Monday, November 28, 2016

Organize Your Snow Gear

If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, you’ve probably experienced the seasonal struggles of dragging all of your gear out of its summer hiding place only to have it scattered amongst your car, your entryway, and your bedroom throughout the winter. AWOL socks, glove liners, and beanies are the result of not having a designated space to put away your outerwear. Having a space to easily grab what you need on your way up to the mountains and store it when you return will save you time and sanity this season. Be proactive this season, and create a space to keep everything together.  There are a ton of ways you can do this, but this is what works for me and it costs less than $25 to make.

What you’ll need -

Strong hangers will hold up your heavy jackets and pants. These hangers are also wider which helps fill in the shoulder space on jackets so that they hang more naturally. I found these for $3.99/8 pack from Ikea. They also have pants hangers for $0.99 each.

Clothes Rack
Clothing racks come in a variety of sizes and heights. I found this one for $12.99 at Ikea. They had some cheaper ones and some more expensive ones, but I liked this one because of the adjustable height and wheels that made it convenient for storing in the summer. If white doesn’t match you d├ęcor, you can always spray paint it to fit.

Hanging Shelves
Lastly, you’ll need some sort of hanging shelf to store your accessories and base layers. You can either sort by items (socks, layers, mittens, beanies) or by weather conditions. For instance, if you know it’s going to be a warm day you can keep all of your light layers together so that you can just grab the whole pile and go. I already had some hanging shelves I wasn’t using, but you can find an assortment of options like this one for $4.99 at Ikea. Consider an organizer that has compartments large enough to hold a helmet, but small enough to separate smaller items like goggles and glove liners.
My favorite thing about this set up is that all of the pieces are easily collapsed and can be put into storage when it’s not being used. You can rotate items into it for your summer activities as well. Save on this idea by using a coat closet if you have one, or by using hangers that you already have. This is just one idea of how to organize your gear for the winter. What does your winter gear storage look like?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

3 Things To Know About Ski Socks

As you gather up your gear for the season, it is easy to forget about ski socks. People think “It doesn’t matter; I’ll just use my everyday Hanes, right?”  This is a sentence heard all too often by Boot Fitters.  Here is the lowdown on why you should tighten up your sock game.

1. One pair of ski socks is warmer than two

Two layers in your ski or board boot whether it is an extra sock, leggings, or under layer can cause hot spots due to friction and bunching up.  By the end of the day that slight discomfort from a crease in your layers can turn into a bruise.  The fit of any athletic boot is designed for one sock, adding an additional layer can compress your foot and cut off circulation and blood flow ultimately making your feet numb and cold.

2. The thinner the better

It is a common miss conception that a thicker sock will keep you warmer; this is not always the case.  In a ski or snowboard boot you want a tight, athletic fit (tighter than your street shoes). A thick sock will take up all the volume in your boot, a thin sock will allow the air between your foot and the liner to warm up.  This will ultimately keep your feet warm.

3. Cotton is the enemy

Cotton is not the ideal material for cold, wet weather.  Cotton clothing can absorb water and sweat up to 27 times their weight. Once your socks are wet, they’ll take forever to dry out and will cool your body.  Merino wool is the ideal material for winter that keeps your body cool in hot temperatures and warm in cold temperatures.  Merino wool will wick away water and keep you dry.
Kids Snowboarding First

Let’s set the record straight – Kids do not have to learn to ski before they can snowboard anymore.
There seems to be this unwritten law that kids have to learn how to ski first. All too often I catch parents saying that their son or daughter is taking ski lessons “so they can learn the basics” and then they will let them decide if they want to switch over to snowboarding when they’re ready.
As someone who didn’t start snowboarding until I was a young teenager, I wish my 3-year-old self would have known how to express to my parents that I was born to be a snowboarder. Learning how to ski first did not make learning how to snowboard any easier. I still fell – a lot. I still got frustrated, and I still had to start from the beginning.
Although, when I started skiing, they didn’t make snowboards small enough for kids my size. So, if I wanted to join my older siblings on the slopes, I had to get on two planks.
Thanks to Burton Riglet snowboards like the Burton Chopper and the Burton Smalls, kids can now learn to snowboard without having to ski first. The Riglet snowboards start as small as 80cm and go up to 130cm, and the Smalls snowboards go from 125cm to 145cm.  That pretty much means that as soon as they can walk and balance on their own, they can snowboard, but the Riglet age suggestion is 3 to 6 years old.
If you want your little to love snowboarding as much as you do but you want to try it first, Burton hosts a series of Riglet events during January, which is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, with the goal of getting more kids into snowboarding. They offer free Riglet demos and snowboarding lessons, and even have mini terrain park features for the tots to learn on.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hiking Benefits

Sure you know that hiking is good exercise and its a great way to get in touch with nature, but there's just a ton of other benefits to hiking. When you go on a hiking tour, you help make the world a better place!
  • Weight Loss

     - Hiking is a super way to lose excess pounds. Obesity is now an epidemic in the United States according to the surgeon general - that's bad! 64% of adults are overweight and more than 30% are considered obese. Our sedentary lives, stuck in offices, in front of computers, surfing this miserable internet is killing us off. Move your body, burn off some calories, and lose weight.
  • Prevent Heart Disease

     - Over 2500 Americans die every day from cardiovascular diseases. While you've read this far, someone died and by the time you read this entire page 5 more will be dead. A regular walking routine greatly reduces your chances of heart problems. Study after study after study show that regular, light exercise increases your odds immensely.
  • Decrease Cholesterol

     - Hiking and walking increase the HDL good cholesterol which helps get rid of the bad cholesterol. This in turn reduces your chances of heart problems.
  • Lower Blood Pressure

     - Going on a short hike of 30 minutes every other day is all it takes. Lower blood pressure means better overall health.
  • Reduce Stress and Depression

     - Your body's natural drugs like endorphins and adrenaline are released when hiking and these chemicals have a natural positive effect on your stress levels.
  • Stronger Longer

     - As you age, you do not need to experience a decline in physical activity. By staying active, your muscles stay strong. As you get older, your body will weaken, but regular hiking helps minimize that.
  • Prevent Osteoporosis

     - Hiking helps increase bone density and strength, helping prevent the calcium loss and chance of broken bones from this disease.
  • Better Air

     - Hiking to church, the store, school, or a local restaurant reduces the pollution from your car which makes the air better for everyone.
  • Prevent Diabetes

     - Hiking can reduce the amount of insulin a Type I diabetic. A Type II diabetic can reverse the course of the diabetes with exercise, diet, and weight loss.
  • Improve Arthritis

     - A regular exercise program can benefit most people that have been diagnosed with and treated for arthritis. Walking may be the best exercise as it strengthens muscles and improves support.
  • Relief from Back Pain

     - Sitting at a computer or desk too long can cause back pain. People that walk commonly report significant decreases in back pain. Hiking puts much less stress on your body than running or aerobics and helps build core body strength.
  • All Body Exercise

     - Hiking is an aerobic exercise that improves overall physical fitness, using leg muscles, core body muscles, and lungs. You set the pace and length that is a comfortable challenge for your body.
  • Experience Nature

     - Hikers explore natural settings that can only be reached on foot, leaving the hectic urban life and pollution behind for awhile.
  • Self Confidence

     - As more advanced hikes are completed, a hiker understands that he is capable of even larger feats. Making your way through foul weather or rugged terrain builds your confidence in what you can do.
  • Basis of Much More

     - By mastering hiking skills, you expand your horizons to mountaineering, backpacking, rock climbing and other outdoor wilderness activities.
  • Year Round

     - You can continue to hike any time of the year. It is a great activity that can be done in all seasons so a single hiking tour can have many different looks as the seasons change.
  • Escape and Refreshment

     - the psychological effects of spending time in natural surroundings is positive and strong. Time spent on the trail will renew you for better performance in your job and life back in the real world.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Guide to Bike Lights

In recent years, bike light technology has gotten lighter, brighter, cheaper and easier to mount to an array of bikes. Blinded by too many choices? Read on to find the best bike lights and bicycle safety tips.
Cover your front and rear. Whether you’re riding home under the setting sun, the glow of streetlights or in total darkness, it’s important to always display a white light on the front and a red light on the rear.
Headlights: Before you buy a headlight, consider how it will be used. Do you need it to see or be seen? Inexpensive LEDs make poor headlights, but are effective at helping drivers see you. If you’re in an unlit area, consider using a dedicated headlight (more on that later) as well as a blinking white light. Look for an inexpensive LED such as a Knog, which offers a variety of highly visible lights in different flash patterns, including strobes.
Taillights: Taillights typically mount to the back of your seatpost or seat bag. A light that’s longer and contains more LEDs is more visible than a single light. Blackburn and Cateye make a variety of taillights for commuters. Some even have a larger light pattern to provide side lighting.
If you ride with a bicycle trailer that attaches to the rear of your bike, make sure this attachment is ALSO lit up from the back and side.  Maya Cycle bicycle trailers and other brands provide a flag that attaches to the trailer so that it is visible when following your bike, attach a flashing light to your flag post if possible and in addition, use a flag that has a reflective material to help it’s visibility by motorists.
Other considerations. While the battery life of inexpensive LED lights has improved, it’s important to recharge or replace your batteries often and to know roughly how long the battery’s life is (don’t rely on the manufacture’s claim). If you have space, keep an extra light or extra batteries in your bag.  Also consider the size of your seat post and handlebars and be sure the light’s mount is compatible with your setup.
Light up unlit areas. If your bicycle commute takes you into dark areas, you’ll need to look into a powerful headlight, either a high-powered LED, HID or halogen. These lights, which mount to your helmet or handlebars, typically produce two light patterns, wide and narrow. LED lights are generally pricier than halogens, but they emit a brighter light and have a longer battery life. HID lights more resemble a car’s white lights and are very bright, but also quite pricey. Mountain bikers often opt for HIDs, which can be overkill for commuters and downright blinding to motorists.
Keep in mind that the lights have large batteries, which are typically stowed in a jersey pocket, bottle cage or on your frame. Look for a model with rechargeable batteries and conserve battery life by using the narrower light beam when possible. Always charge your batteries between uses, and keep in mind that the faster you ride, the brighter your light must be.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How To Choose A Comfortable Bicycle Seat

Commuting by bike shouldn’t be a pain in the butt. If it is, it’s time to seek out a comfortable bicycle seat. Here are a few things to consider before swapping out your bicycle seat.
Check your pants. If you’re throwing on a pair of jeans and pedaling off to work, chances are your tush isn’t going to be happy for long. Most pants have seams in all the wrong places. Try some cycling pants with a padded chamois instead.
Asses your setup. A saddle that’s too high causes your hips to rock and places excess pressure on your tender bits. The same goes for a bicycle seat that isn’t level.
Move around. Pain can result from constantly sitting in the same position and not standing up. Get up and shift around on the saddle every so often.
If your sit bones are still screaming, it’s time to look for a new saddle.
Don’t take your friend’s advice. A saddle is very personal to each rider. Your weight and the width of your sit bones factor in to the overall fit. Work with a bike shop to help measure your sit bones and then suggest certain saddles. Many shops also have demo models for you to try.
Saddle shape. Most saddles come in narrow or wide shapes. If you’re experiencing chaffing or rubbing on your current saddle, look for one with either a thinner nose or that is less rounded in the back. Women often require wider saddles, but this isn’t always the case. Some women are more comfortable on a men’s saddle.
Cutouts and other considerations. A cutout or acutaway is designed to shift pressure away from the soft tissue and onto the sit bones, which can handle more bodyweight. Most saddles are made from injected-molded plastic and sometimes carbon fiber is mixed in to help the saddle flex under the rider’s weight. Bicycle commuters should opt for comfort over weight. That said, don’t opt for the most padding you can find. Padding might feel great at first, but it tends to migrate as you ride, placing excess pressure on your soft tissue. Test ride. Like any new relationship, you won’t know if it’s right until you spend some serious time together. Don’t just press down on a saddle’s padding in the shop or sit on it briefly. Take it out for a ride….or 10! Your body also needs to get accustomed to the saddle, which may mean discomfort at first. Stick with it and keep testing until you find the one.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cycling Clubs

If you’re always cycling solo, you might be missing out. Riding with cycling clubs offers many social benefits as well as the thrill of drafting and cycling at faster speeds. Best of all, riding with the pack helps hone your skills, improve fitness and find other cyclists to keep you company on your route. If you want to get with the group, you should first consider what cycling clubs best fit your needs.

Cycling clubs and different style’s

If you live in a well-populated area, you probably have several cycling clubs to choose from. Just as no two cyclists are the same, cycling clubs also come in many flavors. Some focus on developing racing skills and offer riders a safe venue for friendly races, while others are geared toward touring and long-distance rides or multi-day tours. Recreational bike clubs are probably the most prevalent, offering a multitude of bike rides for families and riders of various skill levels. A good cycling club regularly sponsors several weekly bike rides with varying terrain, speed and distance. These cycling clubs will often organize bike trips or sponsor their own century or fundraisers and many produce a newsletter for members.

Start your research

Once you have a list of local cycling clubs, which you can obtain on the internet or by chatting up your local bike shop or other riders, then it’s time to start investigating the group. Most cycling clubs collect yearly dues and some hold social events like potlucks and picnics for members. If bike advocacy or environmental issues are important to you, then look for a cycling club that’s involved in local causes. Many cycling clubs will let you sit in on their meetings or join them for a ride before signing up.

Ask the right questions

Before your first ride, it’s a good idea to touch base with the ride leader, whose contact information is often listed on the cycling club’s website, and let them know you’re coming and what your skill level is. Ask if the ride is no drop, which means that someone in the group will wait for the last rider. Still nervous? Inquire if the leader provides a cue sheet for turn-by-turn directions. When it comes time to ride, be sure to show up early and come prepared with enough food, water and spare tubes for the ride and be sure your bike is in good working order.