4. jun. 2014

How to avoid cramps

Most of us has probably already been there, while halfway through your training session your legs starts cramping. A horrible and painful feeling, especially if you have 20 kilometers of headwind home still, because it is hard to recover from one in a small span of time.
So how do you avoid it, you probably ask. We have gathered a few helpful tips that will lower the chance of you getting cramps meanwhile working out, right below.

Stretch out

Stretching out before the training session is one of the most efficient ways of preventing cramps. That is due to,that you “prepare” the tendons and muscles for the workout. Just stretch your leg for 15-20 seconds each, and repeat if you feel it is necessary.

Make sure your legs are warm

Another bad thing to do, which can tricker cramps, is that your legs are getting cold. On a bike, that is rather easy, because you ride a lot of wind up due to the speed you are achieving on the bike. Cold muscles and tendons cannot stretch as well, as when they are warm, so you will have a much bigger chance of getting cramps if your legs are cold. Also, make sure your legs are warmed up before you start on intervals or other hard types of training.

Keep hydrated!

Dehydration is another big factor of making your legs cramping. If your body is dehydrated, you will feel more ill after the workout, and it can tricker cramps during the workout too. When you sweat you lose a lot of water, so every few minutes, remember to get some water, because you do carry the bottles with water anyway. A big size 750ml bottle, should only last between 1 to 1,5 hours depending on how hard a workout you are having.

Get salt

When sweating you do not just lose water, but also salt and electrolytes. It is not scientifically proven that losing Potassium, Magnesium or Calcium can tricker cramps, but a lot of people will agree, that if you put some salt tablets in your bottles of water, they rarely get cramps compared to not doing it. I have the same experience on that point. My personal favorite is the High5 Zero tablets, which can come in some different flavors. Putting in salt tablets will also make you recover faster from your workout, so there is literally no point in not doing it, apart from the price. An alternative is to get a salty meal before going out on the training session.

Avoid working out when you are sick

If your body is far from prepared for a training session, like being sick, you are probably in for a really bad time. When you are sick, you are often lacking a lot of minerals, like what was mentioned above, because you probably eat and drink less when you are sick. So listen to your body before starting on your workout.

Avoid heavy training if you are not in shape

There is nothing like thinking you were in the same shape as last year, even though you have not been training much the past few months. So be realistic and stop thinking you are superman from day 1, because you will not be that. Either you will drive yourself out in a few kilometers, or your legs will start cramping because they are not used to working out on that level anymore. In addition, do not increase the time nor intensity of the workouts too fast, because your body needs to have the time to adapt to longer and harder workouts. Remember, It is a lot easier to keep in shape, than to get in shape.

What if my legs are cramping anyway?

If that is the case, stretch out, and make sure your tendons are stretched out too. It will hopefully make the cramps go away for enough time for you to get home. However, remember, if it happens once, you are doing one or more things above wrong, and it can easily happen 5 minutes later. So when you get home, try to think of any of the reasons above that could be the course, and try to find out how you can avoid it.

Written by René

Read more: http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/news/how-to-avoid-cramps/

15. mar. 2014

Craft Performance Bib Shorts Test

Swedish based Craft is a brand most people who does sports probably knows. The company that was created all the way back in 1977 has established themselves as one of the biggest brands for sporting outfit across many different sport genres. I have already taken a look on the “Elite” cycling jersey, and now it’s time for the “Performance” bib shorts.

On the road
I have been riding these bib shorts on distances up to 140 km, and been doing that for several months. They have been used in both races and for training, so they have been through every possible thing that you would ever use them for.
All I can say is, that they ended up fitting me nicely, being both very aerodynamic, but also extremely comfortable on the same time, giving the best of two worlds. They also do not feel tight at all, even though they seems to fit very tightly, because the fabrics stretches further than what I have experienced at other brands. In addition, the gel pads in them are also well made and they are very comfortable. You will not get any sore ass in these bib shorts, not even after a long run. Craft has really done a great job making sure they fit perfectly, meanwhile not being, literally, a pain in the ass. I can certainly understand why Craft has become one of the most favored brands for cycling outfits in the cycling world. 
A fun bonus is, that they write how much tension density they have, the thickness of the gel, etc. inside the bib shorts, as you can see in the picture below.

However, they do not come cheap off either, costing around 100 euro’s for a single pair of bib shorts. Nevertheless, I do still recommend them for anyone, because there is nothing worse than having a sore ass the next two days after a 3 hours training session, because you were riding low quality bib shorts. It can really ruin your mood for another training session the next day, which is not good for anyone.

But price and quality seems to be right about these bib shorts, because the fabrics seems to be very strong. After I have used them for a long time, and at points even tortured them, they look just as good as new. Also where the saddle tends to eat the fabrics up on other bib shorts, the Craft Performance still stands strong without any problem at all. In addition, no stitches has failed yet, and the colors still stands very strong. So they may be a bit pricey, but you can use them for years to come.

The verdict
Once again, Craft comes up with a brilliant piece of outfit that will make your training, and ass, a bit better. You can barely feel that you are wearing them, because they fit great, and they are very comfortable. Cheaper bib shorts can easily be found, but you really should not cheat yourself and your ass for a better ride. Moreover, as another plus, they will usable for many years to come because of the high quality. This is easily the best pair of bib shorts I have ever tested, and I can only recommend them for everyone who wants to have a comfortable ride.

You can check out other reviews of Craft products by clicking here.

Written by René

Read more: http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/news/craft-performance-bib-shorts-review/

8. feb. 2014

Rolling Resistance Of Bike tires

Earlier we wrote about how the air resistance increases heavily when increasing your speed. Now we will look on the rolling resistance developed between the tires and the road surface. I will try to make you understand how this works. First, we will have to look on how the rolling resistance is found. That can be done by using equation 1 below:

The equation that shows how great the rolling resistance is. The variables are:
  • P is the power needed from the rider to keep the velocity. This power is measured in Watt [W].
  • Crr is the rolling resistance. This value varies greatly from tire to tire and from the surface being used. There are some few numbers below here from Wikipedia:

Specific tire        
Minimum value
Maximum value
Production bike tires at 8,3 bar on rollers
Typical BMX tires

  • N is the normal force of the bike and its rider against gravity. This force is measured in Newton [N], and can be found by the following equation, equation 2:

In this equation, we have the following variables:
  1. m is the mass of you and your bike. This is measured in kilograms [kg].
  2. g is the gravitational force. This force is 9,8 m/s2.
  3. Cos(θ) is Cosine to the horizontal angle. If you are riding on a flat road that would be 0 degrees which equals 1. So on a flat road this is nothing to worry about. But of your are climbing on a mountain or hill, or descending, it has to be taken into consideration.

But as we already saw with the drag, the power needed is different than the force you are experiencing. The equation for the power required is shown below in equation 3:

There is only one variable that we have not met before. That one is:

  1. V is the velocity you are doing. This is easily measured by your bikecomputer http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/test/bikecomputer-reviews/ . This is measured in meters per second [m/s]. If you want to convert your speed from kilometers per hour to meters per second just divide by 3,6. If you want to change it from meters per second to kilometers per hour, multiply by 3,6.

What this simple equation got, is the rolling resistance multiplied with the velocity. That means that we can put it in equation 1, along with equation 3, and therefore can make it into a single equation, if you want to find the power required at variable speeds. That gives us equation 4:

Calculation of examples

Lets make a few examples at different speeds. We will take 20 km/h, 30 km/h, 40 km/h and 50 km/h. We say that the rider weighs 70 kg, which is a decent average. The road is also 100% flat. The rolling resistance coefficient of the tires will be 0,003.

If we start off at the 20 km/h, that equals 5,556 m/s. So the equation will be:

As we can see, the rolling resistance will account 11,43 Watt. 
At 30 km/h, the equation will be:

Now it has become 17,15 Watt. In a 50 % speed increase, it has increased around 50 % too. At 40 km/h it will be

The value has now increased to 22,87 Watt. As you can see, that is about the double of the value than it was at 20 km/h. So the power required increases linearly with the speed. If you double your speed, you double the power required to overcome the rolling resistance.
However, what if we are having some nice tailwind? How much power will we need to overcome at 50 km/h? That can be found in the equation below:

At 50 km/h the tires are now creating a resistance so great, that you now need to power 28,58 Watt in order to maintain your speed.

Nevertheless, remember, these numbers does not account for much more than just theory. Every tire acts different, and even the smallest difference in production of the same brand of tire can give them two different friction coefficients. And the drag you will experience because of the wind accounts for a much larger value than the tires rolling resistance. Nevertheless, if you want speed, try checking the Continental GP4000S out. They were the fastest clincher tires in the German magazine “Tour” test.
If you want to decrease the rolling resistance as much as possible, ride with a high pressure in your tubes. The higher the pressure the lower the rolling resistance. That is due to the harder the tire will bounce over just the smallest roughness in the surface. But that is different on a mountainbike. On a mountainbike in the forest, a low pressure would actually make you go faster. 
But try to read here why you should focuse on buying good tires before spending much more on a pair of wheelset. You will actually be able to win more speed by changing your tires than your wheels!

Written by René

Read more: http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/news/rolling-resistance-of-bike-tires/

2. feb. 2014

Craft Elite Jersey Test

Craft is one of the biggest producers of cycling clothes around the world, and sponsors the World Tour team Trek, which includes Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, The Schleck-brothers, etc. The Swedish based company has produced sport related clothes since 1977, and is known to deliver clothes in great quality.

(Note, the jersey's design is from my bike club)

On the road
I have been testing the Shirt, which according to Craft, should be aerodynamic, light, and have a great fit. Well, I can certainly say that they seem to be aerodynamic, because you are able to see every gram of overweight on your torso if you wear the shirt correctly. It is very comfortable though. The fabrics got a great stretching-ability making sure that it fits all different kind of body types. No matter if a rider needs a size medium, and either got big muscularly arms or small mountainrider-ish arms, the same size of the shirt can fit you. I am in the last group, but guys with much larger arms fits the same jersey just as good as me.

The shirt got a total zipper from the neck to the bottom, so it is easy to take on and off, unlike some other shirts that only have a half zipper, or none at all. It makes it a lot easier to put on and take off, along with you can zip it a bit down on hot days if needed.

Since the fabrics are not that thick, sweat transportation is almost impossible. Therefore, you would need a sweat-absorbing shirt underneath the Craft-shirt to make that problem go away. However, on super-hot days, it is really nice to wear because overheating won’t become a problem. It lets a nice amount of wind cool you down. I personally find temperatures above 16-17 degrees Celsius, on a sunny day, fine for this jersey.

The shirt got four pockets on the back. Three of them easily accessible, while one is placed on top of the middle pocket, with a zipper. Therefore, you can put valuable stuff in the pocket with the zipper, and do not have to be nervous if it falls out of the pocket during the workout. A nice feature I have been using a lot for my cellphone and money for a pit stop during the ride. Nevertheless, the three other pockets are easily deep enough to stop stuff from falling out of them 999 out of 1000 times.

The verdict
This is a nice shirt! Craft have really done a great job designing this. They have thought of about almost everything and every detail, to make this shirt great in all different kind of scenarios. It is both aerodynamic, comfortable, and practical, and even after a long time, the colors of the fabrics have not faded at all. So if you want the best of the best, these may be the pair you should take a look on.

Written by René

Read more: http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/news/craft-elite-jersey-review/

1. feb. 2014

Beetroots, mustard, and chocolate milk can make you go faster

You are what you eat. That is a sentence you have heard a few times already in your life. Your diet is important and it does matter what you put in your mouth at the dinner table – especially when you are training. Protein is great for the muscles and carbohydrates are great for longer training sessions. However, did you know that there are a few things that will be almost as efficient as doping?

The mustard plant contains natural steroids
The mustard plant contains the same materials that makes anabolic steroids efficient, but without all the drawbacks. The specific type of steroid the mustard plant contains, is called the Brassinosteroid. Studies from North Carolina State University in the United States of America showed that mice that was given mustard increased their protein synthesis, which means that it increased their fat burning and muscle power compared to mice that did not get any mustard. That means that you can build up stronger muscles in the same amount of time, along with lowering your amount of fat. For any bike rider that can be a massive gain, especially in hilly races.

Beetroots will increase your endurance
However, if you are not a big fan of strong tasting stuff like mustard, there are other solutions. Beetroots are another fine example. They do not help you with building muscles, but will give you some extra stamina that can make you intensify you training sessions. A study from Exeter University in the United Kingdom showed that a group of younger men who was given beetroot juice were able to train for a 16% longer time, and could cover the same distance 2% faster compared to not getting any beetroot juice. Their blood pressure were also lowered by drinking the beetroot juice. Speculations are that the Oxygen absorption in your body lowers when given Nictric Oxide from the beetroot juice, giving your body an extra amount of Oxygen in surplus for when needed. It is like a car with 99 octane petrol will always be able to go longer and faster on the same amount of fuel, than if it was given 92 octane.

Chocolate milk will make you recover faster
But that is just something you can do when you want to. Another thing you can, which probably most will like, is that after each training session you should drink a glass of chocolate milk. Studies from James Madison University found out that low-fat chocolate milk was superior to any carbohydrate beverage when it goes down to getting the muscles to recover as fast as possible. The studies found that the 13 males that were tested had lower levels of creatine kinase than the people who did not drink chocolate milk after each training. Creatine kinase is an indicator of muscle damage, so the lower the level of creatine kinase is, the more recovered are the muscles. Milk alone is also efficient, but the chocolate milk got some extra nutrition’s that will lower the recovery time even more. Recovered muscles are very important in order to get the maximum out of your next training session, and if you do not make your muscles recover, you will not gain any additional muscles until they get to recover probably. 

Nevertheless, what is your routine? Do you do anything like this at all? Do you have any additional types of food that also will make you a stronger athlete? Please tell us in a comment below!

Written by René

Read more: http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/news/beetroots-mustard-and-chocolate-milk-can-make-you-go-faster/

27. jan. 2014

The Aerodynamics Of A Bikerider

There are two main reasons why you are not travelling with 100 km/h when you are riding on your bike. One of these is rolling resistance, but the other by far the biggest factor, is the drag you are experiencing due to the wind resistance. This force increases exponentially with your speed, where the rolling resistance on your tires only increases linearly. Therefore, as the speed increases, the wind resistance becomes a bigger and bigger factor compared to the rolling resistance.

So yes, aerodynamics is a very important factor in the world of cycling. That is why we are seeing pro’s having drop-shaped helmets and special time trial bars, making their wind resistance as low as possible. The tight lycra clothes all riders are using is also helping on lowering the wind resistance. Loose clothes will be like having a parachute slowing you down.
One of the newest trends are road frames, that are becoming more and more aerodynamic, trying to save you a few Watts of effect. Just look on the Scott Foil we reviewed last year. That frame would save you 10 Watts at 45 km/h compared to a standard frame. 10 Watts would for the average rider be about 5 % of your output, and these 5 % could make you go from a position outside top 10 in any race, to a podium place – maybe even a win.

But not many understands the physics behind aerodynamics, so I will try to help sorting this out, so you will understand how to become as slippery as an eal and gain some strength for the final sprint compared to the rest of the peloton. This can be done in just a very few equations, and does not demand much knowledge behind the theory. It is rather simple actually.

First off, there is the drag force, which is what we also can call the wind resistance. It is presented as:

This is the general equation we are using when speaking of the drag you are experiencing in the wind. The different factors in it are described below:

  • - FD is the force of drag. You will feel that force as the wind resistance. This force is measured in Newton [N].
  • - ρ is the Greek letter of “Rho”. This is the density of the material you are in, which for us bike riders will be “air”. This value changes slightly with the        temperature. As the temperature rises, the value will be lowered, which means, that you will be quicker, with the same power output, on hot summer    days, compared to cold temperatures at Winter. – But lets come back to that. Below here is a table with the density of air at relevant different temperatures:

Temperature (degree Celsius)
Density (ρ) (1 Atm) [kg/m3]

  • - V is the velocity you are travelling in. The velocity is measured in meters per second [m/s].
  • - CD is the drag coefficient. This factor is hard to find, unless you know the force of the drag you are experiencing, so there are a few static numbers we will be able to work with. These are in the table below.
  • A is the frontal area of you and your bike. It is hard to measure this, so I have gathered a few numbers in the same table below along with the drag coefficient.

Bike position
Drag coefficient (CD)
Frontal area (A) [m2]
Upright on the bars/hoods
In the drops
In the drops while pacing

This drag force is what we want lowered in order to gain more speed with the same power output. As you can see, every time you double your speed, the wind resistance has increased 4 times. But there is more to it. The drag you are experiencing is not the power you need to put in the pedal. The power output needed is:

In this simple equation the three variables are:

  • - Power. It is measured in Watt [W].
  • - FD is the drag force, which I mentioned before. It is measured in Newton [N] just like before.
  • - V is the velocity. Still measured in meters per second [m/s].

What this equation really tells is, that if you want to find out what your power output needed is, is:

Suddenly it is V3, which means, that every time you double your speed, the necessary power output needed will need to be 8 times greater (!) if you want to

keep that speed up. The rolling resistance in the tires is also doubled, but that is nothing compared to the wind resistance you suddenly are experiencing.

Calculations of examples

Lets do some few experiments then. Lets imagine it’s a nice day with 20 degree Celsius, and you are riding with a speed of 30 km/h (8,33 m/s) on a day where there is absolutely no wind at all. How much would you gain by being in the drops instead of the hoods, and how much would pacing another rider in front of you help you?

Well, we will use equation number 3 to calculate this. It is actually just to put in the numbers. Rho can be found in the first table above. If you don’t know how to convert km/h to m/s, just divide by 3,6. If you want to go from m/s to km/h, multiply with 3,6.

When you have calculated it, you will have found out, that if you are having you hands in the hoods, you would have to put 195,4 Watts in the pedals. This is the power output needed just because of the wind resistance. Rolling resistance, loss in the bike, etc. will make this value greater, remember that. So in reality, doing 30 km/h demands more energy than 195 Watts.

If you are in the drops though, it would be just 112,9 Watts. You can see this by just changing the frontal area and the drag coefficient with values from the 2nd table above. That is a total of 82,5 Watts saved, which means that the necessary power output of yours suddenly has decreased by a massive 42 %!
Lets try to see how much speed we will end up on, before we will experience the same power output needed in the drops, as when the hands are in the hoods. Here our variable would be the velocity (V), so equation 3 can be transferred to this:

If we put in the numbers, we will get, that the velocity you can achieve with the same power output in the drops as in the heads, will suddenly be 10 m/s, which is 36 km/h. So on paper you should now be able to ride 6 km/h faster by just changing the position of your hand! But remember, we aren’t taking notice of the other factors here. If they were calculated into this, they would eat up difference in your power output up faster, and you will only be able to gain 1-2 km/h by this change in reality. But that is still something that can make you a winner if you are in a break away.

If you are two or more riders in a breakaway riding in a line, you would be able to get even more speed for the same power. If you are pacing another guy you will suddenly find yourself only using 62,7 Watts to ride 30 km/h. That means that you will hit 195 Watts when you are riding 43,8 km/h!. So the drag of being in the hoods doing 30 km/h equals being in the drops, while pacing just a single rider in front of you, while doing almost 44 km/h! Of course the real value would be less due to the other factors. But between 35 and 40 km/h would be a good guess. That is why pacing is great and you can go faster and further in a group than alone.

Earlier I mentioned that the density of the air is changing with the temperature. Well, if you were riding in 10 degrees Celsius, with the hands placed in the hoods, you would need to have a power output of 202 Watts in order to maintain that speed. Compared to 20 degrees Celsius, you will suddenly need to put in 6,6 Watt more. That is an increase of 3,3 %. So if you want to make any new speed record, do it on the hottest day of the year if you want to lower your drag. But of course it will be a torture to do it in 30 degrees Celsius.

I hope you have understand the principle of drag better now, and that you can make your own calculations. It does make it more fun when you can use your own numbers and see how much power you had to put in the pedals in order to maintain a certain pace. Also, try to ride with the hands in hoods, and then do the exact same route with the hands in the drops afterwards. You probably will feel faster on the 2nd run with the more aerodynamic position.
As for certain parts of the bike, I have already earlier written an article on why you should focus on buying good tires before spending money on wheels in order to become faster. You can read that article by clicking here.

All numbers above comes from fourth edition of “Thermal-Fluid Sciences” written by Yunus A. Cengel, John M. Cimbala, and Robert H. Turner. ISBN number is 978-007-132511-0.

Written by René

Read more: http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/news/the-aerodynamics-of-a-bike-rider/

25. jan. 2014

Just A Single Workout Will Benefit You

First of all, if you want to achieve the best life-extending, sleep-promoting, obesity-thrwarting and heart-protecting benefits of exercise, you will need to do some regular activity. In fact, about 2,5 hours a week of exercise to achieve this. In these 2,5 hours there should be both moderate intensity aerobic activity, but also some strength-training sessions to help you gain a greater musclemass.

But exercise is also one of those cases where just a bit of training is better than nothing at all. So be proud of every single workout because it can change a lot in your body. Yes, every single workout will do that actually.

Your DNA will change

Swedish researchers found out that among healthy but inactive adults, just minutes of extra exercise would change their genetic material in the muscle cells.  So yes, you inherit your DNA from your parents, but your lifestyle choices also affects your DNA to either the positive or negative side, depending on your choices. With exercise, it’s gene expression for strength and metabolism you can improve, already from workout one.

You will become happier and more positive minded

From the start of your workout your brain will release some different neutransmitters that will make you feel great. One of these is endorphins which are the explanation for the “runners high” syndrome, where you will feel like you are in your own little heaven. Also Serotonin will be produced in larger amounts when exercising. Serotonin is known for playing a big role in your mood and higher levels for Serotonin can stop and/or weaken any depression you might have.

Stop Diabetes!

One of the big healthrisks that just seems to grow uncontrollably is Diabetes. It is often something that follows with an unhealthy lifestyle, and with more and more TV, computer, etc. in our life, we, as a race, has become lazier and Diabetes is becoming one of the major health problems all around the planet.

But just like the changes in your DNA, small changes in how fat is metabolized in yout muscles, also happens after just a single training session. University of Michigan found out in a research from 2007, that any cardio workout increased storage of fat in the muscle, with ended up improving insulin sensivity. If this sensivity (also called insulin resistance) becomes low, it can lead you to get Diabetes for the rest of your life, making you need treatment every single day.

You will become more focused

Training will make your braincells go into overdrive, making you more alert and focused during your workouts, but also after the workout is done. In a research from 2012 on the mental effects of exercise, researches found out that activites with just the length of 10 minutes improved concentration and focuse in the people they tested.

Kick the stress out

Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that about 14 % of people turn to exercise to mitigate stress. And even though hitting the tarmac is, as an definition, a stress response where the cortisol increases and your heart rate quickens, it can throw away some of the negativity in your brain. So even then exercise on paper stresses you, it will, thanks to increased bloodflow to your brain, Endorphins, Serotin etc. that we already mentioned before, give you a mood-boosting that will take the stress out of your mind and body, leaving you with a better life.

Written by René

Read more: http://www.cyclingtipsonline.com/news/how-just-a-single-workout-will-benefit-you/