Charles River Wheelers

WheelPeople: Your Bike Club Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest Charles River Wheelers news, events, and rides. Our WheelPeople newsletter is tailored for current and prospective members seeking bike-related updates, expert advice, and cycling inspiration. Don't miss a beat – join our vibrant community today! Access our archived issues here.

WheelPeople Articles

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  • 2023-11-26 6:50 AM | Anonymous

    By Ed Cheng

    As my two year term is nearing its end, I am pleased to be handing the reins to the capable hands of Randolph Williams.  Randolph is a long-time member of the club who has had a role in many of the recent accomplishments of the club, including the adoption of new election rules and policies, the transition to a new web site, and the adoption of the code of conduct policy.  I am confident that Randolph will successfully lead the club as its next president.

    I would like to thank the Members for the privilege of leading the club for the past two years.  I would also like to thank the Board and volunteer officers.  I have enjoyed working with them and developing friendships as we worked through the club's challenges.  The club is very lucky to have this group of hard working volunteers who have been dedicated to the club with good humor and cheer. 

    Be sure to get in your training and base miles done this winter, and to come out in numbers when the outdoor riding season resumes in the Spring.  Happy Holidays to all.  

  • 2023-11-22 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    It was just a weekend ride, but so popular that it became a very successfull fall century, which lasted many years up to the present day. At the Cranberry Harvest Ride we had more “thank you” and “great ride” and “beautiful route” comments then we can recall in quite a while. The ride was on roads that are not common for CRW with gorgeous landscape full of cranberry bogs, lakes, farms, woods, and the flattest terraine in southern MA.

    The ride was developed and orchestrated by Bob Wolf who emphasized that he could not have done this alone. In the spirit of “it takes a village” there was input and effort from well over a dozen folks in the CRW community. The area was new to the club and there were multiple scouting missions to work out and fine tune the routes including checking out the various food and rest stops.

    The ride has become a CRW Classic.

  • 2023-11-22 1:44 AM | Anonymous

    By Doctor Gabe Mirkin  (This article is curtesy of Dr. Mirkin)

    A study of 1275 people found that those who had very weak hand grip strength had signs of accelerated aging, as measured by deterioration of the DNA in their cells (J Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, Feb 2023;14(1):108-115). The authors of this study cited earlier studies showing that grip strength appears to be a better predictor of life expectancy than blood pressure. Muscle weakness also predicts increased risk for:
    • physical disability in older people (J Nutr Health Aging, 2018;22:501-507; Ethn Health 2017;26:1-12)
    • long-term disability and development of chronic diseases (Exp Gerontol, 2021;152:111462)
    • dementia (Clinical Interventions in Aging, July 5, 2018;13)
    • cancer (Cancer Med, Jan 2022;11(2):308-316)
    • heart attacks (J of Epidem & Comm Health, Nov 11, 2020;74(1):26-31)
    • premature death (J Am Med Dir Assoc, May 2020;21(5):621-626.e2)

    Five percent of people in their seventies, 25 percent in their eighties, and almost 40 percent of people in their nineties suffer from some level of dementia. One study of more than 5000 people, average age over 70, found that low muscle size is associated with increased risk for dementia (Age and Ageing, March 2017;469(2):250-257). Many studies show that excess belly fat is a major predictor for dementia, but lack of muscle size and strength appears to be an even stronger predictor of dementia than having excess belly fat (Clinical Interventions in Aging, July 5, 2018;13).

    Home Test to Predict Risk for Dementia
    You can get a simple Grip Strength Tester at Amazon and other retailers. A male’s average grip strength rating should be 105 or higher, while a woman’s average grip strength rating should be 57 or higher. I realize that a falsely weak handgrip test could cause needless concern. I recommend that if you are worried about your hand strength, check with your doctor who can order a more complete workup if needed.

    You can expect to lose muscle size and strength as you age. Between 40 and 50 years of age, the average person loses more than eight percent of their muscle size. This loss increases to 15 percent per decade after age 75. The people who lose the most muscle usually are the least active, exercise the least and are the ones who die earliest. Older people who lose the most muscle are four times more likely to be disabled, have difficulty walking, and need walkers and other mechanical devices to help them walk (Am J Epidemiol, 1998; 147(8):755-763).

    Your muscles are made up of thousands of muscle fibers, just as a rope is made up of many strands. Every muscle fiber is innervated by a single nerve fiber. With aging you lose nerves, and when you lose a nerve attached to a muscle fiber, that muscle fiber is lost also. A 20-year-old person may have 800,000 muscle fibers in the vastus medialis muscle in the front of his upper leg, but by age 60, that muscle would have only about 250,000 fibers. For a 60-year-old to have the same strength as a 20-year-old, the average muscle fiber needs to be three times as strong as the 20-year-old’s muscle fibers. You cannot stop this loss of the number of muscle fibers with aging, but you can enlarge each remaining muscle fiber and slow down the loss of strength by exercising muscles against progressive resistance (Experimental Gerontology, August 13, 2013).

    My Recommendations
    Strength training, aerobic exercise and a healthful diet can help to slow the frightening loss of muscle size and strength in people as they age (Clinical Interventions in Aging, August 6, 2015;1267-1282). I believe that everyone who is able should do some form of resistance exercises to increase their muscle size and strength. If you are not already doing strength training exercise, first check with your doctor to make sure you do not have any condition that may be harmed by exercise. Then see Resistance Exercise You Can Do at Home. I recommend that you hire a knowledgeable personal trainer at least for a few sessions to set up your home program and help with choices of equipment. I also recommend lifting light weights with more repetitions, because lifting lighter weights many times is less likely to cause injuries than lifting heavier weights a few times.

  • 2023-11-21 4:15 PM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    We preach safe riding continuously, and our advice should be taken seriously. There are too many accidents on our rides. However, there are expert riders who can take their bikes to new levels, and we should sit back and enjoy the fun.

    There are two vidios here and one unfortunately comes with commercials which you will have to bear. As you watch, imagine yourself in that bike seat, and think of the skill required to manage the conveluted route: the narrow lanes, the dizzering heights, and the overall complexity of travel.

  • 2023-11-16 4:32 PM | Anonymous

    By Coach John Hughes

    Winter is here in the mountains of Colorado. This is the view out of my living room window. Last week I was zipping around on my bike.  Now it’s time to wax my cross-country skis, pump up the tires on the trainer, and get out the dumbbells.

    What should you do during the off-season? Avoid these mistakes:

    #1. Lack of consistency.

    When I was in my 20s I’d stop riding around Halloween. On Super Bowl Sunday I’d start training for the Davis Double Century, which was timed back then. Three months off the bike didn’t affect me much. Starting in about our 30s we lose fitness faster and consistency becomes more important. As a rule of thumb exercising three to four days a week is enough.  If you’ve worn out many pair of cycling shorts then three days are sufficient. If you’re relatively new to the sport then four days are better.

    #2. Not losing fitness.

    Losing some fitness in the winter is fine. Even the pros take a short break. They don’t just lie on the beach. They stay active but don’t train specifically. After the break they start riding but with less volume than in the spring. You need to be consistent but don’t try to ride as much as you did earlier in the year.  A week off the bike now and another week off the bike a couple of months later are good.  You can read more here:

    #3. Doing too much.

    Each year Ray, Sam, Gary and I rode the Davis Double trying to go faster. Our goal was to finish in the top 100 so we’d be seeded at the front of the field the following May and could jump into a fast paceline. We followed Eddy Merckx’ advice: in order to improve, ride more. So we started training more. I lived at the base of the Santa Cruz mountains in California. Climbing in the rain wasn’t too bad but descending wasn’t. So I figured out a relatively flat century route and started riding centuries the first of the year. You guessed it. I was very fast for the Primavera century in April and burned out by the Davis DC a month later.  

    If you get out of bed, groan and keep delaying your training you’re doing too much.

    #4 Not enough recovery.

    If you’re an experienced roadie you need at least two recovery days a week and three are better. Active recovery on those days is fine. If you’re new to the sport then take three recovery days. For new roadies full recovery days are better than active recovery days.

    #5 Mindless trainer workouts.

    Properly designed trainer workouts can improve your cycling, but mindless ones sap your motivation with minimal benefit.  A good trainer workout has a specific purpose. You can read more in this column:

    #6. Too much intensity.

    Intensity is like prescription medicine. The wrong kind, or the wrong dose, or the wrong frequency doesn’t make you better and may make you worse.  Intensity workouts a couple of times a week are fine as long as you have at least two days recovery between each ride.  You can read more in these columns:

    #7. Wrong intensities.

    Spinning classes and smart trainer workouts are good for motivation but often have you riding too hard. Effective intensity training is a pyramid. You should start with longish sweet spot efforts. After about a month you can step up the intensity with shorter efforts. You can read more in these columns:

    #8. Counting miles.

    Your cycling computer or smart trainer may tell you that you’ve ridden X miles. But you know from experience that a so-called 25-mile ride on the trainer is much harder physically and mentally than 25 miles on a summer day. Instead of counting miles, which doesn’t mean much, keep track of the number of days and how many hours you ride a week.

    #9. No variety.

    Riding for hours on sunny days is fun. Riding for hours outside in the wintery weather and indoors on the trainer isn’t fun.  Here are 10 ways you can cross-train for aerobic fitness:

    Weight bearing activity is important for strong bones.  Eight of the ways of cross-training help your skeleton.

    #10. No strength / resistance training.

    Including strength training will improve your cycling come spring. Fortunately, you don’t have to join a gym or buy a set of dumbbells.

    #11. Wrong weekly program / not enough recovery.

    Above I explained you should only do intensity twice a week with at least two recovery days in between. You decide to add a couple of days of cross-training. Your cycling club has winter rides that include either a coffee break or lunch stop so you join them on Saturdays. Five days of aerobic exercise are enough and you know the importance of strength training so you include resistance training on your two recovery days. But then they aren’t recovery days. Do some of your strength training on days you cross-train or do moderate (not intensity) rides. This column explains the benefits of combining both cardio and strength and how to combine them into an exercise program.

    #12. Neglecting non-cycling activities.

    Flexibility and balance become more important as we age.  These activities are good for your recovery days:

    Motivation to exercise is easy when it’s warm and sunny; not so easy when it’s gloomy.  Here are a couple of columns to help:


    My eBook Productive Off-Season Training for Health and Recreational Riders explains in detail what you can do to become a better rider this winter. The book includes:

    • A 12-week off-season exercise program to keep you healthy during the winter months.
    • A 12-week, more intensive off-season program for recreational riders to build your endurance, power and speed, preparing for base training.

    The 28-page Productive Off-Season is just $4.99.

    If you’re in your 50s, 60s, 70s (like me) and beyond my eBook Off-Season Conditioning Past 50 includes recommendations for outdoor and indoor cycling, cross-training, circuit strength training, flexibility and core strength. I include a sample 12-week program incorporating all of these. I explain how to tailor the program to your own interests: health and recreation rider, club rider or endurance rider. You can also tailor the program if you have limited time to train or are a beginning cyclist. The 26-page Off-Season Conditioning Past 50 is just $4.99.

    My 3-article Off-Season bundle includes:

    • Productive Off-Season Training with:
      1. A 12-week off-season exercise program to keep you healthy during the winter months.
      2. A 12-week, more intensive off-season program for recreational riders to build your endurance, power and speed, preparing for base training.
    • Gaining a Mental Edge: Using Sports Psychology to Improve Your CyclingMost cyclists can get greater improvement from investing some time each week in practicing mental skills than they could investing the same amount of time in training! I show you how.
    • Year-Round Cycling: How to Extend Your Cycling SeasonI give you six factors to successfully ride year-round, with in-depth information on all: 1) Goal-Setting and Planning; 2) Training; 3) Clothing and Equipment; 4) Nutrition; 5) Technique; 6) Motivation.

    The 60-page Off-Season bundle is $13.50, a savings of $3.50 off the full price of purchasing all 3 articles individually.

  • 2023-11-01 5:26 PM | Anonymous

    By John O'Dowd

    "The best time to train for an event was 6 months ago" or so the saying goes. Well, if you start training now, you'll be in great shape for summer!

    CRW wants to help you get ready for the 2024 season by once again offering our winter ride challenge. 

    This year the challenge is time based; how many hours can you ride between December 15th to March 15th? We have three levels of accomplishment:

    25 hours: Recreationalist

    50 hours: Weekend Warrior

    100 hours: Racer

    Anyone who reaches any of these levels is entered into a raffle for some cool prizes. We're giving out bike lights, ear buds, and official CRW gloves. Five entrants from each level will win a prize.

    We count both outdoor and indoor riding. 

    To log your miles:

    Log into the website,

    Click on your name at the top of the home page,    

    Click on Edit Profile,

    Scroll down to the Time and Mileage Tracker and enter the numbers of hours of your latest ride in this field:

    Scroll to the bottom and save.

    Raffle drawing will be at the end of March. By then you'll be ready to tackle a new cycling season. Note this is all based on the honor system, and we are comfortable that you will all abide.

    Embrace the challenge!"

  • 2023-11-01 11:56 AM | Anonymous

    BY Ed Cheng

    CRW has wound down the 2023 riding season with a hugely successful Cranberry Harvest Century, with over 350 registrants and cooperative weather.  Thank you to the organizers, coordinators, and especially the volunteers for running the club's signature event.  It's a ride that we look forward to every year.

    I'd like to also congratulate the elected (and re-elected) Member of the Board (Randolph, Norma, Erik, and Megan), who will help lead the club to greater heights in the year to come.  I was delighted that we had excellent candidates, polite discourse, and calm elections. As my the end of my term nears, I look forward to the selection by the Board of a new President and Chair during the upcoming Board Meeting on November 5, 2023.  Members are welcome to join the meeting via zoom and watch the proceedings.  

    Last, I urge everyone to squeeze out a last ride or two while you still can.  

  • 2023-11-01 7:00 AM | Anonymous

    By Harriet Fell

    I want to thank the board of the CRW for honoring me with a life membership.

    As a CRW member since 1976, the club has been important in my life in several ways and I’ll describe a few of those here.

    I did not really enjoy CRW rides during my first few years as a member.  I had ridden for 2 years with a club in France and we usually rode in a double paceline, taking turns with the pull, and we always chatted as we rode.  We also always made a stop at a café along the route for an expresso.  The rides were a pleasant social experience.  The CRW style seemed to be “ride as fast as you can and then stand around and brag.”  I was pretty fast back then but it just wasn’t the same kind of social experience as in my French club. 

    The first club century after I joined left from the Duck Feeding Area along the Charles river.  I cycled to the start in a slight rain and the only person there was someone in a car who told me it had been canceled because of rain.  I’d done my first 200k in freezing rain so I was surprised to see this century cancelled.

    We didn’t communicate online back then and the CRW sent out a printed monthly newsletter listing the club rides and other cycling events.  The first newsletter I received had a clip about a weekend rally in Newport, RI to be run by the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen.  I packed up my bike and cycled from home in Newton Highlands to the hotel in Newport that was the base for the rally.  Cycling with the NBW was more like my experience in France.  We often rode double or in pelotons 3 or 4 abreast. There were more roads in Rhode Island where this felt safe than there are in eastern Massachusetts.

    I didn’t have a car at the time so I couldn’t get to most of the NBW rides but I did go on a few that left from Diamond Hill Park, about 35 miles from home so cycling to and from a ride in addition to doing the ride made for a nice century.  I met and rode a lot with Carl Drummond that weekend.  He had been a pro board track racer in his youth and was still a very strong rider in his 60s.  When he found out that I was interested in doing long rides, he got the club to run a couple of double centuries that I went on. 

    So, I want to thank the CRW for introducing me to the NBW.

    In 1979, I met Harold Lewis.  We met each other on the road as we both lived in Newton and used to go out on early morning rides.  I got to know him and his family.  One day he told me he was going to lead a CRW ride the next weekend and that I should go on the ride.  As ride leader, he swept the ride as was common in the days before cell phones.  So, I rode sweep with him.  We were moving much slower than necessary riding pretty far behind the last participants.  A few late arrivals passed us and I tried to get Harold to move faster and stay with them but he just wouldn’t pick up the pace.  About an hour into the ride, the last of the late starters went zapping by and yelled a cheery “Hi” to Harold as he passed.  I told Harold to get on my wheel because I intended to catch that one. I caught up to him and my first words to him were “You’re riding fixed gear aren’t you.”  The rider was Sheldon Brown and we got married in December of that year.  We went on a lot of CRW rides together and led many ourselves.

    So, I want to thank the CRW for introducing me to my husband, Sheldon Brown.

    After Sheldon died in 2008, I stayed a club member but rarely rode with the club.  My cycling was mostly commuting with an occasional weekend ride or overnight trip.  In my head, I was still riding long distances and had managed a century about once every decade since my return to the US in 1976. I retired in 2015, the month I turned 71 and I was determined to get back to cycling.  I also started doing volunteer work for the CRW.  I felt cycling had been an important part of my life and it was time for some payback.  I have really enjoyed doing this work.  It’s been a great chance to meet other cyclists chatting while we work.  I, like most cyclists I’ve met, like to talk about cycling and hear about other people’s times on the road.  I’ve gotten back to getting in over 5000 miles most years as well as a few centuries and 200k rides each year.  I do these on my own and then I don’t feel left out when I help run club centuries instead of riding them.

    So, I want to thank the CRW for letting me work as a volunteer and for letting me serve on the board. 

    Now that I have moved to Oakland, California I hope to hook up with cyclists out here but if/when I get a bicycle set up on a trainer in my apartment, I hope to put my life membership to use by joining some of the club’s Zwift rides. 

    Thanks for everything.

    -- Harriet Fell

  • 2023-10-20 5:47 PM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    I underwent neck surgery last month, and as part of the process had some pre-surgery tests.

    This is not a story about my medical experience. Nor am I bragging about my diagnosis but am telling a story that will be of interest to anyone who engages in strenuous exercise for extended periods. Members of this club would seem to be a good target audience. Another factor is that I am an engineer by education, and not immediately qualified to relate a medical saga. However, Google knows all, and I am adept at copy/paste. Given my qualifications, here is the story.

    I took two tests, routine blood tests and an EKG. A few days before surgery, the hospital asked a medical doctor to explain the results. In a matter-of-fact tone, the doctor said, “you have the markings of a twenty-year-old”. I was stunned. At 85, I knew I was in good health (despite the neck) but being compared to a group several decades younger was more than I expected. I realized immediately that my biking experience was behind this. In my time I routinely did 40 and 50-mile rides and climbed many hills.

    In summary there are known Benefits of vigorous physical activity.

    • reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and Alzheimer's, cancers, and some pregnancy complications.
    • better sleep.
    • improvements in cognition.
    • less weight gain, lower obesity rates, and less chance of related health conditions.

    The Mayo Clinic provided more depth:

    Want to feel better, have more energy and even add years to your life? Just exercise.

    The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, no matter their age, sex or physical ability.

    Need more convincing to get moving? Check out these seven ways that exercise can lead to a happier, healthier you.

    1. Exercise controls weight

    Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help you keep off lost weight. When you take part in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.

    Regular trips to the gym are great, but don't worry if you can't find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of activity is better than none. To gain the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key.

    2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

    Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight is, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which lowers your risk of heart and blood vessel, called cardiovascular, diseases.

    Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including:

    ·         Stroke.

    ·         Metabolic syndrome.

    ·         High blood pressure.

    ·         Type 2 diabetes.

    ·         Depression.

    ·         Anxiety.

    ·         Many types of cancer.

    ·         Arthritis.

    ·         Falls.

    It also can help improve cognitive function and helps lower the risk of death from all causes.

    3. Exercise improves mood

    Need an emotional lift? Or need to lower stress after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk walk can help. Physical activity stimulates many brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious.

    You also may feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

    4. Exercise boosts energy

    Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance.

    Exercise sends oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.

    5. Exercise promotes better sleep

    Struggling to snooze? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep. Just don't exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to go to sleep.

    6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

    Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can improve energy levels and give you more confidence about your physical appearance, which may boost your sex life.

    But there's even more to it than that. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don't exercise.

    7. Exercise can be fun — and social!

    Exercise and physical activity can be fun. They give you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply do activities that make you happy. Physical activity also can help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.

    So take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. Bored? Try something new, or do something with friends or family.

    Exercise to feel better and have fun

    Exercise and physical activity are great ways to feel better, boost your health and have fun. For most healthy adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines:

    ·         Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. Or get at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You also can get an equal combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aim to spread out this exercise over a few days or more in a week.

    For even more health benefits, the guidelines suggest getting 300 minutes a week or more of moderate aerobic activity. Exercising this much may help with weight loss or keeping off lost weight. But even small amounts of physical activity can be helpful. Being active for short periods of time during the day can add up and have health benefits.

    ·         Strength training. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. One set of each exercise is enough for health and fitness benefits. Use a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

    Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, biking, swimming and mowing the lawn.

    Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running, swimming laps, heavy yardwork and aerobic dancing.

    You can do strength training by using weight machines or free weights, your own body weight, heavy bags, or resistance bands. You also can use resistance paddles in the water or do activities such as rock climbing.

    If you want to lose weight, keep off lost weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more.

    Remember to check with a health care professional before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any concerns about your fitness or haven't exercised for a long time. Also check with a health care professional if you have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis.

  • 2023-10-20 5:04 PM | Anonymous

    By Coach John Hughes

    Your legs make about 5,000 revolutions each hour you ride! In one study of 518 recreational cyclists an astounding 85% reported at least one non-traumatic injury in a year. The affected joints were:

    • 48% neck of which 31% required medical treatment
    • 41.7% knee of which 11.5% stopped cycling for an average of 42.8 days
    • 30.3% low back of which 2.7% quit cycling.


    What can you do now to be one of the 15% who doesn’t get injured?

    In The Cyclist’s Training Bible Joe Friel writes, “An athlete should do the least amount of properly timed, specific training that brings about continual improvement.” What does this mean in practice?

    One Overload at a Time

    You get fitter by asking your body to do more than it’s used to doing and giving it time to recover. It responds to this overload by getting stronger. You can overload your body in five ways:

    1. Increasing Frequency — Increasing the number of days that you work out
    2. Increasing Duration — How long you work out.
    3. Adding Volume – How many hours you work out, the result of #1 and #2.
    4. Increasing Intensity — Riding harder.
    5. Changing Modalities — Changing to riding from strength and cross-training workouts

    Each of these adds training stress. To be safe change only one of the five at a time


    You build fitness slowly and progressively. Three rules of thumb:

    • Week to week increase your weekly volume by 5-15%.
    • Month to month increase your monthly volume by 10-25%.
    • Year to year increase your annual volume by 10-25%.

    Change Training Modes

    This winter you may have been doing strength training. In the spring as you increase your riding you should also reduce your strength training to one moderate session a week to maintain your strength gains.

    Train Correctly

    Spring is the time to build your aerobic base, not power and speed. This means riding at a conversational pace. For more see my column on Aerobic Base Training.

    Stay in the Small Ring

    When I started riding in the 1970s the Italian Olympic Cycling Training Manual said I should ride at least 1,000 km on my fixed gear to build my base before doing any harder riding. If I didn’t have a fixie, then I should ride at least 1,000 km in the small chain ring. Riding a fixie is hard on the knees. It’s still good advice to ride 1,000 km (625 miles) in the small ring before shifting up and riding harder.


    Brent Bookwalter, who raced for a decade with BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, use it for recovery. (VeloNews, June 2015) Remember that your body gets fitter if you overload it and allow it to recover.

    Bike Fit

    A poor bike fit can also cause an injury that may cost you time off the bike. Knee problems often result from a saddle that is the wrong height and/or too far in front of or behind your bottom bracket. Neck and low back pain often are caused by bars that are too low and/or too far from the saddle.

    Bike fit is dynamic. Your correct fit changes over time with your fitness, especially flexibility, and type(s) of cycling you enjoy. Andy Pruitt is the founder and retired director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. He’s fit pro teams as well as average roadies. I’ve taken dozens of clients to get a bike fit — one increased his power by 5% with just a proper fit. Andy Pruitt on Bike Fit on my website describes how he does a bike fit.

    Strengthen Your Core

    Your upper body should be supported by your core ,which should be strong enough so that your hands rest lightly on the bars like you are typing. A strong core is the key to avoiding neck, should and back pain as well as numb fingers.

    The surface muscles you use for crunches run up and down your abdomen; similarly the surface muscles you use for arching your back run up and down your back.  Below the surface muscles are the core muscles, the transverse abdominis (located on each side of the naval) and the internal and external obliques (extending diagonally from ribs to pelvis). These muscles form a girdle around your core, hold your back in neutral and provide a stable platform to anchor your leg muscles. You want to activate and train the core muscles that run around the abdomen, not the surface muscles that run up and down. There’s a two-part article on my website on Core Strength for Cycling. Each part has a progressive program of 10 exercises to strengthen your core.

    Cover Your Knees

    The circulation of blood around your knees is poor and when it’s cool outside circulation is worse, resulting in knee pain and possible injury.  It’s easy to spot the pro racers training around Boulder, Colorado:  they wear knee warmers even when it’s in the 60s.

    More Information

    My eArticle Spring Training: 10 Weeks to Summer Fitness describes in detail eight key training principles and seven physiological improvements brought about by base training, improvements that don’t happen if you don’t train correctly. I explain the importance of varying your training intensities to get the best results and how to gauge intensity. I include six tips to improve your recovery. I conclude four different 10-week programs. They range from a program for riders who’ve trained for 4 – 6 hours this winter up to riders who’ve trained 10 – 12 hours. The programs are also designed for riders with different goals for 2019. The 26-page Spring Training: 10 Weeks to Summer Fitness is just $4.99.

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