Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Great Bike Debate: 26-inch-wheels vs 29er

If you want to stir a lively debate among cyclists, simply ask which is better: 26 inches or 29er? Many mountain bikers will extol the virtues of one wheel size over another, but what benefits do larger wheels offer commuters?

700c vs. 29 inches
Many commuters have been rolling to work on 29-inch-wheels for years.  All road and cyclocross bikes are built with 700c wheels, which are 29 inches. However, 700c wheels are designed to accommodate a thinner tire. Many come in widths ranging from 18 to 23 millimeters, with touring tires ranging from 25 to 28 millimeters. Wider tires offer a plusher and smoother ride, but the additional rolling resistance results in slower speeds. On the flipside, the wheels on a 29er are beefier and were originally designed for off-road use. The tires are designed to roll over obstacles, while making more contact with the ground. Mountain bike tires are much thicker than a 700c, with widths typically falling between 1.8 to 2.4 inches.
The 29er
A 29er is more than just a wheel size. The bike’s overall design and geometry varies as well. Because of the larger wheels, the bike tends to accommodate taller riders and these frames offer greater ground clearance for a rider to navigate obstacles. The bikes also have a varied geometry and will handle differently than a 26-inch mountain bike or a 700c road, touring or cyclocross bike.
Big-wheel advantages
Companies such as Surly have caught on to the 29er craze, offering bikes, such as the Karate Monkey, that are designed for commuters and fixed-gear trail riding. For bicycle commuters, 29-inch-wheels help dampen bumpy roads and potholes, are often a more comfortable option for larger rides, and they tend to carry a rider’s momentum better than a 26-inch-wheel. These larger wheels also make it easier to roll over soft surfaces. A fatter tire increases the bike’s traction and corning ability, making it a more stable ride, especially in inclement weather or on gravel and dirt paths.
Other considerations
Any thicker tire will carry a speed disadvantage and a larger wheel will also increase the bike’s weight. While 29ers help carry a rider’s momentum, they’re slower to accelerate and brake.
Bicycle Trailers and 29ers
Many bicycle trailers will fit bicycle’s with 29 inch wheels, but always ensure that if they attach via rear axle, they will accommodate the wheel size of the bicycle.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

How to Deal With A Car – Bike Accident | Bicycle Safety

Most car – bike accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Sometimes drivers are distracted or they turn in front of a bicycle.  Bicycle safety is your responsibility regardless of how the scene plays out, it’s
important to keep calm and know your rights.
Arm yourself in advance. You should always carry a copy of your health/insurance card and identification when you ride. Some cyclists opt for an identification bracelet such as a Road ID, which lists emergency contacts and vital health information. Carry a cell phone too. Besides calling for help, cell phones also have a camera— a handy device for documenting any damage.
Keep your cool. You may be terrified, angry or in pain immediately following a bike accident, but don’t confront the driver or lose your temper. According to cycling attorney Bob Mionske, anything you say to the driver can be used against you when an insurance claims adjuster considers your case.
Call the police. Be sure the motorist doesn’t flee the scene. Note and record any details about the motorist and the car, including the license plate number. Ask the motorist for a driver’s license and insurance information. Record this as well.
Give your statement. Even if you are injured, it’s vital that a police officer records your account of what happened. Check the statement for accuracy and be sure the officer prepares an accident report. Also gather names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.
Don’t downplay your injuries. Just because you feel okay doesn’t mean you’re injury free. Get checked out by the paramedics or at the ER. This helps prove that you were in an accident and can be used to strengthen your claim.
Document the damage. Not only should you take photos of any injuries you sustain, but you should also snap pictures of your bike and any property damage caused by the accident. Have your bike shop document the damage, assess the value of your bike and any accessories damaged in the crash, and prepare a signed estimate. Mionske suggests waiting to make any bike repairs until you have reached an agreement with the insurance company. In the meantime, save any documents related to the crash.
Don’t rush a settlement. If you plan to file a claim, be sure to speak with an attorney before making your statement. Also check your state’s statute of limitations to find out the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Be sure to give yourself enough time to know the extent of your injuries and any damage before trying to settle the case.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Running 101: How Often Should You Run?

How often should you run is one of the most important questions to consider before you start any training.
Frequency—or how often you run—is one of three fundamental variables of training. The other two are duration (how far you run) and intensity (how fast you
run). Research shows a person needs to run at least a couple of times a week to get any progressive benefit from it. Many elite runners run as often as 14 times per week. How often should you run?
There is no single right answer to this question. While considerations such as your goals, life schedule, and running experience can and should be used to establish boundaries of too much and too little running frequency for you, within these boundaries you can choose any of a number of different running frequencies based on personal preferences and needs and get the results you seek.

The Minimum

Let’s first consider the boundary on the bottom end. The most important piece of advice I can give you in this regard is that it is necessary to do some form of exercise almost every day to optimize your general health. Every man, woman, and child on earth, whether a competitive or recreational runner, whether a runner at all or a non-runner, should aim to exercise every day. The research is very clear on this score. If you exercise daily you will have lower risk of chronic disease, be leaner, and live longer than if you exercise just a few times a week.
This doesn’t mean you have to run every day, however. If you care about running enough to seek some form of progress, you need to run at least three times per week. On the other days you can swim, do yoga, lift weights, whatever. However, if you choose to run only three times per week—and if, again, you care enough about your running to want to improve—you need to make those runs really count. Most weeks those runs should be a tempo run to develop intensive endurance, a speed workout to build speed, and a long run to increase raw endurance. The popular FIRST marathon training program developed at Furman University prescribes a weekly training schedule comprising the three types of runs just mentioned plus two cross-training workouts. In my opinion this system defines the minimum effective training protocol for runners.

The primary reason to run only three times per week is to minimize injury risk. As we all know, running has a high injury rate, and the rate of injury increases with running volume. Many runners cannot run every day without getting injured. If you are such a runner, or if you simply fear getting injured if you run daily, then stick to a schedule of three to four purposeful runs plus a few cross-training workouts per week and feel confident that you are not sacrificing any of the performance you would get from running daily (presuming you actually could run daily without injury).
The most common running frequency for non-elite competitive runners is six to seven times per week (that is, daily with one scheduled day off or daily with rest days taken only as needed). I don’t know of any research addressing the matter, but my experience-based belief is that some runners are better off running daily and not cross-training, others are better off running three or four times a week and cross-training on non-running days, and many runners are able to fare equally well on either schedule. Use factors such as your durability (can you handle daily running?) and your personal preferences (would you rather chew glass than do any form of exercise besides running?) to set your personal routine.

Running Twice Per Day

Only the most serious runners habitually run more than seven times per week, which necessarily entails a certain amount of doubling, or running twice a day. Personally, I think more runners should consider it, as some magical things can happen when you push your running volume beyond the amount you can practically squeeze into one run a day.
There’s a simple rule that runners can use to decide whether or not they should double: If you plan to consistently run more than 70 miles per week, double at least once or twice a week. The rationale behind this rule is that every runner’s training schedule must include some easy runs, and if you try to pack more than 70 miles into just six or seven runs each week, none of those runs can be very easy. You can double if you want to on a schedule of fewer than 70 miles per week, but it only really becomes necessary when you run more.
As you continue to add mileage to your weekly schedule, continue to add doubles as necessary to keep your average run distance from creeping above 10 miles. So, for example, if you run 100 miles a week you should run at least 10 times.

Ease into doubling by inserting one or two very short, easy runs into your schedule. Gradually increase the distance of these runs and add more doubles until you reach your weekly mileage target, but keep the pace easy in all of these extra runs. Never try to perform two hard runs in a single day.
Some runners do an easy run in the morning and a longer and/or faster run in the evening. Others do the opposite. It’s a matter of personal preference.


Just as a casually competitive runner can exercise more than three or four times a week without running more than three or four times a week, a serious competitive runner can exercise twice a day without always running twice a day. The question is, should he or she? While there are many examples of very successful runners who run 14 times a week and never cross-train, I believe that in most cases, runners who train nine or more times a week are better off running seven times and lifting weights and doing plyometrics two or three times than they are making every workout a run.

RELATED: The 8 Basic Types Of Runs
In fact, there’s research proving this. In a famous Norwegian study, elite runners improved their 3K race times by replacing 30 percent of their running with plyometrics—not adding plyometrics to the running they were already doing, but replacing a chunk of their running with plyos. Based on such evidence, I advise runners who train nine to 10 times per week to perform two or three strength/plyo workouts and run the rest of the time. There’s no need to do strength and plyometrics training more than two or three times per week, so if you add any workouts beyond 10 per week, the rest can and should be runs or non-impact cardio alternatives to running such as cycling.
What’s the absolute maximum amount of training any runner should consider doing? Many elite runners thrive on a schedule of two runs per day every day plus three strength/plyo workouts per week. If you can handle all that, more power to you!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Best Commuter Bike, a Cyclocross?

Can a cyclocross bike become the best commuter bike for your daily bike route? If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of cyclists pedalling through mud and quickly mounting and dismounting their bikes to hop obstacles, then you’ve witnessed a
cyclocross race. The fall and early winter sport is quickly gaining in popularity, as are the cyclocross-specific bikes used by racers. A bike that rips through and sheds mud, gains speed from skinny tires and can handle whatever Mother Nature throws its way? Sounds like the best commuter bike.

The quick and dirty

At first glance, a cyclocross (or cross bike) closely resembles its cousin, the road bike. But there are some major differences. The frame has a higher bottom bracket than a road bike, perfect for navigating obstacles and has a slightly different geometry, as it’s made to be ridden in a more uptight position. Another major difference is the brakes. While road bikes rely on calipers, cross bikes have cantilever or disc brakes, which offer more stopping power in the elements. Cyclocross bikes also tend to use slightly wider, knobby tires to provide traction through mud, sand, water and snow.

Convert it into the best commuter bike

 It doesn’t take much to transform a cross bike into the best commuter bike. Look for a bike frame that’s aluminum or steel. Cross bike frames are strong and durable, yet lighter than most touring bike frames. Find a bike frame that comes with plenty of braze-ons and be sure to add fenders to help keep your bike commute dry. Install racks or panniers for hauling extra gear. Most cross bikes should have space for these add-ons. Since you’re not racing the bike, weight is not a major concern and you should also find a saddle that’s comfortable for longer rides. Lastly, unless you’re planning to ride gravel bike paths or rough dirt roads, consider swapping out the knobby tires in favor of slicks. These bike tires will increase your cruising speed and ensure a smoother ride. Find a bike tire that’s durable and fairly flat resistant.

Other cross bike considerations

If you’re buying a new bike you may have the option of disc brakes, a fairly new addition to cross bikes. Most cantilever brakes are fine for bike commuters, but if you often commute by bike in wet, slushy weather you may want to consider investing in disc brakes, which offer more reliable and effective stopping power. Before you buy a cross bike also consider if the geometry will be comfortable for you. The more road bike-like position will stretch out your back, shoulders, neck and arms more than a touring bike, commuter bike or mountain bike, which put riders in a more upright position. If you have any neck, back or shoulder problems you may want a bike that’s less aggressive. To learn more about Cyclocross, check out Cyclocross Magazine.

Friday, September 23, 2016

What to expect when you ski for the first time

The cool mountain air breathing into your face as you speed down a beautiful snow covered mountain is one of the most fun and exhilarating experiences out

there. Skiing is an incredibly addictive sport and one that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Skiing for the first time can be a scary and daunting experience, but get it right and you’ll soon fall in love. We’ve come up with a simple guide for first time skiers on what to expect when skiing for the first time.

It’s going to be challenging
At first, it’s going to be challenging. Unless you have ice-skated or rollerbladed in the past, skiing is a completely different experience to anything you might have done before but will be an amazing experience. Once you get started, you’ll soon start to relax and enjoy yourself.  The more you ski, the more your confidence will grow and the easier it will become. Remember, everyone feels the same when they ski for the first time, so you're not alone. 

Ski Lessons

When skiing for the first time, it is highly recommended to take some lessons. How about with Meribel ski school? Even if you just take one to get yourself familiar with the basic skills and manoeuvres needed, it’s going to greatly enhance your experience. It’s most likely that you’ll have a group lesson, with people that you probably don’t know, so don’t feel embarrassed. It can be easy to get intimidated when having lessons with strangers. Everyone is in the same boat as you, with everyone focusing on themselves so no one will be watching you. Usually in the first lesson you’ll learn how to turn, slow down, stop and how to ride the ski lifts. Lessons are usually half a day, so you’ll have the morning or afternoon to practise on your own with friends and family. You might only want one lesson to get the basic skills, or you might prefer to have more, it’s going to depend on how quickly you pick it up and what you want from the lessons. If you really want to learn quickly, having private lessons can be an advantage. The instructor is going to be focusing only on you, allowing you to progress quicker than if you were in a group.

You’ll be in the beginner’s area

When you’re a beginner you’re going to be starting in the beginners area, especially if you’re with a ski instructor. This will have a lot of flat area and a very small nursery slope, as well as a simple ski or button lift to take you to the top. It’s great for practise and to help get your confidence up. Even if you’re not going to have lessons this is still a great place to practise at the start before going onto the bigger slopes.

You might lose your balance

One fact that you need to remember and understand before you start is that you’re going to lose your balance! It’s par for the course with skiing; everyone falls. The key is just to laugh and get straight back up. It doesn't hurt because the snow is soft and you won't be going that fast. Part of the fun is watching your friends and family fall. It’s important to remember that it’s going to happen, even when you get more confident and advanced. Sitting in your cosy chalet at night talking about the laughs you had when everyone was stuggling to stand is one of the best parts of the experience! Just learn how to quickly get back up and have fun! 

Don’t get intimidated

When skiing for the first time, you’re going to be slow and shaky at first. What can become really annoying is when you’re taking your time going down a slope and a small 6 year old child whizzes past you at breakneck speed. It can be very frustrating when you see just how young these children are and how good they are! Don’t let them put you off and just keep going. They ski all year so it’s what you’d expect!

Ski boots will feel different at first

Ski boots will feel quiet different to your normal shoes and might take a bit of time to get used to. When getting fitted for snow boots at the ski hire it’s important to remember that they’re not going to be the most comfortable in the world, but your foot should be snug and not move about too much. If by the end of the day your foot is in crushing pain, go and change them. Excruciating pain is definitely not right and you need to make sure you have reasonably comfortable ski boots to have an enjoyable time. It’s also important to remember that it's not the easiest to walk in ski boots! If you have to walk to the slopes in your boots leave plenty of time if you’re a beginner, as it’s quite difficult, especially if the roads are icy and you're not use to them. If possible it is a good idea to carry your ski boots and change into them when you’re at your destination. This might not always be possible, so just be aware it might take you a bit longer that you planned. Over time, you should get use to it. 

Quick Tips

  • Don’t wear cotton or nylon clothes, as these absorb water, so make sure you have good waterproofs. Waterproof trousers and a waterproof jacket/coat are good and wear warm thermals underneath. It’s not going to be any fun if you end up getting soaking wet by the end of the day. You want to be cosy and warm not wet and cold.
  • Get good gloves. There’s no point taking your favourite knitted mittens onto the slopes, as these will soon become soaking and your hands will be freezing. Good waterproof gloves are a must. Try to get ones that won’t let in any snow,  long gloves or ones that can be tightened are good.
  • Ski passes are very expensive, but usually they will offer access to the whole of the resorts terrain. For a first time skier this is going to be unnecessary as it’s unlikely you’re going to be going on the black and red runs! It’s better to go for a less expensive ski pass with limited access. It’s a good idea to ask your instructor what they recommend. If by the end of the holiday you’re getting more confident and want to experience some different slopes, you can always upgrade your pass
  • Take lip balm and sun cream with you. It’s odd to think that on a mountain where it’s freezing that you might get sunburnt but often it is very sunny. The snow also will reflect the sun back up to your face, making it very easy to get burnt, so remember to apply sun cream to your face and behind your ears. Lip balm is also essential to stop getting dry, cracked lips.
  • Don’t be pressured into going onto bigger slopes by your family or friends who are more advanced. It takes a long time to build up your confidence but only takes seconds to shatter it, so resist and only go where you’re confident. An easy slope for them might not be easy for you, so stick to what you know and build your confidence gradually.
  • Because it can be very sunny, it’s advisable to take sunglasses or skiing goggles onto the slopes. The sun reflects on the snow to make it incredibly bright and difficult to look at, so having sunglasses handy can be a real blessing.

Remember, it's all about having fun!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to Stomp a Back Flip

Go through the motions. Before you head to a 20-footer in the backcountry, practice back-flip rotations on a trampoline or diving board.

Start small. Try a back flip off a mellow jump with a steep takeoff and a soft
landing. Jumps will help you rotate faster, while downward sloping cliffs will fight your rotation. If possible, send your buddy off the jump first so you can see what kind of speed you’ll need and what the landing will feel like.

Stay centered. When it’s your turn, ski toward the jump and stay in the front seat. If you’re sitting back, you’ll fling your head backward and over-rotate the flip. That’s bad. Instead, drive your toes forward and push them up over your head. This will give you more control over the flip and more loft.

Look ahead. Keep your head up and look forward until you can see your toes in front of you. Then, as you reach the highest point of your air, start looking for your landing. When I back-flip off cliffs, I like to rotate quickly off the takeoff, then stall a bit while I’m falling over my stomach. This way, I’m in a better position to correct errors. Plus, if you hit a rock coming off the takeoff, it can grab your feet and slow the rotation down. So if you rotate early, you’ll be ready.

Land it. Now you’re looking forward at the landing and dropping over your belly. When you’re ready to land, pull in your knees to finish the rotation, and straighten your back out to prepare for touchdown. Land with both poles and both skis hitting the snow at the same time, and keep your hands in front of you.

More tips from Mike: Don’t overthink it. The trick is easier if you just do it. Don’t learn a back flip on the biggest jump you’ve ever hit. And I’ve heard back flips are much easier if you have a mustache.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I am a cyclist and you hate me

Get off my road, you shout, as if I’m an immigrant ahead of you in the doctors, a leech on your neck. You are vocal yet you are in the minority. Venom for no other
reason than I check your progress, your assumed and ill conceived right to the road makes me your enemy, a fly you must swat aside, a lesson you must teach.
Once you’ve scared me, passing so close that I could touch your car with my elbow, I wonder how the kids in the back seat of your car perceive you, I wonder how you react at work when you’re told to do something, or how your partner puts up with you after you’ve had a few beers, or how you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror. Proud probably, unfortunately.

I am a cyclist and you, yes you, drive your car oh so very close to me to teach me a lesson, one I understand oh so very quickly, your educational pass teaching me that you are a moron.
I am a cyclist and I am cheating you of time because I undertake you.
I am a cyclist and I am depriving you of five seconds because you cannot overtake me on a bend despite trying four times.
I am a cyclist and I am ignoring your imagined rules of the road because I do not ride in the gutter.
I am a cyclist and I do not think it is funny when you wind down your window and try to push me off my bike.
I am a cyclist and I am not taking responsibility for your actions because I do not wear a helmet
I am a cyclist and I could tell you how to overtake me without over revving your engine and drafting on my rear wheel
I am a cyclist and I do not jump red lights but you saw someone once and so therefore I must be punished
I am a cyclist and you are the judge, picking and choosing road laws you only half grasp or have only half made up
I am a cyclist and I am a human
I am a human just like you except our transport differs
I am a human and I get scared when you pass me too closely
I am a human and have family just like you, except mine worry I won’t return home from my daily commute
I am a human and I make mistakes, just like you
I am a human just trying to get to work
I am a human and when I take the lane as the highway code advises, it is to protect myself not to delay nor anger you
I am a human and I don’t want a fist fight because you do not understand the laws of the road
I am a human and I get angry and shout when scared because you almost knocked me off my bike
I am a human and I have a right to point out that you are breaking rules and that speeding or driving when using your phone is against the law
I am a human and I will get upset when your version of justice is passing me very closely in a fast moving car
I am a human and I will bleed when you knock me off my bike
I am a human, are you?