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Basic Bicycle Safety- Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Whether you are looking to do a triathlon or just looking to cross-train, getting on your bike is much more fun after you learn a few safety tips! 

 

Maintaining Your Bike

Be nice to your bike and your bike will be good to you.  Some general maintenance will keep your bike in tip top shape.  Clean your bike every so often (including your chain), dry it off after riding in wet weather to prevent it from rusting and lube your chain.  It's not hard to do and a little TLC will keep you and your bike happy.

 

Checking Your Wheels and Tire Pressure

Your tires will lose a little air every day.  Every time you ride, you should check your tire pressure (squeezing them with your fingers doesn't work).  You can find the maximum recommended inflation on the tire sidewall (commonly between 90-120psi).  Look for the number before the "psi."  Riding with low tire pressure is like running in boots.  You'll get a great workout but won't be riding your potential.  You are also at risk of getting a pinch flat and keeping up with a group will be a lot harder.  Invest in a good pump.  General pumps used to inflate balls will not be good enough.  Buy a bike specific pump with a pressure gauge.  All bike pumps are not created equally.  We've used some where the air shot out of the bottom of the pump instead of through the hose into your tire.  Our tried and true pumps that have not failed us yet are Joe Blow pumps. 

 

Before you ride, also check to make sure your wheel skewers are on tight.  You don't want to hit a bump in the road and have your wheel come flying off!  Your wheel skewer should be tight enough that it leaves an indent in the palm of your hand when you close it.  It should not be so tight that you can't open it again.  Be especially vigilant in checking this if you need to take any of the wheels off to get your bike in your car in case one day you put the wheels on loosely just to put the bike away when you get home.

 

Being Prepared for a Flat

There are a few things that we recommend that you take with you on your ride.  We hope that it won't happen to you, but flats happen.  As luck would have it, you will get a flat in an area with no cell phone coverage so don't rely on making a phone call to have someone come rescue you or it could be a long walk back.  Be sure you know how to change a tire.  Contact us if you would like us to schedule a tire changing clinic for your group!  To change a flat, you will need:

- 2-3 tire levers (used to get the tire off the wheel)

- extra tube (be sure it is the right size and has the right valve stem size for your wheel.  Bring your wheel into your local bike shop if you are unsure of what size you need).

- pump or CO2 cartridges and inflator adaptor.  For newbies we prefer a small pump over the CO2's.  You have 1 shot to get it right with the CO2 and if you mess it up, you are out of luck.  A small pump will fit in the back of your jersey pocket or attach to  your bike frame.

- small saddle bag to store all of your flat changing tools listed above.  This will sit neatly below your seat. 

 

Riding on the Road

One of the things that makes most new cyclist the most nervous is riding on the road with cars.  While most places are starting to pass laws to try to protect cyclists (i.e. 3ft passing rule and not following too closely behind), there are things that you can do to avoid a run-in with a car.

1.  Be visible.  Wear brightly colored clothing.  Florescent colors are great and they are back in style!

2.  Always run blinky lights on the front and back of your bike.  Use a bright white light for the front and red light for the back.  The brighter the better!

 Saddle Bag  blinky light

3.  Ride with a friend or a small group.  You are more likely to be seen if you ride with a group.  Note:  riding with a very large group has it's challenges and has it's own dangers, but riding in small groups increases your chances of being seen.

4.  It may look really geeky, but we LOVE our rear view mirror.  The name of the game is staying alive!  Mirrors are great especially for new riders who are just trying to stay upright.  Turning to look behind can be very difficult for new riders.  You'd be amazed at how difficult it is to hear a car coming from behind you.  The wind in your face is one of the best feelings, but the wind in your ears makes it very difficult to hear cars approaching. 

Mirror

5.  Obey the traffic laws.  Don't blow through stop signs and red lights.  A bike on the road is just like any other vehicle.  If you want cars to respect your right to be on the road, make sure you respect the traffic laws.  Road rage against cyclists is partly due to the few cyclists who do not make the best decisions on the road.

6.  Always assume that a car will pull out in front of you.  Be prepared to stop if you are approaching a car at a crossroad trying to turn in front of you.  Often times, drivers misjudge how fast you are traveling and they will turn in front of you.  Avoid being t-boned and be ready to break or stop.  Be aware!

 

7.  Maintain your position and be confident on the road.  Do not try to ride as far to the right as you possibly can without going in the ditch.  There is debris in the road, potholes, etc.  Maintain your position on the right side of the road, but not too far right.  Leave yourself some room should you need to ride around a hazard on the road.  Riding too far to the right invites cars to try to squeeze by you at any point.  Ride confidently in the lane and let the car pass you when it is safe to do so. 

 Riding On Road

Images from www.bikexprt.com

When going as fast as the cars, you are much safer if you ride in the middle of the traffic lane where the driver behind you can see you.

 

Car turning

The driver next to you has not seen you and could turn or merge right. 

 

8.  Do not ride too closely to parked cars!  Do not ride in the door zone.  A car door could swing open at any moment.  Check out this video to see his is what it looks like to get doored.  For this poor fellow, it looks like he also go hit by the cab.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v3Ne23CNLQ

9.  Use signals to let the cars know which way you are going.  Don't know the correct hand signals for left and right?  Just point to the direction you are going.

 

Riding with Other Riders

Riding with friends or a group can be the best part of riding bikes.  Here are a few tips for staying safe when riding in a group. 

1.  Don't overlap wheels.  It's great to ride and chat, but be sure you are either riding next to each other (as long as you are not impeding traffic) or single file without overlapping wheels.  If the you overlap wheels and the person in front moves suddenly to the side either to avoid something in the road, from reaching down to grab a water bottle or from turning around to talk to the person behind, the front rider's wheel will hit the back rider's front wheel and usually results in the back rider going down. 

 

 Overlapping Wheelscrash

Don't do this!                                                               Or this could be you!

 

2.  Use signals or yell commands to let the other riders know what is coming.  Commands such as "slowing" or "stopping" will let the riders behind know to let off of the gas before they plow into the riders in front.  Also use command such as "car up" meaning a car is coming towards you or "car back" meaning a car is approaching from the rear.  This will allow riders to safely move to the side of the road and will allow riders to be more aware when the car passes.  Be sure to pass the message down the line so that all riders in your group hear the message.

 

Having Identification

Another great item to have is a Road ID or equivalent (especially if riding alone).  Even if you are riding with friends, they may not know who to call in the event of an emergency (or that person's phone number) and they may not know that you are allergic to penicillin.  Be sure to carry some sort of ID and emergency contact information.

 Road Id

 

Riding bikes is probably one the most enjoyable things you can do.  We encourage you to get out and hit the road and stay safe!  Happy training!

If you are in the Richmond. VA area, join us for a beginner friendly ride every week at West Creek Parkway at 3pm.  

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Could Rev3 Rush Change the Face of Triathlon?- Monday, May 26, 2014

This past weekend, Rev3 debuted a new triathlon race format at the Richmond International Raceway (think big time NASCAR) in Richmond, VA.

 

How?  There's No Place To Swim.

Rev3 went all in for this race and built a 15-lane 25-meter pool in the middle of the race track.  Racers swam in the pop-up pool and then rode and ran on the race track!  Yes, it was as cool as it sounds.  NASCAR for bikes!

 

Rev3 Rush Swim

 

Who?

Age groupers from the age of 7-100+ could race in addition to an elite development field.  With each age group racing at different times, entire families could come out and both race and cheer for their family members.  A great family event!

 

The Format

Can you imagine paying one race fee and being able to race in up to 5 races in two days?  The Rush format gave each racer 3 opportunities throughout two days to better their times to try to qualify for the Age Group Final on day 2.  Everyone has had that race where they wanted a do-over because of a cramp in the swim, botched T1, flat on the bike, etc.  Now you don't have to put all of your eggs in one basket.  Have a bad race?  Racers could opt to race in round 2 and/or round 3.  Athletes had multiple opportunities to get it right!  The athlete's best time from the first 3 races were used to determine if they were one of the top 12 in their age group to race in the Age Group Final on day 2.  So, with 3 chances, what's the best strategy?  Go all out in round 1 and hope that your time is good enough to qualify you for the finals and skip round 2 and 3?  Or do you hold back and race just hard enough to hopefully get you to the finals and conserve your energy but risk having to race again? 

 

However they decided to spread or conserve their energy, each round looked the same.  Athletes were head-to-head with 14 other racers in their age group on the pool deck of the massive pop-up pool in the middle of the race track.  After exiting the swim, athletes ran down the short ramp to their bikes directly at the bottom of their corresponding swim lane.  There was no long run to transition or searching through a sea of bikes for their racks and bikes.  T1 doesn't get much easier than this.  Athletes then rode their designated number of loops on the race track.  The other notable difference to this format is that it was draft legal!  Now for many triathletes, this sounds terrifying.  However, it really wasn't.  There were no triathletes with sketchy handling skills in aero bars drafting off of someone in front of them going 25+ miles per hour with no way to hit the brakes.  There were no aero bars or aero helmets in this race.  Waves consisted of only 15 racers at a time.  It was not like the sprint at the end of the Tour de France with 100 racers jockeying for position ending with a finish that appears on DVD's called Epic Crashes.  If athletes were lucky enough to get out of the pool with someone around them, they had the opportunity to work together, ride fast and conserve energy by drafting.  The more advanced riders at this race had at most 6 riders working together.  More often, there were 2-3 working together or solo cyclists doing the standard time trial.  Draft legal does not mean crash-fest.  In an entire weekend of racing, we did not see any bike crashes due to drafting.  Due to the closed nature of the course, this ended up being one of the safest courses we've ever seen.

 

Rev3 Rush Bike

Rev3 is great at making racers feel like world champions.  At the end of the bike leg, racers dismounted and handed off their bikes to volunteers.  Again, no long runs through transition pushing their bikes.  The bike valet service got the athletes to T2 fast and smooth! 

 

Depending on their age group, Age Groupers ran a designated number of laps around the inside of the .75 mile track.  The condensed nature of this course was one of a kind in allowing spectators to see the entire race from one viewing area.  Most spectators at races get to see their racers in T1 and T2.  At Rush, spectators were able to see every bit of the swim from the stands and close up views on the jumbo-tron as well as the entire bike and the entire run.  Imagine as an athlete having your friends and family be able to cheer for you during the entire race.  "I can't believe the wall of sound from the people cheering as I came through the turn" noted Swichio Ambassador, Jim Fisher.  Rev3 was spot on when they named the new race format Rush

 

Grand Final

The excitement doesn't end there.  At the conclusion of all of the Age Group Final races, the top 8 times, regardless of age, competed in one final race, the Grand Final.  The FASTEST racers competed head-to-head to determine who was the fastest (or who had the most left in the tank after an exhausting 2 days of racing).  This was by far the most exciting race of the day.  How close does it get?  16 seconds separated 1st-4th place in the men's Grand Final.  Now that's what you call a drag race on a Nascar track! 

 

Food for Thought

As triathletes we train A LOT for sprints, olympics, halves and Ironmans.  Can this type of race change triathlon and how we train for them?  People do Ironman distance races for the challenge and for the full race experience.  With Rush, it's an entirely different type of challenge and Rev3 comes through with the full race experience.  Will this format be the new face of triathlon?  In the words of Swichio Ambassador, Jim Fisher, "I don't care where the next one is.  We're going!  I will be the first to get a Rush tattoo."  

If nothing else that you've read so far adequately describes how cool this race format really is, take it from a 7 year old. Swichio Ambassador, Maddie, raced in the 9 and under race and thought so much of it that the first thing she did when she got home was write in her journal about the race.  Even a 7 year old recognized how unique the race "cors" was.  She even rated the race E+ (excellent + in elementary school grading).  The kid activities also didn't hurt (trampoline jumping, bull riding, mini race car driving and kona ice)!

RIR - elementary school drawing


RIR - Kids jumping

Kudos

  • A big shout out to Jay Peluso from Peluso Open Water for getting the race here and for taking on the exhausting job of local race director.  
  • Congratulations to Richmond local, Bob Flanigan from Central Virginia Endurance and Swichio Ambassador, Jim Fisher, for both making it to the Grand Final and finishing 3rd and 4th overall in an extremely competitive field.  


Find a Rush Race near you!

http://rev3tri.com/

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Introducing Race Connect- Monday, February 24, 2014

Traveling out of town for races is exciting!  However, making travel arrangements for you and your bike can be overwhelming and expensive.

 

We've flown all of the world with our bikes.  I'm sure you've experienced some if not all of these experiences when flying with this uniquely oversized piece of luggage which include:

1.  Had at least one flight with a small plane where they have limited space for bikes (usually capped at 2 bikes).  We have stood by the window at the gate watching to see if our bikes were going to make the flight crossing our fingers hoping to see the giant boxes get loaded on the plane.

2.  Spent an extraordinary amount of money to rent a full size SUV to fit the bike boxes. 

3.  Pulled a bike box, backpack and suitcases through the largest airports ever.  And then possibly have had to load everything on and off a bus to get to the car rental agency.  By the time you get to where you are going, your arms are exhausted. 

4.  Paid $200 each way for oversized luggage fees.  In some cases, it would be cheaper to fly your bike as a passenger!  I'd much rather sit next to my bike than the guy who keeps falling asleep on you!

5.  Dealt with TSA who has made you open your bike box and rummage through everything that you had so meticulously packed.  Then in a rush, had to pack everything back up.  Fitting a bike in a bike box isn't fun or easy and always wreaks havoc on your back which is exactly what you need right before a race.  Or better yet, TSA opens your bike without you and rummages through everything and then shoves everything back in because they don't care that your bike is carbon or that your derailleur gets bent. 

6.  Shipped your bike via FedEx because you didn't want to deal with the airlines and then had your bike get stuck somewhere.  You call on Friday (the day after it was supposed to arrive) and get them to find the bike and get it overnighted to your FedEx location to find out on Saturday that your bike arrived but is now stuck on a delivery truck at a closed facility and scheduled for "Next Business Day" on Monday (Yes, this just happened on our trip to Miami 2 weeks ago).

The joys of having to get your equipment to the race. 

What if...there was a large group of people from your area headed to the same race?  Inevitability, some of those people will drive and some will fly.  Some may have extra space in their cars or bike racks to accommodate an extra bike or two, or three...  Or for the entrepreneurial athlete, s/he will rent a trailer and be able to take more!  Chances are that in your community, you will know these people or be connected to them through your friend network...which Swichio just happens to show.  Introducing...Swichio's Bike Transportation option!

 

Why just sell your gear?  Sell your extra space on/in your car to transport bikes.  If you are headed there anyway and have the space, you may as well help fund the gas budget and help fellow athletes!  As you can see from our past experiences, it might be easier and more reliable to have another bike-loving friend or acquaintance transport your bike for you.  S/he is much more qualified to handle your equipment than the airlines or Fed Ex! 

 

Need a ride?  Looking to go to a race but don't want to fly and don't want to drive by yourself?  Introducing...Swichio's Ride Share option!  Sell the extra seats in your car or help pay for gas and meet-up with other fellow athletes from your area.  I bet you'll be best friends by the time you get there if you aren't already. 

 

Need a room?  Have a hotel room with an extra bed?  Do you live in an area with a race coming to town and have a room or property availalbe?  You aren't going to stay with a complete stranger, but chances are you probably know other people that are going that want to save money and would share a room.  On Swichio, we'll show you if you are connected to a potential roomie!  Introducing...Swichio's Room Share option!

 

When you are headed out of town for a race, connect with other athletes on Swichio's Race Connect for:


1. Bike transportation

2.  Ride sharing

3.  Room sharing

 

How do you do it?  It's easy! 

1. Sign-up on Swichio (if you haven't already)

2. Make sure you use our "Find Connections" tool to connect with your friends so Swichio can show you mutual connections with other athletes.

3.  Have a room, ride or space on your bike rack to sell?  Select "Sell Gear" and select the Race Connect category to post it in.

4.  Post whether you have a spot for sale or whether you are looking for a spot to buy or browse the options people have listed already.

5. Looking to see who has made a post in a race you are attending?  Select your race under "Race Connect" in the top navigation bar.  We have selected a few races to start with:

- Eagleman 70.3

- Age Group Nationals

- IM Chattanooga

- IM Tremblant

- XTERRA Richmond

Don't see a race your race and have a large group from you area attending?  Let us know and we will add it! 

6.  Select one of our Race Connect categories (Bike transportation, Ride Share or Room Share)

7.  Place a bid on an option that people have listed or review the bids people have made to you. Select the bid that makes the most sense to you!

 

Note:  Another unique feature with Race Connect is that you can use Swichio's trade and barter features to offer non-cash options (equipment, services, timeshares, event tickets, etc.).  Maybe you can catch a ride and share a room with someone in exchange for that TT helmet and pedals that you have laying around!

Happy racing and we hope that you can connect with other athletes to make getting to your next race a little smoother!


This is a pilot project so there are no fees associated with listing any items in Race Connect.  So start connecting!



Swichio logo






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Miami - The Race That Almost Didn't Happen- Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Back in late fall I found out I had to go to Miami for a work related conference on Presidents day weekend. Planning out the 2014 season I saw the first race for Xterra state side was that weekend. So we decided to do a weekend in Miami and include the race and see if i could muster some early season points. Xterra makes you gather points in your age group to qualify for US Nationals in September. 

All looked good on paper...

Conference went without a hitch at the Fountainblue in Miami Beach. If you have ever watched TV or heard about the Miami scene this is the epicenter. Not the most ideal pre - race week, but made due with long nights and long days on the feet. 


Then things got interesting..I shipped my bike via FedEx two day ground on Monday which was half the cost of bringing it on the plane which again was good on paper; however, mother nature was conspiring against me. By Friday the bike was still in NC due to the storm. FedEx got the bike on a plane and was fairly confident it would be in Miami by Saturday. Saturday was less then 24hrs before race time the bike did make it to Miami but never made it to Saturday delivery. FedEx informed me the bike was at a facitliy in north western Miami and I could drive to get it. I was then informed that that facilitiy was closed on weekends. Great, now in Miami with no bike. A rep at FedEx was able to get someone on the phone at the facility at 10AM and let me know if I could get to the security gate by 3PM they MIGHT let me get the bike. So, I got the directions and took off from Key Biscayne to a fedex site to talk them into getting me my bike. Four hours later and a super cool secruity guard and a more super cool fedex dude who had to unload a truck to get my bike did....I had my bike in hand! Its 3:30pm now and to preride some of the course I had to be off the grounds by 5:30. I booked back to the bike shop and assembled the bike in an alley behind the shop because they were so busy with the race. 4:15 done, off to the course. I get one loop in of the most technical single track but was not able to preview the run or swim. Gonna half to wing this one. As I am leaving the parking lot to go back to hotel, my neck was starting to tingle. I had gotten bit by a spider or insect on the cheek and now I was swelling up on the face. Great, off to CVS for some benadryl cream... What a day......


bugbite

Good night with the family, catching up on their day at the  hotel. They had a blast with a ton of kid activities and my daughter ended up making a ton of new friends. Good news was...i was not missed on Saturday.

The next day proved that the race gods were on my side. I must have done enough begging and pleading the day before that karma was on my side. The weather was perfect and the sunrise at the race site was amazing.

palmtrees

In Fisher fashion we were first to rack our bikes and get a prime location in transition. Warmed up, got on my race suit and speed swim suit and headed a half mile up the beach for the swim start and a warm up swim. Todays race was going to be 500m swim, 10mile mountain bike, 4 mile trail run with one mass wave start.

legs

jimfisher

Great shot of Maddie and I at sunrise.

Pre-swam out and noticed a very strong current from right to left. Looked like the tide was coming in and we had to swim straight to a buoy then make a right up 1/2 mile to transition. As I pre swam i noticed the sea grass a the bottom was moving  hard left. Getting some fast feet to follow was going to make or break this swim. I knew if I had any chance to place in the top 10 I had to be with the lead pack in the swim. Warm up done....gun goes off and I sprint hard the first 200 m to make the break. Once out to the first turn I make the pack and swim right in the middle of  five guys. Perfect spot.


start

Kate said the current was so hard that the back half of the field got pulled way left. Glad to have made the break. I swam 70% in the draft but the effort to get around was so hard with the current. I decided after two attempts to stick on the feet and save some in the tank. Got out of the water and Kate yelled I was in 11th overall. Uff..got some work to do.

t1

Hit a fast transition and out on the bike.

t1-1

The bike was 1 mile of road to 2 loops of 4 miles of super twisty technical single track. Not much different then back home in Freedom. A lot of man made features that keep a big smile on my face.  By the second loop i was jonesing for more course and felt like i was flying. The bike was awesome. 1x11 on the 29r was perfect and I could not believe the acceleration the bike had. Could not have been happier on this amazing racing rig.

Picked off two guys but got passed by one in the traffic on the second loop. This course did not allow you to peg it the whole way so I was interested to see how much was in the tank for the 4 mile run. Super fast into transition 2 to feet on the shoes with a dude right in front. This was gonna be one heck of a run with four of us within 45 sec of each other. They say you ride for show but run for dough. Did I have enough dough in the bank...

bike

Came out of transition in 10th with another fella ahead. The first mile was all sand running to the first WATER crossing. 

run

I usually struggle on the run, but today felt different. After the 1st water crossing at mile 1 the legs were coming around and I was able to start pushing the pace in the solid 6:30's we picked up another runner and now the three of u were shoulder to shoulder. We came into a field and saw 6th and 7th. I took it up a notch and decided to hunt down 6th and 7th with thoughts that maybe a top 5 was possible. After a long fire road false flat climb I heard the other two fade off and I was on my own. We hit along road straight away and i saw the other two 30sec by my count. I had two miles left and knew I had to make up 15 sec per mile and started digging. We hit another sand section out and back and it was down to 10sec with 1 mile to go. Then I hit the final water crossing...

crossing

I came out of the trail on the far side middle of this pic and said holy &*^. Dove in and started to swim the channel. The current was incredible. I swimming as hard as I could and felt like I was not moving with two wet racing flats on my feet that felt like concrete. I made it across and could not see the two in front. Scrambled to the trail and saw them at 15 sec again. I gassed in for a half mile but came up short by 10 sec. What a race.....

finish

Ended up 7th overall and 1st in my age group which gave me some solid points in the hunt for a US champ spot.

podium

Great course, and fun competing not knowing a soul. I would do this race again in heartbeat. My daughters ride to airport summed up the day....

car

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Winter Riding Guide- Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A while back, Swichio Ambassador, Marv Cline, wrote this guide to help motivate our tri club members to get out and do some winter training.  It worked!  A huge group of riders got out there and now the club has a huge weekly winter training group ride.  There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear (or the wrong gear).  This group is based in Virginia so our tolerance is a little lower for cold weather.  You may have to determine "your own range" as Marv describes below.  Whatever your range is, this is a great guide to help determine what gear to wear on your next winter ride!

Winter Riding Group

<Picture from the Twin Cities Bicycle Club (TCBC) in MN annual Polar Bear Ride on New Year's Day 2014. >


Winter is here. Well you don't need me to inform of this obvious fact! But you can still get out and ride your bike. This time of the year represents to most of us an end of the race season and a major shift in how we go about workouts till the end of winter or early spring. It is also the time of year that, understandably, cyclists and triathletes park their rigs inside for a few months and surrenders their bike workouts to the trainer. Nothing wrong with that! I do a few times per week. I assert that in Central Virginia however, it really doesn't get too cold for outdoor cycling given sufficient equipment, apparel, and awareness on how to prepare for it, you can actually ride outside through the entire winter!


It's feasible! Winter cycling is more enjoyable than many might imagine and I would like to encourage everyone to give it a try. The objective of this article is to serve as a basic guide; to enlighten how really feasible winter cycling is and take away some fears there may be of riding in colder temperatures. Since most people go to work when sunlight is just appearing in the morning and arrive home when there isn't much left, outdoor cycling in the winter becomes mostly a weekend event. Personally, I believe it is also best ventured in a group setting than a solo one. Then the weekend presents us greater opportunities to gather with friends for some long winter rides. And there’s safety in numbers right? It only takes a basic understanding of how to get equipped to ride at various temperature ranges and determining what those ranges are for you. Given experimentation with gear and apparel, and how you layer it on at various temperatures, you might find it much more feasible and enjoyable than you previously assumed.


Cold is relative. A definition of how cold it is outside differs from one person to another, more or less, and perhaps relative to where you grew up or place you lived for a significant period of time. I grew up in southeast Ohio where we enjoyed all four distinct seasons. Living in the Twin Cities of Minnesota for over four years however, was a whole new level of cold. A frigid -20 degrees during the entire month of January cold! But despite its drastically cold winters, Minneapolis was rated the number one bike-friendly city in the U.S. by Bicycling Magazine. It was not uncommon to see people there ride with temperatures in the teens, and even single digits! Some locals, however crazy made it a lifestyle to commute by bike year-round. The coldest I ever braved on the bike there was around 15 degrees or thereabouts. Riding in that low range seemed more an effort to maintain body temperature than getting in a worthwhile bike workout (but that's just me). Ultimately I concluded my ideal low end temperature for winter cycling to be around 25 degrees. So…cold is relative. Looking at the upper end of the scale, at about 65 degrees I may be donning arm warmers but comfortable in shorts down to 60 degrees. And so…there we have it; our upper and lower temperature range for effective winter cycling! That is, at least the range we will examine here and the scope this guide is focused upon; 65 - 25 degrees. Sure, you may wish to ride colder, some people do, I need to draw the line somewhere.

What is your range? Now that we have established an upper and lower end temperature range, we will need to break it down into component levels for discussion. We'll use the below table as a guide for how to get equipped, how to prepare, what to expect, and what to wear for winter cycling. This is my range, yours may be different. Only you can determine that through experience and experimentation.

Cool

Very Cool

Cold

Very Cold

     65-55 Degrees     

     54-44 Degrees     

     43-34 Degrees     

     33-25 Degrees     


Getting started. So then, just how do cyclists and triathletes handle the colder temperatures when riding in the winter? Getting ourselves equipped, prepared, and some experience is the best way to get the most out of winter cycling and to ward off potential injury and illness. Best place to start perhaps is with what you may already have in your closet. If you don't have a complete wardrobe of winter cycling apparel, no worries as you may already have some inventory of items to get started, particularly if you participate in other sports during the winter such as skiing, hiking, or running, etc. Those items such as running tights, caps, full finger gloves, etc. may be enough to get you going. Of course this time of year your local bike shop will carry everything you need to get you set up!


What to wear? When preparing for your first or next winter ride, carefully consider what you are planning to wear before you step outside. Start with layers. We all know this principle. Choose your clothing so that you can adjust accordingly to the level of exertion, changes in temperatures over the course of your ride, and basically how you are feeling. Arm and leg warmers can come on and off as needed during the ride. Zippered clothing help you regulate your body as the temperature warms. The goal however should always be to keep your core warm! Common reaction for those new to winter cycling when the temps approach the “cold” level is to put on the heaviest weight gloves available while ill protecting their core. The body will sense being cold and mass oxygen carrying blood to your core (at the expense of the extremities) in order to protect your vitals. Layer the core, keep it warm and dry, and the hands and feet will be better off, and perhaps not needing the big gloves just yet. Dress not for the temperature at the start of the ride but rather at its half way point, or about an hour in. Know if the temperature is going to warm up, how fast, or if it will be dropping are other important considerations.


What to expect? Another benefit to winter cycling with a group is it requires you to step outside your warm house, load your bike and gear, and drive to the ride start site. This will afford you more time to acclimate to the outdoor temperatures than just stepping out of your house and onto the bike. Plus you may then find you are overdressed or underdressed and can make last minute adjustments. Right before you roll out, you should feel cool, not toasty warm. Oftentimes I have asked people before a winter ride if anybody was warm. Those that replied yes; I would inform they were most likely overdressed. Once you get going you may feel colder than you like. It is typically the cold sensation in your face and fingers mostly that may be telling you “oh no, what have you gotten us into?!” Don’t bail too early! It will likely take between 10 to 15 minutes for you to warm and circulation to catch up.


Putting it together. Below is a list of suggested gear and apparel combinations for winter cycling at the various temperature ranges discussed previously. I adhere to these combinations fairly closely. But nevertheless, it will be through your own experimentation over time and making slight modifications to determine your needs and comfort.


Cool  65-55 Degrees                                                                                                                                                   

Upper body: Single layer. Short sleeve jersey with arm warmers. Long sleeve jersey when cooler.
Lower body: Shorts down to 60 degrees. Add leg warmers below 60 degrees or knickers.
Hands & Feet: Fingerless gloves. Regular socks and toe covers at lower end.
Head: Just a helmet and glasses. Light-weight wicking skull cap if desired.

Very Cool: 54-44 degrees                                                                                                                                        

Upper body: Two layers. Long sleeve jersey with sleeveless base. Long sleeve base at lower end.
Lower body: Thin / mid-weight riding tights under or over the shorts.
Hands & Feet: Light / mid-weight full finger gloves. Wool socks. Toe covers / Lycra booties.
Head: Ear band or light cap.

Cold: 43-34 degrees                                                                                                                                                    

Upper body: Two - three layers. Long sleeve jersey with long sleeve base. Third layer needed at lower end temps: sleeveless base under jersey or a wind vest or jacket.
Lower body: Mid-weight riding tights under or over shorts. Wind-proof front panel tights or fleece-lined tights at lower end.
Hands & Feet: Heavier weight gloves at lower end. Mid-weight or heavier weight wool socks. Neoprene booties or Gore-Tex lined road cycling boots.
Head: Light to mid-weight cap. Tip: add a helmet cover to block wind through the vents.

Very Cold: 33-25 degrees                                                                                                                                             

Upper body: Three layers. Long sleeve jersey with long sleeve base. Wind-proof Jacket.
Lower body: Mid-weight riding tights under or over shorts or fleece lined bib-tights. Wind-proof front paneled tights or fleece-lined tights at lower end.
Hands & Feet: Heavy weight or wind stopper gloves or glove liners under heavy weight gloves. “Lobster-style” gloves if poor circulation an issue. Heavier weight wool socks. Neoprene booties or Gore-Tex lined road cycling boots.
Head: Mid-weight cap or balaclava at lower end.



Caveats, tips, and extras:
1. A weekly winter ride of about two hours or longer is very satisfying. But it shall not be the only bike workout of the week you do if the goal is maintain bike fitness through the winter. People close to me know that my use of the indoor trainer takes some discipline on my part. But I do get one to two indoor sessions in per week apart from the weekend outdoor ride. Even a 45-60 minute indoor cycle class at the local gym is better than no pedal time at all.


2. I have ridden in the rain and the cold, but do not like the combination for health and safety reasons. If there’s a rain shower, especially in the ‘cold’ or ‘very cold’ temperature ranges, I direct my workout to an indoor trainer session. I can handle a little sprinkle but not a shower or soaking rain!


3. I recommend deciding a ride start time that takes advantage of a warmer period of the day. That means later in the morning than your normal middle of the summer 6 or 7am start.


4. You will still need to hydrate! Insulated water bottles are great for the winter as they are summer. Some people I know use a CamelBak and have it under one of their clothing layers so the water doesn’t get too cold or freeze. Another trick I’ve heard employed is to carry the water bottle inverted in the cage with the idea that water freezes first at the top thus leaving the valve free from clogging with ice. And of course I suppose this dependant on cage design and that your bottle doesn’t leak when upside down.


5. Maintain safety! Be seen with bright clothing and perhaps a tail light. Know how to change a flat. Don’t ride alone. Carry a cell phone. If in a group ride, get the ride leader’s cell number.


6. There is a product I learned about from cycling friends in Minnesota called Warm Skin. Cyclists there would use this cream on exposed skin (face, neck, and ears) and on their hands and feet. It may not be sold in stores around the greater Richmond area but is available for purchase online.


7. Some people claim a benefit of wrapping their feet in plastic bags to help keep warm. Personally, I do not recommend this practice. In winter cycling, you will perspire. You do need to allow moister to wick away from the skin! So if cold feet are your weak area, consider a pair of thin sheer socks or super thin cycling socks (if you can find them) as a base layer under your wool socks.


8. Have fun!


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Cyclocross!- Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When the leaves start to change, it can mean only one thing...cyclocross season is here!  What is cyclocross anyway?  Some people call it steeplechase on bikes.  It's like nothing you've probably ever seen before.  Let's start with the basics.  Cyclocross is often referred to as cross or cx by seasoned racers. 

Swichio DCCX Cyclocorss

What type of bike do you ride for cyclocross?

Of course this sport would require yet another type of bike to add to your stable of bikes. Cross bikes look a lot like road bikes.  The main difference is that they have wider, knobbier tires than a road bike and the brakes are setup to allow for mud and debris.  You won't see water bottle cages on cross bikes either.  They just get in the way and there is no time to grab a drink in this race unless it's a beer being handed-up from one of the spectators.

Swichio Cyclocross Brakes

Swichio, Switchio Cyclocross bike


Cross courses are typically over grass and mud terrain.  It's possible to ride a mountain bike, but it's definitely not advisable to ride a road bike.  A mountain bike will give you the grip you need on the uneven terrain, but will be difficult for the very unique feature of cross which often times requires you to shoulder your bike and jump over barriers or run up hills or stairs.


Swichio Switchio Shoulder Cyclocross Bike


Swichio Switchio CX stairs


Say what?  Why would you jump off of a perfectly good bike and then run with it? 

The most unique feature of cyclocross is that most courses will throw in obstacles such as wooden barriers or run-ups which are steep hills requiring you to run up a hill pushing or carrying your bike. In addition, there can be several wooden barriers in a row, requiring you to dismount your bike and then leap over a few sets of evenly spaced barriers.  Make sure you get your foot steps right in between and lift your bike high enough or you could find yourself face-planting into some plywood.  The course is usually a pretty short.  You will complete course several times.  This makes it very spectator friendly.  Chances of a crowd of people witnessing you face-plant or getting a picture of it are high!  This is something you want to practice. 

Swichio Switchio barrier


Practice?  What are the skills required?

Bike handling skills are a must!  The better your skills, the better you will fair in cross.  Mountain bikers usually rule the roost in this sport.  The course will likely include lots of insanely tight turns and might even include a spiral of death which is exactly what it sounds like.  It spirals you into the middle as it gets tighter and tighter and then eventually spirals out.  To get in and out of this quickly requires some mad skills. 

Barrier height varies.  Some are lower than others.  Those with great bunny hopping skills have a great advantage of not having to hop on an off the bike.


swichio switchio bunny hop


If you cannot bunny hop the barriers, there is definitely a science to mounting and dismounting your bike.  You want to do this as quickly as possible.  The pros do this is a fluid motion and it almost doesn't even seem like anything has changed when they've dismounted, leaped the barriers and then mounted their bikes again.  Flying mounts are key.  If you can do it without a double-hop on the mount, you will look pro and people will probably yell at you to upgrade. 

swichio switchio barriers


There is also usually some body contact.  The courses are tight.  Everyone is racing for the shortest lines.  Racers will bump each other throughout the course.  Staying upright isn't always easy.  

swichio switchio cyclocross crowded barriers


Is it easy?

Definitely NOT!  This race is a 100% pure anaerobic race where you will likely puke at the end or at least you will have the "cyclocross cough" for the next few days where you will feel like you are coughing up pieces of your lungs.  If you manage to stay upright for the entire race, consider yourself lucky.  Otherwise, be proud of your battle wounds.  You earned them.

If it hurts so much, why do it?

Cyclocross is like being a kid again.  You get to play in the mud, snow and rain.  There is no bad weather for cross.  It is a go, rain or shine.  There are serious racers, but it's all about fun.  Spectators get into the sport too to see who they can sway away from chasing down that person in front of them by throwing money on the course and handing up cupcakes or beer.  Anyone who stops for any of these diversions gets bigger cheers than the leaders for winning.

swichio switchio mud cyclocross


You must be intrigued or at least want to check it out.  Check out this short YouTube video, An Hour of Hell,  of what it looks like in action.  If you are in VA, we have a list of races here.  If not, you can find a list of many races in your area at bikereg.com.  Need a bike or have one to sell? Check out our bikes on Swichio

Have fun and we hope to see you out there and make sure you bring your cow bell!

If you are in Richmond, VA be sure to come out to the Richmond Festival of Cross at Chimbarazo Park and Bryan Park on October 5th and 6th.  I guarantee you will have a great time.  Bring the family.  Food vendors on site as well!

Also as a bonus, if you are in Richmond, VA there is weekly cross practice on Tuesdays at 6pm.  Find out the schedule and more information.  




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We are our own number 1 fan! And, Why not just post to Facebook?- Monday, May 13, 2013

It's been a little more than 2 months since we launched Swichio.  It has been a wild success...well, for us selling our own personal items.  In 2 months,

we sold:

  • 2 trainers
  • 1 bike rack
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 bike

we bought:

  • 2 bikes
  • 1 aero water bottle

And just as we imagined, everything we bought and sold was to our own friends or friends of friends. 

How did we do it?  Simple, we just recruited our friends to join the site thus creating our own network of buyers and sellers.  Friends could then see who was who and people started connecting and inquiring about items JUST because the sellers became a little less anonymous.  

Just as important as the deals that got done, there were deals that did not get done.  Friends have been very honest and forthcoming with information.  A seller acquaintance of mine told my friend who almost bought her bike that it might be just a LITTLE too big when she could have  preyed on the unknowing and anxious buyer and passed it off as fitting. 

Another acquaintance of mine borrowed a bike for the weekend to test ride it and bring it to a bike fitter.  If I didn't know her, I would NEVER have let go of my full carbon bike for a week!  She took the bike for a long ride which was great before investing a lot of money.  She also took it to a bike fitter where she discovered the bike was too small.  Another deal NOT done.  But that's a good thing.  The right deals are getting made and the wrong deals are not

So why not just post your item for sale on Facebook?  I've seen lots of people doing this.  I've seen lots of comments "my friend is interested in that" or "I just private messaged you."  The problem with this is that, you might be losing potential buyers.  Other people might see the responses and not even inquire because they assume the item was already spoken for.  Why not post it on Swichio first and then post the link to Facebook?  This enables you to entertain multiple offers directly from the potential buyers.  People can then share your link with their friends and you can use Swichio to keep track of your offers!  And, if your item is not one of those wildly popular things for sale, people can still see and access your listing instead of it getting pushed down in the news feed to be forever lost.

I eventually sold my carbon bike.  And yes, you got it, I sold it to a friend of a friend.  The buyer and my friend came together to my house to check it out and then bought it!  I'm telling you, the whole connection piece of this is key!  I see some sellers on the site  (Yay!  Thanks for listing with us!) but with 0 connections.  Take advantage of the power of this site, which is your friends.  I've had people emailing me about some of the sellers asking me if I knew them because they have 0 connections but they were interested in their bikes.  We cannot see who you are or who you are friends with!  Tell your friends to join the site.  Use our "invite your Facebook friend feature" and build up your "Inner Circle" (a.k.a. your own network of friends).  It only helps everyone!  The other thing you can do as a seller is share your listing on your own Facebook page.  Let your friends know what you are selling.  They may just be interested in buying it.  I bought an item from my friend's neighbor just because I knew I could get it quickly.  I probably would not have bought that item in the store, but it was the right price and I could get it just in time for my next bike ride.

The moral of this story is that YOU TOO can be wildly successful using Swichio whether you are buying or selling.  Be sure to use your friends and take full advantage of the power of this site and Buy From Who You Know!


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Playing Chicken with an iPod- Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I showed up to the pool this afternoon and turned on my iPod to get ready for a long continuous swim by myself.  The iPod was blinking it's little red light at me telling me that it was feeling exactly how I was feeling, unmotivated and unsure how long I would last.  Afternoon workouts are tough.  All my motivation leaves by mid-morning.  Swim workouts without company are tough.  It's just too easy to say, "that's good enough" when you don't have other people holding you accountable.  Swim workouts are even tougher when there are no sets and intervals to break up the swim. 

I was there and ready to go which is half the battle.  I hopped in the pool and started my long, continuous swim with my fingers crossed that my iPod would keep playing.  After a few laps, I threw down a challenge to my tired, little iPod.  I decided to play Chicken with my iPod.  Who would stop first?  Me or the iPod? 

I was impressed with the fight my iPod put up.  I wasn't expecting it to last more than 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, it continued to play.  It must be just as stubborn as me.  It wasn't willing to give in.  After each song, there was a moment of silence before the next song started playing and each time I thought it was the iPod folding...but it kept playing. 

I spent several laps trying to figure out what my victory dance would look like when I won this game and how silly I would look to the poor unsuspecting people around me who had no idea what battle was being waged under the water.  Lap after lap, I kept going even though my eyeballs felt like my goggles would pop them out of my head.

1 hour and 3600 yards later, it ended up being a draw.  My kid zone time had expired.  But don't worry, little green machine.  There will be another dual in the pool. 

What tricks have you used as an endurance athlete to get your workout done? 

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