Monday 13 July 2015

Importance of proper bike fit - Guest Article by Bharat Krishna v

Bicycles come in various different sizes, geometry and components. Bike manufacturers use adjustable components so that a rider can be properly accustomed to a bike. With the help of trained bike fitters who know the adjustments that are needed to be made to the components so that a rider is comfortable with the bike.

The benefits of bike fit can be best experienced by;
  • Beginners
  • People who can’t get comfortable with their present bike setup.
  • Competitive cyclists.
Professional riders need a bike fit to maximise their efficiency. Experts are known to refine their riding positions. A professional bike fit should be considered as an investment that will be paid off as long as you ride your bike. As a recreational rider or beginner, you may have questions regarding what a professional bike fit can offer? Here are some of the benefits of professional bike fit.

• Improved performance:
Your bike is set so that you get maximum performance. When your body is set in a position that you get proper muscle engagement and proper muscle recruitment. It will allow the rider to use multiple muscle groups in most effective and efficient manner, produce better power that enhances your endurance capabilities and perform to your optimum level.

• Improved comfort:
A professional bike fit makes sure that your legs are in the proper position while you are riding and get maximum comfort. Your leg is set in a bio-mechanically neutral position which minimizes the load on your muscles and joints.

• Better selection of equipment:
Many people buy bicycles based on brand names. But there are chances that top brands produce products that doesn’t fit you well. This is the case of most beginner riders. This can result in the purchase of an expensive and very compromised bike which you will not like to ride on. Proper bike fitting can find you good components that suit your riding. This can save you a lot of money.

• Reduce fatigue:
Many riders experience numbness on their foot, hands, genitals etc. This is due to the lack of proper bike fit. A proper bike fit can reduce fatigue, numbness, injuries and helps you recover faster. In a bike fitting session, lot of adjustments are done. Both to the bike and also your riding posture. Some basic adjustments done while doing a basic bike fit are:

• Saddle level:
Depending on the rides you do and the physical problems you have whilst riding, the saddle level is adjusted accordingly.
Saddle needs to be at level to avoid knee pain or back pain. (Pic courtesy: )
• Saddle height:
Improper saddle height can cause pain all over your body. It is really important that you have a proper saddle height whilst riding for efficient transfer of power to the pedals.
Adjust Saddle height to ensure adequate stretch without allowing the Knees to lock
• Handlebar reach:
This adjustment is made to give you better breathing and power. If you want to be aerodynamic, you get down on the drop bar.

• Ride position:
Your ride position is corrected so that you get to ride different terrains more efficiently. Mainly your back should be straight, relaxed shoulders and a slightly bent elbow.

• Setting clip-less pedal cleats:
If you are using clip-less pedals, an improper setting will give you pain on your foot. A proper orientation of clip-less pedal cleats is necessary for an injury-free ride.

• Stem length:
The length of the stem that comes custom on your bike may not suit everyone, improper stem length can cause severe back pain. So the stem length is determined that suits your body posture.
Dr. Kristophe de Timze (M.I.T) comes up with easy thumb-rules for Bike fit (Photo courtesy: )
Given above are some of the adjustments done while doing a bike fit. Every one needs a proper bike fit. Today, there are a lot of professional bike fitters. Fitting can be great and give a jumping off point to your riding. But make sure that you go to the right person to do the fit so that your money is well spent for the long run.

Ride responsibly.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Proper nutrition and hydration for long rides - guest article by Bharat Krishna V

Nutrition and hydration plays a prominent role in a rider’s performance and recovery. Even really talented and hardworking professional rides find it difficult to reach the podium without following a proper diet and hydration. Maintaining optimum hydration while doing long rides is very important, but many riders do not know this fact. Proper nutrition and hydration helps you overcome muscle cramps, fatigue and injuries.

It’s difficult to do this unless you practice. Hydration is one of the easiest things to do, but equally neglected. Here are a few tips that need to be practiced to stay properly hydrated and nourished.
  • You should be frequently and consistently drinking while on the move. Mainly water, electrolyte or maybe diluted fruit juices. The worst thing about staying properly hydrated is that it causes a tendency to pee. It’s normal that cyclists have the urge to pee at least once every hour. 
  • The amount of water a person loses from his body in an hour varies. But an average person has to drink about 600ml-800ml of water. Adjust your hydration according to your body needs.
  • Ensure you hydrate yourself before you eat that you won’t mistake thirst for hunger.
  • During long rides, its good to carry two bottles . One filled with water and other can be your favourite drink. If it does not contain electrolytes, you should be carrying some sodium tablets or ORS.
Calorie intake and hydration go hand in hand as each influences and facilitates the other. It’s important the you are properly nourished to attain optimum performance whilst riding.

People respond differently to different types of food. Many professional cyclists consume energy bars and energy gels which help them maintain their calorie intake. But many do not prefer artificially prepared performance foods. Many people have problems in digesting energy bars and gels.

It’s good to take along with you some bananas, chocolates, nuts etc which can satisfy the need for carbohydrates. Many people consider swapping from electrolyte to energy drinks that contain carbohydrates according to the intensity of the ride.Typically if you are planning to do 4 hour ride, its necessary that you take at least 3500 calories, 100g proteins, 80g fat and about 600g of carbohydrates. This consumption varies from person to person and the intensity of ride. Here are some of the foods that you may consider to eat.
  • Porridge/Oatmeal for break fast. This is a low glycemic index food which is really good for cyclists as they are a firm source of proteins and give a slow and steady release of energy. You can make it more tastier and healthier by adding some fruits, raisins or nuts. 
  • Coffee: A strong cup of coffee can provide caffeine that improves your endurance performance through altering muscle metabolism and increasing mental alertness. Its important that you try caffeine in training before a long ride/race to assess you own response to it.
  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts like almonds, walnuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and fat and provide a lot of calories.
  • Rice: It contains the most essential carbohydrates and its high on glycemic index which means it gets glycogen right into the bloodstream. Eat before or straight after your ride as it’s good for recovery. 
  • Vegetables: It contains the essential vitamins and minerals. It is a great source of carbohydrates and when compared to fruits, its low on sugar which makes it a great food for cyclists.
Apart from the above foods mentioned, there are many other foods that help cyclists maintain their nutrition levels. Riders have their own personal favourite foods. You should be taking the right food at the right time. As hydration and nutrition are important, recovery after a ride is also equally important as post ride exercise is essential to replace the muscle glycogen used, stimulate muscle protein synthesis and replace electrolytes. So it’s really important that you recover quickly after a ride providing your body with necessary nutrients and fluids. Remembering this thumb rule will help you in your rides “Eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty”.

Ride safe. Ride responsibly !