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Saddle set up shouldn’t be a pain in the rear

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Our ‘Sports & Fitness’ blogs aim to deliver straightforward and effective advice to increase your cycling enjoyment and performance, and minimise injury risk. As we have said before there is no one remedy for all – humans come in all shapes, sizes and, of course, genders. Our cycling requirements are different too: comfort on long touring holiday rides or performance through events.

SADDLES

There are numerous saddles on the market offering various levels of comfort through innovative and gender specific design. The correct selection is a very personal one, so shop around and try out as many as you can.

Range of different saddles

SADDLE HEIGHT

Firstly ensure the saddle is fastened centrally on the rails and parallel to the floor, this can be checked using a spirit level resting on top of the saddle.

Secondly ensure shoe cleats are set centrally on the ball of the foot or directly on a flat pedal.

As a rough guide, with these details set the saddle height can be set 10cm lower than the inside leg of the rider to achieve a general position from which adjustments can be made.

 How to measure your hip span Angle at the knee whilst cycling should be no greater than 150 degrees

Alternatively, and more accurately, having set, as above, the saddle and cleat arrangement, and sitting on the saddle with the pedal at its lowest point and the knee at full extension, there should be an angle of no greater than 150 degrees at the rear of the knee. If this angle is too great the rider will begin to stretch out to reach the lowest stroke of the pedal, and the pelvis will rock from side to side on the saddle – leading to lower back, ITB and lateral knee pain.

When the pedal is positioned at 3 o’clock and in full flexion there should be an angle of no less than 70 degrees at the rear of the knee. Reducing this angle will result in muscular compression and strain in the pelvis, quadriceps and through the knee, reducing performance with considerable discomfort.

A note of caution when setting saddle height, never extend the seat post beyond the manufacturer’s recommended maximum extension markers. If extra length is required do not compromise, buy a longer seat post and avoid dangerous mechanical failure!

SADDLE POSITION FRONT & REAR

The next consideration is saddle position back and forward. The basic rule of thumb is again to align the centre of the cleat or ball of the foot with the centre of the pedal and then the centre of the knee over this position with the pedal in the 3 o’clock position when looking from the side. This can be achieved with the help of a willing assistant and a plumb line – see below.

Plumb line for optimum saddle position

As with all set-up adjustments they should be small, incremental and tested. Do not continue to ride through pain – trial and error will lead to your optimal position.

Once you have made your adjustments take yourself on a test ride and if necessary make adjustments on the ride testing and re testing, it won’t be wasted time, and it may save you in lost time through injury.

You may find that over time, as your strength develops and flexibility evolves, that your set-up requirements change; this is not unusual so don’t be afraid to change to match them. Recognising your cycling ‘evolution’ and making the right changes will help to minimise injury and maintain comfort on those long days out.

SEAT TILT

The seat should generally be in a neutral position i.e. parallel with the floor, however there may be some circumstances where minimal tilt is preferred but do be careful to consider the following:

Excessive forward tilt may increase pressure in the arms, wrists and hands causing fatigue and numbness as well as tilting your pelvis forward; this may lead to forward movement on the saddle, knee drift over the cleat position and potential knee pain due to increased stresses.

Excessive rear tilt may cause overreaching and increased gripping of bars leading to fatigue in the upper back neck and shoulders. With the pelvis tilting backwards there is the additional risk of low back fatigue also radiating through to the upper back, neck and shoulders.

Saddle angle for optimised comfort

CLEATS

Cleat position, or more generally foot position, can have a great impact with regards to injury, specifically glute and lateral knee pain.

The clearest way to think of this is to visualise your legs as pistons moving up and down in constrained parallel motion, any deviation from this motion can lead to injury. The deviation will be internal or external rotation of the cleat or foot causing misalignment of the joints and musculature of the ankle knee and hip.

You may remember that in a previous blog we discussed the high repetition count of the cycling pedal stroke? This is how minor misalignment leads to injury.

Diagram of foot Diagram of correct cleat, or foot position

We have all ridden behind that person with splayed out knees and wide elbows, with this knowledge of alignment and position think what they would need to adjust…..!

QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR ADJUSTMENT CONSIDERATIONS

PROBLEM
ADJUSTMENT
Rear knee pain Saddle down & forward
Front knee pain Saddle up & back
Lateral knee pain Cleat position & rotation
Front pelvis & hip flexor Saddle down & tilt forward
Numb parts! Saddle tilt forward or changed

REMEMBER THIS CYCLE OF CHANGE

=> SADDLE => BARS => CLEATS =>

EACH SET-UP ALTERED WILL AFFECT THE OTHER, SO BE SURE TO TEST THE NEW POSITION AND CONSIDER THE IMPACT!

For more tips, or to find out more get in touch with Martin Felix on Twitter

Cycling Holidays for 2016

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It may seem as if we are only in the early stages of 2015, but thinking about your adventures for next year can be great planning. If you’re already thinking about your cycling holidays and like to plan ahead then read on….

Plan your cycling holidays for 2016

The team at Bike Adventures have been out around the world trying out new routes, testing out the beds in the new accommodation and seeing the beer and wine are up to scratch. Now this is a not as much fun as you might think, it is a role we take very seriously – at the end of a long days cycling the last thing you need is a warm beer and a dodgy B&B.  The route itself also takes careful consideration, much exploration and often hours extra in the saddle to find that glorious country road with a shady avenue of trees or a slight detour to fit in a valley view that will give you a memory and photo that takes you back there for years to come.

Some of the many things though that make our holidays special is the other riders, friends for life are made, the tour guides who have an insatiable passion for cycling and sharing this with their fellow guests and the people you meet on the way – when we stop for refreshments or to bed down you can be sure we have picked that spot because of the great hospitality and shared love of the local countryside – we meet many characters along the way.  Some of our routes may have been running for more than 10 years and the team still enjoy riding them now more than ever.

The popular routes do become favourites and are often on a ‘must do’ list of classics for a lot of riders, if you missed out on your bucket list tour this year or the date clashed with Auntie Clair’s wedding then no worries, drop your details into our email list box on the left and be the first to set eyes on the cycling holiday calendar.

Coast to coast holidays: the Bike Adventures way

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Group of people on their bikes about to start their coast to coast holidayAs a small island, the UK provides the perfect backdrop for coast to coast holidays (C2C) as well as ‘end to ends’. Many cyclists are keen to tick each of these challenges off their bucket lists; here at Bike Adventures we were left unsatisfied by the trips published in the guidebooks so came up with our own.

We felt that existing routes were too short and repetitive, and they didn’t make the most of the beautiful scenery that England has to offer. Our own unique routes are the result of our discord and will take you (and your bike!) from the East coast of England to the West coast.

Our main coast to coast holiday route covers just over 360 miles and, depending on the tour you select, can take anything from 5 to 14 days! We wanted cyclists to be able to truly experience the diverse nature of the English landscape so we have carefully devised routes that meander through beautiful villages, follow the shimmering canals and experience the undulations of the countryside in one tour. There really is no better way to experience this landscape than on a bike!

Our main C2C trip begins in Lowestoft on the North Sea coast, the most easterly point in the UK. From there we head inland and travel through pretty villages and past canals and windmills into Cambridgeshire. Where possible, we try to avoid major roads and towns with safety in mind – this brings the added benefit of time and space to fully appreciate the scenery with its changing aspects depending on the weather.

Cyclist riding through green English countryside during a coast to coast holidayWe then weave our way through central England’s rugged countryside where you’ll notice the route becoming increasing hilly as we approach Northamptonshire. If you are an inexperienced rider but the coast to coast is on your wish list, do make sure that you have prepared for the hills you’ll encounter – our guides will also be there for moral and material support all the way.

The route takes you through Shakespeare’s birthplace in the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon and then into the north of Worcester. As we approach Herefordshire and cross the border into Wales, the riding gets a little more challenging but the stunning scenery you’ll encounter will more than make up for it.

Our end point, St David’s Head, juts out into the Irish Sea and is considered the most western point in the UK. The small town of St David’s, with its dramatic coastline and spectacular sea views has been a major place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages and is a fitting place to end our trip. Raising a glass at the end of the tour is exhilarating – another achievement in the bag, lifelong friends made and legs like jelly, what more could you want from a cycling holiday?

If you would like to tackle our coast to coast route, take a look at the range of tours we have to offer. Our tour guides are knowledgeable and have an infectious enthusiasm that fills every trip with fun and adventure.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your cycling holiday in more detail, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Lands End to John O’Groats: What’s it all about?

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For many people completing the famous route from Lands End to John O’Groats, also known as LEJOG, is a lifelong ambition. Riding from the very southwest of the country to the tip in the northeast is an incredible achievement, but it certainly isn’t a challenge to be taken lightly.

Signpost at John O'GroatsThe acclaimed journey dates back to the 1870s when two brothers walked the distance! However, the route didn’t become a well traversed one until the 1960s. Since then, completing the ‘End to End’ has become a challenge that many people want to complete.

The traditional distance by road is 874 miles and takes most cyclists 10-14 days, however there isn’t an official route to follow so the ‘End to End’ distance can vary. At Bike Adventures, our tours tend to be just over 1000 miles, where possible we try to avoid major roads and traffic. This gives you the chance to truly experience and appreciate the beauty that can be found in the English countryside.

The fastest time recorded on a conventional bicycle was set in 2001 by Gethin Butler, who completed the distance in just 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Don’t worry, our tours give you a little more time to travel from end to end! Depending on your own personal preferences and level of experience, you can choose to complete the distance in as little as 9 days, or if you’d prefer to take a more scenic route, you can ride it in a leisurely 26 days.

The trip traditionally begins in Lands End because it gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the winds that predominantly travel from the south-west of the UK. If you’re lucky, you could be flying all the way to John O’Groats! However, you can do it all in reverse and tackle the steep inclines found in Devon and Cornwall at the end of the trip, when you’ll probably find that your fitness has improved too by then.

In taking on this big, bold challenge, you’ll be following in the cycle tracks of former England Rugby Captain – Lewis Moody and Olympian – James Cracknell. The route has also been tackled by David Walliams, Jimmy Carr, Fearne Cotton, Miranda Hart, and other celebrities as part of a team relay to raise money for charity.

If you fancy getting on your bike and riding from one end of the country to the other, get in touch with our knowledgeable team and we can help you to achieve your goal.

Cycling doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck!

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Whether you’re starting out or have spent hours in the saddle it’s likely you will or have experienced neck pain at one time or another. The question is why does this occur and what can we do to elevate it?

Fundamentally the human anatomy is not designed for cycling. We have evolved to stand and move on two feet in an upright position with our spine and neck acting as a shock absorber. So immediately we mount a bike our anatomy is compromised.

Cycling pain in the neck

If you examine the image above you see the cyclist has a forward curvature of the spine (Kyphosis) and, in order to look forward, hyper-extension of the neck – you begin to see why neck pain can occur!
In this position musculature within the upper back, neck and shoulders is driven to work harder to support the imbalanced weight of your head (approx 4.5 to 5kg).
Some of the weight of your upper body is supported through your arms onto the handlebars but even this load can create muscular tension.
We have all seen riders with their shoulders around their ears and arms locked out! All issues which add to the mix.

So what can you do about it?

We discussedGet the right cycle fitting to suit you previously the importance of professional bike fittings in minimising injury potential. So now let’s look more specifically at the areas which may help relieve neck pain.
Front end length and height relative to the saddle (E, D, C) are the main considerations in set-up, assuming correct frame size and saddle position (we’ll cover this in detail next time).

Adjusting the cycle handlebars

There is of course no one size fits all position – there are too many variables in individual anatomy and ride requirements, from aggressive racer to holiday tour riding. So when making adjustments to your riding position make them small and incremental, test them over a week or two and correct them where necessary.
First let’s look at length. Front end length (reach) reduction or increase can be achieved by altering the headset length (extension) and/or angle (angle A).

Make the right adjustments to your cycle helps

The second consideration is handlebar height, which can be increased or decreased with the addition or removal of headset spacers.

Thirdly, handlebar type and brake hood position can play a part in poor set-up. Consider optimum handlebar width to be in-line with your shoulder width, unduly large or small bars will also impact the loading into the upper back, neck and shoulders. Brake hoods can offer support in the neutral riding position but incorrectly positioned they will influence the front end length, height, support and reach as previously discussed. Be sure not to set them too high, making braking on the drops unsafe.

Diagram of handlebar measurements

The mechanical changes to front end set-up discussed are relatively straight forward requiring minimal equipment or expertise. However if you are unsure talk to your local bike mechanic.
Finally, try to remain relaxed in your riding position, neck, shoulders, arms and grip soft. Over a long ride you will drift away from this position so check yourself every now and then.
From an exercise perspective the occurrence of neck pain can be minimised through effective strength, stability, flexibility and mobility training through the whole spine. Remember to think about the muscular skeletal interconnections generating the stresses.

MOBILITY:

1. Side Flexions – Walking around on hands

Walking around the hands

2. CAT Spinal Flexion & Extension

Spine flexion cycling exercise    Spine extension

3. Flexibility

Flexible cyclist 1  Flexible cyclist lady 2  Lady flexible cycling 3 Flexible cycling

– Lateral Flexion
– Forward Flexion
– Rotational forward Flexion
– Rotation

4. Stability (core strength):

Planking exercises for cyclists

As you can see there are numerous versions of the plank and its progression. The key thing to remember is alignment, visualise a straight line from your ankle through your knee, hip, on up into you shoulder and neck. Any sag or elevation in the midline and you will have lost the hold.

 

 

 

 

The Roller is also a useful tool in developing spinal mobility and stability, it has endless uses in self-treatment and is a valuable tool to have in your cupboard. We will revisit the roller throughout my blog.

Using the roller for exercise  Exercising with a roller on your back

Regular sports massage will help improve muscular flexibility and function, so source a recommended Sports Massage Therapist or search the Sports Massage Association (SMA) website. Regular treatment is proven to enhance performance and minimise injury.
One final thing I tend to discuss with clients – the eyes. Sounds odd, but your eyes have a broad range of motion which is often neglected. So do try to use the eyes’ range of motion, not just the neck.
Next time I will look at saddle set-up and position, its impact on the various common injuries and what we can do to elevate them. I hope this article has been of some help and you don’t have to worry about neck pain again!
Remember there are numerous resources on the net dealing with the issues above, so take a look. I often refer to https://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/

If you would like to discuss further check out my twitter @MFFELIX 1966.
Happy Cycling!

What to pack for a cycling holiday in the UK

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So, you’ve signed up to one of our tours, paid the deposit and are already lusting after the English/Scottish/Irish breakfasts promised to you every morning (or is that just me…?), now you perhaps find yourself wondering what happens next. Well, whether you’re a seasoned rider or someone looking to tackle a new challenge, you need to consider what you are going to take with you on your cycling holiday in the UK. Here are just a few things to consider:

Weather

It will come as no surprise to you to see that ‘weather’ is at the top of our list of considerations for UK tours. Our infamous and unpredictable weather is going to play a big part in your trip, and so it should also form a significant part of your kit list.

The UK has many quite country lanes to cycle

Depending on the time of year that you’ll be riding, you’ll need to pack a range of clothing that will enable you to ride comfortably and enjoy your holiday. Despite the UK’s bad reputation for poor weather, it is not uncommon to experience long periods of hot, dry weather. In these situations it is imperative you have a supply of light clothing available to you. You’ll also want to have sunglasses and sun block handy.

However, you may also experience the characteristically wet weather (sometimes in the same day as glorious sunshine!) and for these occasions, you need to be well equipped with clothing that will keep you warm and dry. For those of you who have opted for the UK Coast to Coast tour that will take you through the notoriously wet Wales, you’ll particularly want to take note!

Many of our tours will leave you riding for long periods of time in very exposed areas so pack a supply of waterproof and windproof clothing. Due to this exposure, it is advisable to carry additional clothing with you.

First aid (for you and your bike)

The need for first aid and a bike tool kit will vary according to the level of support provided on your holiday. Fully supported tours are accompanied by a support vehicle, containing a comprehensive tool kit, spare parts and a first aid kit.

However, the support vehicle doesn’t follow closely behind the group and it is still advisable to equip yourself with a basic first aid kit and tool kit.

If you are riding an independent route, then your level of supplies will naturally be much higher. Be sure to pack yourself spare parts, tools and a first aid kit.

Unsure about what is included in your holiday package? Take a look at the ‘What’s Included’ tab on your tour page or get in touch.

Transporting your bike

Depending on how you plan to reach the start of your holiday, you will need to ensure that you pack your bike to meet with airline, or train company’s guidelines. Bikes should be packed securely in a box or bag and you can expect to have to remove pedals.

For an additional fee, we can save you the hassle of transporting you bike and deliver it to the starting point of your trip. All you need to do it pack up your bike and we’ll sort the rest. At the end of your holiday, we’ll arrange to drop you bike back home to you.

Food and drink

The need to stay well hydrated during your tour goes without saying, a water bottle is a vital part of your kit list. For those of you who are on a fully supported tour, the support vehicle carries water on board for you to top your bottles up.

Breakfast is included in all our UK holiday packages and restaurants or pubs are easily found near your accommodation each night. Guides will also highlight suitable places for you to grab a bite to eat, but during some tours these places can be few and far between so it is a good idea to ensure that you have a supply of snacks and energy bars.

Safety equipment

Although helmets are not compulsory on our tours, we do highly recommend that you wear one as an added safety precaution.

Cycling with a helmet is highly recommended for our cycling tours

You might want to consider (if you haven’t already) purchasing high visibility clothing. Although you generally won’t generally be cycling in the dark, high vis clothing is useful for the days when the weather comes rolling in.

Other considerations

As well as all the equipment you need for yourself and your bike, you’ll probably want to carry some money, a mobile phone and a camera.

If you are a UK resident then taking out insurance is optional for most of our trips (excluding the Ireland, Mizen Head to Malin Head trip), however you may want to explore the cost of getting basic cover.

We hope this helps to get you started with you packing but if we’ve missed anything, please feel free to get in touch.

Reasons to consider a bike fitting

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 Hello all – Martin here, Bike Adventures’ resident expert on all things training, fitness and sports injuries.

With more people in the UK than ever taking to cycling there has been a growth in associated businesses from cycle tourism to specialist bike fitting services.

Our question in this blog is why get a bike fitting? Is it right for me?

Most new cyclists think bike fitting is only for the elite rider, and many experienced riders think they know best!

But in both cases there is a lot to be gained from engaging a professional to study your bike setup. If you’re not convinced the first thing to consider is the cost of long term injury: time out of the saddle missing the thing you love most, and the financial cost of ongoing treatment for injury.

It is highly likely that poor bike set-up and sizing will negatively impact your body, be it back, neck or knees. Believe it or not, humans are not actually designed to ride bikes; really our feet should be placed on the ground where weight distribution through the muscles and spine are evenly balanced. That said, our bodies are extremely versatile and will adapt to new conditions; this can be helped by a considered bike fitting.

When discussing this with clients I get them to visualise the repetitive single plain rotational action of cycling. You only have to do the maths to understand the issue:

A one hour ride at a moderate 70rpm equals 4200 potentially negative actions on a misaligned limb or joint.

When you start to multiply this over longer sportive rides of 5 plus hours or multi-day trips like our LEJOG it’s easy to see where problems might arise.

So, yes, in my opinion bike fitting is important for all, to minimise the risk of injury.

But here is where it gets a little more complicated, because good bike fitting should be developed around not only your physical dimensions but your riding style. By this I mean are you looking for peak performance, max power output or touring comfort? There are obviously many positions between but you get the idea. It’s a fine balance between performance output, comfort and potential injury which you as an individual have to make allowances for.

So if you do decide on a bike fitting be sure to do your research: make sure the provider fully understands your needs, and remember these needs may change course over time, requiring further adjustment as your goals and cycling evolve.

Here’s a list of 12 specific areas a specialist should consider:

1)         Frame size

2)         Bar width

3)         Headset length

4)         Headset angle (height)

5)         Saddle height

6)         Saddle position (front to rear)

7)         Saddle position (tilt)

8)         Saddle type

9)         Crank arm length

10)      Pedal type

11)      Cleat tension

12)      Cleat position 

On a final note, key areas of fitness which will also minimise the potential for injury are FLEXIBILITY (the one everyone loves to hate and can’t find time for) and CORE STRENGTH. Flexibility allowing unrestricted full range of motion of muscles and core strength stabilising movement, control and alignment.

There are numerous resources on the net for both, so take a look. I often refer to http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/. In the next blog we will start to look more specifically at individual injuries. Happy Christmas and safe cycling!

Cycling Holidays UK

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Riding the iconic UK Land’s End to John O’Groats

 

LEJOG end to end cycle map

Cycling holidays – Land’s End to John O’Groats

 

Nothing… tips the balance against the enjoyment of a cycling tour through England today. Immediacy of contact with all the country sights and sounds, with the oddities and endless beauties of by-road village, the placidity or weekly bustle of unsophisticated market town…”

So wrote Frederick Alderson (England by Bicycle) in 1974. What was true of cycling holidays in 1974, remains true of cycling holidays today – if you know where to ride! Indeed, if you know which routes to take it is possible to cycle from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats at the northern tip of Scotland (the iconic UK ‘End to End’ ride) mainly on quiet roads, while taking in some of the most scenic countryside in the UK.

And the English countryside is truly scenic – gently rolling hills, verdant fields and hedgerows, foreboding mountains, tranquil lochs, thatched cottages, shifting patterns of light and colour, ancient pubs, the list goes on! Even the weather (at the right times of the year!) lends itself to the perfect cycling holiday, being rarely too hot or too cold. In short, a tour through the UK, particularly by bike, should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Bike Adventures has been running ‘End to End’ (also know as the LEJOG) cycle tours for 14 years. We have helped hundreds of  people to realise their dream of cycling the UK from top to bottom. To be clear, riding the ‘End to End’ in 2 weeks is a significant challenge but with our expert support it is something our clients nearly always achieve, and never forget.

Our latest route runs from Land’s End, along the north Cornish coast, across the wilds of Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor, and up through the famous Cheddar Gorge. We cross the magnificent bridge over the River Severn and continue north through the lovely rolling countryside of Herefordshire and Shropshire. We then head through the beautiful countryside of northern England, passing through the Yorkshire Dales and the Eden Valley in Cumbria. After crossing the Scottish border we continue across the Southern Uplands to Glasgow, passing through the centre of the city on local cycle paths. We then enter the wilds of northern Scotland, passing close to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, and along the shore of Loch Ness on the way to the small settlement of John O’Groats.

Our clients have the option to choose a fully supported tour, with expert guides, vehicle support, accommodation, and luggage transportation; or an independent tour where we will plot the route, provide ‘turn by turn’ directions and pre-book all your accommodation. These wonderful tours can also be completed in a variety of times (from a very challenging 9 days, to a very relaxed 21 days) and, indeed, in the reverse direction.

 

Cycle Fitness #1

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Cycle Fitness #1

Welcome to the first of our fitness and therapy Blogs. It is our aim through these blogs to open dialogue with you, discussing the topics that matter most. Whether you are a regular cyclist or not, we will try to explore some of the common areas of cycling fitness and the benefits; along with cycling injuries, how they may occur, how to avoid them, and their potential treatment.

If you have a particular issue you would like discussed please contact us and we will do our best to offer you help and advice.

To get us started here a few things to think about over the winter months. 

Love it or loathe it winter is upon us again.

The temptation to ease off exercising, hibernate and enjoy the festivities of the season are high. It takes willpower, determination and self belief to overcome this feeling, but the benefits outweigh the difficulties and are extremely worthwhile. Firstly, you will have gained 5 month’s additional regular exercise, self esteem will rise and you’ll be ahead of the game come the New Year’s resolution season.

Winter is the time to be imaginative with your exercise regime, whether you are a regular competitive cyclist, weekend warrior or family cyclist. Look for variety from your regular routine. It may be time to look at alternative routes, negotiate some trails, add in strength and conditioning, rehabilitate a niggling injury, adopt a flexibility or yoga routine, or simply find some fun alternatives to see you through the long dark nights.

Here are a few suggestions to keep you on top of your game.

  1. Roller workouts (rolling road) – great for core strength and improving bike handling
  2. Mountain Bike sessions – roadies you’re getting wet and muddy anyway!
  3. Spin classes – a break away from the misery of winter
  4. Hour Power session – if you have access to equipment measuring WATTS in the gym or home
  5. Weight training – often neglected by cyclists but can increase power and control
  6. Nordic ski or Stepper gym equipment – you’ll be surprised the gains you can make
  7. Heavy gear or Pace increase turbo trainer sets
  8. Night riding – buy those lights you keep looking at and get out
  9. Stretching or yoga – let’s be honest we should all do it but always find an excuse not to
  10. Try out Cyclocross – stay competitive in a new environment
  11. For those of you who prefer the gym at this time of year use this time to try something new and freshen up your exercise regime. Try the equipment you have been avoiding all year, increase the level your working at, try a different program on the equipment: be it treadmill, X-trainer, stationary bike, or join an exercise class, there are plenty to choose from or simply ask an instructor to surprise you with something new.

    The only way your body and fitness will improve is by responding and adapting to new stresses.

     

    cycle fitness 3 

     

    There’s no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothesBilly Connolly

    As Billy suggests, the right clothing is key to continuing training outdoors, but for the uninitiated there are a boggling variety of clothing and materials to choose from and prices appear high, although you do generally get what you pay for. If you work on the basic three layer system you can’t go far wrong.

    Firstly, a thermal base layer to maintain body heat.

    Secondary, a breathable thin layer for comfort and further insulation.

    Thirdly, a weather proofing layer, be it waterproof, shower proof or wind resistant to keep the worst of the weather out.

    Another obvious consideration for the dark winter conditions is visibility. Many of the layered items above are available in high visibility materials and designs, so talk to local stockist for advice and availability.

    Hats and gloves can be of lightweight insulating material, good enough to fend off the chill and small enough to put in a pocket when not required. For more severe conditions consider layered gloves. Personally I use Seal Skinz gloves and socks to keep the wet out and a Buff as a neck warmer, hat or balaclava. (www.sealskinz.com, www.buffwear.co.uk). Arm warmers are a popular choice and surprisingly effective not only in keeping your arms warm, but your hands too. I suffer with poor circulation and have always had difficulty with my hands, which is not helpful when trying to negotiate Welsh mountain bike trails, but the arm warmers have been a revelation.

    We hope something in this article has struck a chord and inspired you to try something new this winter. Keep an eye out next month for an overview of cycling injuries and their treatment which we will expand on throughout the year. If you have any specific requests feel free to contact the Bike Adventures team.

Gangster Trippin

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Geoff enjoying the hospitality before flying home

From the boat looking at the skyline in San Diego

San Diego harbour fun in the sun

It is now Saturday and the trip is at an end. Customers have been despatched (or have they been dispatched? Never sure which is which) to shops, hotels or airports and the dynamic duo are wasting time in San Diego before the flight home. I have promised Geoff that he can go to Hooters this afternoon – I thought I had better submit this entry now to avoid the temptation of including the photos!
 
This was my second longest ride at 1650 miles and pretty fantastic miles they were too. Apart from one day of rain we had generally good to superb weather, very few headwinds, and probably almost 20 days of clear blue skies.
 
Thanks to the exercise I think I have managed negate the calorie intake but the same cannot be said for Geoff who is taking home a pretty large memento from the trip – about a stone of lard. He says it will all go before next summer but we will see. If next year’s PCH trip runs he will do the sweep riding so he better sign up with weightwatchers.