Four ways to become a stronger, faster cyclist

After 18 weeks of preparation, it all came down to 3 hours and 46 minutes. That’s the time it took me to find the finish line after 65 grueling miles at the Tour of the Battenkill. I was elated and exhausted by the end. Sure I was ecstatic over my performance, but I was also extremely proud of (and a bit surprised by) the athlete I had become over those four months. I knew when I signed up that I wasn’t going to half-ass it until April. I tend to do things in a big way and this was no different. I planned to carefully follow my training plan and to use my diet and recovery tactics to see just how great I could become. It turns out these strategies paid off big time. Continue reading

Lessons from the ground

“Wow, that was a close call,” I thought, my body slumped over the top of one of New Jersey’s bucolic stone bridges “I nearly crashed.” If my body didn’t land on the ground, I reasoned, then it wasn’t technically a crash. Fifty miles to go. Let’s do this. The adrenaline surged through my body as a friend pointed out that my knee was bleeding and my bike only had one operating brake. This could be a problem. And my shoulder’s a little stiff, but if I just fix this brake I can still get in my long ride for the week and be strong for my first road race (ever) in a month. This is just a minor setback.

IMG_1413But an hour later, I wasn’t training. I was sitting in the bike shop with one stiff knee and a shoulder that was slowly seizing up, staring at the chipped paint on my frame. But it could be worse and had I really crashed? I was always afraid of crashing during races, not group rides, especially not when I was flying downhill away from the pack. I hadn’t crashed. I just stopped myself from crashing by grabbing onto the bridge. Continue reading

Should cyclists use a foam roller?

Mention the words “foam roller” to a group of cyclists and the response will likely be as polarizing as a discussion on Lance. Some swear by their rollers, using them daily to dig into every ache and pain, while others place the torturous device in the same category as “hill repeats” and “saddle sores.” But does a roller really live up to the hype? Can a piece of foam replace a trip to the massage table?  Continue reading