Don’t Try Riding To Work Without Reading This First

So you’ve seen them riding to work, and you want desperately to be one: the content cyclists, cruising past traffic and happily getting to work on time and getting fit at the same time.

They’re not at the mercy of the bus that may or may not show up, or stuck in time zapping traffic. They know when they cycle to work it takes the exact same time each day.

But before you get on your bike and join them, here’s a few key points that will make your first ride to work all the better:

Commute to work safely:

Safety is a major concern when cycling to work, but there are plenty of things you can do to make it safer for yourself, these include:

  • Stay alert
  • Know the cycling road rules for your state
  • Avoid busy roads
  • Take the bike path if possible, even if it’s a little longer
  • Take your time
  • Wear bright, highly visible clothing
  • Make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians
  • Be aware of vehicle blind spots
  • Maintain a roadworthy bike

Don’t go too hard too soon:

For a short ride, you could ride to and from work straight up. But as with anything, it’s a good idea to start out slow when riding to work for the first time….

Totally wasting yourself on your first day will only put you off ever riding again, and you’ll likely be unable to move properly for the next few days.

For longer commutes of 45 – 60 minutes, think about riding one way for the first day and building up your rides as you become fitter. Another option is to drive some of the way, park, and cycle the rest, making the ride more doable.

Wear bike pants:

You’ve seen them, those baggy bottomed pants cyclist wear…

Consider getting some!

There are plenty of stylish options out there and they’ll really make your ride much more comfortable.

Do a test ride:

Getting to know the route you’ll take to work ahead of the big day, will remove the fear of the unknown and provide confidence. 

If you don’t have the option to store your bike in your office or building, you can also test out where you’ll park your bike. Or you could look into ‘end of trip’ bike facilities like those offered by cycle2city in Brisbane. These facilities can make your ride absolutely hassle-free.  

Now you’re equipped with a little more knowledge to make your first ride to work a pleasure. For a deeper look at preparing to ride to work, check out our recent blog.

If you’re considering riding to work in Brisbane, contact the team at cycle2city, we have wonderful bike storage facilities right in the heart of Brisbane. Get in touch or GRAB A FREE 7 DAY TRIAL.

 


Become a Better Cyclist: Nutrition Basics

Good nutrition and a balanced diet is important for everyone, but you could argue that it is even more important for those who are active; particularly if you’re actively trying to improve at your sport!

Having a basic understanding of nutrition is important from a health perspective, so let’s jump in!

What are macronutrients?

Protein, carbohydrates and fat are called “macronutrients” because they are needed in relatively large amounts. They have slightly different functions in your body.

As cliche as it sounds, protein really is your body’s building blocks. It is made up of 20 different amino acids – some essential, and some non-essential – and is responsible for repairing, maintaining and growing tissue, including muscle tissue.

Protein is found in almost all foods, but complete and essential amino acids are really only found in meat and dairy products. Legumes, tofu and other vegan protein sources are great dietary additions, but have a lowered ability to repair and grow muscle tissue.

Carbohydrates are your quickest energy source, and will make up the majority of the daily caloric intake for most people. Carbs, as they’re also known, can be further segmented into sugars, starches and dietary fiber.

Carbs are converted to simple sugars like glucose and fructose in your small intestine and can quickly be released into your bloodstream for a burst of energy. It can also be converted into glycogen and stored for when you need it later – particularly during exercise!

Food sources that contain carbohydrates in spades include bread, pasta, vegetables and fruits, and all sorts of sweets.

Dietary fats, like carbohydrates, can be divided into several subcategories: saturated fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. It is a complex and confusing topic in and of itself.

Sources of  “healthy” fats include avocados, fish, nuts and seeds, and cooking oils like olive oil. Saturated fats and trans fats are the types that you’ll want to limit, which is found in all the tasty foods we love: chips, bacon, butter, ice cream, pies, pastries, pizza and burgers.

What are micronutrients?

The reason for micronutrients’ name is the same as macronutrients; they are needed in small doses, usually less than 100 milligrams per day. Examples of micronutrients are vitamins like vitamin A, B, C – and so on – and minerals like iron and zinc.

Multivitamin tablet may be the most common dietary supplement in the world, though it is largely regarded as unnecessary unless you have nutritional deficiencies that you cannot adapt to. If you’re a healthy individual with a balanced and nutritious diet, you are probably already covering your micronutrient needs.

Image source: Examine.com

What should I eat before a ride?

Carbohydrates are especially good before working out, as its energy is easily converted and used by the body for the energy you’ll need to get through strenuous exercise! Adding a source of protein to your pre-workout meal is also a great idea, as it will help your body repair the stress you put on your muscle tissue when exercising.

Caffeine is the most common performance enhancing drug in the world, and has a long list of physical and cognitive effects, including increased alertness and increased strength output. Consider having a cup of coffee or tea before hopping on the bike.

What should I eat after a ride?

Post-workout nutrition is arguably more important than what you eat beforehand. This is the meal that will help repair muscle tissue and replenish the energy you just spend!

A well balanced meal is in order here: protein will repair and rebuild muscle tissue, carbohydrates will help replenish the energy (glycogen) stored in your muscles, and fat will give you that long-term energy to keep you going for hours more.

As big advocates of weekend rides with friends and family, a classic Aussie cafe breakfast is pretty ideal! Smashed avo on toast with bacon or a generous helping of savoury mince should cover all of your needs and keep you going for the rest of the day!

If you want more in-depth information regarding nutrition, you can read the Australian dietary guidelines online here.

This blog is a part of our Become a Better Cyclist series. You can find the previous entries here:

 

 

 

This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the cycle2city blog. Consult your GP before making changes to your exercise regimen or diet.


Become a Better Cyclist: Strengthening Exercises for Cyclists

Cycling is very unique in that it puts your body in the same position and has you performing the same motion thousands of times every time you ride.

Your body will adapt to this stimuli and strengthen your muscles to produce maximum power output in certain ranges of motion. It’s great for cycling, but it may be less than optimal from a every day health perspective.

For example, riding will put your back into flexion; leaning forward and bending your back. Therefore, strengthening muscles that pull the back into a neutral position could be a good idea to avoid becoming hunched over.

All of these exercises will be possible to do at home! Try to aim for 3-5 sets of the same number of repetitions. You don’t want to burn yourself out completely, so try to stop when you feel like you could do two more reps: this is more effective for muscle growth than going to failure, and should allow you to repeat the same set a couple times.

Without further ado, let’s look at our top 5 strengthening exercises that will make you a better cyclist!

Glute bridge

Your glutes are some of the most powerful muscles in your body – or at least they should be. As part of the muscles that extend your hips and let you stand up straight, glutes can often become weakened if you have a sedentary lifestyle or spend most of your workday sitting down.

Glute bridges are a great way to strengthen one of the key muscles in cycling. Better yet, you can do it at home – right now – with no additional equipment needed. Simply lie down on your back, plant your soles on the floor shoulder width apart, and use your glutes to drive your hips up.

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Try to keep your shins as perpendicular to the floor as you can. Engage your core to keep your upper body straight, and that’s it! Single leg glute bridge, the more advanced version, is a great option if you find glute bridges too easy: do this by keeping one leg straight and in line with your torso, and the other planted as normal.

Bent-over row

Since most of our time spent on a bike is leaning forward, it’s important to strengthen your back muscles so that we can avoid getting hunched over. The bent-over row is an excellent exercise that targets the middle and upper part of your back while using your core to stabilise your position.

Place your right hand and right knee on an even surface – you could use two chairs, a table, or even a sofa or bed. Engage your core to keep your back straight, and keep your neck in a neutral position. Grab your dumbbell with the left hand and use your back muscles to drive your elbow back. Simple as you like.

If you don’t have access to dumbbells or kettlebells at home, there are plenty of ways to improvise! A three litre milk bottle (or two) could be plenty for a beginner. You could also put a couple in a backpack or use a bucket – just be careful not to spill it! Resistance bands are also a great option here.

Russian twist

Cycling requires a strong core. A lot of time spent on the bike is with your torso in front of your centre of gravity, and strong abdominal muscles will help balance your body. Core exercises can be quite tricky; sit-ups can sometimes be a bit hard on your back, while lying leg lifts can end up using your hip flexors – muscles that already see plenty of use when pedaling – more than your abs.

Few exercises develop strong abdominal muscles like the Russian twist, though. Here’s how you do a Russian twist: simply sit down on the floor with your feet out in front of you. You can keep your heels on the ground if you like, but try not to put too much weight on them. 

Start by holding your clenched fists above your hips. Twist to one side, touch the ground lightly and then do the same on the other side. Add weight if you find this too easy! Dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls are optimal, but you can also be creative and fill an empty milk bottle with water. Taking your feet off the ground will make it harder, as you will need to use your core muscles to stabilise your body.

Push-ups

Now that we have exercises that cover your back, glutes and core muscles, it’s time to cover the chest and triceps. Although they aren’t directly related to pedaling power, it’s important to ensure that no muscle groups are underdeveloped. Strong triceps will also make it easier to ride for longer periods, as strong arms help support your bodyweight.

Place your hands under your shoulder joint or slightly outside. Keep your core engaged and straight, and lower yourself down before pushing up. If you find it hard to know how low you need to go, you can put a tennis ball or orange beneath your chest!

There are a lot of push-up variations available if you find them too easy: deficit push-ups, pike push-ups or using a weighted backpack are great options if you are more advanced.

Dumbbell deadlifts

Deadlifts are a fantastic way to train your whole posterior chain in one exercise: you’ll feel this in your back, glutes and hamstrings as well as your abs. It’s deceptively simple, but slow and controlled movements will still make this one challenging.

Simply stand up straight with weights in your hands. Unlock your knees and pull your hips backwards to start the movement. “Paint your legs” with the weights on the way down to keep your centre of gravity over your midfoot. Stop when you feel your hamstrings stretched far enough that you can’t go lower without using your knees; usually just below the knees.

Too simple? Try one-legged for an added challenge! Yes, this does require weights, but getting creative with a bucket of water, a bag of cement or two milk bottles is an option if you don’t have dumbbells or a kettlebell available.

This blog is a part of our Become a Better Cyclist series. You can find the previous entries here:

Did we miss your favourite strengthening exercises? Let us know on Facebook!

 

 

 

This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the cycle2city blog. Consult your GP before making changes to your exercise regimen or diet.


Become a Better Cyclist: Learn to Stretch, part 2

Cycling is very tough, no doubt about it. A lack of flexibility will make any ride much more uncomfortable, regardless of your type of bike and how long you ride for. Shortened, tight muscles pull and restrain your body into unfavorable positions, causing discomfort and poor balance.

Let’s look at some fantastic stretches that all cyclists should have in their arsenal!

Read part 1 in this series if you are new to cycling and stretching!

#1: Spine twist

Spine twists put your shoulders in a neutral position and help loosen up your spine, back, neck and abdominal muscles. Stretching out the back is as important for road cyclists hunched over handlebars as it is for office workers hunched over a keyboard.

Start by lying flat on your back. Stretch your arms out perpendicular to your body, keeping the palms up. Kend your knees up while keeping your ankles together, then roll your knees to one side while you turn your neck and look the other way. Hold for 20 seconds before switching sides.

#2: Quad stretch

Your quadriceps are responsible for the bulk amount of force being generated when you push off with your feet, whether that be on pedals, running, jumping or doing lower body strength training. Tight quads will prevent you from fully straightening your leg while pedaling, and may affect your rhythm and balance on the bike.

This stretch is straightforward and simple, but it will probably be pretty uncomfortable if you aren’t used to stretching. Stand up straight and grab your ankle behind you. Holding onto a wall or chair with the other hand makes it easier to stay balanced.

You should pull your ankle enough that you feel your muscles stretch, but not so much that it becomes difficult to stand with straight hips.

#3: Hip flexor stretch

Your hip flexors sit at the front of your hips and are part of the muscles that lean your torso forward and move your knees up towards your chest when you ride. These muscles are constantly working when we pedal, and giving them a stretch is important to keep you from getting hunched over.

Get into a kneeling position with one leg in front of you. Leave the trailing foot on the floor. Drive your hips forward, and you will feel the stretch at the front of your hips. You can play around and get a feel for how much forward lean you want!

#4 Cat cow stretch

This stretch is excellent for your back, neck and abdominal muscles. Since we spend our time on the bike leaning forward, it is important to have a stretch that moves us in the opposite direction!

Start by getting on all fours: hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Inhale and move into the cow pose by flexing your lumbar spine and dropping your abs and ribs cage towards the floor, pull your shoulders back and look up.

Hold for a few seconds. Exhale and engage your core muscles to move into the cat pose, pushing your hands into the floor and dropping your head in between your arms.

#5 Glute and piriformis stretch

Obviously, your quads do an awful lot of work when you pedal – but so do your glutes. They are some of the most powerful muscles in your body, and are part of the muscles that are responsible for extending your hips. Tight glutes are often part of the reason why some experience lower back pain, but stretching them out can help with that.

Image credit: welovecycling.com

Lie flat on your back and put your left ankle on top of your right knee. Clasp your hands behind the right leg. You shouldn’t need to do anything else before you feel the stretch across your left glute. Hold for 20-30 seconds (or more) before switching sides. This can also be done in a seated position, but most people will probably find it easier lying down.

There you have it, our top 5 stretches for cyclists! Did we miss your favourite stretch? Let us know on Facebook!

 

This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the cycle2city blog. Consult your GP before making changes to your exercise regimen or diet.


Become a Better Cyclist: Learn to Stretch, part 1

Cycling is a great way to exercise, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s also very unique in that it puts your body in the same position and has you performing the same motion thousands of times every time you ride.

Over time you may start feeling stiff as increased muscle tone will lead you to being less limber than you used to be. Stretching and increasing your flexibility will give you more freedom of movement – both on and off the bike.

How & when should I stretch?

Much has been said and written about whether it’s better to stretch before or after a workout. They’re both great, but you need to take some things into consideration!

If you’re stretching before exercising, you should do dynamic stretching: slow and deliberate movements. Since your muscles haven’t been warmed up yet, you should avoid any serious pulling, as you may be at increased risk of tearing muscle fibres apart. Instead, incorporate movements. For example, you could do walking lunges instead of kneeling hip flexor stretches (more on these later!).

This blog will focus on static stretching, the kind that most people will be familiar with; pull a leg or an arm in a certain direction and hold it there. The key is to do it after exercising, when the muscles are warmed up and have increased blood supply.

You’ll want to do each stretch for at least 20 seconds, but how long is too long? There’s probably no such thing, but you definitely reach a point of diminished returns after around 90 seconds. Keep in mind too, you need to prioritise good form over how long you stretch for. 20 seconds of good form is better than 40 seconds of poor form!

How hard should you stretch? It’s hard to answer this question because there are no objective metrics to go by and stretching will feel different to everyone. As a rule of thumb, you should take it to a point where your muscles are giving you resistance, but you shouldn’t push into pain. You may feel some discomfort, especially if you are new to stretching, but you should not feel any sharp, sudden or intense pain.

The basics of stretching

  1. Dynamic stretching before working out is a great warm-up.
  2. Keep static stretching limited to after a ride.
  3. Focus on correct form and gradually increase how long you stretch for.
  4. Feel the burn, but don’t push into pain!

Looking for an end-of-trip facility in Brisbane CBD? At cycle2city, we offer a free 7 day trial with no commitments. Come by our King George Square location for a tour of the facilities, or sign up for a free trial on our website!

We offer 24/7 premium cycling facilities in the heart of Brisbane, and have state of the art bike storage, an in-house bicycle workshop, 400+ personal lockers, plenty of shower cubicles and fresh towels supplied daily.

Want to learn some specific stretches? Click here to read part two in our series, where we will go through some of the best stretches for cyclists!

 

This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the cycle2city blog. Consult your GP before making changes to your exercise regimen or diet.


Cycling: Social Distancing Built In!

The coronavirus pandemic is still locking down large parts of society, and gyms have all been ordered to close. Ways to exercise are more or less limited to runs, walks, bodyweight exercises and cycling!

Cycling is a fantastic way to get your legs going and heart pumping! Here are some key reasons why you should begin cycling today!

  • Social distancing

One of the best things about cycling right now is that social distancing is built in! There’s only one person on your bike, and keeping a 1.5m distance to your friends is easy as can be!

  • No need to touch any foreign surfaces

With coronavirus spreading through droplets that can survive on public surfaces, it is great for your peace of mind that cycling doesn’t require you to touch any surfaces. If you want, you can simply wipe down your handlebars and bottle after a ride, and you’ll be all set for your next workout!

  • Fantastic workout – minimal equipment

Cycling is a fantastic way to exercise for a couple of different reasons. First of all, it is an excellent cardio workout, and keeping your lungs strong and healthy has never been more important! It is also extremely adaptable, and you can just go at your own tempo. Last, but not least, it doesn’t require much equipment. Just a bike and a helmet! No need to worry about special shoes, outfits, bottles, or any other pieces of equipment that other sports require.

  • Less pollution

By cycling, you help do your bit for the environment, which is still very important. We haven’t forgotten about the bushfires and smoke that strangled large parts
of our lucky country just a few months ago, and neither should you. It is still important to reduce our carbon footprint!

  • Permanent changes to commuting

The current nationwide lockdown had led to a 50% decrease in traffic and a drop of 60% usage of public transport. Co-director of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre, Julian Bolleter, believes that a perception of risk will remain over public transport, which could lead to permanent changes to the buses, trains and ferries on offer in metropolitan cities.

It seems increasingly likely that our lifestyles may be permanently altered by this pandemic, even after the restrictions are lifted. As more people work from home or other remote locations, cyclists will once again enjoy the benefits of fewer cars in city streets.

Obviously, there are many more reasons why cycling is incredible, but these points are perhaps most pertinent these days.

We welcome cyclists of all experience levels at cycle2city, whether you’re a road cyclist pro or someone who is just discovering your pedals. As an alternative to public transportation, we remain open in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, and have strengthened our already strict hygiene procedures.

  • Secure, state of the art bike storage
  • 400+ personal lockers
  • Bike workshop with member discounts: Same day service while you’re at work
  • Plenty of clean shower stalls with fresh towels supplied daily
  • Fresh clothes delivered directly to your locker through our valet laundry service
  • 24/7 member access in the heart of Brisbane

Please note that we have limited space available! Get a c2c membership now before you miss out! If you want to check us out before signing up, you can get a free 7 day trial!