Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cycling and Hydration

It's Summer....and it's HOT.  What does that mean to a cyclist?  Well, it means that they should be properly hyrdated while out cycling.  But what about using hydration tabs to help out with the process?  Is it a good idea?  How much should you take?

We turned to Kelli Jennings (RD) from Apex Nutrition for help on this one, and here is what she had to say:

This one depends on 3 things: 1) How long are you training? At what intensity? At what heat/humidity (will you sweat a lot)? 2) What brand of electrolyte tablet are you using and what are the mg of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium? 3) How much fluid do you typically drink per hour during your training (in ounces, the whole bottle, ½ the bottle, etc)?

Okay, so that was more like 7 questions (it’s always a can of worms with me!). For any moderate or high intensity workout, more than 60 minutes, here’s what you need (optimally) the replenish fluid and lytes:

20-32 oz. fluid, 400-700 mg sodium, 100-200 mg potassium, 80-120 mg calcium, 40-60 mg magnesium per hour. Of course, you also have to consider any other fluids or foods you’ll be consuming and the lytes in those. I usually find that athletes get in ~20 ounces per hour when they are really trying, but of course, it varies widely. So, now what you’ve got to determine is how many ounces you’ll drink, and how many mg of lytes your tablet provides. Then, you can mix the right amount of tablets in the right amount of water. This is a more individualized plan than just following the manufacturer directions (although that will get anyone who’s not real serious about the training/replenishing through).

You may have noticed that the “target” amounts above are big ranges. Usually, I consider the weight of the athlete, history of sweating (do you SWEAT or just glisten?), the temperature and humidity, and past individual experiences when targeting within these ranges.

As far as time: electrolytes are often most important, in terms of improving performance, for trainings greater than 120 minutes, depending on all the other factors…
Simple, right? Right.
Here’s the amounts of lytes in popular electrolyte tablets:

•NUUN Caps: 1 tablet = 360 mg sodium, 100 mg potassium, 13 mg calcium, 25 mg magnesium
•Camelbak Elixir: 1 tablet = 340 mg sodium, 125 mg potassium, 0 mg calcium, 0 mg magnesium
•Hammer Endurolytes Fizz: 1 tablet = 200 mg sodium, 100 mg potassium, 100 mg calcium, 50 mg magnesium

I’m a fan of also using salt and Milton’s lyte to fluids when they don’t contain as much sodium/potassium as I’d like. These contain:

•Salt: 1/8 tsp = 300 mg sodium
•Morton’s late salt: 1/8 tsp = 146 mg sodium, 176 mg potassium
•Calcium/Magnesium tablets (crushable or liquids) supplements in a 2:1 ratio (many tablets are 500 mg calcium/250 mg magnesium)

Some athletes also use capsules that are swallowed whole before, during, and after training. I prefer those that are dissolved into fluid for a couple reasons: 1) you have to drink the fluid anyway…taking a capsule + fluid (as opposed to “in” fluid) adds one more thing to remember and 2) the electrolytes consumed are subject to our guts’ rate of absorption – taking more at once doesn’t usually mean more absorbed – small amounts over time usually increase absorption.

Lastly, don’t forget the carbs. You need 40-60 gm carbs per hour when training over 60 minutes. For my time and money, I choose a fluid with carbs and lytes. If you want an easy and inexpensive recipe to get all the fluid, carbs, and lytes you need, try my homebrew at – it’s a free recipe.

For anyone else reading this that’s still on the fence about whether or not they even need to add electrolytes to fluid, review all the good reasons at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More Great Cycling Organizations

There are countless cycling advocacy organizations out there with the sole purpose of making their area more bike friendly….please forgive me for not mentioning all of you in this article. I’ve been lucky enough to interact with two such organizations and for today I wanted to let you know about and
Better by Bike is crushing it in Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (United Kingdom). It’s like they have packed in absolutely everything you need to get started in cycling, or to enjoy it just that little bit more, and placed it neatly into their website. When I first came across these guys something called out to me, and I knew I just had to get to know them better. I’m so impressed with what they stand for and the programs they deliver. Here’s just a hint at some of the great information they provide:
•choosing a bike
•clothes and accessories
•simple bicycle maintenance
•bike security
•how to be a better bike rider
•getting to work by bike
•cycle training
•cycling for fun
•cycling with children

But they offer so much more than just information. Receiving the UK’s first Cycling City status allowed them to create the Better By Bike website and brand. In turn they have used this tool to encourage commuting to work by offering grants to businesses and loaning bikes to employees. They also offer information and training to schools and children. They even share stories on their website about why people love the bike (you know we can totally relate to that one).

These guys rock, and I’ve been wanting to pay homage to them for quite some time now. I’m sure you guys get thanked all the time by your Bristol blokes, but even over here in North America there is someone proud of you for your passion and commitment. Good for you Better By Bike. Cheers on a job well done.
For more information on Better By Bike, please contact them right here.
The Ontario, Canada organization of Share the Road has equally inspired me…and watch out Better By Bike because these guys have the vision of making Ontario the most bike friendly place on Earth. Eleanor McMahon is the founder of Share the Road and even through the limited e-mail communication I’ve had with her, I can just taste the incredible stuff she’s cooking. She started this organization and has been dedicating her life to cycling advocacy since 2006 when her husband, OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart was tragically killed in a cycling collision. Her efforts have paid off and in November 2008, Greg’s Law (in honor of her husband) was tabled in the Ontario legislature as part of a larger Road Safety Bill, Bill 126 and it passed on April 22nd, 2009.
With the incredible motivation and passion of Eleanor behind the bars of this organization, there’s no doubt in my mind that Share the Road will absolutely achieve all that it is after and more. Not only are they doing great things for the bike in Ontario….they are doing great things for all of us as riders. Thanks for backing us, Eleanor and Share the Road. You are making the world a better place for cyclists.
Please find out more about Share the Road.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

7 Tips to Make You More Comfortable on Your Bike

7 Tips to Make You More Comfortable (and Faster)
By Victor Jimenez (the Bicycle Lab)
Though there is no substitute for seeing an experienced bicycle fitter. There are a lot of simple things you can do on your own.
Adjust Your Seat Height

A properly adjusted seat height is the most important aspect of bicycle fit. A rough starting point is with your foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke you should have around a 30 degree bend in your knee. This will give you a pretty close approximation of your saddle height from the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle.
Adjust the Cleats on Your Shoes

While you can play with this on your own. I strongly encourage you to have the cleat position professionally evaluated. If set up incorrectly you will be waisting power and in some cases cause muscle strain and injury. But if you choose to adjust on your own. The basic idea is to set the rotation of the cleat so that the center lines up with your natural gait. The fore and aft adjustment is dependant on your style of riding, body asymmetries, among other variables.
Raise Your Handlebars

Yep you read correct. A higher bar height will open up your torso to hip angle and help with saddle comfort. Lower-back, hamstring, and hip flexibility are key to this positioning in this area. Improve your flexibility and improve your position. Raising your bars is also a good thing to do when you are not riding as much. Your flexibility will change as your fitness changes.

Level Your Saddle

Your saddle should generally be level or the nose pointed slightly up. If the saddle is uncomfortable in this position there may be something else in your position that needs to be adjusted.
Level Your Bars

The drops of your handlebars should be roughly level or slightly up. This helps keep all the hand positions open.
Tilt Your Aerobars Up Slightly

By tilting your aerobars (if you use aerobars) up slightly most people will find a more relaxed position for their upper body. Aerobar set up is a complex issue, because of differences in design and use. For more information on Aerobar set up, please contact me.
Put Insoles in Your Shoes

Most cycling shoes have no arch support at all. There are many off the shelf brands to choose from or even better get a custom made pair that is molded to your feet.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

There has been a lot of interest in “The Law of Attraction” over the past few years. Books like “The Secret”, “The Answer”, and many more have become bestsellers and created a huge following and a lot of interest. Even Fat Cyclist himself did a post on “How to use ‘The Secret’ in Cycling”….so you know it’s got to be a hot topic.
The secret and the law of attraction are definitely not new concepts or ideas, and they don’t claim to be. The laws and principles have been around forever. If you haven’t found yourself caught up with the hype, let me tell you that “The Secret” is pretty much the old “Fake It Until You Make It” idea….or “Acting As If”.

But you know, there is something to it and it can be applied to any aspect of your life…with cycling being one of them. We’re not just talking road biking here. Visualization and acting as if, can apply to any type of cycling that you do or cycling related goals that you have.

Maybe you’re already acting as if you’ve dropped those 20 pounds you’re looking to achieve by cycling. Pretend it’s already happened. Talk that way. Act that way. Believe it. Or you’re talking it up like you are this person who cycles everywhere they go. In reality it’s not happening yet, but you are acting as if it’s good to go. Whatever it is, try acting as if it’s already happened. Yeah, it will feel strange. Yeah, you might not believe yourself….at first. But I know you’ll have fun with it, and I know you’ll get positive results.

I have heard that when the band Aerosmith was just getting started, they used to play a lot of shows in small nightclubs. Even though many of the places were kind of seedy and the people there were not totally interested in hearing them…….they would act as if they were playing to a sold out arena where the fans were crazy about them. Well, I don’t need to tell you that “acting as if” eventually became a reality for these rockers.

We all love make believe right? Of course we do. We all grow up playing and pretending we are one thing or another. Why not incorporate that idea into our Adult lives? Into our Adult Cycling Lives? It’s not only fun…’s also very effective.

William James once wrote:

“Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create that fact.”

Fake it ‘til you make it……Act as If…The Secret…Thoughts become things….Believe. Whatever you want to call it, try it out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kids on Bikes

Another school year has officially wrapped up here in Austin, and the rest of the Country will be letting out any week now.  With the arrival of summer holidays, comes a whole lot of kids outside on least we hope they opt for being outside as opposed to sitting on the couch playing video games.

It's a good time to remind everyone to pay more attention out on the road and be aware of kids darting into traffic either on foot or on bike.  Being proactive and aware, can go a long way.

For all of the kids out there on bikes this summer, we wanted to provide some bicycle saftety tips to make sure you have the best (and safest) summer ever.

Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet.  The first thing you should always do before pedaling off on your bike is to make sure you've got your helmet on.  Also be sure to have a helmet that fits you right.  For more information on how to ensure a proper fit, check out "Easy Steps to a Properly Fitting Helmet".

Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit.  When buying a new bike, be sure to have the bike shop properly adjust the bike to fit your child.  If you've already got a bike for them, make sure that it still fits them properly this summer after a winter of continuous growing.  Read this to ensure a proper fit.

Check Your Equipment. Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work.
See and Be Seen. The more visible your child is to the traffic around them, the better.  This is even more important when kids are cycling in high traffic areas.

Control Your Bicycle. It's fun to go no hands and do tricks, but it's really important to maintain control of your bike....and this means at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards.  Unfortunately there are things like pothots, broken glass, gravel, and water on the road.  All of these things can cause problems when out on your bike, so be sure to educate your kids on how to avoid and deal with hazzards.

Avoid Riding at Night. If possible, try to keep your kids off the road at night.  It's difficult to see cyclists when it's dark outside and when you're on a bike at night it is difficult to see any hazzards that might be out there.  If they must ride at night, be sure to install a good headlight and reflectors on their bike.

Have a great summer.  Get out on your bike...have fun....and be safe.