This and That

Saturday, June 5th is our last training ride together for the 2010 CARTI Tour de Rock.  It has been a real blast!  We estimate that over 41,000 training miles were covered this season and hundreds of cyclists shared the road in preparation for the ride on June 12th.

This is going to be a good ride - plan on hanging around for a bit after the ride too!

This Saturday is supposed to be HOT!  Wear sunscreen! Bring water bottles!

Now most of you are planning on riding with the Advanced Ride (30-, 50-, 62- or 100 mile routes). Did you know that the TDR also includes the Arkansas Childrens Hospital Family Fun Ride on June 12th? Encourage your family and friends to dust off their bike and join the festivities. The Family Fun ride starts at 10:00 a.m. and is a relaxed, leisurely ride from Burns Park to the Big Dam Bridge and over to the ACH rest stop. When they get back to the finish line, there will be plenty of food, live music and tons of celebrating. Registration via the CARTI website – click on Calendar of Events and choose Tour de Rock.

  • Thursday, June 10th at CARTI/St. Vincent, from noon until 7 p.m.
  • Friday, June 11th at Riverfront Wyndham Hotel, North Little Rock, from noon until 7 p.m.
Joining the fun at the Registration festivities on Friday is Stan Havlick.  Stan is a nationally known cyclist and cancer activist.  He will discuss his cycling journeys which took him across six continents. 

Dickey-Stephens Ballpark is donating a FREE TICKET to the baseball game on June 12th to every registered cyclist!  So, in addition to receiving the way cool 2010 TDR T-Shirt and the Specialized Water Bottle in your registration bag, you'll also receive the ticket for a great night out at the ball game between the Travelers and the NWA Naturals! Ride the ride, eat the food, dance to the music and PLAY BALL! 

Everyone wear their TDR T-shirts to the game and we'll ROCK the ball game too!


Bicycle Friendly?

To coincide with National Bike Month, the League of American Bicyclists announced it's 2010 Bicycle Friendly State Rankings.  Here it comes...wait for it...WHOA! Hold up, what's going on? Last year, the League's Bicycle Friendly States list ranked Arkansas as 38th.  The new report is out and now we are 45th!  What?!

First things first: Hats off to North Little Rock for everything that has been done to earn the Bicycle Friendly Community - Bronze designation receiving points in Engineering and Education (if I'm reading the chart right). Plus, two businesses received "Bicycle Friendly Bronze" nods - Chainwheel and The Ride.  Congratulations to everyone involved to earn that recognition!

I'm a little baffled, however, by the backward slide for the state.  It seems like there is so much going on - more riders than ever, more routes being developed, and more events to encourage the sport of cycling for every age.  The grading criteria included categories such as Policies & Programs, Infrastructure, Education & Encouragement, and Enforcement.  I was kind of a competitive A/B student in school - so let me tell you Ds and Fs on my report card are hard to take!

We're "The Natural State" for crying out loud; this ought to be a no brainer for us.  Arkansans bike for exercise; are we not commuting enough? Are we creating enough safe routes to ride and walk on? Does your business make it possible, that is, encourage you to ride to work?  Where can we get involved not only to regain our good ranking but to really improve our cycling situations?

BACA (Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas) actively promotes "many benefits of bicycling to our community."  Speaking with Tom Ezell, the new President of the group, it sounds like they have many of the aforementioned criteria on their radar and are actively pursuing ways to improve those areas and more.  It also sounds like they need more volunteers and community involvement.  More involved equals a louder voice, right?

Another group I've recently discovered is the Safe Routes Partnership.  This national program works to establish safe routes for our children to walk and ride to school including planning routes, training parents and children, and motivating school participation.  This partnership is working with many of the state highway departments as well including our beloved Arkansas.  Just think - this could actually change the mindset of a generation!  If you're a parent, ask your school if they are involved with this effort or lead them to get engaged.  Our kids need our involvement.

Admittedly, I want Arkansas to receive awards for our bicycle friendly communities.  I am slightly competitive afterall.  But, what would it take for us to really earn these accolades and have cyclists just be commonplace in our state? For me personally, I think I have to figure out how to get more involved with efforts like these and how to ride other than just supporting this cause so close to my heart.  I need to ride more for errands, for work, and over to the park for some plain ol' family fun.

Got any ideas? What can we do to climb back up the ranks and recover our cycling glory? Talk about it, make a plan, get involved, and Ride to Work. :-) 

(I'll let you know as soon as I figure out how I can do it too.)

Movies, Nutrition and Butt Butter, Oh My!

Okay, I started to use this space to recommend a new cycling movie that we recently watched.  Then, I remembered the blog is supposed to be about issues pertaining to the training including tips and tricks to help you get more out of cycling and to stay safe.  (Oh my gosh, we watched that movie at night and both of us wanted to pull out the bikes and hit the trail.)   Focus, focus.

This is it.  This is the time for you to be trying different foods and hydration to figure out what is best for you.  What do you need before your ride? During? How often? Water or sports drink?

There are several trains of thought on this but bottom line - do what works for you. Experiment.  Read up. 

Before the ride -
Some suggest eating 1 to 2 hours prior to your ride.  For breakfast, I have friends that swear by peanut butter sandwich and a banana. Others are hooked on oatmeal. Still others swear by protein bars.  I think the common denominator is a little protein mixed in with the carbs to keep your glycemic levels steady and your energy high.

Speaking of glycemic levels, if you are diabetic or hypoglycemic, you have to watch the sugar intake closely.  Exercising naturally lowers blood sugar, so how does that affect you?  Consider too that many of the gels, bars and drinks are loaded with sugar for energy.  As a hypoglemic, I have to watch this.  Too much and I'm on a glycemic roller-coaster that can last for hours making the ride pretty un-enjoyable.  (Oy! the hills in that movie - it was incredible.  Made Overlook seem a bit tame.  Oops! I digressed.)  If you've ridden with me before, this is where I shamelessly promote one of our sponsors, Hammer Nutrition.  Hammer specializes in low-glycemic products and they have some of the best customer service I have ever experienced when ordering on-line.

During the ride -
Carry a gel, banana, or protein bar and try munching on it during longer training rides.  Gauge the distance or time when you begin to notice your energy draining.  Then you can start eating BEFORE you start running out of steam.  (In the cycling flick I mentioned earlier, the riders have a food pit stop.  Some roll through grabbing their food and they just keep on pedaling.  No breaks, that is unless you have a spill, flat, or are mere mortals.  This movie was so energizing.  Did I say that already?)

Also, consider electrolyte replacement.  This can be a pill, a sports drink or special food to replace the electrolytes lost.  This is especially important on warm weather rides.  Another good product for longer rides - Perpeteum (by Hammer) has the nutrition and electrolytes in one product.

There is so much information about nutrition and the ratios of food to time on the bike.  Do your homework and experiment.  If you need more convincing on the importance of this for long rides, ask a cyclist what it feels like to bonk.  We've all done it and it is quite miserable. 

Just a little note here about chamois butter aka butt butter.  A friend and new rider, gently broached this subject about chafing.  It made me think that newer riders get the talk about gears and gloves and helmets but we forget to share the secret of chamois butter until after they've earned their own first set of "racing stripes" (chafing).  Why do we do that? My gosh, that should come right after "get some good shorts".  So you ladies and gentlemen, new to this sport, invest in a good pair of bike shorts AND some chamois butter. 

There are many to choose from - TBS (a local product), D'sNuts, Assos, Bag Balm, Glide, etc.  Most apply it directly to the skin that might be at risk for a little friction during the longer ride, if you know what I mean.  Supposedly, if you have the right seat position, the right saddle, the right shorts and the right form, chafing is a non-issue.  I say 'whatever'!  That hot shower water HURTS when it hits a fresh set of racing stripes.  Trust me.  Just get the stuff and smear it on.    

Okay, I give - you knew I'd tell you, didn't you?  The movie is "Race Across the Sky" starring the Leadville 100 Ride.  This movie gives you the cycling bug like nobody's business.  The Leadville 100 race in Colorado has riders from varying skill levels trek up and over the mountain and back in 1 day! This ride in Colorado is fantastic and pulls in an amazing pack of riders.  One of the heroes of cycling, Lance Armstrong, has completed it a couple of years now but he's not the only hero as you will see in the movie.  Be forewarned - watch the movie in the morning 'cause I promise you will want to ride after you watch it!

Bike-to-Work Week is May 17th-21st

How much money could you save if you rode your bike
every day to work?  Find out during
National Bike-to-Work Week, May 17th - 21st. 

Then, join the end of week celebration on
Bike-to-Work Day, Friday, May 21st.

In North Little Rock:
meet at Cook's Landing for a 6:30 a.m. departure down the NLR side of the River Trail to the NLR RV Park Pavilion under the freeway bridge.

In Little Rock:
meet at Murray Park for a 6:30 a.m. departure down the LR side, over the Broadway bridge back to the river trail then to the NLR RV Park Pavilion.

At the Pavilion, there will be a great get-together with food and drinks, (hopefully, T-shirts and swag), lasting approximately 30 minutes. Afterwards, ride to work or back to your cars to cap off a great week supporting commuting and cycling in Arkansas.

Weather Preparedness: A little reminder

With the dangerous storms this past weekend, now seems like a good time to remind folks what to do if caught outdoors during a thunderstorm or tornado.

Arkansas has the distinction of being 13th in the Nation in the number of lightning strikes per square mile. Lightning strikes the ground here more than 500,000 times in an average year. As cyclists, we should definitely be prepared if we are caught outdoors when a storm passes through.

30/30 Lightning Rule
Because sound travels at approximately 1 mile in 5 seconds, you can determine how far away the lightning is by using the "flash-to-bang" method. So, see lightning and then count seconds until you hear the thunder.  It is recommended that you seek shelter if the time between the lightning flash and the rumble of thunder is 30 seconds or less (6 miles). Now, Mother Hen here would prefer that her baby chicks seek shelter much sooner then this recommendation.  Once inside shelter, you should not resume activities until 30 minutes after the last audible thunder. This is known as the 30/30 Lightning Rule.

Okay, now what?  I did a little research and encourage you to as well to familiarize yourself. Here are a few recommendations for “outdoor survival” that I found online. 
  • Find safe shelter. Sturdy buildings are the safest place to be during lightning storms. Avoid sheds, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, and bleachers.
  • Avoid isolated trees or other tall objects. It's better to seek shelter under a thick growth of relatively small trees.
  • Don't wait for rain to seek shelter.
  • Get out of the water. Water is a great conductor of electricity.
  • Avoid any metal objects such as metal fences, bicycles and golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools.
  • Spread out and do not stay in a group.
  • Never lie flat on the ground during a lightning storm.
  • If on a bicycle and lightning is within 5 miles, STOP riding, get off and away from your bicycle, find a ditch or other low spot and sit down. (Watch for flash flooding.)
This weekend was a reminder that we live smack dab in Tornado Alley. The peak of the tornado “season” for Arkansas is March to May, but tornadoes can pop up at other times.

  • If you have time, get to a sturdy structure for shelter. Hail and lightning also often accompany tornadoes.
  • If you have no time, or there are no sturdy structures nearby, find a low place in the landscape and lay down. Do not shelter under a highway overpass if it can be avoided.
  • Stay as low as possible. Not only do winds increase with height above the ground, but the more exposed your body is, the more likely you will be struck by flying debris and seriously injured or killed.
  • Avoid sheltering by solitary objects or groups of trees. Lightning often occurs with tornadoes.

Obviously, the best thing to do is to AVOID & EVADE dangerous weather situations.  But, if you can't, if it catches you unaware, you should be prepared.  We encourage you to know ahead of time what to do in various weather situations.  AND, if you find a good website for what to do in these circumstances, please share - post a link or comment to this article and help a brother & your sister out.