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Triathlon Training: 4 Tips for Transitioning into the Sport

Written on August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

Maybe you swam on your college swim team, you’re a runner looking for a bigger challenge or you’re addicted to spin class and want to take your cycling skills to the next level. Whatever your reason for being interested in triathlon, getting into the sport can be a little tricky and sometimes intimidating. Zoot-sponsored athlete Jennifer Vogel and I put our heads together to come up with the best advice for breaking into the sport.

Study up and train hard. 
One of the most valuable things I did before my first triathlon was research the sport like crazy. I wanted to know everything I could to be as prepared as possible. Once you’re armed with some basic information, like a starter training plan and transitioning tips, you can use your workouts and experience to figure out the rest. There’s a lot of info out there, so take advantage of reputable sources and then put what you know into action during your workouts.

Don’t overestimate yourself in one sport. 
Vogel points out that many tri-newbies are runners first. But just because you can run a sub-2:00 half-marathon doesn’t mean you should skimp on training for those final miles. The same goes for naturally gifted swimmers and bikers. Everyone has their favorite and strongest leg, but you still need to practice pacing yourself through three different sports and mastering the bricks (transitioning from one sport to the next).

Ease into the equipment.
Triathlon is a sport that requires a lot of gear. Gear costs money. But don’t let the initial investment scare you away; instead, start small. Vogel suggests easing in with short sprint races that you can do without expensive items like a wet suit or tri-specific bike. True story: I did my first tri in a sport bikini and borrowed my brother’s old bike! Once you get a better idea of how serious you’ll become and what kind of goals you have, you can invest in better equipment little by little along the way. Not sure of the essentials? Check out our go-to list here.

Join a tri group. 
It’s the easiest way to make new friends with a common interest and you’ll have an instant network of triathletes to train with and ask questions. Vogel notes that a group helps keep you accountable and makes it fun, too. I’ve done all my training and races solo and quite honestly, I wish I joined a group early on. Trust me, during those long training days, you’ll be happy to have the company and fellow finishers give you more reasons to celebrate during your post-race party.

Photo by Kevin Steele

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We Tried It: Trek’s Silque Bike

Written on July 28, 2014 at 10:39 am , by

I recently got the chance to hit the road with Trek Bikes and Trek Travel to tour miles of Vermont countryside on two wheels. (Check out some of their luxury cycling vacations here.) I’ve been road biking for a few years now but never really had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the sport—until now. For our adventure, we hopped on the Trek Silque (prices vary, trekbikes.com), one of the women’s-specific road bikes nicknamed the “Smooth Operator” for its unique ability to smooth out even the roughest of roads. After riding nearly 90 miles (including one killer climb to Smuggler’s Notch in Stowe) on the bike, I got a good sense of everything this whip has to offer. Some of the highlights include:

  • The “IsoSpeed decoupler,” which isolates the movement of the seat tube from the rest of the frame, so the seat tube is free to absorb more forces from the road. Basically, your bike soaks up road shock so your body doesn’t have to. (Take it from me, you can immediately tell the difference compared to other bikes out there.)
  • A women’s–specific design (WSD) geometry that’s made for your body and is tuned at every size, regardless of frame size, to fit a female rider to the best possible level. This will put you in a position of power for a faster, more stable ride.
  • An electronic gear-shifting system, which offers elite shifting performance so you don’t have to be a pro to adjust to the terrain. (It’s very user-friendly, perfect for beginners.)
  • The trendy colors and designs—As soon as I saw this bike, I was swooning over the white, lime and aloe green color combo and chevron accents. I mean, just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I want to ride a pink bike. And wear pink everything (just saying). But if you’re into pink, that’s cool too. They’ve got tons of options. In fact, you can even customize your own bike design here. Trek’s graphic designer hits up Fashion Week in Berlin every year to be one of the first on the scene of the hottest color and design trends. So no matter what you pick, you’re always going to get something that’s stylish and cool.

All in all, the Silque was an incredible ride and it really struck me how important it is to saddle up and try out some bikes before you buy one. If you want to test-ride one yourself, click here to find a demo coming to a location near you or check in with your local Trek retailer to see if you can take one for a spin.

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Cyclists, Rejoice! A Low-Cost Bike for a High-Quality Ride

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Everything You Need to Know About Bicycling

Cyclists, Rejoice! A Low-Cost Bike for A High-Quality Ride

Written on July 23, 2014 at 9:50 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Too many times I’ve been in a rush to get to work with cyclists zooming by as I power walk at a fraction of the pace. Other times you’ll catch me jogging alongside cyclists in Prospect Park, wishing I, too, could ride around the entire city in just a matter of hours.

But I’ve always held off on buying a bike for one major reason: They’re either affordable and don’t last, or extremely pricey and for more serious riders. There’s no middle ground for a casual rider like myself. So when I heard about a new company, Priority Bicycles, and the fact that they’ve created a lightweight, low-cost, “maintenance-free” bike, I practically jumped in the saddle right then and there.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the first thought that popped in your head was, “Can there really be a maintenance-free bike?” After all, most any bike is bound to show some wear and tear eventually. But after talking with David Weiner, the founder of Priority Bicycles, I’m convinced this ride is as good as it sounds.

“Our most exclusive feature is our belt drive,” explains Weiner. “Most bikes have chains that rust, require lubrication and are susceptible to weather. Belt drives are more durable. We also use the rear hub to contain the gears and brakes, which isolates features that traditionally require maintenance on other bikes.”

On top of all that, the bike has puncture-resistant tires and the seat is held together with bolts, not quick release levers, in order to deter theft. And when purchasing the bike, Priority Bicycles sends a tire pump, assembly tools and a water bottle cage right along with it (usually those all come at an extra cost). Oh, and the bike looks good, giving you three different color options and a sleek, classic design.

When it comes to the low price—ahem, $399—Weiner explains that most everyone in the bicycle industry has “two markups,” meaning the bike company buys it from a factory, then bumps up the price to sell it to the retailer. That retailer turns around and does the same thing, marking it up a second time to the price you see in stores.

Thankfully, Priority Bicycles skips all that. “Our model is to sell consumer-direct only. We buy from the factory using our unique design and send it directly to the consumer. That effectively means you’re getting an $800 bike for $400,” says Weiner. Cha-ching!

Weiner came up with the idea a few years ago, after constantly doling out advice to friends about what bike to buy for their experience level. When he couldn’t find a company that offered high-quality equipment at an affordable price, he hopped onto Kickstarter and created a campaign.  Weiner had a modest goal of raising $30k, but clearly everyone wants a bike like this—the company is over $250k, and there are still 27 days left.  Once the campaign closes on August 14, the bikes will be sold directly from Priority’s website for the standard $399. But if you jump on to Kickstarter, you’ll score a special price of $374 and free shipping.

So hop to it because if you order now, the bike will be made and delivered before the holidays. Christmas gift, anyone?

Photo courtesy of Priority Bicycles

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A Glimpse Into Downhill Mountain Biking with Red Bull Athlete Jill Kintner

Written on September 26, 2013 at 10:37 am , by

Interval training is the name of this speedster’s training game. Keeping her challenging workouts outdoors helps Jill improve and more importantly, happy! (Photo courtesy of Red Bull)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Most days Jill Kintner prefers two tire treads over her own two feet. She fell in love with the family hobby of BMX biking at age 10, and won the National Bicycle League’s National Title only a decade later. She then steered into four-cross mountain biking, leading her to a career in downhill racing where she continues to compete across the globe today. We caught up with this badass biker to hear all about her extreme biking, professional training and race-day preparation.

Congratulations on taking 4th place in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships earlier this month! How did you train?

Thanks! Yeah, this was a good course for me. I tend to gain time on most of the other girls when there is pedaling, just from having efficiency and power from my BMX days. I also raced in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa last year, so I knew what to expect as far as the speeds to push for and how hard the sprint in the middle was going to be. Even still, downhill has so many variables that we have to train to be balanced, powerful, focused and fit to attack a 4-5 minute race in changing conditions. Red Bull helps get me dialed in by improving my reaction speed and increasing endurance.  These benefits plus specific training programs and intervals really help me prep for all of downhill’s variables. Training for this particular race was focused on intervals and timed recovery from a max effort. I have a section of road near my house marked by two mailboxes 20 seconds apart that caused me a lot of pain.

What are your favorite parts about the training process?

Riding, or trying to figure out how to get better and seeing it work. My least favorite: taking vitamins.

What do you find to be the most challenging when prepping for a competition?

Physically, I enjoy challenges so the harder the workout, the more entertained I am. I find monotony to be the most difficult part of anything. Being outside and riding makes me the happiest, but I’ll do whatever I have to do to get better.

How do you calm your nerves before a big race?

I like to sit somewhere and remember the days that were hard that got me to where I am. When practicing at home, I pretend that I am at a World Cup with all the best people, and when I’m at a World Cup, I picture being at home by myself pushing as hard as I could have, so it’s all the same.

What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve come across thus far, and how did you face it?

When my dad passed away, that was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in life. He was a key player in my success and my biggest supporter. I was lost and went through a lot of emotions trying to fill the void. It doesn’t really get filled, but I have dedicated a lot of what I have done for him and what he taught me.

Do you have any pre-race or workout songs that help you get in the zone?

Usually I just listen to a couple of Pandora stations. Snowboarding music is really quite good for working out—sort of an indie dance station or hip-hop. My favorite artists: Ratatat, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Muse, Macklemore, Kid Cudi and Kanye West.

What are you looking forward to most now that your competition in South Africa has come to an end?

I still have two more world cup rounds to go: Norway and Austria. But after that, I am getting married, so we are gonna party it up and have a month off!

Now You Tell Us: If you could try a new extreme sport, what would it be?

Conquering a Triathlon, Relay-Style

Written on July 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm , by

Molly and I all smiles post-race. Bring on the full next year!

Swim, bike, run…they’re all amazing workouts when you do them alone. But putting them all together? Now that’s a good time. If you’re a triathlete, you know that already. But if you’re not, putting all three sports together for one epic day of racing can be quite intimidating. Add in over 3,000 athletes, the Hudson River and a bunch of mileage—one mile of swimming, 25 miles of biking and 6.2 miles of running—and you’ve got the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon, which looks downright terrifying.

Luckily, Aquaphor allowed me to dip my toes into the world of triathlon without diving in head first. Instead of tackling all three sports myself, I rounded up two more FITNESS friends—both with more swimming and biking experience than I—and signed up to tri, relay-style!

Despite an obnoxiously-early wakeup call (hello, 3:00am), Emily, Molly and I had the time of our lives out on the course. For Emily, she was courageous enough to swim in the scary waters of the Hudson River. The girl sliced through the water with ease, and before we knew it, she was handing off the timing chip to Molly, our hard-core biker! Here’s what she has to say about riding on the West Side Highway:

After a few anxious hours of waiting for the race to start, the excited buzz in transition was contagious! I grabbed my bike and started jogging toward the exit with a million worries on my mind (Will I get a flat? Do I have enough hydration? What if I crash? Will I make all the hairpin turns?). But as soon as I crossed the mounting line and clipped in, every thought disappeared. It was just me and my bike, like any other day, and I was ready to race! The course was bumpier than I expected—Despite tight cages, I lost my first water bottle at mile 4 and the second at mile 19—and the hills were tough, so I took my time climbing. Since my legs were fresh and I didn’t have to save up energy for the run, I tried to cheer on others along the course. Prepping my tush and upper thighs with Aquaphor seriously saved me from painful saddle sores post-race. Before I knew it, I was already making the last turn back into transition to pass the chip (and my biker’s-high encouragement) to Samantha for the last leg.

Read more

Women Who Conquered the Tour de France Course: “Quitting Is Not an Option”

Written on August 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm , by

Riders enjoyed the distraction of the beautiful French countryside. (Photo courtesy of Cannondale)

Last month, you may have seen footage of some of the world’s greatest endurance athletes—long-distance bicyclers—huffing and puffing up hills and jostling for position while competing for the illusive yellow jersey. But what you might not have known is that a group of six women started one day before the official Tour de France field, covering the same terrain (2,162 miles) over the same three week time period. This is the first known time that a team of amateur female cyclists have tackled the entire tour course.

The first question that comes to mind: Why? “Completing tough journeys defines you as a person and just makes you a better human being. Plus, I have three boys and I’m trying to teach them to never quit,” says Maria del Pilar Vazquez, one of the cyclists on the Reve Tour 2012 team. Adds Kristen Peterson, another Reve member: “If someone asked you if you wanted to ride your bike around the French countryside for three weeks, would you say no?”

Besides raising awareness about the sport by “walking the walk” while pedaling away on Cannondale EVO bikes, as well as blogging along the way, the women also raised $60,000 for Bikes Belong, a non-profit that aims to get more people on bikes.

FITNESS caught up with the Reve riders before their amazing journey (to read about their feelings then, click here), and now, after, to find out what they learned while taking on a course that trips up even world-class riders.

  • Train, train and train some more. “I trained every day for two consecutive months. Beyond time on the bike, my program included two days in the gym and three days of core work. Mental preparation involved a lot of visualization and saying to myself: ‘quitting is not an option’.” — Maria del Pilar Vazquez
  • Count your blessings.“No matter how much pain I was in, I didn’t for a second take for granted that there are a lot of people out there that physically can’t have this opportunity. I am so lucky to have my health and physical ability to complete such an endeavor.” — Kym Fant
  • Add incentives. “While it is probably every nutritionist’s nightmare, we toasted with a beer after every stage. It became something we’d look forward to going through those last few painful miles each day. Knowing a cold, frosty drink was waiting got me through more than one or two tough climbs!” — Kristen Peterson
  • Focus on positives thoughts. “When things got tough, I thought of the people who bring joy into my life. When my legs were hurting, I would focus on these people, relax, breathe and spin. Up up!” — Jennifer Cree

Now tell us: What motivates you to push through challenging workouts?

4 Charity Races On Our Bucket Lists

Written on March 6, 2012 at 10:50 am , by

Wacky costumes for a very worthy cause! Runners take on The Lemon Run course. (Photo courtesy of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation)

I’m currently in training mode for my first half-marathon and am enjoying the experience so much that I’m already looking ahead to find more events to keep me motivated all year long! Having upcoming races on the calendar gives you a goal to work toward. Plus, visualizing yourself crossing the finish line with a personal best will inspire you to lace up your shoes (or clip into your pedals, slip on some goggles, etc.) when you’re feeling less-than-inspired. Bonus points if you’re raising money for a good cause at the same time!

With that in mind, we found four unique events held across the U.S. that we can’t wait to try.

Four Courts Four Miler

  • When and where: March 10 in Arlington, Virginia
  • Why: It’s a little late notice, but if you’re free this Saturday, try to beat the leprechaun in this fun run! The man in green begins 10 minutes after the gun goes off and tries to pass as many walkers and joggers as he can on the way to the finish. Snag a prize if you beat him, but don’t feel bad if you see him run on by. For every person the leprechaun beats, one dollar is donated to a local police charity.

Urban Assault Ride

  • When and where: March 26 in Tucson, Arizona; April 1 in Charlotte, South Carolina; June 3 in St. Louis, Missouri; June 10 in Minneapolis, Minnesota; June 24 in Austin, Texas; July 15 in Fort Collins, Texas; July 22 in Denver, Colorado; August 12 in Des Moines, Iowa; August 19 in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Why: Bored on your bike? Not during this race! Find a partner and tackle checkpoints around town, pedaling between each stop. Adding to the fun factor: There’s no set route or order to the checkpoints, so it’s up to you to pick what you believe is most efficient. Proceeds from each race benefits two or three charities in the host town.

Read more

Fit Links: Biking 101 and The Biggest Loser’s Newest Trainer

Written on June 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm , by

It'll be a real joyride if you follow the biking pointers from FitSugar!

Get your biking skills back in gear for summer!

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Hot New Item: Tommy Bahama Electric Beach Cruiser

Written on May 13, 2011 at 11:06 am , by

Tommy Bahama's brand new electric beach cruiser! (Photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

Since it is National Bike Month (did you check out our previous post about it?), the fashion department decided we just had to share this awesome new bike that we saw at the Tommy Bahama preview the other day. Yes I said it, a Tommy Bahama bike. Known for their luxury island living-inspired clothes, Tommy Bahama hit the nail on the head with this one.

After teaming up with Pedego, a leading electric bike company, Tommy Bahama will be marketing and manufacturing electric cruisers that are lightweight and totally fun to ride around on. While they are on the pricier end ($2,700!) we still think that they are a great wish list item.

What makes an electric bike different? Read more

Celebrate National Bike Month In Style

Written on May 11, 2011 at 11:13 am , by

You and a friend could each win a super-cute cruiser, like this Sprite F women's Pink Global. (Photo courtesy of Schwinn)

May marks National Bike Month (see how we’re celebrating on page 80 of the May issue!), and with the amazing spring weather, we’ve been inspired to spin around town a lot lately. We adore pushing pedals because it’s great for the environment, a fun way to explore our cities and a quick calorie-blaster—you burn about 500 per hour at a moderate intensity! So we were excited to hear about a fun “pay it forward” contest to get more people out on the trails or the road.

Go to Ride Schwinn’s Facebook page or their website to enter the Bike it Forward giveaway: Choose a category that you think a bike-worthy friend will enjoy (mountain, hybrid, road, cruiser, urban, bike path or kids). Each day this month, Schwinn will draw a winner from the online entries. They, and the person who nominated them, will be spinning in style with their choice of a new bike!

Then you’ll just need to grab a helmet to match your new ride!

Now tell us: If you could win any piece of exercise equipment, what would it be?