Archive for February, 2013

February 28, 2013 00

Can you believe it we are already at week 3! Hope it’s going well. This week again repeat the previous weeks drills aiming to remain calm and be comfortable in taking a hand off the handlebars. Riding at different speeds This week is also time to try riding at different speeds – how slowly can […]

Can you believe it we are already at week 3! Hope it’s going well.

This week again repeat the previous weeks drills aiming to remain calm and be comfortable in taking a hand off the handlebars.

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Riding at different speeds

This week is also time to try riding at different speeds – how slowly can you go with out toppling over or getting stressed? When riding in traffic and commuting it’s important to be able to adjust your speed. So imagine you are riding up to a traffic light and waiting for it to change – pick a tree as your traffic light and ride as slowly as you can up to it without actually coming to a complete stop.

And in the reverse, can you go quite fast and also remain relaxed?

Stopping quickly

Commuting on a bike means you absolutely MUST be able to stop quickly. Without doubt there will be occasions where you will have to react and stop quickly.

So for this drill you will need a friend. Pick somewhere safe and flat where you can ride towards them. From about 50 metres away from them ride towards them and when they clap you need to stop as quickly as you can. Keep practising it. The idea behind this is you won’t know when they are going to clap – so you just have to be ready!

Riding out of the saddle

If you haven’t done this for some time it can be a bit daunting at first. So this week while on the flat, just try lifting your bottom out of the saddle and putting all your weight forward into your feet and onto your pedals. You may have to lean forward a little to do this. You also want to be in a higher/bigger gear when you do this so there is more resistance in the pedals.

This week all you need to do is get out of the saddle and try a few pedals and sit down again.

Good luck.

Happy cycling!
BikeGal.com

February 28, 2013 00

Here is the user experience of week 2 of the six week program from couch to commuter cyclist. Last night I headed off for another session in the park with Old Burgundy. I had a killer headache and all the excuses in the world seemed to get on the 380 bus with me. But as […]

Here is the user experience of week 2 of the six week program from couch to commuter cyclist.

Last night I headed off for another session in the park with Old Burgundy. I had a killer headache and all the excuses in the world seemed to get on the 380 bus with me. But as I approached my car (Old Burgundy safely stowed in the boot – I had driven up there in the morning and parked my car for the day) I started noticing all the people around me. Centennial Park was full of people running, walking, boot-camping and cycling – all out to enjoy the park and do their body some good. I felt inspired, and part of a community.

BTW I’m not mentioning my complaining/excuses to be a downer, I just don’t want to say ‘Oh, I just went to the park and got on my bike and followed the instructions and was awesome and there were rainbows and rabbits’ because it just wouldn’t be true. I include the rubbishy excuses because they’re a very real part of the experience and I wouldn’t be sharing much if I didn’t include those!

Once on the bike I did a bit of just regular cycling as a warm up, then started on the drills BikeGal had written.

I wear glasses, so the easiest dexterity trick was to push my glasses back up the bridge of my nose. This I accomplished with minimum wobbles, so I practiced indicating first right, and then left – my arm stuck straight out like a bird. For a moment I kinda felt like I was flying and wondered whether I would ever be able to (or want to) ride a bike like Meg Ryan does in City of Angels.

Meg Ryan city of angels

Having got a bit more comfortable with reaching up from the handle bars, I started with reaching down. First I reached down and lightly tapped the cross bar on my bike. It was easier doing it on the right than the left, but as I’m right-handed, this is to be expected I guess.

I found it easier to practice these when I was on the flat, or at a slight downwards slope, and when I was coasting rather than pedalling.

Most of the time I stayed to the left, but staked my claim (and rights to the bikepath) about 1 metre away from the edge – leaving plenty of room for speed demons to fly past.

I built up the courage and reached down to my water bottle. My fingertips tickled the top of the bottle but I couldn’t quite lift it out of the holder. Even empty, weighing virtually nothing, it was a bit beyond my skills at this stage. But I have to leave something for next week, right?

I’m starting to feel more comfortable on the bike and am even considering the short 1km ride on very quiet roads to my gym early on Sat morning. I guess the cycling bug is starting to take hold, even though I only got on my bike once this week (well, the weekend was a bit of a washout with storms ravaging Sydney!) I’m looking for more opportunities to get on my bike.

I’m also heading to the Gear Up Girl event this weekend, which is exciting but a bit nerve-wracking – I hope my skills are up to the task! (Editor’s note – she’s totally up to the task!!)

February 21, 2013 00

How did you go in your first week? I hope you went well and you are feeling a bit more relaxed on your bike. Again try and spend as much time on your bike as you can this week – even if it’s only 20 minutes every two days. This is better than trying to […]

How did you go in your first week? I hope you went well and you are feeling a bit more relaxed on your bike.

Again try and spend as much time on your bike as you can this week – even if it’s only 20 minutes every two days. This is better than trying to do a big chunk all in one day. You want to do enough each day or every other day so you feel more comfortable.

This week we are going to build on what we did last week. So again, still remain focussed on staying relaxed and not holding any tension in your body while cycling.

You should be cycling feeling relaxed and smooth and in control.

Things to do this week:

This week we are building on letting go of the handlebars – we are building up to being able to indicate left and right, as well as drinking from your water bottle. Certainly for commuting you need to be able to indicate left and right.

We are also going to focus on riding in a straight line – I know sounds easy.

1. Ride while touching your nose with one hand. Try touching your head with one hand. Try leaning down to touch your water bottle. While doing each of these look where you are going. So when leaning down – don’t look down!

2. Try this with both hands – like all things you will probably find you have one side that you prefer more

3. If the bike gets shaky or you feel like you are losing control, just go back to the handlebars with both hands holding loosely (not gripping on for dear life!)

4. I also want you to work on cycling in a straight line. For example, if you are riding in Centennial, try and do a whole loop where you stay say 1 metre in from the painted line. This is just a way of practising staying in control on the bike

5. If you are cycling in cleats – also concentrate on both the pulling up of your foot as well as the push down – easier than it sounds!

Next week we will look at riding at different speeds and stopping quickly.

I hope you are enjoying the program. Share your feedback!

Happy cycling,
BikeGal.com

February 19, 2013 2

Dear friends, my buddy has offered to write a response each week of this program – a warts and all account of how she went. Enjoy! Week two of the program will be up on Friday – please share and get another woman on her bike. Happy cycling, BikeGal.com So, after work yesterday, following BikeGal’s […]

Dear friends, my buddy has offered to write a response each week of this program – a warts and all account of how she went. Enjoy! Week two of the program will be up on Friday – please share and get another woman on her bike.

Happy cycling,
BikeGal.com

So, after work yesterday, following BikeGal’s advice, I got out Old Burgundy (OB) for it’s first spin in quite some time. Rusty, heavy and with wheels that had lost a lot of air, it didn’t really look like we would be friends.

Old Burgundy - or OB

Old Burgundy – or OB

As I loaded OB into the back of the car, a whole load of excuses loaded into my mind. Light rain started coming down. My bike was too old. Traffic means that it will take me ages to get to the park. I’ll have dinner too late, then I’ll be up late and tired tomorrow. I’m tired after a day at work. But I also really want to be able to ride my bike anywhere in Sydney and with this vision in mind, I brushed the excuses aside and hit the road – heading off to Centennial Park.

I made it there in 10 mins and quickly got OB out of the car. A quick pump of the tyres got my heart rate going (I like to think of it as a warm up!) and I was almost set. Realised I forgot a bag or any way to hold my car key. Figured I may as well not do it as I had nowhere to store my car key. Saw the excuse, called it the excuse it was and tied the key into my hair. I also stuffed my iPod into my waistband and put one headphone into my left ear – figuring I’ll listen to some tunes with one ear and listen out with the other for cars/other cyclists etc.

A nifty solution!

A nifty solution!

I walked to the left hand side of the road and hoisted myself onto the bike. A wobbly start and I almost ride into a wooden railing. Another attempt and I make slightly less wobbly progress onto the road.
On a bike this heavy I am going slowly. Oh. So. Slowly. Lyrca-clad speed demons whizz past. I stick to the left and hopefully stay out of trouble.

At first it just seems difficult in every respect. My legs can’t seem to push enough. I’m holding tension across my shoulders and especially in my elbows. But for a few second I lose myself in the music and feel my breathing even out into deep breaths as I cycle. I start to relax a bit.

The road in Centennial Park is mostly flat, and at this time of night is popular with runners, cyclists and people walking, without being busy or intimidating. I start to take in my surroundings and for a moment feel grateful to have such a beautiful place to go after work.

Heaviness in my legs brings me back into focus of what I’m trying to do and I find I’m on a slight incline / hill up towards the Moore Park gates. I notice the tension in my shoulders has almost gone, but I’m still locking my elbows a bit and as I cycle up the incline I try to lean forward to take the pressure off my elbows. I round the corner and my headphone falls out of my ear.

This presents a predicament. The headphone is dangling dangerously close to the chain plus I’ve lost the music I was really enjoying. I can either stop the bike to pick the headphone up, or try to do it while ‘m still in motion. I decide to chance it while I’m still in motion. I’m not sure I can take my hand off the handlebars and still maintain my balance. I stop pedaling and let the bike coast along. I’m on a fairly flat bit of road and the bike seems to just continue in a straightish line, without me pedalling. I slowly lift my right hand and hover it over the handle bars. The bike remains steady. I take my hand off the handlebars and hold it a little closer to my chest for a second. I return my grasp to the handle bars as I go around a corner. On a flat bit again I slowly reach for the headphone, pull the cable up and pop the headphone back in. The bike wobbles a bit but with both hands on the handlebars and a good push of the pedals and the bike rights itself. Success!! I not only have my beloved music again, but I have managed to take my hand off the handle bar and keep my balance. This means that in time I’ll be able to indicate, or drink, or check my watch without crashing!!

Everything in good time though, and I remember what BikeGal told me to think about for this first session:
1) Observe where I’m holding tension (in this case – my elbows)
2) try to relax my grip on the bike

I count both of those as a success! I end up cycling around Centennial Park twice (about 6km). The bike still felt heavy, and I still didn’t feel really comfortable all the time, but I did have a moment of pure joy as I coast down a gentle hill, a good song on my iPod and the last rays of the sun setting around me. I think I spent about 30 mins altogether actually cycling. I didn’t manage another bike adventure this week, but my bike and the road are calling and I’m ready for next week’s challenge. Bring it on BikeGal!!

February 15, 2013 01

So, on the request of a friend, each week for the next 6 weeks I am going to load up my guide to getting from the couch to riding a (road) bike in six weeks. I would love your feedback! This guide is written on the premise, that you can already ride a bike – […]

confidence

So, on the request of a friend, each week for the next 6 weeks I am going to load up my guide to getting from the couch to riding a (road) bike in six weeks. I would love your feedback!

This guide is written on the premise, that you can already ride a bike – as in you can get going and have your balance but that’s about it. Or you haven’t ridden for a long time, or you are new to a road bike/cleats. Or you are lacking confidence (can’t ride up a hill, out of the saddle, can’t turn a corner, can’t brake quickly, can’t indicate etc etc – this is where I started!!!).

Here is week 1:

What you want to do this week is practise relaxing on your bike. Just like all things, the more relaxed you are, the easier it becomes.

So things to practice this week:

1. Try to get on your bike every other day for a whole week – even if it’s only for 20 minutes. This just helps to build your confidence. Every day is best

2. When on your bike, I want you to notice how tightly you are gripping the handle bars or if you are holding any tension in your body while cycling. I found I used to ride with my neck and shoulders all scrunched up

3. (So if you are like me)relax your shoulders and neck or any other areas

4. Loosen your grip on the handlebars and notice how you are still in complete control

5. Remind yourself of these above two points every time you are on your bike this week

6. Focus on where you are going – look forward not down

7. Also (if you are already in cleats) practice the feel of your cleats – focus on pulling up as well as pushing down. If not, don’t worry we will get to that later

8. Towards the end of week 1, start trying riding at different speeds – bit faster as well as a bit slower, but staying in control, balanced and remaining relaxed. If either going slowly or faster makes you stressed, then just return to a comfortable speed.

If cycling itself is stressful, just try cycling for 10 – 15 minutes or so and take a break and start again.

Don’t ride in wind or rain or both and if possible avoid riding in the dark or when lots of other mad cyclists are around you – we want to make this as easy as possible for you.

Ideally cycle somewhere away from traffic – and relatively flat.

Goal for this week – remain relaxed on the bike.

Good luck!

Happy cycling,
BikeGal.com xx

February 12, 2013 01

We’ve all been here, you’ve spent some time on your bike, maybe riding a bit further and longer than usual or you have just started riding again after some time off, and as you hop off your bike you realise that your bottom or lady bits are really really sore! It can range from being […]

We’ve all been here, you’ve spent some time on your bike, maybe riding a bit further and longer than usual or you have just started riding again after some time off, and as you hop off your bike you realise that your bottom or lady bits are really really sore!

It can range from being a bit numb to intense throbbing but either way, did you know that if you have the correct saddle (seat) for you and your bike, and your bike it set up correctly for you, you should NEVER have this pain.

I recently took a trip to Jet Cycles (80 Clarence St in the city) as I heard from my friend and training buddy Jo that these guys have the ability to measure your bottom and get the right seat for you. Although not it’s technical name, Jo and I agree that this nifty invention should be called the ass-o-meter!

Jo agreed to be my bum model so you can see through this blog how it all works (thanks Jo!).

We met with Kane, Jet Cycles’ Bike fit technician. Kane shared with us how he recently had a very happy customer who experienced the bottom measuring and seat fit and told him “your saddle changed my life.”

IMG_0574

Kane is both a personal trainer and a sports physiologist so he knows what he’s on about. As he explained it, getting the right seat for you is really an anatomical issue.

“Some people end up sitting on their bike and not being propped up by their sit bones on a saddle that is too narrow. This causes pain as there is too much weight put on the soft tissue between the sit bones,” Kane said.

The sit bones? Whenever you sit down, your weight is resting on two points in your bottom, known as sit bones. Everyone’s sit bones measure differently. Often when you are having pain from your saddle it is because the saddle you have is not the right measure or shape for your sit bones.

A properly sized saddle not only increases your comfort on your bike but also your power when riding – and there is a saddle for every sized bottom.

Posture and spine also plays a part and ideally if you have the time, getting a complete bike fit which includes the saddle fit is ideal.

So… how do they measure your bottom/sit bones?

Below is the ass-o-meter itself.

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Next step, is to sit on it! And here is Jo sitting on it.

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When Jo hops off, we can see from the indent of her sit bones what size saddle she needs.

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Kane explained to us that it does take a little bit of adaptation to a new saddle.

“A few weeks is normal for this. No one ever wants to go back to their old saddle,” said Kane.

As well as measuring your sit bones, Kane also spends time looking at how you sit on your bicycle.

“People have a preconceived idea of how they should look on a bike. And sometimes it’s a combination of what they look like and the fit that ends up being right for them,” he said.

Getting your sit bones measured at Jet Cycles is free but best to book ahead if you are interested.

Do you have saddle pain? Have you put off getting back into cycling because you had saddle pain before? If so, get along to Jet Cycles and get your bottom measured – pronto!

Thanks to Jo Kneebone, for being a very compliant model for this story.

February 6, 2013 3

We are really pretty lucky weather wise in Sydney. Unlike colder climates you can cycle all year round without having to worry about things like being freezing cold, snow or endless rain. But what are the absolute essential items that you need to commute by bicycle in Sydney? I appreciate that your list may be […]

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We are really pretty lucky weather wise in Sydney. Unlike colder climates you can cycle all year round without having to worry about things like being freezing cold, snow or endless rain.

But what are the absolute essential items that you need to commute by bicycle in Sydney? I appreciate that your list may be different to mine (and if so, please share it!) but here’s my thoughts.

I believe these six items are absolutely essential

1. Helmet – whether you like it or not, that’s the rules so you have to have one

2. A bag to carry your stuff – you can ride with a backpack, however I recently purchased a pannier bag that clips in to a rack and sits behind me. It holds more than a backpack. It has two sides and can easily carry my work clothes, shoes, makeup, wallet, laptop and lunch. These are not that cheap but I think they make cycling more pleasant.

3. If you are riding at dusk, before sunrise or night – lights, lights, lights. At the very least you should have one light on the front of your bike and one light at the back – in fact this is required by law. You can also add lights to your backpack or helmet. I’m of the opinion that the more you have the better. Change the batteries relatively regularly so your lights stay nice and bright. (I don’t like to promote products, but I have to say my Ay-up lights are pretty amazing at lighting up the road and they are Aussie…)

4. A spare inner tube, 3 tyre levers and a hand pump – at some point you will probably get a flat and need to change the inner tube. So unless you want to call someone to come pick you up, you will need this stuff and know how to use it. (Or bat your eyelashes and hope some cute male cyclist riding by will take pity on you? – kidding!)

5. Working bell or horn – I only learnt this recently thanks to one of the other BikeGal chicks, according to the New South Wales road rules ‘your bicycle must be fitted with at least one working bell or horn, or a similar warning device’ – does yelling very loudly ‘BIIIIKE!’ at pedestrians count as a warning device?

6. A lock to lock up your bike – there are lots of different sorts but get advice from a bike shop, you don’t want your bike to be nicked do you?

Cycling seems to have about a thousand accessories that you can buy, which I don’t consider to be essential. Some of these might include:

• Gloves – some may say these are not essential but when I first started cycling in gloves, I was amazed. So comfy. I have fingerless ones for summertime that are easy to get on and off, and warmer ones for winter. In my opinion they just make cycling more comfortable

• Water bottle in a bracket attached to the frame of your bike – always nice to take a sip of water while sitting at the traffic lights

• Cleats or cages – can make for a smoother ride but take a little getting used to

• Cycling pants with built in padding in them – if you are riding a long way, this will provide more comfort. Note that you don’t wear undies underneath them!

• Appropriate clothing – I prefer to ride in the type of stuff I would wear for the gym – breathable fabrics that are light weight. I like to wear tights, bike pants or shorts – something that isn’t going to flap around and get caught anywhere in the bike. And ideally a light coloured top so you can be seen. If you want to you can also get sports tops that have reflective stuff on them – again just helps you to be seen

• Fenders or mudguards on the front and back wheels – these can be purchased from a bike shop and get them to fit them to your bike for you. They stop dirt, grit or puddles from the road splashing up onto you. Not essential but not a bad idea!

• In winter months you can go all out on warmer cycling gear – booties, arm warmers etc etc. Go wild.

• Rear view mirror – can help you to see what’s going on behind you without having to turn your head.

• Again this is not essential, I just find it comfortable to wear a head band under my helmet. It’s just a comfort thing. You might too.

• Bicycle computer – if you are one of those that has to know how far you pedalled then this is for you!

What do you think are essential and non essential items for commuting by bike in Sydney?

Happy cycling!
BikeGal.com