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Worst Mistakes to make during a Ride

Be it an amateur or a seasoned cyclist, there is a lot to bear in mind before you start out on your cycle ride, writes Deepthi Velkur.

While riding a cycle might seem simple, it can get complicated and dangerous as you cover more distance\terrains on the ride. Here are a few simple fixes to make your ride safe and enjoyable.

Saddle height

To get the right placement of the saddle during a cycle ride, ensure the saddle is at your hip crest. Adjust the seat accordingly to keep it pointing straight and not tilted up or down. While on the saddle, you should comfortably reach the handlebars and toes touching the ground on both sides.

Carry spares or tools

Before you take off on a cycle ride, it’s essential to do a pre-ride inspection and carry along minimum equipment such as Tyre levers, mini pump, spare tubes, patches(instant stick on type), and multi-tool with chain link extractor.

Fueling your ride

Do not wait until a point where your body is completely drained of energy. Drink every 20mins or so throughout the cycle ride to ensure your constantly fueled. Don’t eat\ drink too much as you end up feeling sick. Plan well ahead to have food\drink in reserve and fuel yourself regularly so you don’t run the risk of bonking.

Over gearing

Gears improve the efficiency of power over different terrains. Maintain a cadence of 70-90rpm on flat roads. Shift to easier gears for climbs and harder gears for going downhill. Riding in a higher gear with low cadence uses fast twitch muscles that make your muscle fibre tire out easily. If your off on a long cycle ride, using a lower gear with higher cadence activates the lower twitch muscles which is more beneficial and promotes greater endurance.

Riding too far, too soon

Aiming high is good but knowing your ability and riding within those limits is important. Don’t blow your confidence by riding too much too soon. Steady and consistent training is where you find yourself progressing forward than hammering it from the start.

Poor bike maintenance

Doing regular checks on the cycle is a good practice. Pay attention to brakes, handlebars, gears, and tyres. Regular cleaning of the bike and lubricating of the chain is a must. Also, servicing at regular intervals keeps the bike in excellent condition.

Suitable Clothing

Before you start your cycle ride, check the weather forecast for the entire duration of your ride. In cold weather conditions, layering up helps you to stay warm. Dress light with just a pair of shorts and a shirt in humid\warm conditions. Do carry a windproof\waterproof layer at all times as it will come of use in hilly terrains with a drastic change in elevation and rain storms.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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The Accidental Cyclist

Our Guest Columnist, Super Randonneur Satheesh Tawker talks about his motivation to keep bettering the quality of every ride.

My entry into cycling was accidental. I had gone to my cousin’s home and saw my nephew’s cycle gathering dust and casually asked him if I could borrow it. He immediately obliged and there started my cycling journey. Cycling is something that I feel gives me my space and “me” time during the solo rides that I do. The other motivation is that I like to test myself on my endurance levels with each event and see how far I can go. This has pushed me to better myself as a cyclist with each challenge I take up. Recently I completed my second 200 km and 300 km events, having done similar events in 2017. Each ride is different when it comes to experience and to put it simply I would call each ride nothing short of awesome.

Training for a ride

Having started in such a casual manner, I have never formally trained or followed a specific schedule to get better at my passion. I have always worked out to stay fit, first at The Unit and now with the Quad. Being fit and strong overall has helped with cycling as well. Nutrition is something that I have started focusing on in the last two months with a specific focus on the quantity of food I eat and the balance between proteins and carbs in every meal. My nutritionist gets a daily food log of everything I eat – down to the last morsel and suggests changes to the same. Being conscious has helped me drop about 6 kgs in the last two months with little effort. Before that I was a believer in the statement that I have worked out today so I am entitled to eat what I want. I don’t think I will propagate that philosophy anymore.

On becoming a Super Randonneur

Recently, I have earned the title of Super Randonneur. This title is bestowed to a rider who completes a series of brevets ( 200, 300, 400, and 600 KM) in the same year. Each ride has a specific time frame for completion and the rider has to complete the ride within this stipulated time. There are various control points during each ride and rider has to reach all control points within the stipulated time frames.

I became aware of such a challenge only after a year of cycling. When I learnt the details I was excited and wanted to get that title. I rode regularly and covered at least 40 to 50 km on alternate days and a minimum 100km on weekends. Fitness levels were taken care of as I used to workout in a boot camp three days a week. I also took training at ProBikers for basic repairs such as changing tyres and tubes of my cycle and addressing minor issues that could happen during the ride. The clincher was me being able to find a riding partner who matched my wavelength and my pace and we have partnered for all the rides. We used to do a recce of the route a week before to figure out places to eat, rest, etc and planned the ride well in advance, taking into account the chances of unforeseen incidents that could occur. It would suffice to say it was a lot of planning, a perfect riding partner, sleep management, mind over body, hydration, nutrition and enjoying the ride, that mattered more than the outcome of the race. This attitude helped me become a Super Randonneur today.

My next Big Challenge
My target for this year is to complete a 1000km ride.  The mind over body and sleep management part will definitely play a big role . In all probability its unlikely I will not find a partner for the ride and that would mean riding alone for the entire stretch which will be tough. So currently I am doing a lot of solo riding to get used to that possibility. Hopefully, should be able to make it .

What keeps me going?

I believe that nothing is impossible. When I did my first ride never did I imagine I would come so far in my cycling journey! Ability to manage challenges on your own , learning that beyond a point it’s mind over body, learning to trust yourself, being aware of your limits, trusting your ride partner, taking it one km at a time and to keep pushing no matter what are some of the lessons I have learnt which is applicable even in my day to day life. The family, especially the wife reacted really bad to my cycling. She was convinced that endurance was not my game and I should stick to 100km max. I had to get a full physical done ,multiple cardiologist opinions to certify that I am fit, in order to get her approval for my 600km last year. Despite that she was present at the halfway point to see for herself whether I was fine . She still disapproves of my long rides but with less force than what it was before.

I had tried my hand at running and did a 10km run but running does not give me a high as cycling does . But then have my eyes set on a full marathon in the next one year. I enjoy scuba diving if you would call that an endurance sport and have dived in many locations across the world with my son.

A word for Newbie Riders

For a Newbie I would advise them to take it in stages starting with small rides and gradually increasing the distance and getting to understand how their body responds to various ride conditions and speeds. A good night’s sleep is a must. They would also need to focus on their fitness levels if they plan to do consistent long rides. I have always tried to be helpful to other riders in the group and have always helped and guided anyone who asks for it. There are professional coaches for riders who want to up their game.

Being consistent is the most important thing for riding and if you are consistent then nothing can stop you from achieving the impossible.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

A banker by profession who recently quit the corporate world to appreciate life a bit more.Scuba diving and the outdoors are where he feels at home if he isn’t cycling.

 

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Top Habits that Ruin your Ride

You can ruin your cycle quickly if you cannot get rid of these bad cycling habits, says Nandini Reddy.

A great ride is what every cyclist enjoys. But the great ride means maintaining your cycle constantly. There are many bad habits that can ruin your cycle. A good cycle is a great companion but you might be ruining it because of these habits.

Lazy Bike Maintenance – Everything matters in terms of bike maintenance. Tire pressure, greasing your sprockets and tightness of the gears. If you are a regular rider then it is best to have a maintenance check every month. A well-maintained bike and a neglected bike can be the difference between the crash. Find a proper cycle service that understands your kind of bike. Not every mechanic may be appropriate so its best to go with the experts to ensure longer life of your cycle.

Being too competitive – When you are cycling in a group, you always have that one guy who seems to glide through the distance and is always ahead of the pack. I am sure you would have tried to catch up with him constantly. Riding itself is a great challenge and you need to find your own pace. Its fine to be competitive but in a smart way. If you start over-stressing yourself, you might only pay attention to covering the distance and not other factors that might lead to a crash.

Vetting Trails – Trail riding is the hardest on your ride. If you are attempting a new trail and ensure that you have an experienced cyclist with you. If not then do a reconnaissance of the route ahead. If you go in unprepared then you might end up busting your tyres. Also note that you need to have cellular signal if you need to call for help or at least now the closest point from which you can call for help if required.

Inadequate Nutrition – Eating and drinking during a ride is as important as your pedaling. If fatigue sets in, it can lead to cramps and dizziness which means you can crash. You cannot right with a severe headaches so remember to eat well before the ride and also carry along energy boosters.

Riding without a warm-up – Never start fast right away, you need to warm up your body and slowly set into the pace otherwise you may not be able to complete your race. It might seem easy to ride fast in the beginning when you are fresh but you cannot keep up the pace through the course.

Carry spares – It is important to be equipped with spares for mid-course repairs. Learn simple repairs like fixing tyres, it might be the one thing that saves you during a long distance ride. Remember you cannot complete races with wrecked parts.

Remember to double check everything before a ride. You need to enjoy a ride and not feel agitated by it so its best to get rid of all these habits.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Recovery Foods for Cyclists

An essential part of your post cycling recovery is eating the right food, so what can you eat asks Nandini Reddy

Glycogen are the stores of energy you burn at the end of your long ride. So the most important recovery is to replenish these glycogen stores. Water, carbohydrates and proteins become the most essential foods to include in your recovery phase. The one thing to remember is that recovery food is not everyday food, these are the foods at give you instant energy and a punch to your flagging system.

The recovery food that you eat has a purpose, you should understand that it is needed for

  • Repairing the muscles with protein
  • Replenish energy stores with carbs
  • Getting your carb:protein ratio spot-on

A few suggestions on how you can recover quickly after a tiring ride beside a long nap include:

  • Chocolate Milkshake – This is the most optimal food and this is about the only time you can have it without guilt. A chocolate milkshake has a carb to protein ration of 4:1 and can immediately replace the used up glycogen aside from hydrating you as well. The immediate energy and endorphin boost from chocolate is also useful. When someone tells you to drink a chocolate milkshake, don’t ask too many questions!
  • Rice – Please indulge in the most simple carbs like rice. Its easy to digest and provides the right kind of energy. The high Glycemic Index of rice makes it the perfect recovery food. Include dal as an accompaniment with the rice to ensure you get the best combination of protein and carbs.
  • Eggs – Eggs provide significant protein and you can even carry boiled eggs with the shell with you during your ride and have it immediately after the ride as a quick recovery food. It is a favoured food for trekkers and other endurance athletes alike.
  • Root Vegetables – All root vegetables are great for carbohydrate loading. You can have it as a dry roasted snack or as a curry with rice. These vegetables are also rich in fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese and potassium.
  • Nuts & Nut Butters – Nuts, dry fruits and nut butters are ideal for a post-ride snack. They are high in fats and protein and can help recover the glycogen levels quickly.
  • Whey Fruit Smoothie – Whey is a great recovery food and is a go to food for many cyclists. You can improve the nutritive value of whey by making a smoothie using fruits.

Never scrimp on post recovery calories because you are trying to lose weight. Training days need higher than normal carbs in order to fuel your body to complete the endurance task. You can avoid unnecessary snacking and stick to fresh foods for recovery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Share the Road

Cyclists and Runners constantly face the problem of vehicles disregarding their space, so how do we learn to share the road asks Nandini Reddy.

Civic agencies around the world have demarcated roads with special lanes for cyclists and runners. If you are in Chennai you would have seen the green square and boards urging you to give room to the cyclists. The world standard for motorists is to maintain 400m distance from cyclists when they spot them on the road but how many of us really respect that rule or show consideration to runners and cyclists who are cruising along the roads.

While the worldwide Share the Road campaign has entered its 10th year, in India we still struggle to make people understand why runners and cyclists deserve their big of space on the road. If you have ever tried you have been most probably met with remarks about why runners should stick to parks or cyclists should be on trails. But as a motorist you are responsible for sharing your space with to others on the road.

Why walk, run or cycle?

All over the world people are choosing to walk or cycle to their destinations. Here are a few reasons why?

  • Most use them as a short distance transport till they can reach the public transport hubs.
  • They seem to be faster mode in densely clogged roads
  • More environment friendly
  • Healthier mode of transport
  • Cheaper and more economical mode of transport

If we see walkers, runners of cyclists on the road it is the responsibility of the motorist also to ensure their safety.

How can we Share the Road?

If you want to Share the Road then you need a change of attitude towards pedestrians, runners and cyclists first, so in order to achieve the change we need to

  • Treat cyclists as we do other vehicle drivers
  • Be aware that there are specialized lanes for their safety
  • Do not pass too closely to them
  • Check all your mirrors before turning so that you do not hit cyclists
  • Slow down when they are moving across the road

In general the idea is to be aware and cautious that there are all forms of traffic human and vehicular on the road and they all have equal rights.

Responsibility of Runners and Cyclists

As much as the onus is on the motorists to ensure that they give adequate respect to the space of cyclists and runners, equal caution must be exercised by them also. As a runner or cyclists you need to

  • Respect traffic signals and road marking
  • Be attentive while on the road
  • Do not listen to music on high volume
  • Cyclists should not ride on pavements
  • Cross the roads at designation spaces and when it is safe

The idea is to build a vibrant community that is active and in order to do so it is important that we include all forms of transportation and vehicles.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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From Marathon to Triathlon

The first recorded triathlon was held in California on September 1974. Since then, it has become a popular sporting challenge around the world. Radhika Meganathan tells how a runner can seamlessly transition into training for a triathlon.

A Triathlon is about mastering three races in one event – running, swimming and cycling. The standard distance in triathlon, also used in the Olympics, is a 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre bike, and 10 kilometre run. If you are already a runner looking to train for a triathlon, you will have the following questions: How do I train? Where do I start first? What if I don’t know how to swim or bike? Read on for answers.

SWIMMING
If you don’t know swimming, your training period for the triathlon just got longer. No worries, you got this. Many people have learned swimming late in their life and have mastered it as a skill and as a sport, so there is no reason why you can’t, too. Since you are going to be training in a professional level, don’t ask for lessons from your best friend! It is advisable to learn swimming from a coach or a registered swimming school in your locality. You need someone to look at your progress, and give you feedback on your form and the correct stroke mechanics.

If you are already a swimmer, now is the time to start practising in open water. Some things that you need to take in consideration are: wave condition, weather, navigation, water temperature, any wild life in the vicinity (and the water!). A wet suit is a good investment if you tend to feel the cold more, though of course you can rent them on a need basis too. If you’re doubtful about swimming in open water, then your best bet is to compete in a race that offers a pool swim. These races are beginner-friendly, and can be a perfect starter practice before you think about doing wilder triathlons.

CYCLING
Again, if you are not familiar with cycling, your training period gets even longer, but definitely it’s doable. In this case, you can ask your best friend to teach you how to cycle. Once you master the basics of balance and riding a bike, just hop on one (you don’t need to invest in a fancy bike) and practice every day. Since speed is one of the goals, you will need a helmet for safety and protection (yours and others!). Buy one that’s structurally sound and fits properly in your head.

Often, runners have difficulty adapting to the equipment of cycling. The inclination to “run” on the bike must be cured! You don’t want to wear out your legs before you get to the running part of the triathlon. The secret is to learn the art of using one set of muscles on the bike and another set for your running.

RUNNING
Yes, this is the part of the triathlon that you already are familiar with. Don’t get over confident though, you still need to practice! Run every day as per your usual routine. Three weeks to a month before D-Day, have dress rehearsals which will help you understand how Race Day is going to be. During the race simulation, concentrate on your pacing strategies and wear the entire gear what you plan to wear for the actual event.

A triathlon is comprised of all aerobic and high-cardio activities, so you may also look into eating the right way to train for it. Diet is crucial in maintaining your fitness while training and during the race, so consult your trainer or a nutritionist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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The Challenge of being Healthy

From being engrossed in her books to winning cycling and duathlon events, Dr Sruti Chandrasekaran has come a long way in her fitness journey. She shares her story with us.

The Early Days

I was never a fitness person during my years in school. I was the class nerd who would only study and participate in academic competitions. Any kind of sports was my arch enemy! I abhorred Physical Training period and also skipped assembly if there was anything related to sports happening then. My entire lack of interest in any sort of sport related activity was because of the physical effort it involved. I was so unfit in my school and college days but I topped my tests and joined medical college. That was the the first time I walked on a regular basis.

My college was in Kilpauk (KMC) and I used to get down at Chetpet and walk for 800m to college. Those 800m were an incredible physical challenge for me. Apart from that I had no exercise during my 5 1/2 years of medical school. My books took up all my attention and energy. I always was on the chubby side ( to put it in a nice way!) with a BMI that was in the overweight range. Yet it never bothered me and after my graduation I moved to USA for my medical training. It was during my first pregnancy that I gained another 30kg. I was 25 yrs old, weighing in at a 100kg after my pregnancy and looking at everyone around me who were super active.

My Epiphany

My professor of medicine used to cycle to work and another female professor used to run 3 to 4 times a week after having 4 children. That is when it hit me. I now decided that I have to take care of my health and stop ruining my body. Fortunately despite my lack of exercise, incredible weight gain and erratic eating habits I did not have diabetes or other metabolic problems like PCOS/PCOD.

So after assigning the back seat to my health until the age of 26, I had finally decided to take control and for the first time I started exercising. Naturally the first few weeks were terrible. My body was ridden with aches and pains and I gave up many times. It took me 6 months to get into a routine and start regularly hitting the gym with cardio and weight training.

The Runner in Me

The road running obsession began 4 years later when I turned 30. That was probably the best birthday gift that I IMG-20171115-WA0020gave myself. My first 10k run at 30 yrs and then came the second pregnancy and a break in between. I took 6 months break after my C-section and then resumed exercising again and since then have done 10k and half marathons regularly. For the past 1 1/2 yrs I have also taken up road biking as my husband is an avid biker who bikes to work. I instantly fell in love with cycling as it was fast, the effort you put in cycling was very different and I lapped up the constantly changing scenery. I began to realize that with proper training one can definitely do well with any sports that you choose.

On the Podium

My recent podium finish at the Duathlon and Datri cycle ride proved to me that it is always better late than never.  I started exercising very late and I do feel bad for not taking up sports during school and college days. As an endocrinologist who manages diabetes, PCOS, dyslipidemia and other metabolic problems, I do emphasize the importance of exercise to my patients. Now instead of just giving advice I would like to set an example to them and also to my daughter. Seeing the rise in lifestyle related diseases like diabetes I want to be a healthy woman, healthy mom and raise healthy children. Running and Cycling has been a great way for me to sustain this healthy lifestyle and inspire others to start their journey of good health.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

srutichandrasekhar

 

Dr Sruti Chandrashekar is an avid runner and cyclist who went from being a bookworm to a fitness enthusiast. A doctor by profession and a passionate runner and cyclist, today Sruti wants to lead by example.

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India’s growing awareness about cycling and running

Since the ancient times India has been practicing the art of physical, mental and spiritual well-being in the form of Yoga, but in the recent times our country has seen a growing awareness towards other form of physical exercise. People in India now pay a lot of attention to their physical health and you will find many of them going to the gym or joining aerobic classes. But there is also another set which consists of people of various ages, that practice either cycling or running on a regular basis. This trend is seen more often in the metros where people from all age groups enjoy running and cycling and also join various groups for the same. There are many groups in the various metro cities which you can join if you want to pursue either cycling or running. Apart from this, many people also train themselves for the marathons that happen frequently in the major cities in the country.

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