“What do bikes mean to you?” from Rails to Trails Conservancy

rails_to_trails-logo-headerBy Katie Harris, Communications Coordinator, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Imagine a country where you can safely get everywhere you need to go on bike or foot. The infrastructure suits your needs, your kids can ride along with you without concern, and a trip to the grocery store on two wheels is a no-brainer. It’s a nation of connected networks, with trail systems as the norm—not the exception.

At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), that’s the world we’re working toward, and, clearly, bikes are an integral element to that envisioned future. Let us show you how.

Bikes allow us to…

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail - Photo by Jim Brown

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail – Photo by Jim Brown

Explore

With more than 22,000 miles of multi-use trails in the United States, there is a lot of exploring to be done! Bikes allow us to see new areas but also allow us to discover our own backyards from a different perspective. Traveling by bike, whether it’s a day trip on your favorite rail-trail or a multi-day excursion on a regional trail network, you can truly explore and experience a place…the sights, sounds, topography and climate.

Grand Teton Multi-Use Pathway, WY_Camrin Dengel

Grand Teton Multi-Use Pathway, WY – photo by Camrin Dengel

And while bikes are only one way to explore the trails that connect the country, we think they’re a pretty great way to do it!

Transform

Bicycling allows us to transform our lives by giving us the opportunity to prioritize health and family, all wrapped up into one activity! A bicycle is a simple, but transformative, machine. (Few would argue otherwise.)

Bella Donnas5_ Jillian Imilkowski

Photo by Jillian Imilkowski

As more active-transportation infrastructure projects—including connected, regional trail networks—are planned and constructed across the country, it’ becoming much easier for folks to integrate biking into their daily routines—transforming sedentary, “business-as-usual” habits into vibrant and active ways of life.

Mon River Trail, WV, MCCVB_Steve Shaluta

Mon River Trail, WV, MCCVB- photo by Steve Shaluta

Connect

Not only do bikes allow us to explore and transform, they also connect us with where we need to go. RTC has helped build trail connections through rural areas that spool out over a hundred miles of open prairie, snake through mountain passes and cruise along river canyons. We’ve also helped facilitate connections within urban cores, across state lines and between towns and suburbs, linking communities along vibrant corridors in much the same way as the railroads did in their heyday. And we don’t intend to stop anytime soon!

W&OD Trail, Virginia_Milo-Bateman

W&OD Trail, Virginia – photo by Milo-Bateman

To us, bikes are more than just tools or toys for recreation. They are active transportation’s secret weapon, a means by which to improve our health and well-being while broadening the mobility and access of every member of every community across the nation.

“What do bikes mean to you?” from People for Bikes

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PeopleForBikes has more than a million individual supporters, which means that when you ask what bikes mean to us, you’re actually asking what they mean to each one of those people. With a million individuals you might get a million different answers, and we think that’s just fine. And just like there isn’t one kind of PeopleForBikes supporter, there isn’t one answer to what bikes mean to those who ride. Here are a few ways we could answer that question.

Bikes mean a sense of adventure, on roads or on mountain trails.

For lots of our supporters, biking is how they explore their world. Some of them might do it by riding 100 miles on nearby roads, while others prefer to pedal over rocks and roots on mountain biking trails. Some people travel the world, others find adventure right out their front door. To us, bikes mean discovery, no matter where and how you ride.

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Ride on Chicago – Photo by Jamie Kripke

Bikes mean bonding for friends and families who bike together.

PeopleForBikes sees bicycling as a perfect way to unite people. Parents and children, neighbors and teammates, to us bikes mean fun for everyone. Our goal is to make every bike ride better, so you can enjoy it whether you’re a beginning rider out for the first time or an experienced bicyclist who goes out every week rain or shine.

Bikes mean affordable and convenient transportation for commuters.

Whether you own your own bike, or you use a bike share, biking for transportation is a big part of what bikes mean to us. We support and fund ways to integrate bikes and cycling into the community, like bike lanes, because biking for transportation is what motivates many PeopleForBikes supporters to ride each day.

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Bikes mean victory for competitive bike riders.

The same routes that people take to work Monday through Friday often become part of a racecourse on the weekend. For those riders who get suited up in head-to-toe spandex and ride like the wind, bikes are more than just a tool for getting from point A to point B. PeopleForBikes is for these people too. From downhill mountain biking, to cyclocross, to road racing, bikes are a great way to get the competitive juices going.

What all these different people have in common is that they love biking because of the way it makes them feel. Commuters, recreational riders and racers alike can all agree that when you ride a bike, you feel better. Some call it meditation, others say it’s a form of therapy. We call it shedding the monster. The anger and frustration melts away and you turn from a growling beast into the best version of yourself. Our latest video, Shed the Monster, is our way of saying that when you ride a bike, good things happen. This is what bikes really mean to us, no matter how you ride.

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“What do bikes mean to you?”: Guest Post from the League of American Bicyclists

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The League of American Bicyclists is the oldest bicycle advocacy organization in the country. Founded in 1880, the League believes bikes bring people together.

When more people ride bikes, life is better for everyone; communities are safer, stronger and better connected; our nation is healthier, economically stronger, environmentally cleaner and more energy independent.

So, “what do bikes mean to you?” To us, bikes provide the path to that better life for everyone.

Our mission is to lead that movement to create a bicycle-friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change. Our vision is of a nation where everyone recognizes and enjoys the many benefits and opportunities of bicycling.

The League has sponsored National Bike Month since 1956, and we look forward to celebrating bikes with local communities near and far every May. But National Bike Month is so much more than 31 days in May.  It’s a celebration of bikes; an impetus to get rolling again; a gateway to riding more often; a time to evangelize the beauty of bikes; and much, much more.

League of American Bicyclists Jim Oberstar Memorial Bike Ride

Jim Oberstar Memorial Ride at 2015 National Bike Summit – Photo by Brian Palmer – Courtesy of League of American Bicyclists

National Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day are often cited as the month’s flagship events, occurring the third week and third Friday of May, respectively. Indeed, bike commuting has grown by 62% from 2000 to 2014 — but Bike Month is about so much more than just getting to and from the office.

Everyone can take a leading role in organizing events for Bike Month, whether you’re part of a city government, advocacy group, local business, bike shop, school or any other group interested in making your community better.

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Thousands of organizations, many in the more than 325 League-designated Bicycle Friendly Communities, organize, plan and host events throughout the month of May, introducing bicycling to new riders, cultivating local bike culture and  helping build momentum among the already converted.

The momentum is building: With growing cultural awareness around health and wellness, sustainability and economic savings, bicycling is being seen by new and broader audiences as a simple solution to many complex problems, from reducing obesity rates to increasing mobility options.

And with the help of folks like you, we’ll be able to carry that momentum from Bike Month forward throughout the year. Learn more about all the things the League does throughout the year — from helping businesses, communities and universities become more bike-friendly to uniting the voices of bicyclists on Capitol Hill and amplifying the voices of women, people of color and youth in the bike movement – at bikeleague.org.

May is Bike Month at Performance Bicycle

May is National Bike Month and we’re marking the occasion by helping people across the country get out on their bikes and by making cycling more accessible through support of People for Bikes.

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From May 4-10, cyclists can bring their bikes, no matter where they were originally bought, into any of Performance Bicycle’s 100+ nationwide locations to receive a free safety inspection to get ready for national Bike to Work Week, May 11-15. A Performance Bicycle specialist or Spin Doctor mechanic will take about 5 minutes to inspect the main components of each bike to ensure the gears, brakes, tires and wheels are in working order.

“Each year, we look forward to National Bike Month and kicking it off with free safety inspections to help new and experienced cyclists get out and ride,” said Performance Bicycle CEO David Pruitt.

Performance Bicycle has partnered with PeopleForBikes, a charitable foundation with a goal of making every ride better by collaborating with riders, businesses, community leaders and elected officials to improve cycling infrastructure.  Cyclists can make an in-store or online donation of $2 to support PeopleForBikes’ mission of by creating more trails, bike parks and protected bike lanes. Performance will match up to $10,000 of all donations collected. “We are very excited to be partnering with PeopleForBikes.  Our combined advocacy efforts for improved cycling infrastructure across the country are essential in making cycling more accessible and enjoyable for everyone,” said Pruitt. “It’s really quite simple – cyclists need more and safer places to ride.”

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All Performance Bicycle stores will lead teams in the PeopleForBikes National Bike Challenge, a nationwide event running May through September that unites thousands bicyclists across the country.  All cyclists, no matter what level of experience, are invited to join their local store’s team where they can log their miles and find support and encouragement from other cyclists in their area.  Riders join their local store team by creating an account on the National Bike Challenge website and searching “Performance Bicycle (City Name).”

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All 100+ retail locations will be hosting free cycling clinics on Thursdays and Saturdays that will provide tips and tricks on maintenance and repair, getting back into cycling and riding with others. The full schedule is below:

  • May 2 – Getting Back On The Bike
  • May 7Basic Bike Maintenance And Commuting Tips
  • May 9 – Basic Bike Maintenance
  • May 16 – How To Ride With Other People
  • May 23 – Riding With Kids (a clinic for parents and children)
  • May 28 – Brake, Gear And Derailleur
  • May 30 – Trailside And Roadside Repair

We’ll also be sharing photos, tips of the day and more throughout the month of May on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. And we’re hosting a photo contest where cyclists are encouraged to use the hashtag #mybikemonth when posting their cycling photos for a chance to win 1 of 2 bikes!

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Ridden and Reviewed: Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike

Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike (we installed pedals and water bottle cage for our test rides)

One of our favorite bikes of 2014, Diamondback’s Haanjo is back and better than ever for 2015 – this time in 4 different flavors. The updated 2015 versions take the Haanjos we loved from last year and step everything up a notch. We’ve been lucky enough to have a Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 in our test stable for a few months now, and it’s just a bike that feels right as soon as you hop on it. It will probably be one of the most versatile bikes you’ll ever own – perfect for everything from ‘cross racing to gravel grinding to touring to commuting to light trail riding.

The Ride

Diamondback designed this bike around their ‘Endurance Geometry’, which translates to a slacker head tube and longer wheelbase than a standard cyclocross bike. Then they layered on wide handlebars, fatter tires, and disc brakes for the ultimate in confidence and control. And that’s exactly the sensation that you get when you throw a leg over the Haanjo Trail.

This bike begs you to have fun when you go out for a ride – you can start out on the road, then veer off on that dirt road you just found, and even hit some single track on the way back. We even rode the Haanjo Trail on snow-covered trails, just because we couldn’t resist. Will this bike replace a dedicated skinny-tire road bike? Not exactly, but that’s not the goal with the Haanjo Trail. It’s a bike that lets you find whatever adventure comes your way on a ride: on-road, off-road or on your commute!

The Parts

The Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 is equipped with top-end components all around – starting with rock-solid and dependable Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed shifting components mated to an FSA Gossamer cyclocross crankset with 46/36T chainrings so you have plenty of gearing options for pavement and trail (this cross gearing is really valuable off-road).

HED disc-brake wheels provide a lightweight, fast, and durable set of hoops that can take anything you throw at them. Braking is handled by TRP’s excellent Hy/Rd system, which uses a traditional mechanical cable to actuate a hydraulic brake cylinder, giving you the simplicity of mechanical brakes and the stopping power of hydraulics.

The Haanjo Trail‘s frame is fully butted 6061 T6 aluminum tubing, with a tapered, integrated head tube for better steering response, control, and road absorption. A Gravel Disc Performance full monocoque carbon fiber fork rounds out the package, and smooths your ride. Our one quibble with the package has to do with the Kenda Happy Medium Pro 700×35 tires – while we loved the high volume and smooth rolling of these tires, we wished for more tread when we took the bike off road. With that said, the tires are a great compromise if you are riding a wide variety of terrain, on and off road. But you may want to swap them for something more rugged if you are spending more time on trails (don’t worry, there is ample clearance for this).

The Other Haanjos

Now if the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike – 2015 is not exactly what you are looking for, don’t give up on the Haanjo series just yet. The Diamondback Haanjo Comp Cyclocross Bike – 2015 takes the same DNA as the Haanjo Trail and outfits it with a bit more affordable parts.

Diamondback Haanjo Metro in action

Diamondback Haanjo Metro Plus in action

The Diamondback Haanjo Metro Plus Flat Bar City Bike – 2015 builds off of the same frame but ends up with an ultimate commuter package with swept-back handlebars and fenders. And finally the Diamondback Haanjo Flat Bar Cyclocross Bike – 2015 dials in the same go-anywhere mentality in a sport/fitness-oriented bike concept.

Diamondback has worked really hard this year to make sure that there is a Haanjo available for almost every type of rider – as long as you want to have a great time when you ride! Check out a video of the Diamondback Haanjo Trail Cyclocross Bike in action:

Ridden and Reviewed: Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike

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The Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike is an eye-catching bike, with it’s blacked-out look (with a few bright green highlights) and disc brakes. But what kind of bike is it, exactly? Is it a road bike with disc brakes, a commuter bike for utilitarian rides, or a gravel/adventure/cyclocross bike with slick tires? The beauty of the Tread is that it’s a little bit of all of these things – a truly versatile package that mixes an appealing design with a whole lot of practicality and performance. We’ve put in some hard miles on this Tread 1.1 Disc and came away impressed by the total package.

The Parts:

But let’s start with what you get with the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc in terms of components. At it’s core is an aluminum custom-butted frame (based on their tried and true alloy cyclocross frame), carbon bladed and tapered fork, a capable Shimano Tiagra 20-speed drivetrain, and lightweight TRP SPYRE mechanical disc brakes. Oval Concepts supplies the handlebars, stem, seatpost, and Vera Terra wheels are clad in 700 x 32C Vera City Wide tires with Phalanx puncture protection for added safety.

On The Road

The Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike has comfortable on-road manners with a sporty and quick steering response. It’s not a super-lightweight road racing machine, but a 50/34 tooth crankset and smooth-rolling tires (even though they are 32mm wide) mean that you can keep up with groups on the road or keep up a brisk pace on solo rides. We rode the Tread 1.1 Disc out on some fast group rides here at our office, and we only really felt at a disadvantage on climbs when the group was pushing the pace – the main culprit was the slight added weight and size of the tires as compared to super-light carbon racing bikes (which is no real surprise given the versatility of the bike).

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on the road

The Tread 1.1 Disc was a smooth roller on the road

 On Gravel

On gravel or dirt roads, the comfy wide tires and disc brakes of the Tread 1.1 Disc really shined. The stopping power and added control of mechanical disc brakes are a big plus when conditions aren’t great, so it’s no wonder that we were fans of the TRP SPYRE specced on the Tread 1.1 Disc. And while the 700 x 32C tires were not knobby, they had sufficient traction for most situations. We were even impressed by the Shimano Tiagra drivetrain – it has a light shifting feel and performed flawlessly for us, plus the 12-30 speed cassette allowed us to tackle any terrain.

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on a gravel road

Gravel roads were no problem for the Tread 1.1’s wide tires

Everything Else

The key word with the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike is versatility – it’s a bike you can ride around town, on the back roads, or just on weekend rides. It’s a great option for a utility commuter bike – there are eyelets for racks and fenders – but it’s not limited to any one ride or terrain. We even took the Tread 1.1 Disc out onto some local trails and had a blast. So what kind of bike is the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike after all? It’s whatever you want it to be – and a whole lot of fun on 2 wheels.

Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc on the trails

Even light trail riding was no problem with the wide gearing range of the Tread 1.1

If the Fuji Tread 1.1 Disc Road Bike isn’t exactly the bike you are looking for, you should also check out the rest of the Fuji Tread lineup. There are several other options and specs available, including an exclusive Fuji Tread 1.0 Disc Road Bike, which upgrades to Shimano’s excellent redesigned 105 5800 11-speed components.

Pro Cycling on $10 A Day: Interview with Phil Gaimon

pro cycling

The thrills, the spills, the adventures in China, and the cookies. You’ll read about it all in Pro Cycling on $10 A Day

Some of you may have heard about Phil Gaimon. He’s one of the top pros right now from the U.S, and will be spending his 2015 season with the Optum Pro Cycling Presented by Kelly Benefits team (who also happen to ride some awesome Diamondback bikes).

An unrepentant English major, Phil wrote a book about his experience of trying to make it as a professional cyclist in the U.S., Pro Cycling on $10 A Day. A memoir is something that most pros wait to do until after they’ve retired, but Phil isn’t most pros. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a great read that gives you a peak behind the curtain of domestic pro cycling. And it’s also hilarious.

Phil was kind enough to give us a few books to give away the other day, and to answer some questions from some of our customers.

Read below for Phil’s answers about racing, being a mechanic, crashing, and other hot topics:
What's the story behind that bar of soap? Check out the book to find out more. Photo: Sam Wiebe

What’s the story behind that bar of soap? Check out the book to find out more. Photo: Sam Wiebe

Carlos: If you could win any race in the world which one would it be?

PHIL: The Tour de France would probably be the best one to win. Not just a stage. The whole thing. I mean, an Olympic gold or world championship would be alright (I’d take either of those), but the Tour is the Tour. I think any bike racer would agree.

Learn more about the Tour de France

AJ: Do you need to be a pro level mechanic to be a pro racer?

PHIL: Mechanics come in all shapes and sizes and experience levels. Just about anyone can turn a wrench, but you want one who knows their way around a bike race. There are a lot of rules about where you can stop, for example. The guy who works at the local shop would probably rack up fines in Swiss Francs, and I don’t know how he’d feel about leaning out of a window to fix my derailleur at 40 mph.

Learn how to be your own mechanic

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Jim: How do you cope with knee pain?

PHIL: Everyone’s different, but in my experience, pain was usually relieved by proper alignment of the ankle, knee, and hip. You’re looking for an up-and-down piston-like motion there, which can be achieved through bike fit, proper insoles, cleat position, etc. Think about that motion when you’re making adjustments, or find an expert.

Learn how to deal with knee pain

Timothy: How many times have you crashed?

PHIL: I only wish I hadn’t lost count a long time ago. I was putting on my jersey at a race recently, and a fellow racer in the parking lot saw the series of giant scars on my shoulder. “San Dimas?” He asked, referring to a race where I crashed out of the yellow jersey and sent myself to the hospital in a helicopter. “No,” I shrugged. Those scars are all on my face. The rest of them are scattered around my knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders, from years of sliding around on the same spots. You don’t notice them, and I wouldn’t want to die without a few scars, anyway. Maybe without the ones on my forehead, though…

Learn how to deal with road rash

Too many cookies? No such thing, according to Phil. Photo: Sam Wiebe

Too many cookies? No such thing, according to Phil. Photo: Sam Wiebe

Andrew: Where’s your favorite place to ride and do you have a favorite street?

PHIL: Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles is my favorite place to ride. North of the city, there’s a long series of canyons to climb up from the ocean, with low traffic, and amazing views. I’ve ridden all over the world. There are some places that are about as good, but nothing better.

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Photo: Sam Wiebe

So there you have it. You can find even more juicy details about the inner-life of pro cycling in Phil’s book Pro Cycling on $10 A Day.

We’d also like to thank Leyzne and Chamois Butt’r for their contributions to last week’s giveaway.

Real Advice: Achieve Your Cycling Goals in 2015

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A few years ago my wife and I decided to stop making New Years Resolutions, and start making New Years Goals. This might sound like an eye-rolling game of word play, but bear with me a minute.

We realized that we seldom (never) stayed with our resolutions for long, because by saying vague things like “I’m going to bike commute to work more”, “I’m going to wake up early to train”, or “this year I’m going to get back into racing”, you’re not laying yourself any pathway for success. You’re just saying things you’d like to do, but they’re not goal oriented, and there’s no real way to chart your progress.

Once we started making Goals, things got off to a different start, because behind each Goal was a plan with clear, actionable steps.

Here is our guide to help you make 2015 your year to finally achieve those cycling goals.

Step 1: Set a Goal

Pick something that’s important to you, and be as specific as you can. Set specific monthly mileage, pick out a target goal event, etc… Make it challenging, but also rewarding.

If it’s an event, then pick out a time you want to be able to complete it in (i.e. ride a century in under 6 hours). If it’s mileage, then pick something that’s far above what you’re already doing (i.e. go from 75 miles a week to 200 miles a week).

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Signing up for a goal event, like Eddie did with Shenandoah, is a great way to ensure you stay on track

Looking for a goal? Try a local charity rides, or a gran fondo or mountain bike race.

 
 

Step 2: Is this a goal you’ve set before?

Did you achieve it? Were you happy with the result? Why didn’t you achieve it, or how can you do better next year? This gives you a chance to do an after-action review on previous goals and examine what you can do differently this year.

An example: my goal for 2015 was the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. While I finished, I wasn’t super happy with how I rode. Here’s my assessment why:

-Too few long distance build-up events

-Too little time spent in the mountains

-Inadequate fueling/hydrating in the first half of the event

-Carried too much clothing and repair supplies

-Bike was overbuilt for durability, and ended up being heavier than I would have liked

Brian's titanium Scattante frame should be the right tool for the job

Look back on previous goals, and see how you can improve on them

Having trouble getting over hills? Check out our How-To Article to make it easier.

 
 

Step 3: Start Planning

Get out a calendar, a notebook, and a pencil and start planning how you’ll achieve your goal. Look at what you wrote down for Step 2, and think about what might need to do differently this year to be more successful.

Some tips:

Set mini-goals for every week and every month that can help you chart your progress

If your goal is an event, mark the date on the calendar and work backwards from there

Look for secondary goals you can set through the year that can help you build fitness (smaller events, local group rides, etc…)

You don’t want to get down into the nitty gritty of what you’ll be doing on every day months in advance—part of making a plan successful is making it flexible and allowing for life to happen—but you should have a weekly idea of what needs to happen.

Remember you have a whole year to work with, and you don’t have to do it all at once.

Testing the Ultra kit on cobbles

Planning out challenging rides in advance can help keep you motivated and on track

Looking for a new challenge to help you prepare? How about a Group Ride?

 
 

Step 4: Is This Goal Realistic?

This is where you need to be really, brutally honest with yourself. You need to decide if this is a goal that is either too hard or too easy, and if it’s a plan you can realistically stick to. Look for challenges you need to take into account (i.e. kids, family time, work commitments, etc…). Once you’ve done this, think of ways to get around the challenges.

Example:

If you’re someone who struggles to get going in the morning, making waking up a 5:00 AM to ride a part of your plan isn’t something you’re likely to stick to for long.

Instead, you might want to start by trying to wake up just 30 minutes earlier than normal and getting in a ride on the trainer instead.

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Make your plan realistic, and look for ways around challenges. If you can’t make it out the door at 5:00AM, trying waking up just 30 minutes earlier than normal for a trainer session

Need an indoor workout? Try Riding On Rollers.

 
 

Step 5: Track Your Progress

At the end of every week do an assessment of your progress. Are you following your plan and getting closer to achieving your goal?

If not, take a close look at why you aren’t and what’s happening. Talking with friends or family can be really important for helping you identify things that might be going wrong (even if you don’t want to hear them) and figuring out how to get back on track.

Using social media can also be a giant help in keeping you accountable and getting support. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are incredibly useful to keep track of your progress, update your friends and family, and help keep you motivated.

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Remember, big achievements happen through a series of small steps. Keep your eye on the prize, Tiger.

 Here are some other helpful articles to help you reach your goals:

Avoid fatigue on long rides.

Weight Loss For Cyclists

Words of Wisdom for Novice Riders

Guide to Cycling Etiquette

5 Reasons to Join a Group Ride

6 Steps to Master The Paceline

6 Tips For Traveling With A Bike

Working Out At Work

Build a Home Gym For Under $250

4 Articles To Get You Through The Holidays

Happy Holidays from Performance Bicycle! We hope you’re enjoying the time with friends and family.

But like you, we’re starting to crave some bike time. Realistically though, that’s not going to happen for a few more days. So we went back through the blog and found some of our favorite articles that got us pumped to start get out and ride…or at least some motivation to avoid the cookie tray next time.

1. 5 Tips for Cold Weather Riding

No matter how cold it is, follow these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy a ride outside.

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2. Cyclists Guide To Surviving the Holidays—2015

Family time, food, and booze. Follow these tips to ensure you start the new year in (close to) good shape.

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3. Build a Home Gym On A Budget

Not feeling the outside riding? You can still get in a good work out, by building a complete home gym for as little as $250.

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

The foam roller is one of the best recovery tools available to any athlete

4. Alternative Road Bikes

Didn’t get the bike you wanted? Maybe this is your chance to get the bike you need. Today’s alternative road bikes are tough, faster, and more capable than ever.

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

The GT Grade is one of the most exciting gravel bikes yet

5 Ways To Stay Warm On Cold Rides

Here we go again…looks like the Polar Vortex has descended upon us once again. We don’t know about you, but so long as we don’t get one of our famous, downhome Carolina Ice Storms, we’ll keep riding outside as much as we can.

Now, you wouldn’t think a bunch of Southerners would know much about riding in the cold, but most of us actually grew up riding, training and racing in places like Vermont, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Portland (Oregon, not Maine– which is a whole other animal), so we’ve learned a few things over the years about riding in the wet, the cold, and the snow.

So here it is: 5 Ways To Stay Warm on Cold Rides.

1. Layer Up

Using layered cycling clothing can help you adjust your temperature to suit the ride and the conditions. You can pretty much layer every part of your clothing system as the conditions warrant, from your feet all the way to your head. Click here for our guide to layering.

PRO TIP #1: No matter how well you think you’ve layer up on top, always bring a wind jacket or vest with you in case conditions take a turn for the worse. #1B is to bring some knee warmers on super cold days– if your knees get cold you can put them on over (but preferably under) your tights for extra coverage.

PRO TIP #2: Spare arm warmers, spare gloves or liners, a spare hat, and base layer can pack up small in a plastic bag that fits easily into a jersey pocket. On long rides, it gives you the option of changing out sweaty, damp garments for warm, dry ones.

PRO TIP #3: Don’t use super thick cycling socks with your cycling shoes. Instead, layer your overshoes as needed, putting insulated ones closer to the foot, covered by wind/waterproof ones.

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

Layering up is a great way to make sure you can a stay warm, and adjust your core temperature as you go

2. Hot Water Bottle

Using an insulated water bottle filled with some warm tea or Skratch Labs Apples and Cinnamon hydration mix (which is absolutely delicious, by the way) can take the edge off a very cold ride. This is a tip that the pro’s use during early season races like Milan-San Remo to stay warm (check out a video here)

Make like the pro's, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides

Make like the pro’s, and use some warm tea to hydrate on your winter rides (Orica-GreenEdge)

3. Eat Enough

In the winter, you burn more calories on the bike than during the summer. Not only are you using fuel to exercise, but also to stay warm. That means that during the winter you should fuel up with a healthy breakfast like oatmeal, and then bring plenty of bars, chews or gels to eat while riding. This will give you plenty of carbs to keep your body warm and prevent the dreaded bonk—which could mean serious trouble if you’re far from home on a cold winter’s day.

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

Eating a solid, healthy breakfast, and having plenty of food for the ride will help prevent you bonking

4. Mix In Intervals

If you’re really feeling the cold, trying mixing in some intervals to bring up your body temperature. You can either 1) pick a target a good distance away and ride as hard as you can until you reach it, or 2) go by time, and ride as hard as you can for about a minute. Just make sure you don’t go so hard that you start sweating a lot, which can just make the problem worse.

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

Riding a few hard intervals is a great way to get your body temperature back up

5. Take a Rest

We usually like to plan our long, meandering winter rides with a destination in mind—usually a restaurant or café with warm drinks and food. But it’s OK to take a break at any time if you’re feeling cold, chilled, or just tired. Stop at a gas station, coffee shop, café, whatever, warm up and take a breather.

Go in and get warm, grab some hot tea or coffee, and eat a cookie.

PRO TIP #1: If you’re feeling the chill from a damp clothing, you can use your rest stop to change into your spare base layer, spare gloves or liners, and hat. That way you can go back out into the cold feeling dry and warm.

PRO TIP #2: If your toes are feeling very cold on your ride, see if you can get some aluminum foil or a foil food wrapper, and wrap up your toes. It’s not the most comfortable thing, but it does provide some additional insulation.

PRO TIP #3: Ask if the coffee shop or restaurant can refill your water bottles with hot water.

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

When you start feeling cold or chilled, go ahead and head indoors to warm up

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