Saturday, February 25, 2017

#10WeeksTo100 - Week 7 – How to find the time

Depending on what else you have going on your life, finding the time for endurance training may feel like as big a challenge as your event. While the 10-week, 1,000+ mile training plan I have outlined can appear daunting to a novice rider, it is built on a balanced mix of distance and up-tempo rides that can be worked into the most hectic of schedules. You should also keep in mind that over training is that the most common mistake for many novice riders!   Here are some helpful tips for staying on track and dealing with the pitfalls of your endurance event preparation.
Riding into the Portsmouth TOSRV Mural - a TOSRV tradition
of mine.

Training Scheduling Tips:
  • The first step to training time management is to add your workouts to your calendar. Adding them to your calendar shows you are serious, and lets you spot and adjust for conflicts.
  • Don’t forget to block out some extra time before and after each workout for getting ready and putting things away.
  • It is also a good idea to start by blocking out the same riding time for the entire calendar period. If you finish early, you have spare time in your calendar to take care of the stuff that life throws your way.
  • If practical, schedule your long ride training days to start the same time as your event. As mentioned previously, this helps you know what to expect from your body the day of the event.
  • A regular outing in a fixed time slot will help you build consistency, and makes scheduling easier over time. Just remember you can be flexible when conflicts arise.
  • As you ride faster, your distance will increase for the same time on the bike. Getting a few extra miles in for the same amount of time can be very satisfying and show you’re making progress in your training.
  • If you have only 2 hours on a weekend where the plan called for 3, increase your intensity for the time you have. Here again, workout quality is just as important as quantity.
  • Save time by staying organized. When you put away things after your ride, leave them prepped for the next. Don’t loose workout time looking for gear or a taking care of a problem left over from the last ride.
  • If your situation allows it, bicycle commuting to work is a great way to find extra training time and miles. While you can’t always do your speed work out, commutes can be recovery or base miles days.

What if life gets too crazy? Here are some important thinks to keep in mind throughout your training and riding.

It’s supposed to be fun, not a chore. Yes, you have to ride, but time on the bike should be your reset time. Leave your troubles behind for an hour or two, and enjoy the moment. Another reason to not bring work along for the ride is to stay focused on your riding environment and staying safe. Riding in traffic or in a group is not the time to try and solve a work issue.

Your training can still be successful on 3 rides a week. Two weeknight rides and single long weekend ride can keep your preparation on track, especially if you make one of your weeknight rides an up-tempo ride, and you are still able to incrementally increase weekly long ride.

Quality can make up for quantity. When time is really tight, don’t under estimate the value of a short intense workout. At one hectic time in my life, I would take an hour before work and ride a couple of miles to a nearby river bluff climb, where I would just ride up and down the winding 3/4 mile hill 8 to 10 times, before heading home. This is just one way to pack a great workout into an hour or less.

Listen to Your Body. A stressful workweek can leave you just as fatigued as a series of hard workouts. This is again where learning to balance work, life and riding is important.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations. Where you need to cautious is when your schedule results in missing multiple scheduled rides or prevents you from incrementally increasing your long rides. The concern is that if you try your event with too little preparation, you risk an overuse injury that could have a long lasting impact on your riding. If you do find yourself cutting back miles week after week, consider adjusting your event goal accordingly. Remember, you are into cycling for a lifetime, not just the next event.

And finally, share some of your riding time with family. I have been fortunate to have a spouse who loves to ride, and we do lots of miles together, even though she does not like to ride the distances I do. Your rest and recovery days can be a great opportunity for relaxed riding with your non-competitive family member.

Learning to balance life, work and riding is all part of making sure you have fun. Learning these habits will prepare you for success for in your first event. And these are the habits that put you on path to a lifetime of fun, fitness and fellowship through bicycling.

Week 7 of the #10weeksto100 series. 

Continue to Week 8: Drink, Eat, Repeat

The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017: It's Time to Light Up

It is more important than ever for bicyclists to take steps to be seen. On a daily basis, society’s tacit acceptance of distracted driving needlessly put bicyclists, pedestrians and other motorists at risk. Some trends in cycling, like all black clothing, and minimalist gear on lightweight bikes have also tended to minimize our visibility on the road. However, the latest improvements in bicycle light technology now make daytime running lights readily available for all cyclists. I want to encourage every bicyclist who rides on streets and roads to consider using daylight running lights for the upcoming riding season.

One of my Bontrager Flare R taillights.
Daytime running lights for bikes, both taillights and headlights, are designed to be visible up to half mile or more, in bright sunlight. The daylight taillight I now ride with provides an intense, focused light with an intermittent flash pattern (dot-dot-dot-dash-dash), visible of almost 2/3 of mile in bright sunlight. What does the mean for a car and bike interaction? A car driving at 50 miles per hour travels the length of a football field (100 yards) in about 5 seconds. If you ride with a taillight visible for 2/3 of a mile, that is almost 12 football fields. That means a driver may be alerted to your presence up to a minute before they overtake you. And after almost a full season or road riding with the Bontrager Flare R, I believe it is changing driver behavior. And other cyclists I have talked to have seen similar changes.

While riding with a daylight tail-iight for my commuting and recreational road riding, I have seen overtaking drivers giving a full lane when passing, and waiting to pass when the view is obstructed or when there is oncoming traffic. We have not had a high speed close pass since using these lights. And I have seen the same change in driver behavior while riding in rural and urban situations.

I have almost always had an LED taillight on my bike since they were introduced over 20 years ago. I did this because I do a lot of early morning and late evening rides. I would also ride with my taillight on when riding on tree-shaded roads, in fog and rain, or if traffic seemed heavy. (I have also tried to stay as up-to-date with my lights for my early morning and evening bicycle commuting.)

One experience that was a revelation about daytime running lights came while bicycle touring across Illinois in 2014. Road availability left me with a 10-mile stretch on a shoulder-less, 2-lane state highway. I had a typical AA taillight on my bike, but before I started rolling, I decided to take my “emergency” headlight, which had a strobe mode, and strapped it on my panniers facing overtaking traffic. I was riding ready for that close-pass, expecting it not out of malice, but just because that is what happens on rural highways.

But in those 40-45 minutes, almost every single car and truck, probably over 50 vehicles, gave me a full lane, or well over 3 feet in passing. Yes, that is what motorists are supposed to do; and I never let my guard down, but it was just a relief that I never had a mirror off my shoulder, a blaring horn, or felt the need to dive for the shoulder. Anecdotal, yes, but making an effort to be more visible seemed to pay off.

I will admit, I did not change behavior immediately after this experience, but I did start using the lights I had more frequently, though none I had were daylight rated (most LED lights for night use are a between 15 1o 25 lumens), and I looked into some upgrades. In early 2015, Trek’s Bontrager brand introduced the Flare R Taillight, designed specifically with a daylight riding mode. I purchased my first one in the spring of 2016. We began using it on our tandem and we soon added a second for our household of bikes, so that I wasn’t juggling between my commuter, road bike and the tandem, and to have two fully charged for longer rides (including RAIN and a fall century). I will probably add a third, trying a different brand, this spring.

I have also decided to now use a daytime headlight, for forward visibility; however, I am not riding with a simple strobe. I have a Bontrager headlight, the Ion 700, which has a daylight mode with a dot-dot-dot-dash-dash pattern like their taillight. The impact on driver behavior is not as dramatic, but as we approach intersections, cars are giving us a second look. Living in Carmel, we ride a lot of roundabouts, and I believe the headlight helps us safely navigate our way through those.

While there is not yet an industry definition of a Daytime Running light for bikes, the characteristics to look for include:

· At least 50 lumens, with red for taillights
· An irregular or varying flash pattern
· A runtime of 3 hours or more in daylight mode

Expect to pay $40 or more; the Flare R is $60. Most are USB rechargeable, and in daylight mode, the Flare R will run over 5 hours on a full charge.

I mention the Bontrager line, because that is the light I currently have experience with. One other note is that John Burke, the president of Trek Bicycle, tasked his engineers to come with better daytime visibility solutions, and that is discussed on the Trek website ( Trek/Bontrager is offering both urban and rural/road daytime running lights.

Two other lights that receive good reviews for daytime taillights are the NiteRider Solas 150 Rear Bike Light, and the Cygolite Hotshot series.  The website Bicycle Light Database (  is a pretty good starting point if you are looking for more information on other lights that will work as daytime running light solutions..

I know that many will be skeptical, and not see the need, or want another complication to the joy of simple riding. However, alerting drivers that we are out there, and taking serious steps to be visible, will be good for all cycling. I was also reminded about another group that was skeptical about making changes for safety. In the late `60’s, just a few years before I started riding, I recall my Dad complaining about having to add the first Slow Moving Vehicles triangles to all his farm and construction equipment; but almost immediately, there were a fewer tragedies in the local news, and if anything, farm equipment uses even more safety lighting today.

Daytime running lights will not replace the need for vigilant, common sense riding skills, or the need for every driver to respect the rights of cyclists. But they certainly are a tool that helps. This is NOT to say we, as law abiding cyclists, are responsible for these incidents of careless or reckless driver behavior; however we need to take every step we can to protect ourselves, our family and friends. Please consider riding the roads and streets with daytime running lights this season.

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