Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's Official! Cycling Can Harm Your Bones

Cycling might be one of the best ways of improving your cardiovascular health, but a recent study has confirmed that if the only exercise you do is road cycling, you might well be putting yourself at risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterised by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue over time, leading to fragility and an increased risk of fractures of the hip, spine and wrist.

Cyclists are also at risk of osteopenia, or sub-normal bone density. A one percent decrease in density increases fracture risk by up to five percent.

The study, which appeared in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, compared the lower spine bone densities of a group of competitive male cyclists against a control group of moderately active men who did other sports. The cyclists had considerably lower spinal bone densities, despite having a greater calcium intake.

A similar study was published in the journal Metabolism in 2007, which compared road cyclists and runners between the ages of 20 and 59. It found that 63 percent of the cyclists had osteopenia of the spine or hip, compared with 19 percent of the runners.

Apparently, it’s the lack of impact in our sport that can lead to low bone density, especially in the lower back, which remains immobile and shock-free when riding on smooth roads. Ironically, cycling’s lack of impact is precisely what makes the sport so practicable for older riders.

The problem can be exacerbated by riders in hard training too, since they might not be eating enough and are burning up essential bone-building nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium with their hardcore training.

Play rough

It seems that cross-training is the key to a healthy bone mass, with running and ball sports being ideal.

“When it comes to bone health,” says Dr Claire Bowring of the National Osteoporosis Society, “cyclists need to add some weight-bearing exercise to their training.”

As an illustration, Dr Bowring went on to explain the effect of force on bone health in professional tennis players: “Players were found to have more than 25 percent higher bone density in their serving arm,” says Bowring. “But running, dancing or any exercise where you’re supporting the weight of your body helps build strong bones.”

Changes in bone density can develop over decades, but the early 20s for men – when most will consider themselves at the peak of their physical condition – are critical for achieving optimal bone mass.

But if you don’t like running or ball sports and you strictly won’t go dancing, there is another way of building up your bones. The answer lies in a previous study published in a 2002 issue of Bone magazine, which found that mountain bikers had considerably higher bone density than the sample road cyclists. It seems that bumpy trails will give your skeleton all the impact it needs to stimulate bone growth and it will improve your bike handling and recovery rate in leaps and bounds too.

Bone meals

Consume less:

  • Salt

  • Sugar: including refined or processed foods, which increase calcium excretion from the body and stimulate the adrenal glands

  • Red meat: too much protein won’t help build bone density

  • Carbonated soft drinks: phosphoric acid upsets the body’s calcium/phosphorous ratio, which stimulates release of the parathyroid hormone and reduces calcium uptake

  • Alcohol

  • Tobacco

  • Caffeine: it reduces mineral absorption and stimulates adrenal glands

Eat more:

  • Dark green vegetables, berries and cherries, soy foods, sesame seeds, flaxseed, beans and pulses, canned oily fish and nuts – all of which are rich in nutrients that will support healthy bone growth.

  • For those particularly at risk or already suffering, nutritional supplements are a good idea and there are plenty of combined bone health formulas available. But make sure they contain a full spectrum of the following nutrients: calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, silicon, vitamin D, vitamin K, B6, folic acid, B12 and vitamin C.

  • Phyto-oestrogen supplements can also be beneficial, including soy isoflavones, as well as the herbal medicines black cohosh and dong quai.
Source: Bike Radar

Monday, June 22, 2009

This is how time & money can be wasted through cycling!

By tomorrow, a personal instructor wearing a diaper could become the first person in Malaysia to cycle nonstop on a gym bike for 48 hours.

Wong Wai Hoong, 31, is only allowed a 15-minute break every three hours. Therefore, he requires the added support of a diaper in case he needs to relieve himself during his attempt to cycle into the Malaysia Book of Records.

The freelancer is eager to prove his mettle to inspire Malaysian youth.

"They must pursue their dreams," he said before starting on his feat at the SynarGym at Kuala Lumpur Sentral at 10am yesterday.

The event is organised by SynarGym Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad.

Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibra-him, who flagged off the cyclist, urged the media to cover positive aspects of Malaysian sports like Wong's trail-blazing attempt. He said the media needed to help instil confidence in the country's competing sportsmen.

Mattouring: publicity stunt..SIMPLY RIDICULOUS!

Source: NST Online

Friday, June 19, 2009

Duffy Diet Coke bicycle ad cleared

A TV commercial featuring the singer Duffy cycling through city streets at night has been cleared by the advertising watchdog despite complaints that it broke health and safety rules and could be copied by children.

The multimillion-pound campaign, first aired during the Brit Awards on ITV this year, marked the Welsh singer's first outing as the new face of Diet Coke. In the ad she is seen cycling the streets at night singing a cover of Sammy Davis Jr's I Gotta Be Me.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 22 complaints that the ad either "condoned behaviour prejudicial to health and safety", because she was not seen wearing reflective clothing or using lights, or that it was irresponsible because children might copy her behaviour.

Coca-Cola said it carried out a "vigorous" assessment of highway code regulations. Duffy had been wearing a black and white sequined top that reflected light and gave her a "luminous glow" so that she stood out in the dark. The soft drinks company added that the bike had lights.

The authority said the cycling sequence was clearly "unreal and fantastical" and the ad was not shown around programmes children were likely to be watching.

Source: YouTube

Monday, June 15, 2009

Touring-friendly Pedal

I just bought this SHIMANO PD-A530 pedal to replace my old Eggbeater and tried it out yesterday. Despite having just 1 entry for the cleat compared to 4 with the Eggbeater, I think this pedal is simply awesome!

This pedal is both clipless + platform pedal. Meaning that I can use both my cycling shoes as well as my sandal to ride my bike.

Not only this pedal is inexpensive, but it's neat looking too. The name SHIMANO is also means 'quality & reliable', so despite the slight heavier weight than the Eggbeater, I don't have to think twice when purchasing this pedal.

The Platform is concaved, sturdy and large enough for my 44-size shoes. And the SPD is ever simple and easy to use. Just adjust the tension to suit your preference.

So, for those cyclists who are looking for a pedal for their touring bike, look no further, this is what you need! Period.

Source: photo from

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to Effectively Shift Your Bicycle's Gears

Fundamental number one: the purpose of gears is to make the bike easier to pedal up hills and enable you to pedal down them. The idea is to maintain a constant pace on the pedals and change your gears according to the wind and terrain conditions. Once you find your pace, that rhythm, you can ride all the way to California if you want to.

Fundamental number two: you must be pedaling when you change gears. That's because the chain has to be moving in order for the derailleurs to "de-rail" the chain from sprocket to sprocket. That's also why it's best not to click the shifters when you’re sitting still. Besides stretching the gear cables, the bike immediately changes gears when you start off again, usually with some very disconcerting noises. Shifting your gears while sitting still is like fingernails on a chalkboard to your bike mechanic.

Now back to the gear shifting tips.

Tip one: Pedal at a brisk pace. It’s better to pedal at a brisk pace using the easier to pedal gears than to muscle the harder gears more slowly. This technique will increase your stamina over a longer ride and will enable you to accelerate more quickly if you need to "jump". I promise you’ll still get a good leg workout. A brisk pace on the pedals also improves the shifting.

Tip two: And this is hugely important. Lighten the pressure on the pedals when you shift. Keep them turning, but don't be muscling down on them while you shift. Lightening the pressure on the pedals significantly smoothes the gear change, reduces those grinding noises when you shift, and lengthens the life of your drive train. You’ll have to anticipate your shifts a bit as you approach the hills, but it only takes a beat to change your gears on a hill once you get your timing down.

Tip three: Avoid using the small ones in the front with the small ones in the back. Another way to say the same thing is, when you’re chain is on the inboard ring on the front, it should be on the inboard cogs in the back. Similarly, when you’re chain is on the outboard ring on the front, it should be on the outboard cogs in the back.

Tip Four: Remember to shift back to a low gear before you stop so that you’ll be in an easy gear for starting out again.

When to change gears will be pretty obvious. You’ll want to shift to an easier pedaling gear (i.e. down shift to a lower number) when the bike gets hard to pedal up hills, and then shift to a higher gear (higher number) so your pedals can catch up when you go down one. Thus, we have come full circle on our gear shifting discussion. Gears make it easier to go up hills and let you pedal down them.

Source: Intown Bicycles/photo from

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pee Break

So, this is how the pros pee during a long day of cycling.

You can watch the video here.

Source: flikr/

Kohl tells all about doping

Former Gerolsteiner rider and Tour de France podium finisher Bernhard Kohl is now an open book on doping practices in the peloton after he was caught for blood booster EPO-CERA in August last year and recently announced his retirement from the sport. In an exclusive interview with L'Equipe, the Austrian detailed how he "prepared" himself for last year's Tour and received blood transfusions from his manager during the event.

As he had already confessed earlier, Kohl had two litres of his own blood available for re-injection at the Tour, of which he used 1.5 litres. "Nothing else," he said. "Too many surprise controls. No testosterone patch, nothing, except caffeine, pseudo-ephedrine and some analgesics. EPO, growth hormone, insulin - I took that before [the Tour], not during the race."

The blood transfusions took place in the evenings at the team hotels. Kohl's manager, Stefan Matschiner, flew to France three times during the Tour to meet the cyclist and provide him with a pouch of 0.5 litres of blood. "He sent me an SMS: 'You can come to my room'. I disappeared for 20 minutes, nothing more. Nobody noticed anything," Kohl stated.

The rider continued by saying that the anti-doping controls taking place at 7AM on the mountain stages could be outsmarted. "By re-injecting half a litre of blood, the blood parameters are not subject to suspect variation. My manager also injected me with albumin to dilute my hematocrit. Moreover, I always practiced the transfusions 48 hours before the decisive stages: you're not at the top on the next day, you have to wait two days for the effects to be felt."

The International Cycling Union 's (UCI) biological passport failed prevent Kohl from practicing blood doping on a regular basis during his career, he said. "The top riders are so professional in their doping that they know very well they have to keep their blood values stable not to be detected. The UCI sent us the values resulting from the controls: we thus referred to those to mark the next ones. In a way, the passport almost helped us."

As to his positive control for third-generation EPO, CERA, Kohl did not know why it was him who tested positive - along with teammate Stefan Schumacher and Riccardo Riccò - and not other Tour de France riders.

"Everybody in the cycling scene was convinced that this EPO was not detectable. Many more riders had taken it. Oddly enough, we were only three to fall. I am convinced that the top ten could have been positive," the Austrian said. "It just happened to be me, tough luck. I didn't ask for a counter-analysis: this masquerade was over."

Kohl also pointed at the omertĂ  within the peloton, giving the impression that everybody knows about doping. "I did not cheat anyone in the peloton, be sure of that. When I was a young rider and did not win anything, I didn't take the costly products because I didn't have the money. I knew what the 'big ones' took, but that's just how it was. There is like a social organisation within the peloton, these things are accepted. The guys appreciate and respect the efforts of others without taking doping into account."

The young Austrian became a 'big one' and could afford top level performance-enhancing products and methods like CERA and autologous blood transfusion. After admitting to doping, Kohl is now collaborating with Austrian police and anti-doping authorities, and wants to do the same on an international level with the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). He does not think of a comeback.

"I know the rules in the scene: those who really speak out do not come back. Therefore, I move on to something else, without regrets."

Source: photo from

Century Ride

Did my maiden century ride on this 'small' island last Sunday. Singapore is only 20km x 40km wide.

My route was clockwise from Tampines via Kembangan-Harbour Front - Boon Lay - Keranji (via Bahar Rd) - Woodlands - Yishun-Serangoon - ECP - Bedok and back to Tampines.

The best time of the ride was from Marsiling to Yishun where I rode in the rain. (minus the thunder/lightning)

Highlight: The Teluk Blangah & Pasir Panjang roads are super flat and shaded by the West Coast elevated Highway. While Bahar Road to Kranji is wide (6 lanes) but very quiet. Close view of Johor Bahru from Keranji Reservoir Park. Nice!

Overall: Good weather (+ rain & overcast in most places), Flat Roads, Moderate Traffic = 114km of total distance.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cycling Cadence and Pedaling Economy

Lance Armstrong's miraculous comeback from cancer and his domination in both the time trials and the mountains of the Tour de France have inspired many cyclists to imitate his extreme high-cadence style. The world watched Jan Ulrich appear to struggle up the climbs at 80 rpm while Lance rode away from him at 110 rpm. Many people wondered, Why doesn't Ulrich just shift to a smaller gear and spin faster? Hasn't Lance proven to the world that very high cadences are better?

The answer is no. Lance rode away from Ulrich because he produced more watts per pound of bodyweight because he is a stronger cyclist - not because he has discovered a secret that Ulrich doesn,t know. Should you mimic Lance's high cadence? Maybe I can't tell you that, but I will give you some information that will help you figure it out for yourself.

When you pedal a bicycle, your muscular system produces power to propel the bicycle and your cardiovascular system delivers oxygen, fuels the muscles, and removes waste products such as lactic acid. Selecting your optimal cadence is a matter of keeping these two systems in balance. The optimal balance is different for each person.

Spinning at higher cadences reduces the watts-per-pedal-stroke, a measure of the force required to produce a given wattage. This makes the workload more tolerable for the muscles. Most experts believe that this is because fewer fast-twitch muscle fibers must be recruited to create the high torque levels required at low cadence. Pedaling with a too-low cadence increases reliance on fast twitch fibers, causing premature lactic acid accumulation, which makes your legs burn.

Pedaling with high cadence, however, does waste some energy. Imagine setting your bike up on an indoor trainer and cutting off the chain. If you spun 100 rpm, the workload would be zero watts, yet your heart rate would elevate significantly above resting. Just moving your legs fast does use energy. Research has consistently demonstrated that cycling at 40 to 60 rpm generates the lowest oxygen consumption for a given wattage. Pedaling at too high a cadence overloads the cardiovascular system's ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles. The most obvious symptom of this is ventilatory distress.

High-cadence pedaling works your cardiovascular system more, but reduces the relative intensity of the leg muscles. The key, then, is pedaling with enough cadence to keep your watts-per-pedal-stroke at a level that your muscles can handle, but at a cadence that will not overload your cardiovascular system. The optimal balance is different for every rider.

Lance Armstrong has an extraordinary cardiovascular capacity. His heart and lungs can deliver enormous quantities of oxygen to his muscles. Yet Lance does not posses huge, muscular thighs. His muscles are much more likely to be overloaded by high watts-per-pedal-stroke than his cardiovascular system is to be overloaded by the oxygen demand of the workload. Therefore, high-cadence pedaling, even at a slightly higher energy cost, is most effective for him. Jan Ulrich, on the other hand, is not gifted with the cardiovascular capacity of Lance, but has much greater muscle mass in the hips and thighs. His legs are able to withstand high watts-per-pedal-stroke, so he correctly minimizes the wasted energy to prevent cardiovascular limitation. Both Lance and Jan pedal using the cadence that is most effective for their unique physiology.

Each cyclist brings a unique set of genetics and training to the sport. The basic rules are, if your legs hurt more than your lungs, increase cadence. If your lungs hurt more than your legs, use a lower cadence.

If you decide that higher cadence pedaling might be more effective for you, now is the time to accustom your body to the different demands. Until you have learned the skills to pedal at very high cadence for long periods of time, you will be less efficient. Begin to develop leg speed now and it will be smooth and natural by next year's race season.

Source: trifuel- by Ken Mierke/photo from bikeradar

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Penal Tour de France pedals off

Nearly 200 French prisoners are preparing to take to their bikes in the first ever penal Tour de France.

The 194 inmates, escorted by 124 prison guards and sports instructors, will set off from Lille and cycle about 2,400km (1,500 miles), ending up in Paris.

They will have to cycle in a pack, will not be ranked and, for obvious reasons, breakaway sprints will not be allowed.

Prison authorities say they hope the race will help the inmates learn values such as team work and self esteem.

The prisoners, all serving jail terms of between five and 10 years, will make stopovers in 17 different towns, each of which has a jail.

"It's a kind of escape for us, a chance to break away from the daily reality of prison," said a prisoner identified as Daniel at the project's launch in May.

"If we behave well, we might be able to get released earlier, on probation," he said.

Prison official Sylvie Marion said the project aims to help the prisoners "reintegrate into society by fostering values like effort, teamwork and self-esteem".

"We want to show them that with some training, you can achieve your goals and start a new life," Reuters quoted her as saying.

Source: BBC News/Europe

You're not superman

You fall off your bike and break your collarbone, and your doctor tells you to stay off the bike for six to eight weeks. Lance Armstrong falls and breaks his collarbone in multiple places, and he’s back in the saddle in a couple of weeks.

You stub your big toe and the pain has you hobbling for weeks. UNC point guard Ty Lawson jams his and two days later plays 36 minutes.

Why is it that injuries that take the rest of us out of action for weeks, months or possibly forever, only bench elite athletes for a short time? Is their body makeup that superior? Do they have a heightened tolerance for pain? Do they have access to cures of modern medicine unavailable to the rest of us? Are they simply treated differently?

The answer, according to those whose job it is to mend our broken bodies: Yes.

Laparoscopic surgery, which requires much smaller incisions, is one of several medical procedures pioneered to help athletes get back in the game faster.

“Philosophically speaking, sports medicine is something of a space program for orthopedic care,” says Dr. Claude Moorman, director of sports medicine at Duke Health. “Advances gained through those efforts trickle down to all of us.”

One of the more common applications of laparoscopic surgery is quick repair of damaged knees.

“In the ’70s,” says Moorman, previously the team physician for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, “athletes would have what we called ‘zippers’ on both knees” — long, zipper-looking incisions where doctors had gone in to make repairs.

“Very seldom would you have surgery and be back in the same season,” Moorman says. “Now, they’re back playing in two to four weeks.”

Pain toughens athletes

Will Armstrong feel pain in his collarbone as he trains for a three-week race that begins next month? Probably. Was Lawson aware of his big toe during the Final Four weekend? No doubt.

But it didn’t stop them. That, says William Howard, an orthopedic surgeon with the Arnold Palmer SportsHealth Center at Baltimore’s Union Memorial Hospital, is a large part of what make them Lance Armstrong and Ty Lawson.

“Any superb athlete can handle pain,” says Howard. “When you get to be at that level, you’re a different breed of cat.”

In part, he says, it’s because they’re used to it. To reach that level they’ve had to endure so much pain that it becomes commonplace.

Head injuries take longer

There is one area where advances in medicine have lengthened the amount of time an athlete is benched: concussions.

“With concussions, we used to just wait until we thought your head was cleared,” says Howard.

Today, multiple concussions will end a pro career with no such questions asked. Two Super Bowl quarterbacks — the Dallas Cowboys’ Troy Aikman and San Francisco 49ers’ Steve Young — are prime examples.

But football helmets have been designed to be more protective, and Howard says growing awareness is leading to increased caution at all levels.

Source: from reuters

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