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Road Rules: 6 Training Tips to Take on Your Next Bike Ride

Written on September 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm , by

Written by A.J. Hanley

“You’re not in Spin class anymore,” I told myself as I wheezed my way up a hill of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle earlier this month. But it wasn’t just any hill—the 62-miler, my chosen distance for the annual charity bike ride, cruelly started at the base of a 600-foot climb. (For perspective, that’s about a million right turns to your flywheel.) I’m not ashamed to admit that ride, which winds along California’s stunningly scenic Pacific Coast Highway, ending in San Simeon, kicked my butt. I felt confident going in—after all, I’m a semi-regular yogini and runner who crushes it in the front row of my twice-weekly SoulCycle classes. But according to Strava, my moving time was 5 hours and 40 minutes, which gave me plenty of time to think about what can help and hurt you in an endurance activity like this. Overall, it was an amazing experience, and I’m hoping to do the full century (100 miles) in the Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port in May. Only then, I’ll use these hard-won strategies to go the distance.

Put your pedals to the pavement. There’s no question my group-cycling sessions have helped keep me fit, but no indoor workout could have prepared me for the 5,100-foot elevation gain. I’d only bought my road bike three weeks earlier, which didn’t give me much time to train—a mistake since road cycling requires a whole different set of skills. On a fixed-gear stationary bike, you’re in control of the resistance; outside it’s determined by environmental factors like terrain and wind. Do your research—study the race route and topography map—and then train accordingly.

Get a bike fitting. After nearly blowing out my knee on a too-small hybrid a few years back, I know the right two-wheeler can make all the difference. Be sure yours can withstand the rigors of a long road trip, and if your bike is older, it may be time for a tune-up at your local bike shop. Thankfully, my ride for the Challenge was a spanking-new Cannondale Synapse, which was designed for feats like this. So I simply brought it to the shop to have the height and angle of the seat and handlebars adjusted to my body, and my SPD pedals were tightened just enough so I could clip in and out easily. It’s a quick trip to avoid a long road of injury—well worth it, if you ask me.

Pack snacks. According to my Garmin Edge bike computer, my calorie burn for the day was a whopping 2,244 calories. That means my pre-ride dinner and breakfast PB&J were ancient history before 11 a.m. To keep from bonking, have some easy-to-digest carbs (think bananas, energy gels and gummies) on hand, in addition to lots of water.

Dress the part. I used to think a recreational biker like myself didn’t need head-to-toe cycling apparel. But it’s what keeps you visible, aerodynamic and dry. A bike jersey, I learned, can also double as an overnight bag: In addition to an array of snacks, my back pockets housed arm warmers, my cell phone and I.D., CO2 cartridges for my tires, lip gloss and a tiny fold-up brush (don’t judge). Bibs, too, have become more user-friendly. Padded in all the right places, my new Sugoi RS Pro Bib Shorts have a “Pit Stop” design that lets you unclip for easier bathroom breaks.

Pace yourself. It’s true that I’m a little speed-phobic, but these windy downhills were daunting! I often found myself holding my breath and pumping the breaks compulsively until my fingers seized up. Then, in an effort to catch up with my friend Amy on the ascents, I’d power up it in a higher gear, which only served to sap my energy and stress out my quads. Clearly, I’m no model of efficiency. My goal for future rides is to relax a bit, focusing less on speed (or my lack thereof) and more on maintaining a steady and sustainable cadence.

Find motivation. Each time I struggled during this ride, I thought about my reasons for participating, and it gave me the push I needed to keep going. The bike race is a fundraiser for Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to finding jobs and fostering friendships for people with intellectual disabilities. Some of the Best Buddies walked, ran or rode that day (one cycled 100 miles on a city bike!); others raised lots of money for the cause. I told myself that if the obstacles they faced weren’t insurmountable, then neither were mine.

More from FITNESS: 

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Ride a Bike, Win a Bike: Pledge to Pedal with Element Hotels

Written on June 25, 2014 at 11:21 am , by

Living in NYC, it’s pretty safe to say that most people (at least the ones that work at FITNESS) would prefer to take a breezy bike ride to work any day over a crowded, sweaty subway commute. And because we know you love jumping at every opportunity to get your heart pumping and sweat glands going, we figured you’d get just as excited as we are about this cool program.

Element Hotels is launching its third annual Pledge to Pedal initiative, which encourages participants to ride his or her bike one day each week instead of driving a car. The bonus? Element will give away a custom-made Mott Street Cycles bicycle (hello, dream bike!) every week for 10 weeks. Yes, you read that right—a new bike will be given out EVERY WEEK.

How do you enter to win? Simply head to Element Hotels’ Facebook page, sign up on the “Pledge to Pedal” tab by August 27th, and get pedaling. That’s it!

What we love most about this initiative—you don’t have to be a guest at any Element Hotel, or live in a certain city, to join in. To us, that’s a rad testament to the company and their dedication to helping people stay healthy all summer. But if you do happen to be traveling—and stay at an Element Hotel—you’ll find an array of Mott Street bikes in the lobby ready for you to use. Fit vacations? We’re in.

Photo courtesy of Element Hotel 

More from FITNESS:

Everything You Need to Know About Bicycling and Spinning

What’s Your Bike Type?

FITNESS Gear Guide: The Best Biking Gear

Green Your Ride: What to Do With Old Bike Parts

Written on August 3, 2012 at 11:09 am , by

Don't toss those unwanted bike parts! (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Written by Laura Cofsky, editorial intern

When it’s time to replace worn out bike parts, have you ever wondered what to do with the old ones? Instead of tossing them aside – or worse – in the trash, recycling them is your best bet. And now it’s become a whole lot easier. Performance Bicycle, in collaboration with Liberty Tire Recycling and Resource Revival, has launched The Tube, Tire and Chain Recycling Initiative. The first of its kind, this campaign is designed to make one of our favorite environmentally friendly activities even, well, friendlier.

Every Performance Bicycle outlet now hosts a blue recycle container for you to deposit blown-out tires and tubes, which are transformed into mulch for playgrounds, athletic fields, railroad ties and highway asphalt. Old chains are repurposed into fun and functional gifts, along with promotional items cyclists will truly adore.

The companies involved have already been doing their green part for years. Liberty Tire Recycling, for instance, collects tire scraps from dumpsites around the country and recycles them. Every year they collect and recycle one third of America’s scrap tire material – talk about a major impact! Resource Revival also takes scraps, turning them into handcrafted, usable art like picture frames and bottle openers.

We’re really excited about this program and hoping to see the initiative catch on at other stores. After all, every thing we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint is a step in the right direction!

More from FITNESS:

What’s Your Bike Type?

Joy Ride: Bike Parts Smarts

Don’t Throw Out Those Used Sneaks! How to Recycle Fitness Gear


Get Your Free Bike Tune-Up This Week!

Written on May 10, 2012 at 11:43 am , by

You're ready to hit the paths. Is your bike? (Photo by Michael Kraus)

Many of us take to indoor cycling bikes for the long months between October and April, seeing a reprieve from the harsh, biting winds and slick, icy conditions that accompany cold weather workouts. But as we peek out our window today, we can see the sun shining down—plus the weekend forecast looks ideal for a ride (and why not bring mom along?)! But don’t just pull that bike out from the back of the garage or storage space and expect it to run on all cylinders.

Just like your car needs periodic oil changes, your bike needs safety inspections. And through Sunday, May 13, you can get one FREE at Performance Bicycle locations nationwide! Gears, brakes, tires and wheels will all get a once-over by one of the store specialists so you’ll be ready to ride safely during Bike to Work Week (May 14-18). The best news? Anyone—regardless of where you purchased your wheels—can take advantage of the Performance Bicycle safety inspections, and they usually last less than five minutes. That leaves more time to ride!

Now that your bike is geared up, check out these links to help you get in good shape to cycle, too: