As an old-school BMXer at heart, I gotta say that this is just lame. Vans were for catching big air while rocking to Iron Maiden, not a preppy accoutrement for parties in the Hamptons.
January 28, 2013
I signed up to become a member or Randonneurs USA a couple of years ago, but really got burned out on the whole long-distance thing right after I signed up–before I had even completed even a single brevet!
It seemed like trying to ride 200 milers for the California Triple Crown, together with the training that went along with it, always seemed to tweak my knee or some other part of my body. Then the baby came, and long-distance training time became scarce, even if I had wanted to continue with it all. As a result, in all of 2012, I only rode over 100 miles on a single occasion, preferring instead shorter and harder rides on the road, and MTB rides under 5-6 hours.
So when my friends Mike and Esteban announced they were going to do the San Diego Randonneurs 200K on January 19, I was reluctant. Besides the distance and my lack of training, for the last couple of years, SD Randonneur brevets have always seemed to coincide with cold and rain. Sure, I’ve got fenders, but who wants to ride in the rain for 10 hours when in SoCal you can usually just wait a day and everything will be roses again?
So when a January heat wave brought predictions of sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s, I was running out of excuses fast.
Well, I’m glad I did it. It was a beautiful day on the bike, and despite not having done any long-distance rides recently, I didn’t drag much at all, and felt good right up until the end. It helped to have Esteban del Rio as my riding buddy as the miles just seem to tick away a lot faster when the conversation is good.
It’s often the case that doing “too much, too soon” can result in injuries, so I can’t really advise this approach to riding brevets. On the other hand, I’ve been consistently doing some pretty tough MTB rides, so I think my muscles, joints, and tendons are pretty strong. The hide on my butt, now that’s another story.
In terms of food, one of the advantages of having a rando bag up front is that you’ve got space to hold real food. My ride was fueled by bananas, dates, baked potatoes, and a few larabars. Good stuff that does’t leave you feeling icky and strung out the way 9 hours of robot food can.
I don’t think I’ll be pushing the mileage much higher than 200K this year. Even at that distance, an old hamstring injury was starting to bother me. But the SD randonneurs have put together a great series of 200K and 300K events throughout the year, and many of them look awfully tempting.
December 2, 2012
A number of people have told me that the reason they don’t commute more by bike is because of safety concerns associated with riding in traffic. Having had more than a few encounters with agressive or oblivious drivers, I can definitely relate to that. In places where massive numbers of people use bikes on a daily basis such as Denmark and The Netherlands, cycling infrastructure tends to be very good and often separates cyclists from fast moving traffic. The US has a long way to go in this regard.
That said, I think this quote from Dr. Harry Rutter, lead author of a report by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK, is worth keeping in mind:
All activities carry a risk. For some reason there seems to be strong focus on the risk of injury associated with cycling. Clearly, when deaths do takes place that’s tragic, and we need to do all we can to avoid them. But I think there is a perception that cycling is much more dangerous than it really is. This focus on the dangers of cycling is something to do with the visibility of them, and the attention it’s given. What we don’t notice is that if you were to spend an hour a day riding a bike rather than being sedentary and driving a car there’s a cost to that sedentary time. It’s silent, it doesn’t get noticed. What we’re talking about here is shifting the balance from that invisible danger of sitting still towards the positive health benefits of cycling.
The far more serious danger, from a public health perspective, is clearly inactivity. Dr. Rutter’s report describes the ‘invisible burden’ of inactivity and obesity as harmful as smoking. Story in The Guardian here.
We appear to have a political system that is incapable of confronting looming crises that stretch beyond the current news or election cycle. But it’s worth noting that compared to the money we as a nation will be spending on diabetes and obesity over the next generation, an investment in better cycling infrastructure would pay for itself many times over.
November 30, 2012
Worth watching if you are a runner or long-distance cyclist:
I’m not an ultra endurance athlete, though my brief foray into double centuries helped to illustrate for me some of the differences between fitness and health. While I probably also bike way more than Dr. O’Keefe is advocating, I don’t pretend much of it is necessary for health. To me, much of it is about getting out in nature and the joy of movement on two wheels.
That said, with some of the research coming out about nature therapy, I really like O’Keefe’s point about slowing down a bit to take in a view, ponder a flower, and just chill for a bit in the middle of a ride/run. It seems like half the bikers I know are always “training” for some event that never seems to come. We could all take a few riding tips from Pondero.
I’m guessing that cycling that becomes as much about meditation and appreciating nature as any training or fitness goals would be the most healthy cycling of all. But does this mean I need to give up my ipod and strava?
November 25, 2012
November 21, 2012
It seems like everytime something is supposed to be healthy, someone else comes along and points out just how little we really know about how complex systems actually work. And the interaction between our bodies, food, and the environment certainly counts as a “complex system”!
Here’s a snippet from a really interesting post by Josh Mittledorf on anti-oxidents:
Oxidative damage was the prevailing theory of aging in the 1990s, and anti-oxidants became the preferred prescription for youthfulness. But in lab animals and in human studies, the cure didn’t pan out – anti-oxidants never did fulfill their potential, and this left the theorists scratching their heads. Then, in recent years the situation became curiouser and curiouser, with hints that oxidative damage might be essential for a kind of stress signal that tells the body to “stay young”.
It strikes me that most of us would be better off junking supplements and vitamins and just eating the highest quality real food we can afford.