Posts Tagged ‘mountain biking’

Get the right bicycle frame fit

One of the most important details when buying a bicycle is finding the right size frame for your body.  When you have the right size frame you will be in the proper position, which improves cycling efficiency, power and comfort.  You’ll be a better rider.

Frame Size:
The size of a frame is determined from the length of the seat tube.  This is the tube that connects the bottom bracket to the seat.  The frame size you need relates closely to the length of your leg.  Bicycle manufacturers measure the frame size various ways but there are two generally accepted ways.

Most road bicycles are sized by the distance along the seat tube from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the top tube.  This is call center-to-center.  Some bicycles are sized from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the top tube.  This is called center-to-top.  All measurements are in centimeters.

Top Tube Length:
The top tube runs horizontally from the seat to the headset.  Frame size is the most important factor when choosing a frame that’s right for you but different manufacturers have different length top tubes for the same size frame.  Women generally have shorter upper bodies than men and will need a bicycle with a shorter top tube.  If your legs are very long or short in relation to the rest of your body you may need to either pay special attention to the top tube lengths from the various manufacturers or think about buying a custom-built bicycle.

Seat Tube Angle:
This is the angle formed by the seat tube and an imaginary horizontal line.  For all-around road racing bikes, the suitable seat tube angle is about 73.5 degrees.  Mountain bikers may want a little steeper angle – 74 or 74.5 degrees.  Biking athletes prefer a steeper angle – 80 degrees, which gives the rider a more forward position.  As your needs and riding style change you should pay more attention to the geometry of your specific machine.

Choosing Your Frame Size:
The frame size you choose is directly related to the length of your inseam.  Here’s how to get the correct fit:

  1. Determine your inseam – stand with your back to a wall with a 1-inch thick book held between your legs, snug against your crotch and measure from the floor to the top edge of the book.
  2. If you used inches, convert it to metric by multiplying by 2.54.  (For center-to-center, the frame size should be 0.65 of inseam.  For center-to-top, add 1.5 centimeters.)
  3. In general, when you stand over a road bicycle there should be 1-inch of clearance between your crotch and the top tube with socks on and about 1 to 2-inches with shoes on.

Once you have the right sized frame for your body, the next step is the find the correct position on the bicycle (NEXT BLOG POST).

Live, Ride, have Fun!!

Cindy 🙂

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Asthma, Allergies and Biking

I’ve had asthma and allergies for about 20 years now. When I first learned that I had asthma, my doctor restricted me from any exercise at all. Nothing was allowed that would cause or increase the probability of an attack. That was hard to do for someone who was used to being outdoors playing, running around, riding bikes, etc. As it turns out I was allergic to everything except for a Holly bush. That lead to allergy shots 3 times a week for 2-3 years.

Once my asthma and allergies were under control I was already in a sedentary pattern that I wanted to break but didn’t know how, plus I had children so it was difficult to get out of my comfort zone.

At my heaviest I weighed 200 pounds, which was about 2 years ago. Even though my asthma was under control and had been for years I let myself slip so slowly into this weight that I never saw it coming until I went to put on my size 18 pants and they didn’t fit. The next size up was “plus size”. That was my wake up call.

I joined the Biggest Loser Club on September 30, 2007 and by January 2008 I had lost 40 pounds. I was doing cardio (elliptical machine) 5 days a week and weight training 2 days a week.

My first attempt at the elliptical machine I lasted for 2 minutes and needed my inhaler. This was different because over the past 10-15 years the only time I needed my inhaler was if I had a cold in my chest. I kept at it and used my inhaler when I needed it.

Then in February 2008 we went for a bike ride at the Greenway in Ocala, which is a paved trail that’s about 6 miles all together I believe. I think I lasted about 15 minutes the first time and needed my inhaler. Somehow bicycling is different than the elliptical machine, at least that’s what my lungs thought.

The next weekend we went to Santos Bike Trails, which are unpaved “mountain”, well as “mountain” as you can get in Florida, trails with rocks, roots, holes, trees, spiders, etc., and it was a blast. Once again, I needed my inhaler after about 15 minutes but it was well worth it. I think it took about 3-4 weeks before I could ride without using my inhaler, and that felt so good, but I still take it with me just in case.

Since I had the allergy shots I don’t really have a lot of problems with them except for when I’m around cats, but you don’t see too many of those on the trails – thank goodness.

I would love to say biking is for everyone and everyone will love it but sometimes that is not the case but don’t let that hold you back from living a healthier, happier lifestyle. Find something you love to do: swimming, walking, running, tennis, etc., and do it. If you are like me and have asthma and/or allergies, make sure you have your medicine / inhaler with you just in case you need it. Your safety and well-being is your first concern. If you are a beginner at whatever form of exercise you choose, don’t push yourself too hard. Start out with 15 or 30 minutes, depending on what you can handle and then add 5-10 minutes every other week.

I often wonder if I’m the only biker out there with asthma. If you have asthma and enjoy bike riding, email me or comment on this post and share your experiences and helpful advise.

Ride, live, have fun!!

Cindy 🙂

What to expect when you go trail riding.

When starting out, I’d suggest that you see if a friend has a bike and helmet you can borrow.  What’s the sense in buying a bike when you’re not sure if you are going to like it or not.  If it’s been a while since you’ve been on a bike make sure you wear a helmet – yes it’s important, especially if you’re going on a trail. 

The trails in my area have:

  • roots
  • rocks
  • trees close to the trail just wide enough for your bike to get through (most of the time)
  • spiders and other bugs
  • snakes
  • small animals like possum, racoon and armadillo
  • lynx

Any one of these items, while riding the trail, can catch you off guard and the next thing you know your picking your butt up off the ground.  Believe you me, I know.  This past summer I was riding with my daughter and the trails in my area are known for their banana spiders, in fact, the local biking club uses it as they “mascot”, symbol, what have you there are so many.  Anyway, I was in front and I went right through one of their webs.  Now keep in mind that these spiders are usually about as big as the palm of your hand and bigger.  This was on my face, just for a few seconds mind you because I dismounted my bike, I’ll admit it, ungracefully, to get that thing off me.  They don’t bite so I’m told but I’m not one to take the chance.

Are you done laughing yet?

No.  Ok I’ll wait.

My point is if this happens to you and you have to get off your bike fast you could get off right into a tree or rock so protecting your melon is a wonderful idea.

The other thing you want to do is make sure you are prepared.  It gets very hot in the summer here in Florida so we carry lots of water, in fact, you can never have too much water with you.  I usually have two plastic bottles of water as well as a vitamin water or two, just for myself, as well as some snacks.  A “camel pack” is really helpful on the trail.  It’s a backpack, small and thin, just for your water and has a hose that goes over your shoulder for easy access while riding.  They come in various sizes and colors and range in price from $30-$100, so you can choose the one you like best.

You’ll want to carry a tire repair patch kit with you and a tire pump.  If you don’t know how to repair a tire you should learn if you decide you like biking – I’ll do a blog on that topic soon.

I’ve found that I prefer a waist pack, bought at Walmart for $10 I think.  It included two plastic bottles and has plenty of zippered pockets to carry snacks, digital camera, cell phone, car keys, etc.  You may find that a “camel pack” is all you need because some of them have pockets as well.

If you decide you like biking, the next step is to buy a bike.  You can start out going to Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority or another sporting goods store in your area.  Now you don’t want to buy the cheapest and you don’t need to go all out and get the most expensive.  Get a mountain bike with nice nobby tires, comfortable gear shifters and top notch brakes – preferable disc brakes.  Shop around, try them out and make sure you buy a bike that YOU like.  My advise for you is… don’t go to Walmart or Target for your first bike and don’t go to a Bike Shop.  The bikes at Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc., are not the best for trail riding, were most likely put together wrong and are built with cheap parts.  On the other hand the bikes at the Bike Shop are expensive, usually starting out around $800 and can go up to $5,000+.  Yes, they are quality bikes but if this is your first bike I would not recommend spending that much unless you are completely sure you will stick to mountain bike riding.  You’ll be much happier with the bike you get from Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sports Authority.

Ride, live, have fun!!  Cindy 🙂

Mountain Biking vs. Road Biking

Mountain biking is a far more technical riding process than road biking because it’s mostly done off-road, trails can be full of stones, roots, tree trunks, and other debris.  It requires more concentration and technical ability on behalf of the rider.  A mountain biker’s average speed will rarely be over 20 miles per hour.  Mountain bike frame tubes aren’t normally as thin as a road bike, shocks are now very common, their tires have more tread for better traction and their handlebars emphasize on the best control and handling possible.

Road biking is done on paved roads, thus reducing the rider’s need to concentrate on the road as much and rather letting him focus on his stamina or other physical aspects.  Road bikes are much faster where the biker may be going at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour (the Tour de France average was 34 miles per hour).  Road bikes are designed to cut the wind as much as possible, which makes them faster.  Their frame tubes are thin and light, their forks hardly ever have shocks, their rims and tires are also thin and their handlebar is shaped differently so that the rider can keep his body as close to the bike as possible.

They are both equally as good for your health and I encourage everyone to try both to see which they prefer.  I prefer mountain biking.  All the obstacles, hills, valleys, roots, etc., just make it that much more fun for me.

Ride, live, have fun!!  See you on the trails.

Cindy 🙂

Mountain Biking Official Rules

As some of you may or may not know, there are rules of the trail when you go Mountain Biking.  I found the Official IMBA standard code of conduct.  Some of them are common sense and being courteous to other bikers and some are for your safety and the integrity of the trails.

  1. Ride On Open Trails Only – Respect the trail and road closures, avoid trespassing on private land and obtain permits or other authorization that may be required.  Federal and state wilderness areas are closed to cycling.
  2. Leave No Trace – Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you.  Recognize different types of soils and trail construction and practice low-impact cycling.  Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage.  When the trailbed is soft, consider other riding options.  This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones.  Don’t cut switchbacks.  Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
  3. Control Your Bicycle – Not paying attention, for even a second can cause problems.  Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations.
  4. Always Yield Trail – Let your fellow trail users know you’re coming.  A friendly greeting or bell is considerate and works well, but don’t startle others.  Show your respect when passing by slowing to a walking pace or even stopping.  Anticipate other trail users around corners or in blind spots.  Yielding means slow down, establish communication, be prepared to stop if necessary and pass safely.
  5. Never Scare Animals – All animals are startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise.  This can be dangerous for you, others, and the animals.  Give animals extra room and time to adjust to you.  When passing horses use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders – ask if uncertain.  Running cattle and disturbing wildlife is a serious offense.  Leave gates as you found them, or as marked.
  6. Plan Ahead – Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding – and prepare accordingly.  Be self-sufficient at all times, keep your equipment in good repair, and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions.  A well-executed trip is a satisfaction to you and not a burden to others.  Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

The trails we ride should be left the better for it.  If your local trail system has a volunteer group that maintains them, sign up.  Keeping the trails and environment clean will ensure that many generations will be able to enjoy them as we do.

Ride, live, have fun!  See you on the trails.

Cindy 🙂