As winter draws in, it's important to make sure you take care of your bike so that it can stay well maintained and won't break down. Follow our tips to maintain your bike over the winter so that it is ready to ride for the next race season.
Store your bike indoors
If you can, storing your bike indoors could save you a lot of hassle and help your bike last longer. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to store a bike in a garage or shed and you may need to find some more creative ways to store your bike indoors. There are many products available such as racks and hooks for you to store your bike in an apartment or smaller space.
Storing your bike indoors will protect it from the elements including damp and cold and will slow the negative effects of bad weather and cold on the mechanisms and frame.
Keep your bike clean
Any good cyclist will be keeping their bike clean anyway, but keeping up dutiful maintenance will really help prolong the life of your bike over the winter.
Do the majority of your riding on an indoor trainer
This will be an unpopular one for many, but sometimes conditions simply do not allow for outdoor riding. Weather conditions in recent years have seen regular storms, hurricanes, and snow so doing the majority of your riding indoors on a trainer will not only help your bike last longer but you too!
Most of us will feel stressed at one time or another, but in these modern times more and more of us are suffering from stress chronically. It's not only bad for you mentally, it's bad for your physical health too. Sundried take a look at 4 easy ways to manage stress on a daily basis in order to protect your health.
1. Go hiking outdoors
Fresh air will boost your immune system and energise you with fresh oxygen. Getting a healthy dose of fresh air each day will help to combat stress and alleviate the related symptoms. People who work in office jobs tend to be chained to their desks and it can be a struggle to get any fresh air or even daylight from day to day, especially in winter. Going for a hike outdoors is a great form of exercise and can be great fun too. Not only is it good for your physical health, you'll end up finding new places and exploring parts of your local area you never even knew existing, boosting your mental health and well being too.
2. Go for a long run
Sometimes stress follows us home from work. Perhaps your stress is stemming from family or home life and you just need to get away. It's not practical to get up and run away, but going for a long solo run is the next best thing. The exercise will give you an endorphin boost and help to melt away your stress, which can harm your health if you suffer from it long term. It can also help you to manage your thoughts and process everything that's going on in your life at any given time. It'll give you time away to be alone with your thoughts and allow you to make plans and come up with ideas that you might not be able to otherwise.
3. Practice yoga
It's no secret that practising yoga and meditating is great for battling stress. It has even been found that certain types of yoga can ease the suffering of cancer patients. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to meditate and relax will do you a world of good and can be an ocean of calm in an otherwise hectic day. If you're not sure what to wear to yoga, Sundried have a handy guide you can follow. However, you don't need to go to a specific class in order to practice yoga; you can find a quiet space at home and listen to a guided meditation.
4. Make exercise fun
If your workout or training session is something you can look forward to each day, you will be more likely to stick to your training plan and not skip sessions. Having a fun and enjoyable training session planned for after work will mean you have a goal for the end of the day and something to look forward to. It may help the day go quicker and will keep your spirits high throughout the day. Participating in a group fitness class at your local gym can be a great way of meeting new people, making friends, and relieving stress at the end of a busy day. This is your time with no distractions and no one asking anything of you.
Doing cardiovascular exercise is proven to improve your lung capacity, heart health, as well as aiding weight loss. Many people do not enjoy doing cardio and some don't do it at all. But which is the best type for you?
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)
Low Intensity cardio is accessible to most people as you do not need a high level of fitness to begin with and you can easily incorporate it into daily life by going for a walk. Low intensity cardio exercises include things like walking, climbing stairs, or going for a gentle bike ride. These types of exercises are low impact and typically performed at around 40% of your maximum heart rate, which makes them easy to recover from and therefore can be performed on a regular basis. You probably won't break a sweat doing this type of cardio so you could do it on your lunch break at work. Bodybuilders often prefer this type of cardio as it is less likely to break down muscle tissue but can still help you drop body fat.
Benefits of LISS:
- It is low impact so you can still do it if you have a minor injury or have limited mobility.
- You won't break a sweat so you can fit it into your daily routine without having to plan around it.
- It doesn't break down muscle tissue so you can still improve your strength while dropping body fat.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training sees you working very near 100% of your maximum effort for short bursts with short rests in between. This type of training can help to improve your VO2 and cardiovascular fitness very quickly and is proven to aid weight loss. This type of cardio is not suitable for those who are pregnant or those who have injuries. You need a fairly high level of fitness to start with otherwise you will end up feeling very sick!
Benefits of High Intensity Cardio:
- Boosts Metabolism for up to 24 hours.
- Increases VO2 max.
- Shorter workouts are great for those who lack a lot of free time to train.
- Increased Lactate Threshold. Your ability to handle increased lactic acid buildup in your muscles increases.
Do you have to do cardio to burn fat?
The only way you can lose weight is by eating a calorie deficit. This means burning more calories than you are eating. While you don't need to do cardio to burn fat, it certainly helps! There are so many other benefits to doing cardio other than just weight loss, so it is definitely an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
They did it. Two women with a love of tea cycled on a tandem from one end of the country to the other. We caught up with the achy-legged ladies to find out how they got on.
Do you think you were fully prepared for the journeys events?
We think there’s only so much you can prepare for! We had trained and felt fit and healthy, but nothing can prepare your body and mental strength for 12 solid days of cycling through wind, rain, shine and midge swarms! We weren’t endurance cyclists, so it was always going to be a big leap for us to suddenly cycle 1,000 miles and scale more hill climbs than the height of Everest! But we proved we were strong enough to push through, even though we had the worst weather the Highlands have had on record!
Your last day was one to remember. What happened?
Our final day started so incredibly! We arrived at the start point for the day and were greeted by Amanda’s best friend Lucy and her fiancé Jules, clad in leather and astride their amazing motorbikes! After trying to convince them to swap their bikes for ours, we pulled out of Bodmin to blaring music, flanked by two super cool bikers. We felt like rock stars! But 15 miles in, the weatherman had different plans for us. As it started to drizzle, the winding country roads became like an ice rink and within a split second we went from two confident tandemers, to a crumpled heap on the floor. We think we might have caught a small stone, and when that front wheel goes from under you, there is nothing you can do to counter the weight and fall of a heavy vintage tandem and her two riders. We were badly hurt, Amanda taking the brunt of the fall with the bike landing on her ribs, both of us hitting our heads, sustaining big grazes on our legs and getting a big shock! We called for our support guys to give us some roadside first aid, and after a while of calming down and warming up, we tentatively got back on the road. Babs was in a bit of a state too, battered and bruised with half a back pedal missing, but we all only had 50 miles left to go which, at that point, felt like a thousand all over again.
We were nervous and had the lost the confidence we had accumulated over the past 11 days. For the first time we were cautiously taking the downhills at a slow pace, whereas before it was as if we were on the free fall at the top of Nemesis at Alton Towers, bombing downhill, calling out with excitement as if Hanson had just made an appearance at our 13th birthday party.
So, our progress was slow, but we were pushing through the miles. It was a blooming hilly day so as lunch time approached, we were desperate for the break. And a pasty. Also, both our mums were there to give us a cuddle, a cup of tea and fresh bandages. Jecca's mum made us cry like school kids as she sprayed our sore bits with antiseptic. What a sight we were, two grown women sobbing, dirty, covered in cuts and scrapes, clutching half eaten pasties. Once again, we forced ourselves back on the road, this time with full bellies and a bit more confidence in our hearts. We sang and chatted at we skimmed along the coast of Cornwall during our final couple of hours, stopping only to take pictures, have water and, 5 miles before the end, give our bags to the support guys so as we rode to the finish line our charity t-shirts were fully on-show. The last 5 miles were a record. We absolutely flew! We were so happy to be finishing, in utter disbelief that we'd actually done it and in so much pain that the nearer the finish line got, the more happy-hurt-exhausted tears came flooding. We arrived at the finish line to a crowd of all our loved ones waving banners, cheering and joining us in our proud crying. We hugged; best friends, adventurers, tandemers, charity fundraisers. The captain and the stoker, or in our case, the driver and the turbo.
How did you find the motivation and courage to get back on Babs?
There was no other option. We'd done over 11 days, cycled the length of the UK and we couldn't fail at the last obstacle. It was hard, we were both nervous, Amanda more so as she was in charge of steering, but we did it. Just as we overcame every other challenge we faced. It wasn't easy, we took it slow, but we dug deep for the last bit of fight left in us and told Babs she only had 50 miles left to get us through, then she could have a long break!
If you had your time again what would you change?
Hindsight is a beautiful thing! We had so many problems with Babs, but even during the ride we still loved her! The fact that she was old and heavy and caused a lot of problems, just made our adventure what it was. Without the heavy, old tandem, without the worst winds on record in Scotland, without the random routes making us carry Babs over footbridges and push her through fields, without the crash, it just wouldn't have been our adventure.
We maintain, although we had the head wind, we chose the right way for us, going Scotland down. We may have been wrong thinking it would be downhill.... But it meant we got the lonely bit done first and then cycled in to civilisation as the ride went on, ending with all our family there.
So, maybe we wouldn't actually change anything..... Except having face masks for the midges in Scotland, they were rank!
It was great to see you rocking the Sundried gear across your travels, how did you find it?
The Sundried gear was amazing! After a day in, normally wet and cold, cycling gear, the first thing we did at the end of the day was to shower (when possible!) and change into our super comfy Sundried outfits. We trained in it before the ride and are still living in it now! Our Sundried bottles also came on every mile and were attached to Babs with our well needed electrolyte water every day! You guys provided our hydration and our comfort and for that we are eternally grateful!
How much money have you raised?
So far we've raised an incredible £5,000 across both Parkinson's UK and Breast Cancer Care. We're so over the moon, but of course would still love to raise more!
What are you doing for your recovery?
Sleep and rest and physio. And apparently still consuming like we're burning 5,000 calories a day! We were both left with different aches and pains, Jecca got tendinitis in her right knee so has been having Physio for that and trying to regain strength whereas Amanda had more injuries from the crash, such as bruised ribs and really bad grazes which need to heal before she can do much training. During the ride we were getting around 7 or 8 hours sleep a night, which isn't a lot when you're on a bike for 10 hours a day, so we really caught up on a sleep afterwards! Our bodies almost went into shut down and we had a really big come down leaving us feeling pretty lethargic and low. We pushed through with tea, cake and friends but we've definitely got a tandem adventure shaped hole in our lives. It's difficult going back to normality after such an incredible 12 day adventure, where every day we woke up knowing exactly what we needed to achieve that day and we'd do it together no matter what got thrown at us, and that we were doing it for all the right reasons.
What are your top tips for anyone looking to do their first long distance ride?
Just do it! Don't listen to anyone who says you aren't prepared or fit enough, or that you're going the wrong way or your bike is too old! If you believe you can do it then you will. It's an incredible way to see the world and it's definitely given us the cycling bug. Do your research (read our blog!), pack the right stuff, plan the right amount of miles and hill climbs each day and don't let the rain or wind or midges get you down.
Also, buy really good chamois cream…
So they made it back in one peice, Babs and all.Congratulations girls.
Are you a peanut or a sausage? Analysing your pedal stroke can be an invaluable tool for improving your cycling technique, and knowing whether you're a 'peanut' or a 'sausage' can help. Read on to learn how to pedal better using the Wattbike to improve your efficiency and power output in order to improve overall performance on the bike.
Analysing pedal stroke using Polar View
The Polar View is a technique analysis tool by Wattbike which makes the invisible, visible. It displays an easily understood real-time graph which shows exactly where you are losing force through your pedal stroke, how much power you’re producing from each leg, and the angle of your peak force.
The Polar View Shapes
There are 3 main stages of pedal technique viewable in the Polar View: the figure of eight, the peanut, and the sausage.
The Figure of Eight - Beginner
The beginner cyclist is a stomper. At points one and two they lose momentum as they transition from leg to leg. This cyclist is quad dominant, meaning they’re pushing solely with the front of their leg without pulling up with the hamstrings.
Tip: Being properly secured in the toe cages or using cleats will help keep your power throughout the pedal stroke.
The Peanut - Intermediate
This cyclist has had a bit of practice, they maintain some pedal momentum between each leg drive, however, there is still a noticeable loss of momentum at point 1 and 2.
Tip: To improve your stride transition, imagine scraping mud off the ball of your foot, which helps engage the hamstrings fully.
The Sausage - Elite
This cyclist knows their stuff and probably isn’t short of practise. The sausage or cloud shape depicts a consistent leg balance and momentum. This is the typical shape of a cyclist with a strong drive and balanced recovery and can be achieved with practise. By achieving this level of technique, you will be able to improve your power output and by extension your speed and overall performance on the bike.
Leg Force %
Beneath these graphs, your Wattbike will display the percentage split of your power production between each leg. Your aim should be to stay as close to 50-50 as possible, but a fluctuation between 48-52% is still within the ideal range.
How to improve your cycling technique
- Check your cycling position - an incorrect cycling position can affect both the downstroke and upstroke phases.
- Try to ensure you apply force evenly with each leg - the left/right leg balance should be as close to 50/50 as possible, it will fluctuate however the ideal range is between 48%-52%.
- Invest in a good pair of cycling shoes - without cycling shoes you will find it difficult to implement the full power and recovery phases effectively.
- Try not to stand up - standing up in the pedals can compromise your pedalling technique, making it very difficult to maintain power through the top and bottom of each pedal turn. Only stand up if required by a specific session within your training plan.
- Get the right resistance setting - a ‘figure of eight’ shape may indicate your resistance is too high forcing you to concentrate solely on the downstroke. Lower the resistance level and concentrate on ‘scraping mud off the sole of your foot’ at the bottom of the revolution.
- Ensure Polar View is displayed on the Wattbike Performance Monitor - this will constantly remind you to focus on effective pedalling.
- Analyse your data in the powerhub - if you have a Bluetooth enabled monitor and Bluetooth smartphone you can analyse your Polar View data in the powerhub. You will be able to analyse your Polar View graph, angle of peak force and left/right leg balance throughout your entire session.
- Try a specific cycling effectiveness workout - during these sessions you should concentrate on smoothing out your Polar View shape. To start with this will require a lot of concentration, so focus on it for short periods of time and then relax. It is easier to hold a good shape on the harder gears, so begin with the lightest gear available and then only when you have mastered that move up to the next gear ie.:
- 1 minute focus on shape / 2 minutes easy pedalling x 6-10
- 2 minutes focus on shape / 2 minutes easy pedalling x 5-8
- 3 minutes focus on shape / 2 minutes easy pedalling x 4-6