Women's Pro-Cycling + Resources

03 May, 2017

Supporting Women's Pro-Cycling + Resources

It all started in university when my love for the pro-cycling races began. Long nights in the books along with spring and summer breaks where filled with cycling entertainment as a welcomed distraction from information overload. Eventually, my obsession with French literature and the most exciting race of the year lead me to Paris to watch the final stage of the Tour de France in 2011. I had never experienced anything like it, the celebration, decor, and crowds enthusiasm. This was a big deal. Gradually, my love for the race grew into love for the riders and when La Course, a TDF final stage women's race, was announced in 2014 I had focused much of my attention on who was who in women's pro-cycling. Since, I have never looked back.

Without that announcement, I would have never known there was women's peloton cycling. There is no denying that women's cycling is underrepresented in the grand scheme of professional cycling. While women's representation in professional cycling is beginning to gradually change and become more pronounced by the rising support of women's cycling in the industry, there is also the rise of women joining in competitive cycling. While more women are out on the road and trails riding their bikes, not many follow the pros and watch their races. Generally there is a correlation between professional sports and growth of amateur participation in a sport, yet, paving the way for media coverage, pay, and industry support of women's cycling still has a long way to go.
I'm sure there are many opinions of why professional women's cycling doesn't get the support they need but I guarantee that with the rapid increase in women's cycling participation we will see the media all over it when cycling fans demand it. Why point at the media? The media plays a large part of not covering the women's races, assuming the interest, views, and crowds will not show up. Just as the Spring classics have come to a close, we have seen races such Tour de Yorkshire have large crowd turnouts and millions watching on live tv. This is massive! However, there still remains the disparity of live coverage between the women's and men's peloton coverage.

I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of why, this is another post for later, but I do want to raise attention and provide resources on how you can get the latest news and info on women's pro-cycling. While there are sites like Podium Cafe and Cycling Tips that report on the biggest races, there are smaller races that don't get all the coverage you need. That's where I come in to guide you to the resources to find out what's going on as Tour season begins. Giro d'Italia anyone?

Below are websites to guide you through where to get news and reports on the current happenings of the women's peloton races. These outlets also update their twitter feed with current news and racing events so please follow them too!

Pro Women's Cycling
Cycling Podcast Feminin
Ella Cycling Tips Race
Women's UCI Cycling Show Podcast
Podium Cafe - Women's Cycling
Total Women's Cycling- Events
Cycling News - Women
Women Cycling Fever

How to watch women's peloton races? Some media outlets require subscriptions or a VPN. Some of these links don't require such. If you're aware of other means of live streaming women's races, please share!

Steephill.tv
ITV 4 - vpn required
Cycling TV - subscription required
ProCyclingLive
Cycling Fans
So, how can you as a fan help support women's pro-cycling? There are many ways to help support women's cycling which Sarah Connolly of Pro Women's Cycling advises in a lengthier and more resourceful post on how to "Take 5 min to help Women's Cycling in 2017 ... to engage with riders and races, their sponsors and team media and thank them for what they do, and to share media that covers women’s cycling." Here are 10 ways we can help:

1. Click through to sponsors
2. Thank the sponsors for supporting the sport
3. Always include the women’s cycling account, and use the official hashtags
4. Consider buying products from companies that support women’s cycling – and then tell the company that you did
5. Include links in your social media
6. Click on women’s cycling media – and share that too!
7. Watch and share official videos
8. Thank media companies for showing women’s races
9. Just sharing or liking other people’s social media helps
10. Take 5 minutes and plan to go to a race in real life or volunteer!

Please do share if you have any other resources or information on how to promote women's cycling. We are in a great time of progress for women's cycling and can do a little more to help make a difference in the smallest ways. 

I hope this will inspire you to take a few minutes to learn more about the women in cycling. These are great resources that include stories of pain and victory by the most elite cycling athletes and teams in the sport. 

You can always follow me on Twitter @citygirlrides to get a bit of commentary and some resources of races that I will be watching. Sarah Connolly of @pwcycling is great on keeping up on these races and a great resource to look to if you want to learn more about professional women's cycling. She's also infectious with her passion and enthusiasm so just be ready to dive deep.

image courtesy @wmscycling

Long Distance Training and Recovery Tips

26 April, 2017

Long Distance Training and Recovery Tips
I would never call myself a pro cyclists - I'm not even an athlete. I don't race, I'm no mechanic, and I certainly don't beat myself up about Garmin data. However, as a passionate cyclist I have a lot of experience on the road that has given me plenty of new things to learn and share. Like many a cyclist, I love to set goals to become faster, stronger, and enduring when it comes to cycling. As a growing roadie, I'm an absolute pro at finding the adventure in cycling when it comes to riding longer distances. Long distance rides are accessible to riders of all levels, even most recreational cyclists like myself can conquer a days 80 mile ride with the right planning and preparation. However, to do so, setting the right training goals is important to avoid burnout on the bike.

While I've been using the winter months to keep my fitness levels up, I've also learned how to train and recover to help aid my goals in longer distance cycling. Here are just a few non-pro tips to help you set up your goals on prepping for entering a race, joining a cycling club, or getting fit for that long distance adventure cycling trip you've been dreaming of.

Schedule
Ideally, you should plan to put the miles on your bike, however, when you're starting out, it's key to map out your training sessions and mile goals weekly. By planning your weekly training sessions, you can prioritize your schedule around training so you're not skipping out. Not everyone has the time for a regimented training schedule, however, when you're training for an event, it's key to not fall off the training wheels.

Training Plan
If you are new to cycling or long distance cycling, give yourself 8-12 weeks of training before an event. This would allow you to ease in without risking injury from riding hard and far too soon. Each week, plan your sessions and weekly long ride ride with an increase in mileage. For example, I do 2 indoor cycling sessions of 60 mins, 1 day of yoga, 2 days of recovery, and 1 day of outdoor road cycling with mileage (no more than 15% increased mileage each week). For a session (indoor/outdoor), write out your warm up time, specific exercises for strength building, sprint time, interval training, climbing time, recovery time and tape it to your bike, or join a indoor cycling class that will give you the proper sessions you need.
Hydration
Staying hydrated on and off your bike is key to keeping your muscles from cramping. Before, during, and after training, be sure to hydrate and follow up on replacing lost salts and minerals with a sports drink of electrolytes. During a training session or ride, keep water close by to keep hydrating so your replacing what you sweat out but don't consume too much or else you'll feel sick, trust me I'm guilty of this.

Nutrition
Before training, eat properly two hours before a session or ride. Certain foods will provide you with the fuel you'll need for a long distance ride like oatmeal, whole-grain bread, quinoa, fruits, and vegetables. Personally, I look forward to my pre-ride meal of oatmeal, almonds, banana and coffee. Two hours before a training session, I have a slice of gluten-free bread with peanut butter and apple so that I have enough to burn and hold onto before eating a full meal.

During a ride, keeping sufficiently fueled is critical to avoid bonking. That feeling of fuzzy head and legs giving up is no fun. Consider carrying snacks to refuel like energy bars, gels, nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate (what snacks to carry blog post in que).

Thirty minutes post ride and training, have a small protein snack to replenish what you've burned. I'm a big fan of a peanut butter/jelly sandwiches. I usually pack these to carry in my jersey pockets when I need a pick me up. Two hours later, when prepping recovery food, I like to add some healthy protein and carbs to help me recover quickly in a full meal, a favorite of mine is chicken pesto pasta with broccoli. I don't eat dairy and gluten so I use products that are free of these properties and try to avoid them as much as possible, perhaps that's another post for the future.
Recover
Recovery is just as important as the training you do. This is probably my favor part of training. Aside from eating, another way I like to recover is by taking an Epsom salt bath after a ride. This helps with soreness by relaxing skeletal muscles by flushing lactic acid buildup for reparations.

Recovery nutrition is also just as important as the fuel you add before and after a ride. With training, muscle aches, inflammation, and muscle reparations are all just part of the course of becoming fitter on the bike. On my recovery days, eating well is key to replace nutrients and repair muscles. I'm a fan of smoothies, so an anti-inflammatory smoothie of berries, protein smoothies of peanut butter and banana, and veggie and fruit juices are all part of my recovery day regime. Like most cyclists, I'm a big fan of eating but we need to constantly remind ourselves to eat healthy and avoid heavy carb loading so that we are getting the proper recovery food our bodies need.

Rest, Elevate, Stretch, Sleep
When planning your training schedule, make sure to factor in some rest days. Those days are key to allowing your body ample time to adapt and repair. Try elevating your legs to help aid proper blood flow to aid recovery. These days I enjoy sitting on the couch with my legs elevated while binge watching a BBC period piece or reading a book.

Another way I love to spend a recovery day is practicing Restorative Yoga. The breathing and gentle stretching helps me to loosen up tight muscles and release pain I'm feeling in my hips, knees, and back. Yoga practice can also help aid in pushing oxygen to repair muscles and help you develop breathing techniques on the bike. It's also key to note that it can also help build mental relaxation practices that can help you push harder on those grinding rides, remembering to focus on breathing with each pedal on a climb.

Sleep of course can be sweet when your exhausted and we all know how important it is to restoring the mind and body. However, it is possible to develop sleep apnea when you've been training hard. This is something I've personally struggled with. Over training can cause sleeplessness and chronic fatigue, breaking down your immune system and plateauing your progress if you don't give yourself enough time to sleep. So make sure to listen to your body when you need to take time off, trust me on this one, I've learned the hard way.

When you stick to training and recovery, you'll begin to see the difference in your performance each week. You'll experience a tremendous sense of accomplishment and be glad you woke up early to be out on the bike until early evening. The flow of the experience will stick with you and you'll want to go further but just remember, it's about the fun in the saddle and cake after the ride, not the Garmin data.

images 1& 3 courtesy of stefan r.

Spinning To Be A Better Cyclist

21 April, 2017

Spinning To Be A Better Cyclist
For the last 6 months I have developed a real love for Spin. I know I know, before the reprimand, in my defense, the Northeast becomes very cold for half a year and my outdoor cycling habits fade with the changes of seasons. As a fragile-to-cold-weather-Californian-native, my physical and mental health suffers enormously if I'm not outdoors in the sun, so my way to cope and welcome an escape activity from winter and it's blues is by indoor cycling. It's rather a convenient and beneficial way for me to keep my fitness levels high year round so that when warmer weather arrives, I'm able to build up my cycling endurance performance. I am in no way a pro cyclist but I do love being able to conquer my fitness goals and rides.

In the winter, indoor cycling has become my escape from cold, wet and dark climates while keeping my fitness levels on point. In the heat of summer, riding inside provides me a refreshing relief from hot-humid temperatures and heavy traffic pollution that really aggravates my allergies and symptoms of dry eyes. Spin classes have also become convenient in the spring and fall, when unpredictable weather or levels of pollen can affect my weekend riding plans. With a spin class I enjoy a predictable schedule and structured riding plan with a familiar instructor who pushes and motivates me with the right amount of energy and music to help me cope in these seasons.

A year ago I bought myself a turbo trainer to help me address some of these issues. I set up in my cozy basement with a large flat screen tv and did everything to add variety to my session from adding music, a heart monitor, a cycle computer, online classes, tv, and youtube rides to find myself just skipping it and heading to the gym instead. I also found it very difficult to stand up and too much effort to adjust resistance to get the outputs I wanted on a trainer. I thought of joining Zwift but I wanted to be off the trainer to challenge myself more physically. Maybe in all, I needed a little variety less digital to spice it up so I signed up for spin and have loved it since.
While there are many benefits to cycling indoors, some personal benefits I have received are a.) group exercise provides me motivation b.) higher calorie burn c.) higher endorphin output d.) better performance on the bike. With a group exercise, at first I was worried about a too enthusiastic instructor/crowd but luckily my instructor was chill and kept the crowd suffering and focused. At the end of a session, I'd burn enough calories to help me keep a stable weight and lose some as a bonus. At the end of a session, my work stress was gone where I'd go home and dance while cooking dinner. Winter blues didn't even have a chance to pop up it's ugly head. For performance, I only noticed my climbing endurance was better after packing on the resistance and cadence training on a spin bike. My instructor is big on climbs and I'm grateful for it as it's been great strength and heart rate building for climbing these hilly parts of Upstate NY.

There are benefits to cycling indoors that have helped my outdoor cycling. Aside from the health and fitness benefits, with a little planning I am able to received the most out of a spin session to benefit my outdoor cycling endurance. In my plan, I schedule Mondays and Wednesdays after work for a 45-60 minute indoor spin session each week, with just one or two outdoor rides, usually on Saturday or Sunday to build my endurance and enjoy the outdoors. Since my goal in the beginning of Spring is to cycle 50+miles by summer, I was recommend an eight-week plan (at 14 mph, a 50-mile ride will take about 3 hours and 30 minutes). To work up to a metric century (100K or 62 miles), the plan recommended to me is 11 weeks (at 14 mph, a 62-mile ride will take about 4 hours and 30 minutes). To build up this endurance my weekend rides usually consists of 20-35 miles as of now. Every weekend I will challenge myself with 5 more miles, hillier terrain, and a faster pace till my 50 miles goal approaches. Hopefully, the harder I push in spin, the better my efforts on the road will be.

Embarrassingly, I do enjoy the euphoric endorphin induced feelings and the puddle of sweat I've created on the floor after a session. Heck, I even enjoy the Ron Burgundy type figure my instructor reminds me of with his mustache and 70's-80's dad rock-n-roll playlist. I can dig it. What I especially enjoy is how I quickly found myself fitter and stronger to push myself on a ride. In no way are outdoor and indoor cycling the same but when it comes to getting on the road and trail, I can notice my heart and legs wanting to climb higher and ride further, thanks to spin.

images: pixicycling/shuttershock

Out in the Outpost

12 April, 2017

Out in the Outpost
Over the weekend I was determined to celebrate my final days in LA the best way I could by mountain biking the Santa Monica mountains. Just weeks before, I had done a road ride out here and found it incredibly difficult to climb that I did not get to have the the full experience of being at mountain top to overlook the San Fernando Valley and Pacific. Upon searching for mountain biking trails in  LA, I came upon the recommendation of a friendly bike shop, Topanga Creek Outpost, tucked in the Topanga Moutains that has a 10.8 mile loop and mountain bike rentals for the day. I called and booked our Saturday morning at the loop. Upon waking up, we ate a hearty meal and headed north on the PCH towards the outpost.
Upon arriving we were greeted by Chris, followed by Jeo, Eric, and "the guy with the beard". The shop was enamored with beautiful touring/mountain bikes and gear that I couldn't stop touching and looking at, I felt like a kid in a candy shop! I ask my millions of questions about the shop and was given a tour of the rugged space and offered coffee and banana bread. As we talked shop and prepared to head out to the trail, Jeo sets us up on our bikes as Chris equips us with a map, details of the trail, and some water. After all was said and done, they send us on our merry way up towards Arteique Road where we were met with out first climb of the day.

As we climb up a big single track on Deer Hill trail we are greeted at the top with rolling meadows of wildflowers where we would catch our breath before rolling along Mulholland Drive Fire Road. At this point we were literally breathless with the awe-inspiring views of the San Fernando Valley and the beautiful red soil canyons of Topanga over looking the Pacific Ocean. When I had read online that the trail was beautiful, I didn't imagine that the route was one hell of a technical challenge to be rewarded with epic views.
As we get halfway through the loop, we roll through serpentine trails with hikers and other mountain bikers. You can see some pro riders conquering the technical trails and some new pacing themselves uphill, it's a trail for all. On our way back to Topanga Canyon, we make a right turn just before Eagle Rock down to a technical, rocky waterfall single track that leads out of the park to serpentine roads that cool you down as you head back to the outpost. By the time we got back, my hands and arms were shaking out of maintaining control and speed through that last trail. We were exhilarated and exhausted once we made it to the shop and took offerings of coffee and banana bread.

As we cooled down and settled from an exhausting 2.5 hr ride of technical 10.8 miles of trails, we were awarded (literally) with a certificate of our achievement of completing the loop. Sipping on coffee and ravaging on bread, Chris shows us his skill in leather work while telling stories of the bike shops beginnings and all the bike tours and rides they lead. In that moment, I was filled with so much admiration for this shop that felt more like a community and wishing that every bike shop was just like this. 
Topanga Creek Outpost is the most unique and greatest example of a newer form of bike shop that focuses on the customer experience offering the best of cycling culture: coffee, cake, bikes, gear, trails, adventures, and stories. It was so chill, friendly, and relaxing that we hung out till closing time. We were so impressed with their stories and work that it felt like a place I would want to be in everyday. When we headed back onto the PCH we stopped off for fish tacos and returned home to take hot baths, and rest on the the excitement of the day.

A day out in the mountains on a bike was the perfect way to end a winter escape from NY to CA.

Riding The South Bay Peninsula

05 April, 2017

Riding The South Bay Peninsula
In a car dependent city like Los Angeles, it may not come to mind to most cyclists that the area is surrounded by an array of scenic cycling destinations. Bike paths such as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, a.k.a. The Strand, a 22-mile, mostly car-free ride along the sand and shimmering waves of the Pacific Ocean offers a wide connection to the most spectacular views and beaches. From Will Rogers State Beach in the north to Torrance Beach in the south bay, the path provides a flat beach cruise through L.A’s vibrant beach towns. However, for a more challenging cycling route, extending this ride south from Torrance to include the classic donut ride around the Palos Verdes Peninsula is a California treasure. The scenic but challenging loop of climbing rolling hills follows Palos Verdes Drive along the edge of peninsula which offers beautiful vistas and plenty of open road space that only cyclists can dream of.
Over the weekend, I dared to cycle the Donut Loop in Palos Verdes only to find myself going halfway. There is no sugar coating this ride, it's brutal even for a moderate climber like myself. For most Southern Californian cyclists, this ride is top of the list of great rides in Los Angeles dating back to 1973 and has maintained a reputation for being adorned with beautiful views of the ocean cliffs, nasty ascending switchbacks, serpentine descends, and some more climbing. Indeed, this ride lived up to its reputation and I found this route was exactly that, consistent hilly terrain that will challenge you to climb well and still maintain speed on the flatter roads. If your cycling solo, the climbs won’t hurt so badly as you keep your own pace, however, if your in it for the group, you'll most likely be dropped by those who want to race to the top for a UCI world ranking. Not everyone is out for a medal, however, being on my own during this ride, I wanted a good challenge as much as a leisure ride to take breaks from climbing to catch my breath with the many others stopping to soak in the views too. 
To characterize the ride, along the first 10-mile loop around the western waterfront, and over the aptly named Rolling Hills, delivers some of the best bluff side ocean views in Southern California. I began in Torrance Beach early enough avoid the heavy Saturday traffic along the bike-friendly Palos Verdes Drive and rode up to Bluff Cove where steep rust-colored cliffs drop dramatically to the waves. Leaving the main drag and heading inland,  I brace for the long climb up a quiet residential street with luxurious Spanish style homes and drought resistant gardens. This 2-mile ascent might have you huffing and puffing, maybe even puking, but the long views north up sandy beaches will take your breath away when you make it. After gaining 850 feet in elevation, I topped out where the coast was clear—literally. 

This was a very impressive ride, challenging the most. Long stretches of ascends and descends can make for a good leg and technique challenge. You may even doubt your skills at best but that will fade when your admiring the panoramic views. I found that there are many ways to ride and experience this gorgeous side of South Bay Los Angeles, from hiking trails, mountain biking, driving, or cycling, this is a place to definitely catch some climbing miles. Just remember to bring a camera, loads of water, a can-do attitude and actual donuts to reward yourself for your hard work. 


Riding The PCH to Topanga

29 March, 2017

Riding The PCH to Topanga

One of the best things about living in LA, is the accessibility of the Santa Monica Mountains where you are almost instantly transported outside of the hustle of Los Angeles into the wilderness of the largest urban national park. On this route you are relatively straight along the Pacific Coast Highway with beautiful beach ocean views leading up to Topanga Canyon where there are endless serpentine roads, mountains, and trails to explore by foot and bike. Though, there is the challenge in climbing this route if you consider yourself a road rookie (like me) but it is so worth the views and descend back to the beach to cool off.

Fashion-Meets-Butt-Tech Apparel for Cycling and Beyond

15 March, 2017

Fashion-Meets-Butt-Tech Apparel for Cycling and Beyond
Ever dreamed of versatile tights that you could wear anywhere? Announced today, apparel brand Pixi Cycling launches their flagship product The Go Anywhere line that enables women to seamlessly transition from yoga, running, outdoor and indoor cycling to all other active parts of their lives. How? By arming leggings with discreet, removable butt pads that solve chafing, pelvic bruising and genital numbness problems for female cyclists and spin class goers.

The Go Anywhere line by Pixi is making its debut on Kickstarter campaign today for pre-orders at their Kickstarter link http://kck.st/2lUsMlA. Immediately following, this new apparel line will appear online at www.pixicycling.com and at indoor cycling studios and bike shops nationwide.

Inspired by the need to create a comfortable and stylish option for women who cycle, CEO Emily Welsch started product development from scratch, throwing out the conventional form and function of bulky cycling pants. Surprisingly, she ended up taking cues from women’s bras, inspired by how they contour and support a woman’s form. This design journey culminated in the filing of both a utility and design patent for her tush technology.
The TushCush features gentle, subtle fasteners and a soft, contoured pad to provide a flexible fit that hugs the body, moving as the body moves, and never falling out of place when the wearer pops from standing to sitting in the saddle. The soft, smooth pad offers pelvic protection without causing chafing or irritating delicate skin.

“Since the modern women moves quickly from one activity to the next, we needed to design the apparel to be both stylish and versatile,” says Welsch. That is why TushCush pads will be sold individually and in packs of three, interchangeable in every pair of the Go Anywhere bottoms.

Their ultra-versatile line of shorts, capris, crops, and full-length leggings are made from technical fabrics that are sweat-wicking, breathable, sheer-proof and super soft. The bottoms can be worn with or without the TushCush, for a seamless transition from working out to going out.
The Go Anywhere bottoms are constructed with a breathable, silky soft fabric that wicks away sweat making them perfect for steamy indoor cycling workouts, hot yoga, and high humidity running. The sheer-proof bottoms can be worn with the pad for cycle and spin, or without the pad for yoga, run, leisure, brunch or whatever comes next. With the racer and commuter in mind, each pant includes reflective elements to keep riders visible in low light and a front pocket to hold essentials.

And the best part? No special care is required - just toss everything into the washer, hang dry, and go. The TushCush folds neatly inside a small mesh bag that can be discreetly carried in a pocket or purse when on foot.
Their four-way stretch fabric balances compression with give for optimum athletic performance and comfort. Wear them to the gym, while running errands, or even dress them up for a night out. Feel confident and collected in downward dog and position 3 on the bike. Their sheer-proof fabric won't leave you feeling exposed. Their breathable and quick drying fabric helps regulate your temperature so you'll be sitting pretty by the time the mimosas arrive for post-workout brunch.

Beyond selling versatile apparel, Pixi Cycling has a steadfast commitment to getting more women on bikes while promoting confidence and health. The women who wear their products appreciate not only the innovation that helps them avoid painful chafing, bruising or genital numbness, but also helps them maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

For more about Pixi Cycling's Kickstarter launch click here... bit.ly/pixicycling

Cycling The Strand

10 March, 2017

Cycling The Strand
One of my favorite things to do in Southern California is ride along the coast. With the Pacific ocean in view, the sun shining, and miles of beachside concrete, it's no wonder that one of the best routes to cycle in SoCal is The Strand. I was recommended this trail by Spinlister, an online bike rental site, who shared two options of the strand from Point Dume to Santa Monica, or Venice to Hermosa beach. Personally, I did the the ride from Santa Monica all the way to Hermosa Beach and back. The best thing about cycling this route is that it is really flexible, easy, and beautiful. It's one of the best ways to get a feel for an ocean breeze ride along the Pacific if you don't want to climb along beach cliffs.
    To characterize the Strand, there are many a miles of concrete for cyclists/skaters/skateboarders/runners to do their thing and you don't have to worry about any cars. In flexibility, you can start at Santa Monica and end in Redondo Beach, hopping on and off bike to get a feel for the numerous beaches you'll be riding through and a bite to eat. I have yet to ride beyond the Santa Monica Pier but the Marvin Braude Bike Trail (which is The Strand) does go all the way through to Will Rogers State Beach in the Pacific Palisades. The bike trail is a total of 22 miles one way, so this is the perfect all day ride going back and forth.

    Some stops of note:

    Redondo Beach Pier
    Hermosa Beach Pier
    Manhattan Beach Pier
    Dockweiler Beach
    Marina Del Rey
    Venice Boardwalk
    Santa Monica Pier
    Some things to expect on this trail: crowds, sand, and epic views. To start, the weekend bike warriors are in full speed along with touristy bike renters, you're bound to find congested trails from Santa Monica to Marina del Rey, but once you're past the marina in Playa del Rey, you'll find it less congested. 
    Sand. You will most likely have to deal with the moderate buildup of sand on the bike paths. I found that the further south you go, the more your likely to find more sand build up. This can be an obstacle depending on your tires and speed, as it will surely slow you down.

    If riding along sandy trails and crowds don't bother you then the benefits of riding The Strand will far outweigh the cons. After all, this is some of the best views and stretches of of LA's finest beaches. From Santa Monica's family friendly routes to Venice beaches quirky characters, there is so much sun and sand to soak in on a coastal ride here.