Tips to get the most from a massage

how to get the most out of massage

After you’ve put in some serious saddle time, it’s time to enjoy some hardcore recovery, which for many cyclists includes massage therapy. Not only does a massage help accelerate recovery and decrease delayed onset muscle soreness, but it also alleviates the pain and tension that can result in poor performance or injury (among many other things!). Believe it or not, you’re in control of many of the factors that determine if you’ll enjoy— and receive the maximum benefit— from a massage.  Follow these tips to ensure you get the most out of your table time. Continue reading

Belle of the bar: Why cyclists should be strength training

womanbarbellThis fall, I’ve been hiding out in a place where my fellow cyclists won’t find me— at the gym. In all seriousness, when I tell my friends that I’ve joined a gym to lift heavy weights, they look at me like I’ve just admitted to wearing underwear under my bibs. For so many cyclists the phrase “Ride lots” carries them from season to season and cycling is the only exercise they engage in. They think they’re earning extra points by riding outside year round and racking up more miles than their friends. Do you ever notice that these are the people who fade midseason, suffer from chronic aches and pains and who never seem to improve much despite all the time they put in?

What if I told you there was a shortcut to greater fitness gains that didn’t involve freezing your ass off and scrubbing road salt from your bottom bracket? Strength training is a cyclist’s secret weapon. Pedaling long hours of base miles (or subbing in some other type of steady state cardio) runs the risk of elevating your cortisol levels, which has been shown to increase metabolic resistance (ie: making weight loss difficult) and accelerating the aging process, while negatively affecting gut and heart health (reference).  Strength training elevates the metabolism for at least 12 hours post-workout, whereas cardio doesn’t provide this increased after burn and lifting doesn’t wreck havoc on your hormonal balance (reference). Strength training can also increase your aerobic capacity and even increase V02 max. I’m not saying to never ride your bike. There’s a time of year for hard efforts on the trainer or outside. But there’s also something to be gained from off the bike work. Less is more and mixing it up a little is a terrific boost both mentally and physically. Continue reading

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

How to find the perfect women’s group ride

I love suffering in a pack of male riders. I’ve even been told that I “ride like I have balls.” But sometimes a girl yearns for a break from the boy’s club and some time with her own species. Maybe it’s the lack of ball-busting and talks/displays of bodily functions, but there’s just a different vibe in a group of women. Men might think we’re non-competitive, but some of the best women’s rides display all the friendly attacks and quad-busting efforts of a testosterone fest. While men’s rides are a dime a dozen, finding a good group of women to ride with can be a life-long search. Here are some tips to find your own group. Continue reading

Be your own queen of the mountain

Yesterday something truly magical happened. Out of 99 women on the medio Gran Fondo NJ route, I placed second on the timed climbs and got the QOM on a tough climb with double digit grades. Me? A climber? Wait, did someone swap timing chips? Remember, I’m the girl who spent years dropped off the back, scaling the elevation solo.

But the magic wasn’t a fluke or a random lucky day. It’s been in the works for two seasons now, slowly percolating since the day I stopped dreading ascents and decided it was time to shape myself into a climber. A few changes made a huge impact. Continue reading