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.

WheelPeople offers club and member news as well as informational content from third parties. Views expressed in third-party content belong to the author(s) and not CRW. Consult a professional for advice on health, legal matters, or finance. CRW does not endorse linked content or products. Content published in WheelPeople is owned by Charles River Wheelers (CRW) unless otherwise stated. 

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WheelPeople Articles

  • 2024-02-28 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

    The French NutriNet-Sante study found that eating dinner late in the evening is associated with increased risk for both heart attacks and strokes (Nature Communications, Dec 2023;14(7899)). Having a first meal for the day (breakfast or lunch) late in the morning also increased risk. The researchers followed 103,389 people, average age 42.6, for 7.2 years, during which time there were 2036 cases of heart disease, 988 cases of strokes, and 1071 cases of heart attacks, angina and heart stents.

    The researchers found that each hour of delaying dinner after 5 PM was associated with a 7 percent increased risk for a stroke, and that eating dinner after 9 PM was associated with a 28 percent increased risk for a heart attack, compared to eating before

     8 PM. They also found that each hour of delaying the first meal of the day after 8 AM was associated with increased risk for both heart attacks and strokes. The authors recommend eating both early dinners and early breakfasts.

    Other Studies have Shown Similar Results

    • Skipping breakfast has been associated with overweight and obesity (Obes Res Clin Pract, 2020;14:1-8), increased risk for a heart attack (Clin Nutr, 2020;39:2982-2988) and diabetes (J Nutr, 2019;149:106-113).

    • Eating just before going to bed at night was associated with increased heart attack risk (J Am Heart Assoc, 2020;9:e016455), obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes in women (BMC Public Health, 2018;18:1-12) and heart attacks (Circulation, 2013;128:337-343).

    • Eating late breakfasts tends to make longer overnight fasts so you may feel hungrier later on in the day, leading to higher food intake and increased insulin production. Skipping breakfast has also been associated with higher morning blood pressure and cholesterol levels (J Nutr Sci, Nov 2014; 3: e56).

    Why Late Dinners are Less Healthful

    Eating dinner just before you go to bed causes high rises in blood sugar levels and increased amounts of fat to be deposited in fat cells while you are sleeping. Resting muscles draw almost no sugar from the bloodstream and what little they do remove from the bloodstream requires insulin (Sports Medicine, Feb 2, 2018;1-13:), while contracting muscles pull sugar from the bloodstream and don’t even need insulin to do so (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, Sept 2007;77(3):S87-S91).

    • If you do not move around and contract your muscles after eating, you increase risk for high blood sugar levels.

    • You burn the lowest amount of calories when you sleep. When you go to sleep after eating, you burn fewer calories from that food so more of it is stored as fat (Metabolism, 2009;58(7):920-926).

    • Several studies show that blood sugar levels respond best to insulin during the day and worst at night (Nat Rev Endocrinol, 2019;15(2):75-89).

    • Cortisol levels are higher during sleep and raise blood sugar levels by blocking the effects of insulin (Ann NY Acad Sci, 2017;1391(1):20-34).

    Changing the evening mealtime of non-obese men from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM significantly increased their markers for becoming obese and developing diabetes (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Aug 1, 2020;105(8):2789-2802). They had higher blood sugar, higher insulin, higher cortisol levels, and reduced ability to remove and use fat from their cells. These are all major risk factors for obesity.

    My Recommendations

    The least healthful time to eat is just before you go to bed, and the most healthful times to eat are before you exercise or within an hour after you finish exercising (Appetite, 2013 Jan;60(1):246-251). Exercising after eating causes contracting muscles to pull sugar from the bloodstream, which helps to prevent high rises in blood sugar. Eating within an hour after exercising also helps to prevents a high rise in blood sugar. Your muscles can extract sugar from the bloodstream maximally without needing insulin for about an hour after you finish exercising, but this ability is then gradually lost over about 17 hours or until you contract your muscles again (J Appl Physiol, 2005;8750-7587).

    Gabe Mirkin, M.D., is a sports medicine doctor and fitness guru. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin has run more than 40 marathons and is now a serious tandem bike rider with his wife, Diana. His website is Click to read Gabe’s full bio.

    © Copyright 2024, Gabe Mirkin MD, all rights reserved.

  • 2024-01-29 9:29 PM | Anonymous

    Dear CRW Members,

    Thank you everyone for participating in the surveys this year. We had our highest response rate ever with over 225 survey responses.

    The enthusiasm and insight from our board, alumni, and membership surveys have set a strong foundation for 2024, and the rise in volunteer interest is propelling us forward.

    Board and Alumni Insights:

    Our board and alumni have provided valuable perspectives, emphasizing the need for strategic growth and community engagement. Their experience and historical knowledge of CRW are guiding our efforts to enhance club operations and member experiences.

    Membership Survey Revelations:

    Your feedback in the membership survey has been eye-opening. From varied motivations like century rides to ride leadership, your diverse interests are shaping our club's future. It's your voice that's steering us towards 'Reducing Friction' in all our activities, making them more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

    Volunteerism at an All-Time High:

    The response to volunteerism, especially from many first-timers, has been overwhelming. Popular volunteer opportunities spanned everything from century rides and ride leadership to club heritage had high levels of interest. This surge in volunteer interest is a testament to our club's vibrant and active community.

    A Club Shaped by You:

    Your participation, feedback, and volunteerism are what make CRW a unique and thriving community. We're committed to incorporating your insights into every aspect of our club's activities in 2024.

    Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm. Together, we are embarking on a year filled with growth, connection, and seamless cycling experiences.

    Warm regards,

    Randolph Williams

    CRW President 

  • 2024-01-29 9:28 PM | Anonymous

    Our 3rd Annual Spring Swap Meet & Rides is coming in late April/early May


    What to do on these cold and snowy days?  Why not look over your bikes and cycling gear for candidates to bring to CRW's 3rd Annual Spring Swap Meet & Rides.  Freeing up more basement or garage space is easy, just review the list below for stuff you no longer need or want:

    - Complete bikes, frames, wheels, and tires

    - Components, parts, accessories, and tools

    - Car racks, travel cases, bike racks, and bike bags

    - Clothing including shoes, jerseys, hats, and jackets

    Like last year there will be "free stuff" tables to give away items, and find free gems for yourself. You can also sell your stuff and buy from others. Everyone wins!

    There will be two rides in the morning, followed by the Swap Meet in the afternoon, so it's a great opportunity to get in early season miles.  Look for more details as we get closer to the event!

    Jerry Skurla links to his member information, but there is no email address listed here unless you are logged in. Can we edit the text and layout at the end to:

    Jerry Skurla  is the volunteer coordinator for the Swap. He would like to hear preferences from members on the following location options:

    • A - Inside Rt 128
    • B - Outside Rt 128 & North of MA Pike
    • C - Outside Rt 128 & South of MA Pike

  • 2024-01-29 9:27 PM | Anonymous

    Cold Weather Exercise

    Heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure and increased clotting, and systolic blood pressure increases up to 1.7 mm Hg in the winter months compared to the summer months (Am Heart Assoc Hypertension Scientific Sessions, Abstract 493. Sept 9, 2023). Cold weather is associated with an increased incidence of heart attacks (Arch Intern Med, 2004;164(8):863-870). If you have heart or lung disease, you are far more likely to die in cold weather than in the heat (Lancet, May 10, 1997;349(9062):1341-6).

    How Cold Weather Can Cause Heart Attacks
    • Cold temperatures cause your body to produce large amounts of adrenalin which constricts your arteries to raise your blood pressure and to make your heart beat faster. If you have damaged arteries or heart muscle, your heart can start to beat irregularly and you can die.
    • Cold thickens your blood and makes it more likely to clot. A clot can shut off blood flow to the heart to cause a heart attack (BMJ, 1984; 289: 1405–1408).
    • Cold causes the liver to make more fibrinogen that increases clotting (Lancet, 1994; 343: 435–439).
    • Cold raises blood cholesterol levels (Am J Med, 1986; 81: 795–800).
    • A drop in body temperature weakens your heart muscle, and people with weak or damaged hearts can go into heart failure and die. Winter also deprives many people of sunlight and vitamin D which weakens the heart muscle.

    Cold Weather Can Damage Your Lungs
    Almost 20 percent of North Americans have exercise-induced asthma, which usually is caused by breathing dry cold air, not by exercise. When these people breathe dry cold air, the muscles around the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs can constrict to make them short of breath. Exercise-induced asthma can occur in people who do not have asthma otherwise. It affects almost 50 percent of elite cross-country skiers, ice skaters and hockey players. Exercise-induced asthma is far more common in winter athletes than in those who compete in the summer. Dry cold air also increases risk for common winter infections such as colds or influenza, which cause inflammation that can damage arteries to increase risk for heart attacks.

    Tips for Outdoor Exercise in Cold Weather

    • If you have heart disease, your doctor probably will recommend that you should not exercise outdoors in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    • Exercising in cold weather can cause chest pain in some people who have no problems when they exercise in warm weather. When cold wind blows on your face, your heart rate slows down. This decreases the blood flow to the heart and can cause pain in people with blocked coronary arteries. While freezing your face slows your heart, freezing your fingers makes your heart beat faster. Cold hands will not cause chest pain, but a cold face can. 

    • Air is an excellent insulator, and layering clothes traps air. Wear a silk or loosely-woven polyester inner layer that wicks sweat away from your body. Loosely woven wool or synthetic-fiber sweaters or vests are a good middle layer because they trap insulating air and wick moisture to the outside. The outer layer material should be tightly woven so it blocks the wind; a waterproof rain jacket can perform this function. Nylon and Gore-Tex are outstanding because they can be extraordinarily light and still block the wind. Winter jackets do not need to be heavy, they just need to provide insulation and a barrier from wind and rain. 

    • You feel cold most in your fingers, ears and toes, so be sure to cover these areas. During World War II, gunners on bombers complained bitterly about frozen hands, ears and toes. Special insulation was added to their gloves, hats and boots, and they stopped complaining, but they suffered frostbite on their necks and chests. They had unzipped their jackets because they didn’t feel cold.

    • To help keep your hands warm on cold days, wear mittens that do not let wind or water in. The single compartment of mittens retains heat better than gloves that have separate compartments for each finger. If your hands still feel cold, swing your arms around rapidly from your shoulders with your elbows straight. This motion imitates a centrifuge that will drive blood toward your fingers and open up the blood vessels in your hands. You can buy single-use hand heating packets such as “HotHands,” online or in sporting goods stores, and rechargeable warmers are also available.

    Raynaud's Phenomenon

    My Recommendations
    If you suffer from heart or lung disease, you should be very careful about exercising in cold weather. Breathing dry cold air constricts arteries and increases clotting to increase heart attack risk, and constricts bronchial tubes to reduce oxygen intake through the lungs. When the temperature drops, people with known heart disease or lung disease are safer exercising indoors where they can breathe warmer air.

    This article is reprinted from content courtesy of

  • 2024-01-29 9:23 PM | Anonymous

    Athletes, Iron & Anemia

    My teammate eats ice chips like crazy. Isn't that a sign of being anemic? Something must be wrong with me. I get out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs... Should I eat lots of spinach to boost my iron intake, given I've stopped eating red meat?

    Many of today's athletes are eating little or no red meat (beef, lamb), which is one of the best sources of dietary iron. These athletes are simultaneously consuming less iron. Iron is a mineral found in the hemoglobin molecule inside red blood cells. It helps transport oxygen from your lungs to your muscles.

    Iron deficiency contributes to anemia, with symptoms of unusual fatigue during aerobic exercise—or even when climbing a flight of stairs. Athletes with anemia may complain about light-headedness, weakness, poor performance, and yes, a desire to chew on ice! While fatigue can also be caused by lack of sleep, depression, stress, and calorie restriction, fatigue due to an iron deficient diet is common.

    Iron deficiency anemia is more prevalent among athletes—in particular, athletes in running and endurance sports—than among the general population. That's because athletes lose iron with heavy sweating, blood loss in urine or via the intestinal tract, and damage to red blood cells caused by footstrikes while running. Female athletes lose blood via monthly menstruation, hence women are more prone to becoming anemic than are men. This study shows just how prevalent the problem is: A survey of 277 everyday runners (~60% females; average age, 40 years) participating in the Detroit Free Press Half-or full Marathon indicates ~50% of the women and 15% of the men had clinical iron deficiency. 15% of the women and 3% of the men had severe iron deficiency. Just think how much faster these athletes could have run!

    What to do: If you think you might be anemic, get your blood tested to rule out anemia (and remeasure it in 6 to 8 weeks after treatment). The diagnostic criteria are:

    —hemoglobin (the iron-containing molecule within the red blood cell) less than 120 (female) or 130 (male) g/L

    —ferritin (a marker of iron stores): <12 ng/mL (Ferritin should be >30-40, if not higher),

    —transferrin saturation, <16%

    Preventing and/or resolving anemia: If you limit your intake of iron-rich beef and lamb, be sure to consume alternate sources of iron, such as dark-meat chicken or turkey (legs, thighs), tuna, or salmon. About 40% of the heme-iron in animal protein is absorbed, as compared to only 5% of the non-heme iron in plants. Don't count on plant sources of iron such as almonds, spinach, lentils, beans and grains to satisfy your iron needs! Only about 2% of the iron in spinach might get absorbed. Despite Pop-Eye's claim that spinach made him strong to the finish, spinach is a poor source of absorbable iron. Combining heme-iron in animal protein with non-heme (plant) iron optimizes absorption. Hence, add some tuna to your spinach salad, turkey to lentil soup, beef to chili.

    If you are an athlete who "eats clean" and minimizes your intake of "white foods" (such as white bread, pasta and rice), take note. Refined grains are generally enriched or fortified with iron. Hence, eliminating enriched white bread and other refined grains reduces your intake of iron (as well as other added nutrients). The US Dietary Guidelines recommend eating at least half your grains as whole grains. (This is not a compromise based on the assumption Americans would never eat all whole grains). Enriched white pasta and breads do offer important nutrients!

    Enriched breakfast cereals such as Cheerios, Grapenuts, and Kellogg's Raisin Bran are good sources of iron. (In comparison, "all natural" cereals, like granola or Puffins, have no additives. That means, they have no added iron.) To enhance the absorption of the iron in enriched cereals, include a source of vitamin C with the meal -- such as an orange or orange juice, a clementine, or some strawberries.

    Research indicates iron tends to be absorbed better in the morning than in the evening. This is due, in part, to the daily fluctuation of the hormone hepcidin. Hepcidin hinders iron absorption from the intestinal tract and is a key regulator of iron absorption. Hepcidin increases after exercise, triggered by exercise's inflammatory response. Hence, to optimize your iron absorption, pay attention to when you eat iron-rich foods or take an iron supplement in relation to when you exercise. A good time to consume iron or iron supplements is with an iron-rich breakfast either before or shortly after a workout, but NOT 3 to 6 hours afterwards, when hepcidin peaks. This timing will optimize iron absorption as well as tolerance, given iron supplements are better tolerated when taken with food.

    Iron supplements:

    If you are anemic, you want to boost your dietary iron intake. You will also need to take supplemental iron to correct the deficiency. Do not self-prescribe high doses of iron supplements. Your doctor should prescribe the dose best for your body. Taking too much iron puts some athletes at risk of iron-overload, which is dangerous.

    Supplements come in two forms: Ferrous iron (gluconate, sulphate, fumerate) and ferric iron (citrate, sulphate). Ferrous is better absorbed from the gut, but ferric iron settles better in the gut. Some athletes find iron supplements contribute to nausea and constipation. If that's your case, you want to experiment with different brands to find the supplement your body tolerates best. Slow-release ferrous sulphate and ferrous bisglycinate are popular choices. Taking an iron supplement every other day is as effective as taking it daily.

    The bottom line To iron out performance problems such as needless fatigue, be sure your diet supports your athletic goals. A registered dietitian (RD) who is a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) can teach you how to consume an optimal diet that helps you be strong to the finish (with or without the spinach)!

    Reference: Kohler L et al. Prevalence of iron deficiency in endurance runners: a cross-sectional study of the Detroit Free Press

    Marathon and Half-marathon athletes. Blood (2022) 140 (supplement):11074-11075

    Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes in the Boston-area 617-795- 1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a popular resource, as is her online workshop. Visit for more info.

    The Athlete's Kitchen

    Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD, Jan 2024

  • 2024-01-29 9:23 PM | Anonymous

    A better Devo Experience.

    My friend Gary Cziko* retired to Los Angeles to be with his family, after 34 years as a college professor in Urbana, Illinois, and a career as a Masters bicycle racer. 

    In the first 5 minutes of the video, Gary applies humor to the story of how he got in with a crowd of fast cyclists in Los Angeles: he had to prove himself by getting to the front, at least briefly, on a devo ride. This led to his being called on to serve as an expert witness when police cited club members for riding that was in fact legal.

    At 7 ½ minutes, the video becomes serious with a clip from a TV news report of a bike club member’s fatal encounter with a truck. This rider was fast and highly experienced, but he made an uninformed decision that cost him his life. The realization came to club members the hard way that the cyclist could have prevented this crash, and they turned to Gary, for advice.

    Gary Cziko’s work with Los Angeles area clubs planted the seed for the free CyclingSavvy group riding online course. It covers group dynamics and interaction with motorists – the “got your back” lane change, negotiating intersections as a group – and how to prevent crashes, and much more.  CRW members are encouraged to sign for the group riding mini course – you can sign up for it here.

    "Gary is an instructor at CyclingSavvy, an organization dedicated to making a difference in people's lives by empowering them to use their bikes to go anywhere they want, safely and confidently. Below is the link to the video where you can learn more about his experience and passion.  

    And here is the video

  • 2024-01-29 9:22 PM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    March is around the corner, but in New England it will still be cold
    However, we optimists will be bold

    There will be random warm days
    To serve us in many ways

    You could take the bike off its rack
    And enjoy a local track

    Or maybe a path or neighborhood street
    Anyplace where cyclists can meet

    There is reward for warm days biking
    One that will be to your liking

    You will be out enjoying the pleasant air
    While your buddies are stuck at home in a nailed down chair

    You are ahead of the game
    But there’s none to blame

    So follow the weather
    And we can all act together

    To experience an extraordinary day and ride
    Let the cool air be your guide

    With cool air on your face
    And with warm feelings in place

  • 2024-01-29 9:20 PM | Anonymous

    Don’t Make These 15 Common Bicycling Mistakes

    By Coach John Hughes

    Recently I was in Boulder, Colo. for several days and rode each day. The Boulder area is home to literally thousands of riders ranging from pro road, mountain and triathlon racers to pleasure riders out for 15 or 25 miles.  Except for the pros, many of the riders exhibited one or more mistakes:

    1. Chin strap too loose was the most common. This one always scares me. I saw a rider crash and his helmet was knocked back but not off. That evening his grieving family took him off life support because of the severity of the head injury. Your helmet strap should be tight enough that when you open your mouth to chew you feel the pressure of the strap.

    2. Saddle too high was also common. If your saddle is too high then your hips will rock up and down, which may create a saddle sore. As you rock your weight distribution shifts from one sitz bone to the other, which increases the pressure on each sitz bone. The increased pressures may cause a pressure sore, similar to a bed sore. The rocking also creates friction on each side of the groin as it slides up and down. To tell if your saddle is too high, ride without a jersey with someone observing you from behind.  If the top of your shorts line is moving up and down, then your saddle is too high.

    3. Shorter leg. If just one hip is dipping, then that leg is shorter and the hip dips as the foot reaches the bottom of the stroke. This may cause a friction sore on the side of the groin with the shorter leg. The fix is to put a shim between the cleat and the shoe equal to one-half the amount your leg is shorter. If it’s 1 cm (10 mm) shorter, then you’d shim it 5 mm.

    4. Too stretched out.  If your handlebars are too far from the saddle or too low, you’ll be stretched out on the bike, which often causes neck and shoulder fatigue/pain. If you’re more comfortable riding with your hands on the top of the handlebar near the stem or on the curve just outside the top, then your bars are too far away and you need a different stem. The most comfortable position should be with your hands on top of the brake hoods.

    5. Knees kissing the top tube. These are less common and results from anatomical issues. The knee doesn’t track straight up and down over the foot, which may cause knee issues. If the rider’s knee kisses the top tube, then the rider may have a weak gluteusmedius, which is the prime mover of abduction at hip joint. This keeps the thigh at the proper alignment to keep the knee over the pedal. This video demonstrates the clam exercise to strengthen your glutes. Clam Exercise

    Alternatively, the fix is a wedge-shaped shim placed between the cleat and the shoe with the thicker part of the shim toward the crank side of the shoe. 

    6. Knee bobbing out. If the rider’s knee bobs out and back in with each stroke it may be because his seat is too low. Or anatomically his knee may track outside of rather than over the pedal. The fix is to move the pedal(s) outward, which increases the Q factor (the distance from the outside of one crank to the outside of the other crank). Take off your pedal, put a thin washer around the pedal axle and screw it back into the crank.

    7. Hunched back was another common mistake. If your back is hunched rather than flat you have to flex your neck more to see down the road, which creates neck fatigue.

    8. High shoulders are a similar problem. When your shoulders are up rather than in the normal alignment with your neck, this also increases the stress on your neck.

    9. Straight arms help contribute to problems with your hands and potentially your upper body. With straight elbows all of your upper body weight is on your hands unless you have a strong core to support your upper body. In addition to the strong core riding with your elbows flexed will help absorb road shock.

    10. Rocking upper body. How does this help you move down the road? It doesn’t; you’re just burning energy that could fuel your legs.

    11.  High cadence but not smooth. Many of the pros spin at a higher cadence and this is the best way to ride, correct? Maybe. The pros spin with a smooth round stroke. A rider with a choppy cadence is wasting energy.  In the following column, scroll down to the section on technique for drills to improve your pedal stroke:

    12. Too big a gear is the opposite problem, someone grinding away climbing a short (or even long) climb instead of down shifting. This could be a rookie mistake. Or not progressively down shifting as your speed slows. If your cadence is around 60 or 70 rpms you should shift to the next largest gear(s). This column goes into detail:

    13. Signaling a right turn. Good cyclists know to signal turns and when turning right many use the standard motorcycle and car signal of left arm raised, elbow bent, forearm pointing up. This isn’t as visible as simply pointing your right arm straight out to the right.

    14. Cutting across traffic to turn. I couldn’t believe it. I was riding on a highway with traffic going 60 mph. To make a left turn from the shoulder, I watched a guy wait until he was even with the street he wanted to turn into. Then he cut from the right shoulder across the traffic lane, across the left turn lane and across the oncoming traffic lane. He would have been much safer to signal the left turn well in advance, move the left turn lane when safe and then complete the turn when it was safe. 

    15. Riding against traffic may seem safer. However, as you approach an intersection the driver in the intersecting street will look left for oncoming traffic and may not see you.  

    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 over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.  This article comes from Road Bike Rider 

  • 2023-12-29 5:18 PM | Anonymous

    Dear CRW Family,

    As your president, it's my pleasure to connect with you as we embark on this year's journey. Our club is a tapestry of shared experiences, and each of you plays a vital role in enriching this community.

    Introducing Demographic Information in Member Profiles

    In our continuous effort to celebrate our diversity and cater to all members, we've added a demographic information feature to our profiles. This update is more than just data collection; it's about understanding and appreciating the unique perspectives each of us brings to CRW. Please take a moment to update your profile, as it helps us create a more inclusive and tailored experience for everyone.

    Your Voice Matters: The CRW Member Survey

    This year, your input is more critical than ever. We have launched a member survey to gather your thoughts, preferences, and ideas. This survey is a cornerstone of our planning process, ensuring that the future of CRW resonates with your aspirations and needs. I cannot stress enough how valuable your feedback is. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey and help shape the future of our club.

    Zwift Rides: Our Virtual Community Thrives

    Our virtual rides on Zwift have been a phenomenal success, thanks to the unwavering dedication of Martin Hayes and John O'Dowd. If you are interested in leading Zwift rides, reach out to John O'Dowd. These rides are not just about staying fit; they're about staying connected. Let's keep the momentum going!

    Winter Challenge: Celebrating Our Resilience

    The Winter Challenge is in full swing, and it's incredible to see the enthusiasm and participation. A big shout-out to Harold Hatch and John O'Dowd for bringing this thrilling event to life. So far, over 30 members are participating. Remember, it's not just about the prizes; it's about the community spirit and personal triumphs.

    Looking Forward

    As we progress through the year, let's remember that our journey is about more than just cycling. It's about growth, community, and shared experiences. We have several exciting initiatives coming up, and I am eager to share these with you in due time.

    In closing, thank you for being the heart and soul of CRW. Your energy, ideas, and passion fuel our club's success. I look forward to your survey responses and to another fantastic year of cycling together.

    Stay safe, stay connected, and keep riding!

    Warm regards,

    Randolph Williams

    President, Charles River Wheelers

  • 2023-12-29 4:53 PM | Anonymous

    Fueling Tips for Single and Double Workouts

    As one coach aptly stated, "Too many athletes show up for training, but they don't show up for meals. They might as well not show up for training." So true! Pre-exercise fueling makes a big difference in terms of how well athletes can enhance their performance. Food eaten within the hour before exercise does get put to good use, helping athletes train harder and longer. (It also helps curb post-exercise hunger/sugar cravings.)

    You can only train at your best if you are well-fueled on a daily basis. Yet too many athletes wonder what (and if) they should eat before exercise. Rowers want to know what to grab (if anything) as they roll out of bed and head to the boathouse. Triathletes ask about how to fuel for their second workout of the day. Runners want a pre-exercise snack that will not cause intestinal distress.

    No one pre-exercise food is best for all athletes. Hence, you want to experiment to learn which foods settle best in your body. Here is some guidance for planning effective pre-exercise fueling.

    First off, take steps to train your gut (not just your heart, lungs, and muscles).

    I've talked to many athletes (particularly in running sports) who purposefully choose to not eat within hours of exercise as a means to avoid gastro-intestinal (GI) upset. While this may seem like a good idea for the short term, it's a bad idea if you want to optimize performance for the long run.

    The intestinal tract is trainable and can digest food during exercise that lasts >30 minutes. (The gut shuts down during short, intense bouts, so plan to eat 2 to 4 hours in advance of those workouts!) To train your gut, start by nibbling on 50 to 100 calories of crackers, pretzels, or any simple-to-digest carb within the hour pre-exercise. Once your GI tract tolerates that snack, titrate the calories up to 200 to 300—maybe a packet of oatmeal, a granola bar, or an English muffin (with some peanut butter on it for longer-lasting energy). Experiment with a variety of fruits (applesauce), vegetables (sweet potato), and grains (leftover pasta) to learn what works best for your body. You are an experiment of one.

    For some athletes, GI distress can be caused by the inability to thoroughly digest specific types of carbohydrates called FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols). Common sources of FODMAPs include garlic and onion (found in the spaghetti sauce & garlic bread often enjoyed the night before a big work-out), as well as apples and raspberries. For more in-depth FODMAP information, visit

    Meal timing matters. When you eat matters as much as what you eat.

    Too many athletes eat backwards. That is, they undereat during the active part of their day, only to consume a huge meal before going to bed. Two standard excuses for skimpy daytime fueling include:

    #1: "I look forward to a big dinner. That's when I finally have time to relax and reward myself for having survived yet-another busy day."

    #2: "I want to lose weight. I can stick to my diet at breakfast & lunch, but I blow it at night. Evening eating is my downfall."

    If either scenario sounds familiar, think again. You are going to consume the calories eventually, so you might as well plan to eat them when they can be put to good use.

    Morning exercisers want to eat part of their breakfast (granola bar & latte) before they workout and then the rest of their breakfast afterwards (oatmeal, banana & PB). They then want to plan an early hearty lunch at 11:00ish and a second lunch/hearty snack at 3:00ish. The goal of the second lunch is to both fuel the upcoming workout and ruin the appetite for dinner so they can then enjoy a lighter dinner—and likely better sleep than if they had stuffed themselves with a big meal.

    Athletes who do double workouts really want to eat a hearty early lunch to refuel from the morning session and prepare for the second (afternoon) session. They'll have 4 to 5 hours to readily digest lunch before they train again.

    You might need to plan time to eat.

    Busy athletes who juggle work/school and double workouts often complain they have no time to eat. Sometimes that is true and sometimes they choose to sleep a few more minutes (leaving no time for breakfast) or keep working on a project (leaving no time for lunch).

    Those are both choices. They could have chosen to make fueling more of a priority.

    If you struggle with finding time to eat, plan ahead and schedule lunchtime in your daily calendar, or set an alarm for a 3:00 pm snack before your 4:00 pm workout. Maybe you can convert your coffee into a latte, grab a banana, or eat an energy bar while driving to the gym, walking to school, or reading email?

    Anything is better than nothing.

    If you go from work (or school) to afternoon workout, the extra-large lunch will offer fuel for an energetic after-noon workout. Alternatively, plan to have a 3:00 Second Lunch readily available (apple +cheese+ crackers; half or whole PB & J sandwich; yogurt + granola + banana).

    Any fuel—even cookies or candy—is better than exercising on empty. You'll perform better after having enjoyed a sweet as opposed to having eaten nothing. (Research suggests sugar/candy eaten within 15-minutes pre-exercise can actually boost performance and not simply contribute to a sugar "crash.")

    Final thoughts: For athletes, every meal has a purpose. You are either fueling up to prepare for exercise, or you are refueling afterwards to both recover from the work-out and prepare for your next session.

    Fueling properly takes time and energy. You need to be responsible! Do not brush off meals and snacks as if they are optional inconveniences in your busy day.

    Proper fueling requires time-management skills, particularly for students and athletes doing double sessions. You want to schedule time (rest days? weekends?) to food shop and batch-cook so you can have the right foods in the right places at the right times. You always find time to exercise; you must also find time to fuel properly.

    Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a popular resource, as is her online workshop. Visit for info.

    The Athlete's Kitchen

    Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD Dec 2023

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