Monday, May 27, 2013

Riding on the Edge: Traffic and You

In today's riding conditions, one thing terrifies most riders more than sand, rain, flats and bonking, and that's cars.
Coming from a cyclist's perspective, most of the time it's the car's fault. They have better brakes and better maneuvering. Not to mention are the sole controller of the multi-ton metal high speed box involved in the moment at hand.
But did the cyclist do everything in his power to prevent an incident?
Here are some guidelines to doing your best at stopping a potentially lethal situation while sharing the road.

Be visible
If I could sum up being visible in one word, it would be 'lights.' While reflective material and bright colors are helpful, you need to think like a driver. There are flashy billboards, neon signs, reflective signs, lights on the dash, tons of bright things in a driver's eyes. However, bright and/or flashing lights demand similar attention as ambulances and traffic.
In fact, it's Florida law that, from dusk until morning, bike riders must have a white front light and a rear red light visible and on. I always go by the rule, if the cars have their lights on, I need mine.
Instead of sacrificing your aero position and superhero-like spandex look, be conscious of visibility when buying cycling apparel. Here are a couple suggestions:

A safe product, without being too "flashy"
Gore Xenon bibs/shorts 
Not only are these shorts really comfortable, but Gore has put reflective designs on the leg panels to let people know you're there!
For more info on the Xenon bibs/shorts, click here

Hincapie Edge Jersey
Hincapie Edge clothing is designed with super light weight and breathable 'TourTek' fabric comparable to many higher-end cycling jerseys. They have also included HyperOptic elastane appears normal in daylight and illuminates when exposed to bright lights in dark conditions. A genius combination of looking fast and being safe!

For More info on the Hincapie Edge clothing, click here

Light & Motion 200 Commuter Combo
Reflective is good, but lights are really the best way to make sure you are seen. It is also important to make sure you see what is going on. The 200 Commuter Combo is bright enough to show you the cars and the cars where you are from in front and behind. It also has side lights so the traffic doesn't lose sight of you when passing.
For more info on the 200 Commuter Combo, click here

Obey all traffic laws
If you want to be considered an active member of the line of traffic, act like it. Take a rest at the stop light instead of inching out until the intersection is clear. It is law that bikers must put one heel on the ground at each stop sign. If you do not respect the laws of the road, others around you will not give you respect.
Plus, many bikers find that when they respond to the laws on the road, they are able to take the lane, giving them more respect and space on the road.

Know your place
I know, trust me, bikes are traffic. But let's be frank, biker vs. car, car wins. Know your route and try to stay off overly aggressive roads. Don't tempt fate! Remember, they may be completely in the wrong, but the courts can't save your life. Meaning (and I think everyone agrees). Do whatever it takes to stay alive in hectic traffic situations. Don't stand your ground on principle!

Take the high road
If you are feeling crowded, got cut off, or otherwise disrespected by a driver, be the bigger person. Do not attack them or succumb to road rage. Remember, your vehicle gets rid of stress. You are also the ambassador for all cyclists in that moment. By all means, make sure your presence is known but help them to come away with a heightened awareness of the lesser-wheeled vehicles instead of an aim for them!

Road ID
If you ride your bike with any consistency, you need a Road ID. Good for any time one may not have adequate ID on their person, Road ID provides, name, loved-one's contact info, as well as a serial number to plug into and see medical or other pertinent information.

For more information about Road ID, click here

Links to helpful sites.
Here are a few resources everyone should take a look at and be aware of.

Commute Orlando
Everyone should be familiar with this organization. They are at the forefront of equipping cyclists with the right know-how and attempting to make the streets safer for all two-wheelers!

The City of Orlando, Department of Transportation's official pedestrian and Cycling site.

City of Orlando, Cycling Liaison
The City's official liaison to the cycling community, Sgt. Woodhall. He is in charge of the Orlando Police Department Downtown Bicycle patrol unit.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bottles Up! The Water Bottle as a Tool

We've talked about how to find the best drink mix for you. But there is one more consideration when dealing with your water, the bottle.
The water bottle is often the unsung hero, the 'domestique' of everyone's ride. A crucial piece of support that is consistently overlooked, the water bottle can be the key to getting more liquid into your body, faster and easier. In car terms, a good water bottle is like adding a cold air intake to your engine. The engine feels better so it works better.
So ditch those freebie bottles you're making due with and check out these options to really up your hydration game.

CamelBak Big Chill
Camelbak Big Chill has won over most of the store

The Big Chill is a really amazing bottle for long rides or anyone still honing their drink-while-biking technique. Large and easy to grab, the Big Chill is also insulated to keep the water cool for three hours (depending on conditions). As Neal said when he talked about hydration, cold water absorbs into your system faster.
It comes in two sizes, 21oz (Chill) or 25oz (Big Chill) for any type of hydration schedule.
The other nice thing about the Big Chill is it's squeeze valve system. Instead of having to open the bottle with your teeth, or leave it open on the bike and risk a soaked foot due to over splash, the Big Chill only releases water when squeezed. This means the drinking process is simplified to grab, squeeze and put back. Let time out of position, less time with one hand on the bars and less time having your vision obstructed by a bottle!

For more info on the Big Chill, click here

And for all the A/V learners:

The many faces of the Polar Bottle
Polar Bottle

The Polar Bottle, like the Big Chill, is an insulated bottle that comes in two different sizes (20oz and 24oz). Both bottles are very similar in insulation material, feel and length of effective chill time. It has a more traditional nozzle  but also adds an underestimated plastic loop coming off the top. This loop makes grabbing the bottle incredibly easy.
The Polar Bottle has been a standard in insulated hydration for years. If you heavily weigh a company's experience in the product then this may be the bottle for you.

For more info on the Polar Bottle, click here

Specialized Purist Hydroflo

The Purist Hydroflo is a completely unique bottle. The inside of the bottle is coated with a chemical found in both glass and some vegetables. It creates such a non-pores surface on the inside of the bottle that odor, mold, even lingering flavor has nowhere to hold and gets rinsed out.
Specialized Purist Hydroflo
Like the Big Chill, the Purist Hydroflo has a pressure sensitive valve so no water leaves the bottle until it is squeezed. Specialized streamlined the process and made their version much easier to clean.
The Hydroflo has also been engineered with a resin that allows it to hold shape, while being one of the most flexible bottles on the market. This means less work to squeeze water out as well as pull it from a bottle cage.
They have also made a video about the Hydroflo. While it is considerably less informative, it seems to have more CGI than The Matrix and Lord of the Rings combined:

For more information on the Specialized Purist bottles, click here

In a sport that is done almost exclusively outside and in the sun; not to mention the rider's body is continually giving effort and using fuel, how you hydrate should be at the top of any one's "How to Improve" list. Depending on what you're carrying your water in, it can be helpful or hurtful. Try out a nicer bottle. I bet you'll really like it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Google Maps: Your Bike's Best Friend

Are you trying to make a route around town? Or just wondering where to explore your local trails? Google Maps is a great tool to do both of these things! Here is a step - by - step on how to see how Google can change your biking experience!

Find Your Area
Go to Google Maps ( and type in the area you are trying to map out.

Choose Bike
On the Right Side, go to the drop-down menu and select "Bicycling."

Decide Where to Ride
Once "Bicycling" is clicked, watch the map transform. Use the key on the right drop-down menu to follow the bike-friendly roads and trails. From here you can see where would be the most appropriate way to go for your ride!

If you are interested in incorporating this feature in the 'directions' area of Google Maps, it is very similar. Or, if you still have questions on how to find the bike feature, here's a helpful video!

note: the features are the same, but the layout has since changed, so please review the pictures above if there is any confusion.

Now it's really easy to find a fun, safe route, no matter where you are!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Neal's Meals: Food Favorites from our Staff

Hopefully, on our last post on how to choose ride nutrition we drove the point home that there are endless options to be had. So, to help out a little, we asked some members of our staff to give their favorite nutritional items. Like I said before, everybody's stomach is different but this might give you a little insight into a few products.

Staff Favorite : EFS
"Electrolytes are especially important during the summers here in Florida. Having a mix with a high concentration of Sodium and Potassium without a ton of sugar or calories keeps my stomach happy and energy levels consistent. If you have issues with cramping on long rides, this is definitely worth a try!" - Neal, bike sales & nutrition guru

Across the board, everybody in the store uses or has used EFS products. Be it exclusively, or in combination with other supplements, this product gets nothing but praises from all our staff. One of the best things about it, is they make a full line of products, from drink mixes and gels to recovery powders.

For more info on our favorite product, click here

Accel Gel
Jason's favorite

"Accel Gel tastes better and has a better consistancy than other gels I've tried. To me, it's all about the flavor." - Jason, floor manager 

Accelgel contains their patented 4:1 carbs/protein ratio, which aids in getting the energy into your body faster. It also is an all natural product so it is a little less of a question as to what you're really digesting.

Hammer Fizz
Kim's Favorite

"Hammer doesn't put artificial ingredients in their products. The fizzes are a good variety and the added kick it gives makes me want to drink more and stay hydrated." - Kim, bike sales

Hammer is a staple in nutritional supplement world. The Fizz product shows how they got there. A small capsule you drop into your water which, like an alcaseltzer, fizzes to blend with the water (hence the name). This not only infuses your water with electrolytes but reduces cramping and adds a little bit of a, "kick" as Kim puts it, which can make an energy blend more exciting to drink. Also, all Hammer products are kosher and the fizzes are gluten free as well as vegan friendly.

For more information on Hammer Fizz, click here

ProBar Bolt Chews
Mel's Favorite

"It's yummy! and they work with my gluten-free diet." - Mel, apparel/accessory specialist

ProBar products look like they might challenge EFS for the top pick soon. The Bolt series from Probar is full of electrolytes  complex carbs, B vitamins and caffeine from yerba mate. All ProBar products are organic. You can literally see the nuts and berries within the bar itself!

For more information about ProBar products, click here

Thijs' Favorite

"I tried different recovery methods and most of them upset my stomach. I have a sensitive digestive system and Recoverite never messes me up. Throw some chocolate Recoverite, whole milk and ice cream in a blender and have yourself a nice cool down after a ride." Thijs, fit techbike sales

Recoverite is completely dedicated to after-ride nutrition. Making sure your body has the fuel it needs to rebuild is the focus of their 3:1 carb/protein ratio. This mix also works on boosting the immune system during the body's rebuilding.
Also, falling in the long line of many of the Hammer products, no artificial flavors, colors or added sweeteners.

For more information on Hammer's Recoverite, click here

Andrew's Favorite

"If I take in too many carbs and sugars I start feeling like I ate a brick. Skratch's mantra of 'don't drink your food' helps me stay away from the upset stomach while still getting nutrients in my body." Andrew, fit tech & bike sales

Skratch is a fairly new product that has gained a large pro rider following. Developed by Allen Lim, PhD and Biju Thomas (pro cyclist chef), they began a different mantra than most drink mix's follow. But don't bother reading what I have to say, I'll let Allen Lim show you!

For more information about Skratch products, click here

Honorable Mention: Clif

Clif Products were another nutrition line that many of our staff hold in high regard. All Clif products have been organic for 10 years. They are dedicated to being a low-impact business that is very open about what you are putting in your body. This makes learning your limits much easier.
I like to think that the commitment to organic products is why their food tastes so good but I don't know for sure. One thing I do know, is as far as nutritional supplements and health food goes, it's delicious!

For more information on Clif products, click here

Hopefully all our insight helps find your preference. If you still have questions, stop by the shop and talk to our staff! Everybody has a story of bonking or feeling great on a ride and most the time, it's because of something they ate.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Neal's Meals : Finding the Right Nutrition for Your Ride Part: 1

I grabbed this much nutrition in less than a minute. Clearly, there are some options.
For a gigantic topic like nutrition I called upon the help of somebody much more knowledgeable than myself. Hopefully, this is not the only time we touch on this subject, as it has an endless amount of topics within itself. This will definitely not be the last time you hear from Neal!

Nutrition is one of the most personal aspects of cycling. Everybody's body is different, handles digestion differently, and has different needs during a ride. While I would happily field questions all day long on what nutrition would be best for each individual person, each response would only be an educated guess. The only way to know, for sure, what a nutritional supplement will work for you is by trying it on a ride.

Note: Nutrition is a HUGE subject. Because of this, we've split this into two posts. Be sure to follow through and read the next post when it comes out.

It doesn't matter how much or what type of nutrition you are using, if you are not hydrating properly you will undoubtedly fatigue at a rapid pace and most likely experience some sort of cramping. Drinking water before, during, and after your event is one of the most important and beneficial things you can do for your overall performance. Chilled water absorbs into your body faster than lukewarm water, so investing in a Polar or Camelbak insulated bottle is definitely worth the extra couple bucks.
Pre-ride, make sure you are drinking ample amounts of water on a frequent basis.
During and after your ride, adding some sort of carbohydrate/electrolyte mix to your water bottle will allow your body to re-hydrate as well as absorb other nutrients your body has lost (i.e. sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, protein, fats, and sugars).

Pre-Ride Preparation
If you were going on a long road trip, one of the first things you check is how much fuel you have in your vehicle. The same concept applies to nutrition. Making sure you have enough energy for your morning ride actually starts the evening before.
It takes time for your body to break down food and convert it into usable energy. Carbohydrates are going to be a key slow-burn energy source for your ride, so have that second serving of pasta at dinner the night before.  Carbs are your main energy source during all stages of your ride so load up! It will definitely benefit you in the morning. Most people take in more than their fair share of sodium through the course of an average day, but sodium the evening before a ride is key. Added sodium during pre-ride preparation will help your body retain all that extra water you've been drinking (wink, wink). It also promotes better overall hydration and nutrient absorption the following morning.

Frequency is Key
As discussed before, your body needs time to absorb nutrients. This means that your intake of nutrition needs to be frequent regardless of how you feel. The majority of mixes, gels, and chews you'll see on the shelves list recommended time intervals pertaining to how much and how often you should consume the product. This is because there is no product out there that is going to absorb immediately and give you the energy and nutrients you need to keep cranking. If you wait until you feel like you need your products to actually utilize them, it's probably too late for them to work effectively. Even if you're feeling great and don't necessarily think you need to eat or drink anything, taking a swig of your drink mix or popping in a chew will give your body a chance to absorb those nutrients at a steady rate and decrease your chances of hitting that wall.

Know Your Stomach
Does too much sugar make you feel like you have a brick in your stomach? How does caffeine make you feel? Do you like things that taste like fruit punch or chocolate and coffee?
These are all things that may help you to narrow down the amount you test. Each product of every brand has a different mixture of carbs, sugars, sodium, potassium  etc.  Just like taking care at the grocery store, flip the product over and read about the contents. While riding and trying it out, keep those levels of sugar, sodium and other factors in mind. This may give you an idea of levels that are helpful and other items on the list that are hurtful.

Find Your Style of Food
Between gels, blocks, granola-style bars, fruit puree, mixes, pressed bars, even jelly beans! There are a lot of ways to get the fuel to your body.
I can't stand oatmeal. I've tried. I love the taste. I love the nutritional value. I just can't stand the texture! Like my breakfast predicament, you need to keep the texture in mind when looking down the nutritional isle.
Another reason for all the different shapes and sizes is the speed and quality of the much needed carbs and salts can get into your system. Unless you feel the same way about gels as I feel about oatmeal, don't write off all brands of gel simply because you didn't like one. They are all different.

What's Your Ride
In the infinite world of athletically based foods, there are different supplements for different styles of rides. If you are doing a century and all your foods are designed for a short sprint-style ride, you're going to start fading before you finish the century. Not all packaging makes finding this information easy, so if you're not sure, ask for help. You may even find out some helpful tips!

The trial and error of nutrition can be a pain. But ask anybody who routinely rides with nutrition and they can tell you, it's worth the effort. Once you understand your body and how it handles different types of food, you're set for a long time. Plus you may find that it not only improves your performance but your quality of the ride as well!

Click Here  for specific suggestions and a few staff picks in the next post!

Written by Neal and Andrew

Monday, May 6, 2013

Finding the Right Saddle

There are a lot of ways to upgrade a bike. While having a carbon frame, expensive components, aero wheels, even titanium bolts is all good and fun, nothing can be as helpful as finding the right saddle. I would argue that it is one of the most important additions a rider can make.

In this market of faster, lighter, better, comfort is often left on the bench. However, if your body is having to compensate for a strenuous position, muscles that could be working for the pedals are spending all their time just keeping you upright.

The safe zone
This is going to get pretty technical fast but don't worry, there are pictures!
There are areas of your hips designed to support your upper body weight. If you are spreading your weight on other areas it is causing loss of blood flow in REAL important inner thigh sections that nobody wants to hurt.
To make sure this doesn't happen a rider needs to be sitting on their ischial tuberosities (your sit bones) or the lower curve known either as the the inferior pubic rami or psoas. (right in front of your sit bones).
Stay away from the pubic arch. It is not designed to hold weight. Plus, if you back out from bone structure and take a look at anatomy, I doubt anybody wants to be sitting on that area.

Below is the picture I promised. The ischial tuberosity and inferior pubic ramus good, pubic arch bad!

Listen to Your Body
Find out where your pelvis is planting itself. There are 2 ways to do this.
1. Get a fit by somebody who holds comfort as a tool for effective biking and has an array of saddle options. (the Body Geometry fit method is known for taking such an approach. To find somebody close to you, click here)
2. Find a test program for every saddle you are interested in. Pair it with a good bit of research and riding time. Then listen to your body on each ride.

Some Great Options
Specialized saddles are always a good place to start. Their saddles guarantee 70% blood flow the entire ride. Their road saddles focus on the iscial tuberocities while the new aero position specific Sitero saddle works on the lower pelvic ridges for a more forward position.
The Specialized Romin Evo and Sitero

For more information about the Specialized Saddles, click here

Selle SMP has been making medically backed saddles for a long time. Still basing their position on the bone structure, SMP's cradle the hips, using both iscial tuberocities and lower pubic ramus. There is a good amount of adjustment and it will allow more hip rotation. This takes some of the responsibility of creating a forward-leaning position from the spine to the hips.
The Selle SMP Glider

ISM Adamo saddles seem to be the solution for a lot of riders. With their horse shoe-ish shape, they take away direct pressure to the perinium. Like the Selle SMP's, these saddles are especially helpful for people that want/need a more aggressive position than their flexibility will allow.
The ISM Adamo Road
For more information about these saddles, click here

While this upgrade to your bike may not make it look any flashier, or come with as much carbon as you want, it will help you look better while riding. Because your body has a comfortable place to rest, your muscles can focus on moving the bike forward, rather than keeping you upright. This translates to more power in the pedals and a faster rider. You can throw as much money as you want at the bike, make things lighter and stiffer but you may have that extra advantage right between your legs.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Saving Your Ass: Finding the right Bike Shorts Part 2

As a follow up to the last post, here are a few suggestions that have been well received by those of us on the constant search for the perfect bike short. It all comes down to what fits your body best and what you consider to be the most comfortable. Your ideal pair of shorts may not be any of these, but they sure are a great place to start. Our staff is more than happy to talk about where the fabric pulls, where your butt hurts and what is otherwise bothering you when you try them on. There may be some blushing going on but it's worth the embarrassment for the  comfort you'll gain when the process is over!

Sugoi RS
These shorts are a shop favorite. With substantial padding and a lot of panels to fit the contours of your leg, many customers as well as employees swear by these shorts.

We like them so much we decided to make them our team kit shorts.

For more information about these shorts, click here

Louis Garneau CB Carbon
I've always been impressed with LG's adventurous fabrics. The CB Carbon is a perfect example of how their fabric conscious design adds comfort in the end. 
The chamois is also very substantial and still very accommodating without the pillow-top feel the Sugoi RS gives.
LG often fits taller people better due to their elongated elastic around the thigh. 
This short is often added to the fitting room mix simply because I say "really, try them on." which the customer always exits the fitting room and replies "I see what you mean!"

For more information about these shorts, click here

Gore Oxygen
Gore created an uncannily comfortable short with the Oxygen. They had an "ah-ha" moment when they realized that using a more malleable  softer material for the front of the shorts, where everybody's abdomen folds forward, would make everything much more comfortable.
Their chamois is slightly thinner than the Louis Garneau padding but just as resilient for substantial distances.
This is a great short for anybody who resents the stereotype that all cycling clothing is made for small skinny people. Beer gut or six pack, it's comfortable.

For more information about these shorts, click here

Do as much research on shorts as comforts you, but no amount of reading will substitute getting into the shop and spending some quality time in the fitting room. Quiz the employee helping you about each short, why it's that price, and what they think of it.
If you find some comfortable shorts and there is still pain, the problem may be more than just a padding issue. You may want to talk to your local fitter about how the bike is talking to your anatomy. But that is a different topic for a different post.

You may also want to read up on how to find the right saddle. click here

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Saving your Ass: finding the right cycling shorts

So you are beginning to bike on a regular basis and are finding the more you bike, the more you second-guess sitting down the rest of the day. You need to invest in a pair of bike shorts!

There are a few steps I feel most people miss when looking for a great bike short. So hopefully, this will help you make the right purchase first, instead of the lengthy and expensive trial and error many customers go through.

Tip 1: Try everything on. 

Unlike civilian clothes that can be adjusted, buttoned or belted, bike shorts are a stand alone item and they need to fit great, or you are wasting your money.
To further drive the point home, quality bike shorts are made from companies in the US, Canada, Italy and many more. All of them have a different idea of what a "small, medium and large" means. I'm a great example of this. While in Louis Garneau or Sugoi I fit a medium or large, in Castelli I fit an XL or XXL. All fantastic brands, just different size ranges.
In case you weren't already confused, most brands design two fits, a relaxed or "club" fit and a skinnier or "race" fit. Please talk to the knowledgeable staff at the shop to find out what you are trying on. A helpful tip I go on is, if the jersey looks different (color, cut, fabric, etc) than it is different. Try it on.

Tip 2: You get what you pay for.

You may have noticed I said "You need to INVEST in a pair of bike shorts!" It makes fiscal sense to spend a little bit more on one pair to last you a long time, then buy three cheaper pairs because you don't want to buy something with lasting quality.
I've worked in several retail markets, from computers to fine art and I've never seen a more honest upgrade scale than in the bicycling world. There is a price point for everyone and if you want more features, you've got to pay for them.
Remember to, this is a large part in the quality of your ride. Imagine going to see a movie, walking into the theater and finding uncomfortable folding chairs instead of the standard plush recliners?
The best plan of action is to pick a few different shorts, a couple in the price range you are comfortable with, paired with one below and one above. That way you can see the value in the ones you are thinking of buying, as well as trying out one step up to see if it is worth the financial upgrade.

Tip 3: Put on some bibs.

I know, those weird dangly things that look more like an 1800's strong-man outfit rather than the cutting edge in athletic comfort aren't screaming your name. But don't knock them until you've tried them. By holding on to your entire torso you eliminate many problems and are able to add a large amount of comfort. Besides, once the jersey is on, nobody can tell you're wearing bib shorts.


If you have tried on multiple brands, different styles and different fits but are still not finding anything comfortable, it may be because you're not on a bike. Shorts and bibs are designed to have the body in the leaned-forward position of bike riding. While some people do not feel much of a difference standing up, others are very uncomfortable until they get on the bike. Giordana has explained this in great (and colorful) detail. We thought it was so helpful, we put it in each fitting room in our store!

I plan on adding a follow up post with actual short suggestions. Regardless of what you spend, if you wear baggy or tight or you prefer flashy team kits over standard black, just wear what's comfortable. Do your butt a favor and get some bike shorts for your next ride.