You may have watched the Tour of California this week. Peter Sagan and Teejay van Garderen have had big success, and it's still anybody's race heading into the weekend. Maybe you've been following the Giro d'Italia which runs this whole month, a race on par with the Tour de France. The big names are there too, including Mark Cavendish, who has already taken three stages so far.
Let's face it. Bike racing is cool, whether it's the biggest contests like the ones listed above or even (or especially) the smaller races -- the local or regional competitions that mostly draw riders no one has ever heard of.
Last weekend I was reminded once again why that is. It came as part of an event in the USA CRITS Championship series that took place in St. Louis May 10-12, though it wasn't something that happened during the race itself. Rather, after the Pro race (which the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team dominated, as they've done all season long), rider Hilton Clarke came over to greet some visually impaired fans who had come out to cheer them on. Still on his bike along the fencing lining the finish, Clarke peeled off his riding gloves and gave them to an absolutely delighted young lady, and posed for photos with the people gathered there. Later I found out that Clarke and his teammates had even taken these special fans out for a ride earlier in the day.
The joy that these UnitedHealthcare riders brought to these people and their parents was something I'll never forget, and I was proud to not only see their performance in the race, taking all three spots on the podium, but the even bigger display of class and winning ways that came after the event was long over.
So go watch a race. You may not see the famous names flying through the mountains of Italy or even spot something special like I saw last Saturday. But you'll get to see the joy of sport and the amazing spectacle of men and women going fast on bikes, competing against each other in most cases for nothing more than the thrill of the race and the chance to make our amazing bodies do these amazing things.
- UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team takes Delta Gamma kids out for a ride
- USA Cycling Development Foundation offers Grants and Scholarships to Cyclists
- Book Review: Tyler Hamilton's The Secret Race
- What is a Criterium anyway?
May is designated as National Bike Month. If you haven't been on a bike for a while (or perhaps haven't ridden ever) never fear. You have plenty of good pointers here to get started in biking.
Article: getting started in biking
Depending on where you live, late fall, winter and early spring can be very unpredictable, offering a broad weather spectrum to challenge the person who likes to get outside and do stuff. It can be sunny and beautiful or cold with rain or snow. But for the dedicated cyclist or runner, bad weather is not going to be something that keeps a person inside. It's just another thing to be reckoned with in planning the excursion, just like route, pace, nutrition, hydration, etc., all those things that are part of the workout.
We had the opportunity to try out Craft's Storm tights (available for both men and women) as part of an all-season cycling/running wardrobe. They feature snug fleece fit, with a wind-blocking front panel for warmth on cold and windy days. Are they worth adding to your lineup of bike or running wear? Check out our full review here of Craft's Storm tights.
- Review: Storm cold weather tights by Craft
- How to properly care for your bike clothes
- Review: Craft Elite bib shorts
- What's better? Bib or regular bike shorts
- Spring bikewear roundup
- Biking vs. running - a cycling takes on the marathon challenge
To say I'm a cyclist at heart is the truth. I ride my bike year round as a work commuter. I'm also a roadie, mountain biker and touring cyclist. I ride my bike to the library, to the grocery store and even on crazy moonlight rides once a month. So when a friend suggested that I join him in training for a marathon, I was skeptical, especially when he said that you have to run it, not ride on your bike.
But over time, I started to wear down. The marathon, after all, is pretty much The Great Athletic Achievement. You run a marathon, you're entitled to walk with a certain swagger the rest of your life.
So traded in two wheels for a pair of running shoes and started to train. It was...hard. But I ultimately did it, 26.2 miles, and am back on friendly terms with my bike. Here's what I found:
- Be a Better Biker Without Getting on a Bike: Crosstraining Tips
- Marathon Training and Running Tips for Beginners
- Are You Ready to Train for and Run a Marathon?
The string of bad luck that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has seen on a bike was extended today when he broke his right shoulder in a crash near the Korean War memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The dedicated cyclist had already broken his collarbone in a bicycle crash in 2011 and also suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung after being struck by a car in Boston back in 1993. To his credit, Breyer has never let these mishaps keep him from continuing to ride, so let's not be surprised to see him on the bike again once he's done with this current hospital stay and rehab work.
And to those misguided naysayers who might use this as another example of that stupid "biking is dangerous" refrain, let's not overlook the fact that it seems Justice Breyer just suffers from bad luck in general. This is the same guy who was attacked by machete-wielding bandits at his vacation home on the island of Nevis last year down in the Caribbean. And just a few months after that, his house in DC burglarized.
Let's put it this way: I wouldn't stand next to him in a lightning storm.
- Ride Safe in Traffic
- Bike Touring in Washington, D.C. - See the U.S. Capitol on Two Wheels
- Red Sox Manager Crashes Bike in Central Park While Reading Texts
- Biography of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
Typical business networking between vendor and client or prospective customer can take place over lunch or on the golf course. However, here's a cool and interesting article from the Economist that discusses how cycling with someone is a great way to get to know them, even (or especially) in a business context. Worth checking out.
A quote that stood out for me:
- "A younger rider can be cycling along with a chief executive and take his wind or help him in some way. You get a reversal of the normal relationship and this changes the relationship off the bike too."
Check it out here: Bicycling - the New Golf for Making Business Connections?
Hi Dave! I am thinking about my next biking foray - a kid trailer like this one - but had questions about how difficult it might be to ride with one of these. It seems like it would be a really fun activity for my youngest son and me, and I had these visions of doing long, flat trails on the weekend. But then wondered how much something like this would throw me off balance especially with a very restless 4 year old. Any advice? :) Nikki
My response to Nikki: You should definitely go for it! These trail-a-bikes are great and your son will love it. What's cool about them is that he gets to pedal too and actually contribute to the effort, i.e., you can tell when he's pushing and when he's not, especially on the hills.
I did a lot of riding with one of these with both my kids and they are really great. Balance is typically not an issue with them and the separate handlebars are good too since he'll feel big and like he's in control of his own bike. Because of all this I don't believe you'll have a problem with him getting restless.
A final note - they are easy to resell and hold value well since people are forever moving into and out of the age where their kids are riding these things.
Question for you: Do you have any additional advice for Nikki about riding with a trail-a-bike? Comment below.
I don't know about you, but I pretty much love anything that has to do with biking. That's why I like my home-made bike chain key ring. I like bike t-shirts and bike hats. And I really like the belts made from bike tires by Tired Ol' Belts.
The belts they make have a number of cool features incorporated into them. First is that they are made of old bike tires, and that means you get to see and feel the tread simply wearing the belt. Next is the ingenious buckle design, which is a smartly designed bike chain that is used to cinch the belt tight. It looks great and is very functional. Finally, the fact that they are repurposing old tires, keeping them from the waste stream is a happy thing. As you likely know, there aren't many options for recycling old tires and tubes, so having this option as well is pretty sweet.
Pricing on the belts is $25-30, and the sizing is easy. Belts are generally shipped at 44-46 inches, and you simply snip off the extra length to get the belt to be just the right length for you.
Check out the Tired Ol' Belts website and see for yourself.
It takes about five hours to drive from Chicago to St. Louis. That's a long time to be in the car, but the good news is that right about the halfway point, just north of Bloomington-Normal (home to Illinois State University) you'll find Comlara Park -- a gem of a place to go mountain bike tucked away right there in the middle of the Illinois plains, and if you find yourself on either I-55 or I-39 passing through, definitely make a point to stop and check them out.
Comlara Park, maintained by McClean County, Illinois simply has a bunch of surprisingly great mountain bike trails nestled along the banks of Lake Evergreen. They are fun to ride, tight and twisty and offer a lot of swooping turns around the lake. The local mountain bike enthusiast group has done a terrific job building a lot of fun wooden obstacles in and with the trails and they offer entertainment and diversion for people who like that sort of thing and can be ignored as well, bypassed easily for those who just want to hammer.
The only minor complaint is that the general location of the trails is not as well marked as they could be, especially where one should park and then how to tie in with the trails to get started riding in the first place. However, once you get on the trails you'll be fine, especially if you keep the lake in mind as a consistent navigation point. They are laid out in a series of loops, numbered 1-7, which either interconnect or are linked by spurs/connector trails.
If you don't come with a map, simply plan to visit the visitors center near the campground and they can provide one. Note the hours detailed here on the park's website.
- Comlara Park website
- Gettin' Dirty in Houston's Memorial Park
- Mountain Biking in Cedar Glades Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Richard Burke, founder of Trek Bicycle Corporation, died in 2008 from complications of heart surgery. His son (and Trek's current president), John Burke, recently penned a book called One Last Great Thing - A Story of a Father and a Son, a Story of a Life and a Legacy.
It seemed like a fascinating read, promising to "take readers deep into the history of Trek" while profiling the man who both built a great bike company and helped develop his son into the influential head of this industry leadering company in his own right. The preface calls it "a powerful tribute to the incredible life his father led and the ways in which he was an inspiring businessman, leader, and person."
All in all it sounded like the perfect combination of bikes, business, leadership lessons, family dynamics, the relationship between a father and son and the valuable truths that emerge in the last days of a great life.
But does it deliver on that prospect? Unfortunately not. You can read more about the book and where it falls short in our full review of One Last Great Thing.
- Review: One Last Great Thing: A Story of a Father and a Son; a Story of a Life and a Legacy
- Boy Racer: Mark Cavendish autobiography - a book review
- The Secret Race: Tyler Hamilton - a book review
- Book Review: Major Taylor - the Fastest Cyclist in the World