December 2021 WheelPeople



Rami Haddad




Thank you all who offered their time, energy, & support to volunteer for the Club this year.


It became clear—if anyone had doubts before—the amount of passion there is around our club. People take their precious time to do things for the club, mobilize their friends and contacts, share their ideas and thoughts on what they believe the club should do and be. Like you have shown, CRW matters.


There is always hope your energy will contaminate more people. The future you represent is what will make CRW a better club.


The Board voted to award those that have taken extra measures to dedicate their time to the Club:

A. Amy Juodawlkis built a big following for the gravel program & orchestrated several Women events, always with the riders' great experience in mind.

B. Robyn Betts, volunteer of the year, prepared professional quality leader training then launched the Women program to a new level of activity & excitement.

C. Barbara Jacobs dedicated a full season of active Thursday weekly rides with huge following, social activities, & member engagement, which extended to Lexington Social Revolutions ride at times.

D. André Wolff enriched CRW with the Devo program: winter virtual rides, webinars, climbing challenges with the hype of “winning the coveted KOM socks”, very successful Mighty Squirrel rides and his invaluable ability to open the club to new, diverse riders of all ages, abilities and ethnicities.

E. Randall Nelson-Peterman organized our first century in two years, under difficult circumstances, finished with big success enjoyed by 400 members.


Thank you,

Rami رامي 拉美



Last Ride Leader Ride of the Year

Lisa Najavits, John O'Dowd, Nina Siegel

Calling all Ride Leaders! Join us for a Winter kick off ride and share some heady camaraderie with your Ride Leader buddies! Two ride lengths to warm you up starting from Craft Food Hall Project-City Point in Waltham. Both routes will take you out to thru Lincoln, Sudbury and return via Weston. Both rides take you past Ponyhenge and across the scenic Sherman Bridge. The long route has a rest stop at Verrill Farm. But don't get filled up because we will gather back at Craft Food Hall Project-City Point where CRW gladly thanks you with some hearty slices of pizza and a glass of beer or wine for being the best Ride Leaders around! Sorry, no rest stop on the short route  We will let you know if any snowflakes will put us off our ride, but think positive!

This ride/event is for Ride Leaders only, sorry to our other members!

When: Saturday, December 4

Time: 1pm

Ride Specifics:

Where: Craft Food Hall Project-City Point in Waltham 

Start: 200 5th Ave, Waltham

Ride Lengths:     23 and 33 miles. Check the calendar for updates re ride details and weather and to SIGN UP go Here

Leaders: Lisa Najavits, John O’Dowd, Nina Siegel, John Caban



Alternate Winter Sports

Eli Post
Most of you have hung up your bikes now that winter and cold weather is around the corner. But all is not lost and you have options for engaging in outdoor sports to maintain your fitness and stay in shape. We present some options here.
The videos are all embedded on this page for your convenience.They may take a moment to load on the page.
Wingsuit Flying is worth a try if you have a mountain pass nearby and are comfortable with living on the edge. It is not for sissies.


 Ice Climbing  is for those who love winter and want to experience it full blast. It's for you if you are agile and feel comfortable surrounded by icy cold snow.





Cliff Jumping is your "cup of tea" if the prior sports strike you as boring. You will have to find your own cliff, and please make sure there's deep water below.



Downhill Skatebording offers the same biking excitement of effortlessly flying downhill with the wind in your face, and the outdoors flashing by. Unfortunately we never learned how to stop, no small matter for those who do not wish broken bones.


Hill Climbing   OK we get it. You don't want to adopt any of the dangerous sports we just described and want to stick with biking.You may be ready to take on one of the very steepest streets in the world, Canton Ave in Pittsburgh. Watch the different strategies for getting up the hill, and also note how many just give up and walk the hill. The Dirty Dozen is a one-day road cycling  race in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, held annually on the first Saturday following the Thanksgiving holiday. The event is contested over a 50-mile (80 km) course that features 13 of the steepest hills in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.


Alex Post did the research for this article.



Ask the Coach: Anti-Aging: Why Practicing Balance Is Important


By Coach John Hughes



This may seem like an irrelevant recommendation to cyclists. You have no problem staying on your bike, right? Here’s why that isn’t sufficient:




  1. Balancing on a bike is a learned skill. Beginners are very wobbly, but as you become proficient you learn to ride a straight line. The gyroscopic forces are relatively unimportant. [Dr. Hugh Hunt, Cambridge]
  2. Because balancing on the bike is a learned skill it doesn’t apply directly to other situations where balance is required.
  3. Different biomechanics. How you maintain balance is different on your feet than on the bike. And how you maintain balance while you’re moving is different than balancing when you’re standing.
  4. Regaining your balance when you start to fall is different than maintaining your balance standing, walking and cycling.

Experts differentiate between balance and stability. Balance is controlling your body without movement against gravity. Stability is controlling your body during movement. For simplicity in this column I’ll use the word balance to cover both balance and stability.


I’m a multi-sport athlete and balance is different in each activity. Balancing on my mountain bike on rough single track is different from balancing on the road. Balancing cross-country skiing is different than snowshoeing and very different from cycling. Balance while hiking uneven terrain is also different than walking.

I’m working on an eBook Cycling in Your 70s, 80s and Beyond and this column is based on my research.


Balance and Aging.

Falls are the number-one cause of injuries and death from injuries among older Americans. Every 19 minutes in this country, an older person dies from a fall. (New York Times)


As you age the body’s systems that detect gravity, identify exact body positioning (proprioception) at any moment, and promote balance and stability become less effective. These declines increase your risk of falling, they often occur alongside losses in muscle strength and mobility. Another factor is peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage that can result in numbness in the hands, feet, and other parts of the body. Type 2 diabetes, which affects about 25 percent of older adults, is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage that can result in numbness in the hands, feet, and other parts of the body.


Because balancing is a set of learned albeit unconscious skills, you need to practice so your body learns the skills in different situations. Maintaining cycling fitness requires regular riding. Similarly, in order to maintain your balance skills you need to continue to practice.



Each year, 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. These are not just inactive frail seniors. Because of the physiological changes described above we’re all at greater risk of falling and going to ER.


One out of five of these falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture. Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures. More than 95% of the hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways. Many of the injured either don’t survive the first year or do not regain the ability to walk without assistance and have to live in an institution. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. (Centers for Disease Control)



Here are drills to work on your balance. Your balance will be better if you:

  • Look forward toward a fixed horizon.
  • Practice in a room with no moving distractions, e.g., other people or the TV on.
  • Tighten your core so your body is stable except for the limbs you intentionally move.
  • Relax your knees instead of locking them.
  • Allow your toes to move — in ballet dancers are on the tips of their toes and are constantly moving their toes.
  • Imagine you’re pushing down with one hand onto a solid object.

1. a. Standing on one leg:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight equally distributed on both legs. Shift your weight to your left side and then lift your right foot about six inches off the floor. Slowly count the seconds you are balancing on one leg – try for 15 seconds initially. Slowly lower your right foot placing it hip-width from your left foot. Slowly shift your weight to your right foot, slowly raise your left foot and count the seconds. Put your left foot back on the floor. Raising and lowering both legs is one repetition. Practice doing two or three reps increasing the duration of each until you can do 30 to 60 seconds per rep.  As you get better you can make this harder with this progression: 


b. Rotating your head:

Stand on one foot like #1 and slowly count to five seconds. Stay on just that foot and slowly look over your right shoulder while counting to five. Still standing on that foot, slowly rotate and look over your left shoulder while counting to five. Slowly rotate your head back to center while counting to five. This is one rep. (You stand on one foot for a total of 20 seconds.) Do five reps on one foot (20 seconds per rep) and then switch feet. Practice increasing the duration of each of the five reps to 40 to 60 seconds per rep.


d. Raising your knee:

Slowly raise your left knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold for five seconds, lower until only your toes tap the floor. This is one rep. Do five reps with one leg (25 seconds total) and then switch legs. Practice increasing the duration of each of the five reps until they total 40 to 60 seconds with one leg. Then switch legs.


e. Moving your upper body:

For example, stand on one foot while you’re brushing your teeth or doing dishes.


e. Kicking:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight equally distributed on both legs. Cross your forearms in front of your chest. Shift your weight to your left side. Slowly kick forward and up with your right foot with your leg as straight as possible. At the same time sweep your arms out until they’re about parallel with the floor. Hold your foot up for six seconds and lower right foot back to stand on the floor. Cross your forearms back in front of you chest. This is one rep. Do five reps with one foot (30 seconds total) and then switch feet. Practice increasing the duration of each of the five reps until they total 60 seconds. Then switch legs.


2. Tandem or tightrope walking:

Try walking in a line, heel to toe, for a short distance, gradually increasing the distance. Use a line on the floor if possible. This is harder than normal walking because your stance is so narrow.


3a. Four-way stepping:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides. Engage your core. Stand on your right leg and step in four directions with your left foot so that with each step just your left toes touch the floor and all your weight is on you right foot. 1) Step forward and back to center.  2) Step to the left and back to center. 3) Step to the rear and back to center. 4) Move your left leg across the front of your right leg, step to the right and back to center. Put your left foot down shoulder-width from your right foot.  This is one rep. Switch feet and repeat. Practice building up to 5 to 10 reps per foot before you switch legs. You can make this more difficult by raising and your hands above your head and lowering as you step in each direction.


3b. Three-way lunge:

This is similar to the four-way stepping. Stand on your right foot and lunge three directions: 1) Lunge forward and back to center. 2) Lunge to the right and back to center. 3) Lunge backward and back to center. This is one rep. Switch legs and repeat. Only go down as deep in the lunge as you can without any knee pain. If your knees hurt this isn’t the exercise for you. Practice until you can do 5 to 10 reps with one leg before switching legs.


4. Airplane:

Stand on one leg with a slight bend in your knee. Bend forward from your hips. When your torso is almost parallel to the floor, extend your arms out to your sides and twist your trunk in either direction, as if you’re landing a plane. This is one rep. Practice until you can do 5 to 10 reps with one leg before switching legs.


These exercises are from three sources:

Each of these sources has more exercises.


More challenging: You can make each of the above more challenging doing it with your eyes closed. For an exercise, start by resting your hand lightly on a chair, table, etc. The hand is for safety, not to maintain your balance. When you start to lose your balance try to catch yourself with your body and only use the hand if you really start to fall. As you become more proficient hold your hand above the chair, etc. so you can catch yourself if you start to lose your balance.


This more general column from the New York Times is very informative about what you can do in addition to balance exercises.  Falls Can Kill You: Here’s How to Minimize the Risk.



Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.



CRW has a new logo!

Jeff Dieffenbach


It's with great pleasure that the CRW Logo Design Oversight Committee writes to share the results of the logo vote that took place this past October 29 through Nov 8.


Submitted by Club member Nina Siegel, Design D won, taking 382 combined votes versus 327 for Design B


You can view the other designs here.


Here are some details from the Rank Choice Voting:

  • Design D - 290 natural 1sts, 24 2nds from C, 68 2nds from A - TOTAL 382
  • Design B - 214 natural, 67 from C, 46 from A - TOTAL 327
  • Design A - 146 natural, 20 from C - TOTAL 166
  • Design C - 120 natural - TOTAL 120

Two members of our committee separately performed a full tally of the votes, with two other members of the committee tallying the first round "natural" votes.


As it happens, while the Rank Choice Voting method required three rounds, the order of design preference did not change relative to the first round.


Some additional facts:

1. Here's when the votes were entered



2. Here's how people chose to fill out their ballots:

  • 536 ballots ranked all 4 designs
  • 76 ballots ranked 3 designs
  • 109 ballots ranked 2 designs
  • 49 ballots ranked 1 design
  • 1 ballot ranked 0 designs


3. Odd ballots


Somewhat interestingly, 4 people did not submit their ranking in order. That is, they might have entered 1st, 3rd, and 4th, skipping 2nd. We chose to be literal and only count explicit 2nds as 2nd. An alternate way to count these would be to "promote" the 3rd to 2nd and the 4th to 3rd. The end result is the same in both cases.


4. The horse race

  • After round 1, Design D led with 37.7% over Design B with 27.8%
  • Design B closed the gap after round 2, with 41.3% to D and 36.9% to B
  • Design D widened its lead after round 3, with 53.9% to D and 46.1% to B

Put another way, Design C voters tended to like Design B, with both of those designs coming from the same designer. By comparison, current logo (Design A) voters tended to like Design D. The committee didn’t find this surprising, just interesting.


5. More inclusivity


At its meeting on Nov 9, the Board accepted the committee chair’s recommendation and approved Design D. The board also voted to replace the exclusionary "On the roads of New England since 1966" tagline with the more concise and inclusive "Cycling New England since 1966," reflecting the fact and joy that there are surfaces other than roads.




Writing as the committee chair, I offer my whole-hearted thanks to the members of the Logo Design Oversight committee (listed below). They brought thoughtfulness, energy, and candor to the effort.


- Judi Burten
- Margaret Coughlin
- Jeff Dieffenbach, chair
- Rami Haddad, CRW President
- Rob Keohane
- Ankit Parikh
- Nina Siegel
- Jerry Skurla



Recreational Exercise Better Than Physically Active Jobs

By Dr. Gabe Mirkin








A new study from Denmark shows that while leisure-time physical activity is associated with reduced heart attack risk, occupational physical activity is associated with increased risk. The Copenhagen General Population Study followed 104,046 participants for 10 years and found that compared to low levels of leisure-time physical activity, moderate, high and very high volumes of leisure-time physical activity reduced risk for heart attacks and death significantly, but the opposite was true for physical activity on the job. Participants with leisure-time physical activity had a 15 percent reduced risk for heart attacks, while those with heavy physical activity at work had a 35 percent increased risk


Differences Between Leisure-Time and Work-Time Physical Activity 

People who have physically demanding jobs often believe that they do not need to exercise because their work keeps them moving much of the time. However, there are differences between work and leisure activity:
• Recreational exercise is usually more intense and sustained for aerobic endurance, whereas work activity is usually repetitive motions of short duration at low intensity, such as standing for hours, walking up and down steps, moving arms to load boxes and so forth.
• Leisure time exercise improves cardiorespiratory and metabolic fitness and health, while physical activity on the job is associated with fatigue, insufficient recovery, elevated blood pressure and elevated heart rates.
• Heavy manual job workers are more likely to be stressed by noise, air pollution and other poor working conditions, and they may be too tired from their jobs to exercise after work.


Stable Plaques: A Possible Explanation

The authors of the Copenhagen study did not pursue reasons why there would be higher rates of heart attacks among people with high physical activity at work, but here is my opinion. Heart attacks are not caused by plaque buildup on the inner lining of arteries; they are caused by a sudden complete obstruction of the blood flowing to part of the heart muscle. The sudden complete obstruction of blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is usually caused by a plaque breaking off, followed by bleeding where the plaque broke off. Then clots form at the bleeding site, and the clot extends to block completely the flow of blood to the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery. The part of the heart muscle deprived completely of blood flow then dies, to cause a heart attack.


Older endurance athletes may have more plaques in their arteries than non-exercisers, but they often have the type of plaques that are far less likely to break off to cause heart attacks. They have:
• low 10-year-history risk scores for suffering heart attacks (Framingham study data),
• greater plaque thickness,
• more calcium in their plaques,
• wider and more dilated arteries that are far less likely to be blocked, and
• more stable plaques that are far less likely to break off to cause heart attacks.


A study of 21,758 men, average age 51.7 years, followed for an average 10.4 years, showed that men who exercised the most can have more plaques in their arteries, but did not suffer more heart attacks or deaths than those with less heart artery calcification . The least active men with excessive arterial plaques were twice as likely to die of heart disease. Compared to low-level exercisers, the heavy exercisers without increased plaques had half the risk of dying during the study period. See Stable Plaques: Why Exercisers Have Fewer Heart Attacks


How to Measure Plaque Stability
Your doctor can help to predict your risk for a heart attack with a test called a Calcium Score, which is a special CT X ray or sound wave test that measures the thickness of plaques on the inner lining of arteries. A CT scan can also show how stable a plaque is. It can show the difference between stable plaques that are usually safe and those that are unstable and more likely to break off to cause heart attacks (American Journal of Roentgenology, March, 2015;204(3):W249-W260). Signs of plaque stability include extensive calcification, less lipid-rich areas, increased fibrous areas and structural changes.


My Recommendations
We do not know why leisure-time exercise appears to give you stronger protection against suffering a heart attack than having a job that requires you to be physically active. It is my opinion that the recreational activity is usually more intense and sustained than repetitive-motion movements at work and therefore may be more likely to stabilize plaques so they do not break off to cause a heart attack. The Copenhagen study suggests that even if you have a job that involves a lot of physical effort, you should still have a program of recreational exercise that gives you the benefits of aerobic activity.


This article is courtesy of Dr. Mirkin 

Article Recreational Exercise Better Than Physically Active Jobs | Dr. Gabe Mirkin on Health (




Rami Haddad




Encourage members to ride during the holiday season. For every one hour recorded, we will donate $1 to non-profit organizations. Up to $1,500.

When the total exceeds 1,500 hours, then we will prorate the share based on the new total number of hours.


You must be a club member to participate. If you're not already a member, join CRW today at $15



Members will choose to allocate their hours to one of these organizations:

A. Mass Bike
B. Boston Cyclists Union
C. Bikes Not Bombs
D. East Coast Greenway
E. Bruce Freeman Trail
F. Lowell Bike Connector
G. Bike Newton
H. The Trustees of Reservations


The top three organizations with highest number of allocated hours will receive prorated funds. Hours allocated to remaining organizations will be distributed proportionally to the top three.



The event will run 25 November–25 December 2021.



Each member will enter number of hours completed & choice of organization on a web form at

No further proof will be required. This event will run on the honor system.




Quick release and thru axle safety

John Allen



In recent years, more and more bicycles have been sold with forkends that have holes rather than slots, and  “thru axles”, rather than quick release assemblies. Why is this? Let’s make a comparison and see why.

A quick release assembly compresses the dropouts against the hub locknuts and that is all it does. The axle of a quick-release hub extends into the dropouts when the wheel is  in place on the bicycle. When the quick release is properly tightened, the locknuts press hard enough against the inner faces of the dropouts that they resist forces that would try to move the hub in the dropouts. The axle does not resist the load on the hub: the locknuts do. More about quick releases is here.

Image: A Shutter Precision disc-brake front generator hub with a quick-release axle. The axle extends into the front fork's dropuut slots.


Traditional hub locknuts are serrated (have teeth) so they bite into the dropouts. If the quick release is tightened properly, these locknuts can support any normal load, even the chain tension from a tandem bicycle – except for the loading from a front disc brake.

A front disc brake exerts an extremely strong force tending to pull the wheel out of the dropout. Look at the brake from the left side, and see why this happens: the disc is rotating upward through the brake’s caliper, and resisting that upward motion, creating the downward force.   As the brake is applied and released, alternation of upward force of weight load and downward force from the brake can loosen a quick release and eventually allow the brake to tear the front wheel out of the fork.  The force from the brake can even bend and break the quick-release skewer when the dropouts have “lawyer lips” that (loosely) retain the wheel if the quick release has not been properly tightened. More about disc brakes is here, with a description of their problem with quick releases.

The disc brake problem is made worse because some boutique hubs have smooth faces pressing against  the dropouts, also because exposed-cam quick releases have become common in recent years. These quick releases do not tighten as securely as traditional enclosed-cam quick releases.

The thru axle has been put forward as a solution to these problems.The thru axle serves both as an axle and as a quick release. It inserts into the hole in one forkend, passes through the hub, and threads into the hole in the other forkend. No part of the hub extends into the holes in the forkends. That can’t be: the hub could be inserted only by prying the forkends apart! 

The thru axle may only thread in, or it may in addition have a cam assembly like a quick release to secure it. You may view a Global Cycling Network video about how to use a thru axle.

One advantage of a thru axle system is that a disc brake can’t pull the wheel out. Another is precise alignment, so the disc will sit inside the brake caliper without rubbing. 

Image: A similar hub for a thru axle. The axle is not part of the hub.


The bearings of a thru-axle hub rotate around a sleeve that encircles the thru axle. Weight mostly rests on the thru axle rather than being transferred to the forkends by the surfaces at the ends of this sleeve. The sleeve is kept from rotating by the compression of the thru axle. But importantly, that compression need not be as strong as with a quick release.

A thru axle system does have some important disadvantages.

As the thru axle is not attached to the hub, it can be misplaced or lost. And different bicycle manufacturers supply thru axles that are not compatible with one another. If you lose a thru axle, hunting down a replacement could be troublesome. So, when you remove the wheel, you should immediately replace the thru axle in the forkends, so you won’t lose it. With quick releases, on the other hand, the only important incompatibility is with different lengths.

Dropout alignment is critical with a thru axle. A steel fork or frame with slotted dropouts can be rebent and will work perfectly; a thru axle fork or frame must be manufactured to very tight tolerances and can’t be realigned – well, most such forks are carbon or aluminum and can’t be rebent anyway.


Image: End view of the hub made for a thru axle. The thru axle passes through the large hole in the sleeve. The hub bearing is behind the dark circle, which is the bearimg seal. The sleeve can rotate on the axle if it is not secured tightly.

 A wheel change is not as quick with a thru axle as with a quick release – but on the other hand, a quick release and disc brake may be even slower to install due to imprecision of rotor alignment. This is not to speak of the extra time it takes to remove and reinstall a quick-release wheel when a front fork has “lawyer lips.”

 That the compression of the forkends against the hub faces need not be as great with a thru axle as with a quick release has resulted in a bizarre problem with front generator hubs: torque from the generator can rotate the hub’s inner sleeve , and with it, the connection to the wires to the lamps. The wires wind up and break. Only SON brand hubs which connect through a special, electrically-insulated forkend are immune to this problem.

To sum up,  I advise that bicycles with disc brakes have thru axles, because they solve the safety issue; but thru axles bring problems of their own, and if you are a retro-grouch like me, you’ll stick with quick releases and rim brakes, or youll pay close attention to the tightness of quick releases on bicycles with disc brakes, indeed, I have two of them!




John S. Allen is CRW Safety Coordinator, a certified CyclingSavvy Instructor and League Cycling Instructor and author of Bicycling Street Smarts.



The Athlete's Kitchen -Personalized Sports Nutrition.


The Athlete’s Kitchen

Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSS December 2021

Wouldn’t it be nice if athletes could get a genetic test that tells them precisely what they should eat to enhance their performance? Of course, the answer is yes! Personalized (or precision) nutrition currently exists as a growing area of interest to athletes. Yet, the field is in its infancy. To date, precision nutrition is not precise enough to tell athletes what they can eat to be able to perform better. Plus, many factors impact performance and health, including sleep and dietary patterns. Regardless, athletes are already buying (expensive) genetic testing kits.
Speaking at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference (Oct 2021, ), exercise physiologist David Nieman PhD, director of the Human Performance Laboratory of Appalachian State University, stated we can’t yet make claims about what to eat based on genetic testing because the results are just too variable. Plus, many factors impact performance and health, including sleep and dietary patterns. More research is needed before athletes can get valid personalized nutrition recommendations.
Without question, exercise scientists are getting better at analyzing genetics and each athlete’s metabolites (end-products of exercise metabolism). This has the potential to improve our understanding of how genes, diet, and exercise interact. But the diversity of responses leaves big gaps in knowledge.
Case in point: genes related to caffeine metabolism. Consuming 3 to 13 mg caffeine per kilogram of body weight reportedly improves athletic performance. But why do only some athletes perform better with caffeine? Is the difference due to genetics? Genetic tests can identify which athletes have the ability to metabolize caffeine quickly or slowly. But Dr. Nieman reported the data shows no patterns that reliably link caffeine-metabolizing genes to enhanced athletic performance.
Is inflammation related to genetics?
Here’s an example of how personalized nutrition could potentially help athletes. At the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Dr. Nieman measured inflammation (cytokines) in 154 ultra runners. The amount of inflammation varied widely. Some runners had very high levels of cytokines and others very little. Was this due to genetics? Unknown; genetic testing couldn’t explain the differences.
Neiman has identified that exercising “on empty” creates inflammation. That is, athletes who exercise first thing in the morning without eating have an immediate spike in inflammatory cytokines. Regardless of their genetics, athletes can reduce this inflammatory response by about 40% just by consuming carb before and during extended exercise.

Does the kind of carbohydrate eaten make a difference? That is, would consuming banana or blueberries be less inflammatory than chugging a sport drink? Here’s what research tells us about the impact of carbohydrate before and during exercise:

• Cells function best when they are fed. Both sugar from a sport drink and sugar from a blueberries or banana can help cells function optimally and curb a negative stress response.
• Polyphenol-rich fruit/fruit juice (such as blueberries, blueberry juice) curb the inflammatory response more than fruit low in polyphenols, such as banana.
• The best dose of polyphenols from fruit is unknown. Dr. Nieman’s initial research looked at the polyphenol quercetin (found in apples). He learned very high doses of quercetin were not helpful. Nieman then tested polyphenols in amounts that athletes could easily consume. He saw better results.
For example, when athletes ate (or not) 1 cup of blueberries a day for two weeks before a 75-mile hard cycling test, the inflammatory response was much lower overall. But that said, the response varied by 14-fold among the blueberry eaters. Eight cyclists experienced high inflammation, 13 had a moderate amount, and 10 had much less inflammation. Could genetic testing help identify the athletes who responded with high inflammation? If yes, could sports dietitians encourage those athletes to eat extra blueberries to get a stronger anti-inflammatory response? We don’t know yet...
Similarly, among runners in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, those who experienced a lot of muscle damage had a gene that limits their bodies’ use of choline, a nutrient that helps repair cell membranes. Could genetic testing help identify those athletes, so they could eat more choline-rich foods, such as eggs and liver? Would that help them decrease their post-exercise muscle damage, soreness, and inflammation? Stay tuned.
Inflammation creates problems for athletes. What if athletes with high inflammation could get a genetic test to determine if their exercise-induced inflammation was related to genetics? Could they then be advised to participate in, let’s say, swimming instead of ultra-running? (and would they do that?)
A multi-factorial view
Is inflammation related primarily to genetics?, diet? or some other factor, like the microbiome? (Microbiome refers to the billions of bugs that live in your gut and have a strong influence on your immune system.) Dr. Neiman suspects the athletes with a robust, microbiome have less of an inflammatory response to exercise compared to athletes with a weaker microbiome. How much does genetics influence the microbiome?
We know that athletes who eat a polyphenol-rich diet (fruits, veggies) do a good job of feeding their gut microbes. They tend to have a more vibrant microbiome than those athletes who eat a diet filled with ultra-processed foods. Maybe diet is the driving force that reduces inflammation—more so than genes? We have so much to learn...
The bottom line:Athletes vary widely in their metabolic responses to hard exercise and to the ways that food influences that response. While we do not yet know what triggers the variance (genetics? diet? the microbiome?), we do know that diet reduces inflammation (soreness, muscle damage). By regularly consuming colorful fruits (berries, cherries, apples, etc.) and colorful veggies (spinach, carrots, tomatoes, etc.), you’ll likely get more bang for your buck than spending that money on genetic testing kits that likely produce questionable nutrition recommendations. Be patient; the future of sports nutrition is just around the corner! 


Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her Sports Nutrition Guidebook can help you eat to win. For more information about her books and online workshop, visit






December Film Festival

Alex Post


There's nothing better than getting out for a ride, but on a rest day a video can almost take us there. Enjoy our monthly virtual film fest.


Bridge Crossing For The Fearless
A bike lane is certainly preferable to most, but Vittorio Brumotti prefers to make his own, even if that's on a mind boggling precipice over a 650 ft gorge in Montenegro. 1 Min.
Massachusetts Fall Ride
Cycling in New England is no doubt one of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful foliage. This ride tour starts at Wachusett mountain, and follows rural roads, small towns along the northern part of the state, with a cider donut stop, and eventually to Mount Greylock. The route can be found here 14 Mins.


Alex Post is a CRW member who lives in Virginia, but regularly visits MA to bike with his dad. He has also led rides for CRW.



December Updates

WheelPeople Editors
Town Ride collections - Hopefully there will likely be days in December warm enough to ride and the Town collections are available for you
Amazon Smile If you have an Amazon Prime account please look into making CRW your charity. Details here

CRW Grants The club has an active grant program, and we often get thanks from recipients. This one is special and is reported here.


Peter Megdal’s National Hour Time Trial record SET October 14, 2021

Eli Post


Peter Megdal is a long-time CRW member, a competitive cyclist, and has advanced degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology. Given a family history of heart disease, and after some initial symptoms, Peter set out to reverse the disease, and get to his previous level of performance. His story about curing heart disease is documented on his website 

What brings us to Peter at the present time is his setting the National Time Trial record on October 14, 2021. Peter set out to best the current world Time Trial record for the 60+ year old. The complete story is on his website. We hope you have the time to read Peter’s ordeal, and the efforts he made to compete despite medical difficulties and pain. It is inspiration for all of us, especially those recovering from a crash or dealing with illness and/or age.



Curing heart disease

Time Trial record













December Picture of the Month

WheelPeople Editors

You may not celebrate Christmas on a bike, but we know someone who does.


Photo by Jack Donohue taken in  Carlisle, MA