Yoga for cyclists

This winter, I’ve been spending some quality time on my yoga mat. I’ve been practicing yoga for longer than I can remember and it’s definitely become one of my cycling secret weapons. There’s a reason I can tuck into the tiniest ball while descending and why I can complete a century without back and neck pain. Yoga is a perfect complement to cycling.

Cycling muscles like the quads, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors tend to tighten and shorten from hours on the bike, which can lead to misaligned hips and muscle imbalances. If the back, neck and core are weak, they can become strained from the position on the bike. Yoga helps correct imbalances, strengthen underused muscles and loosen up tight ones, therefore increasing muscle function, lessening the chance of an overuse injury and aiding in recovery.

Yoga also teaches cyclists how to regulate their breathing. In each yoga pose, you breathe deeply into the muscles you’re stretching. You can also apply this same rhythmic breathing to push through tough efforts on the bike and to tune into your body. Continue reading

How to plan your off-season cycling training

The time to plan for your 2012 cycling season is now. Yes, you heard me right. If you want to experience fitness gains, enter a race or just hang with your local group ride in the spring, you must start that conditioning over the winter. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a break or enjoy some cross-training this winter. After a busy season, some time off or just riding for fun provides the perfect mental break. But then it’s time to get to work.  Continue reading

How to survive your first group ride

My first group road ride went something like this. I showed up and nervously smiled at a few of the other cyclists. When the ride began, I placed myself dead last, felt my heart rate shoot up from anxiety and was promptly dropped the minute the pace escalated. As I fought off the urge to cry, a few kind riders waited for me. I apologized profusely and the next day, returned to the solitude of riding alone.

Fast forward a couple of years and now I’m keeping pace with the fast guys for 50 miles, chasing down breaks (or making them) and even participating in friendly sprints.

So, what happened? Continue reading