Everyday Cadence: The Fact of the Grey Matter

Welcome to Everyday Cadence - our first person account of daily rhythms on two wheels. 

Join Dara on her tube travels through time and space in and around NYC. A writer with a penchant for social justice, Dara is committed to making the world a better place  - whether it’s by adding more bike lanes, advocating for human and animal rights, building community through arts and culture, or just giving back.

Read what's on her mind and join the conversation with your own cadence recollection. 

On most days (save ice storms, rainstorms, sub-28-degree weather, or the “business” meeting that requires me to pretend that I’m an “adult”), I wake up, get dressed, toss a bag on my back, and a helmet on my head.

Then, I mount a thin piece of steel on wheels lined with rubber, and head out into the streets of New York City.

Instinctively, I’m dodging parents walking their kids, cars pulling out of parking spots, trucks unloading their morning bread and milk, buses meandering to their next stop,  passengers hailing cabs, cabs picking up passengers, doors swinging open, potholes, gravel, discarded everything, food carts, and, of course, other bikes competing for a small designated space.

There’s a lot going on.

Perhaps, I’m nuts. Perhaps, I’m flirting with danger. But I feel very, very alive.

As someone who grew up in NYC dodging cars and crowds on the streets (and perverts on the subways), it is second nature to bob and weave my way throughout the City.

And on my bike, I’m tackling the streets in a way that no pedestrian, car or bus-rider could. I’m feeling the rhythm of the traffic and flow in a way that is both necessary and impossible to miss. When I ride, I plot my route, I anticipate danger (best possible), and I am ready to respond.

Thanks to biking, over the years, I’ve gotten better at doing so -- and science even proves it.

Cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the “grey matter” in your head that involves muscle control, sensory perception like seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. Sadly, this region deteriorates from the age of 30.

Luckily, regular physical activity can help keep thinking, learning and judgment sharp. Aerobic exercise helps maintain adequate blood flow, which supplies the brain with a steady stream of oxygen and nutrients (things we need).

And, in fact, researchers from the University of Illinois found that a five percent improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests.

In other words: cycling is more than physically healthy for you. It makes your brain work better.

The thing is, we don’t always need science to tell us what we feel.

Sure, I’ve had some foibles, but riding has improved my instincts and my reflexes. This translates into how I am in life: I’m trying to figure it all out, while staying the course. I’m increasingly aware of my surroundings, the people, and the nature (if limited) around me. I see how things work, and don’t work together. I’m trying to survive. Ideally, I’m smiling.

When I’m on the road bumping elbows (or pedals) with cars, trucks, pedestrians, crossing guards, and pigeons--all sharing some torn up asphalt for a short bit of time--I am most definitely woke.

So, while I may be just a teensy bit nuts to get on a bike everyday in a city known for its, shall we say, aggression, the fact of the grey matter is that both my body and my brain are in great shape.

 

Group Think: The Benefits of Collective Riding

Most of us own a bike, whether it is gathering dust in the garage or a treasured possession that is used and maintained regularly. Whichever end of the spectrum, the growing number of clubs in an area near you provide an excellent opportunity to get fit.  Physical activity is essential in maintaining your own wellbeing and good health. Regular workouts will help lower your risk of diseases as well as improving your mental health. This is especially true for our senior generation. Studies have shown that in the over 60s, those that cycle regularly are 50% less likely to suffer from a heart attack.

There are so many positives related to cycling that you can easily be convinced to get back on your bike.

Finding Others

Cycling is a fantastic low impact form of exercise which is easy on the joints and makes it a perfect exercise choice for seniors. By cycling regularly, you also increase your ability to perform everyday tasks such as walking, climbing the stairs and balancing.

However, people have found that the benefits to bike riding actually increase when riding with others. There are growing numbers of cycling clubs and groups, all of which are appealing in different ways, perhaps due to their locality, age demographic and ability levels.   

Why Join a Club?

A club is a great starting point for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Being part of a group can break down those barriers that may have stopped you from getting back into the saddle, particularly if it’s been a while.

Concerned about a puncture? There will always be someone in the club who will be able to assist.

Unsure about rights of way? In a group setting, the ride will have been planned and you will be introduced to paths and byways that you might not have known about.

Lack of confidence in your riding ability? There are clubs that cater to all ability levels so you can be sure that the group will be riding at your pace. Most clubs have a ‘no rider left behind’ policy. This should further alleviate any concerns about being out on your own, especially if you are worried about being easily tired and feeling unfit on your first ride.

Many of the advantages of cycling in a club are universal. Both juniors and seniors alike can prosper from the improvements to their physical and mental health. The health benefits are of course far reaching, but being part of a group and the activities outside of the cycling are hugely beneficial for all.

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Not Just Riding

Once you have found that like-minded group of riders, the routes you take will lead to other interests. Using your rides as a way to discover new destinations and to research which cafes do the best coffees and cake is something great to report back to other family and friends.

Many clubs have discounts offered by associated shops or organizations. This will assist you if you want to take cycling more seriously.

So, if you have been considering getting back onto the bike, then have a look at some local clubs and get in touch. If you're in the New York area, LifeCycle Biking will be introducing The Crank Crew in 2018 and we'd love to have you join us! Sign up on the Home screen to learn details as they unfold. 

See you on the road!

Have a suggestion or theme for a ride? Leave it below!

NYC ranks 2nd best for living without a car, but 7th for biking

What makes a city livable? People have differing views, but for many city-dwellers, proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, parks and jobs are some of the key perks of urban living, especially if those destinations are accessible without a car.

Amy Musser of Redfin compiled the latest Walk Score rankings to see which U.S. cities with populations greater than 300,000 have the highest composite Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score rankings. These are places where you could forgo having a car and still be able to get around town in a variety of ways, whether it be by foot, bike or public transit.

Culture post Best-Cities-No-Car-Redfin-2017.png

New York has the highest Walk Score and Transit Score rankings in the nation. Its Bike Score, on the other hand, falls to seventh place. “Even with the bike-share programs accelerating across the city, many streets don’t have special bike lanes and traffic is a deterrent for many people who might otherwise consider biking,” said Redfin agent Jonathan Makolondra. “That said, New Yorkers are certainly accustomed to getting around the city and surrounding boroughs without a car. The MTA subway system is extensive and walking is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of the city.”

While bike share is increasing, may neighborhoods are pushing back on Department of Transportation proposed improvements to biking infrastructure. Things are improving, but it is slow. Many local community organizations, like LifeCycle Biking, work closely with larger agencies, such as Transportation Alternatives, to organize around the needs of car-less transportation options and improve safety for all. 

Check out the full article and let us know your thoughts on biking in New York. 

Have real estate questions? Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. For more information about working with a Redfin real estate agent to buy or sell a home, visit their Why Redfin page.

Become a Lean, Mean Biking Machine

Last year there were around 66.5 million cyclists in America, each with their own reason for getting on a bike. For some it's simply a case of getting from one place to another, while others just enjoy exploring their neighborhoods on two wheels. But there are a growing number of people who are getting on their bikes to improve their fitness and strength, while building muscle.

Different types of riding, will affect which muscles you use more. For example, if the ground is hilly, the quadriceps will be working the hardest to power you up hills. Speed cycling, or cycling against the wind, will involve all of the leg muscles much more. And if you keep track of your fitness when you cycle, you can monitor your pace and distance as you ride. This will give you a valuable insight into your performance and technique and help you improve each time you get in the saddle.

Which Muscles Does Cycling Benefit?

Arms and Neck

While your legs provide power to your pedal strokes, your arms help stabilize your body and allow you to steer your bike. Biceps help to flex your arm at the elbow and act with your forearm muscles to rotate your arm. Your triceps help to straighten your arm and can help keep your body stable. While the neck muscles tend to be extended throughout the duration of your rides, so strengthening them to withstand this stress is important.

Quadriceps

The quadriceps have four muscles in the thigh. These muscles work together to extend your leg at the knee joint and to flex your leg at the hip joint. These actions occur each time you pedal.

Hamstrings

Your hamstrings are three muscles on the back of your upper leg, running from your pelvis to your knee joint. They bend your knee and extend your leg at the hip, acting to counter the movements of your quadriceps.

Calf Muscles

Cycling can help to strengthen your calves. Your calf muscles assist in flexing your feet from the ankle, providing extra power to your pedal strokes. These muscles can be strengthened with either standing or seated calf raises.

Glutes

You might be sitting on your glutes when you cycle, but you are still using them. All three of your glute muscles are involved in cycling and help move your legs laterally and rotate your legs at the hip joint. They also provide you with the necessary downward power for your leg strokes.

Core Muscles

While the power for your pedal strokes comes from your leg muscles, the muscles in your abdomen keep your body stable, insulating your upper body from the movement of your lower body. Your core gets a workout by preventing the motion of our lower body from causing your upper body to sway back and forth with each pedal stroke.

Making Each Ride Work Harder for You

You can make sure you are getting the most out of each cycle ride by checking that your seat is at the right level. Your knee needs to be slightly bent at the base of the pedal stroke when your foot is at a right angle to the floor. To avoid any injuries, always try to build up your speed slowly. And don’t be afraid to embrace hills if you want to improve your fitness, muscle tone and strength.

Get Back in the Saddle and Get Fit

There are many physical benefits to regular cycling. Going for a bike ride is good for your heart and muscles, and it may improve how you walk, balance, and even just climb the stairs. As well as burning calories and improving heart and lung functions, your muscles will get stronger and give you a leaner and fitter body that has more stamina.  
 

As proponents of wellness through cycling, LifeCycle aims to bring you the health benefits of cycling more regularly. Have any personal noted improvements related to cycling? Please share below!

Bike Safety: On and Off Road

Cycling is an easy and fun way to exercise every day. It can get you fit, save you money, it’s great for the environment and reduces congestion. It's also a wonderful way to enjoy some of America's most beautiful parkland and green spaces.

As a cyclist, you deserve respect on the road just like all other road users, but it's up to you to make sure you are as safe as possible.

Safety Gear

Regularly check that your bike is in good condition. This means checking that the brakes work, tires are properly inflated and the chain runs smoothly. Whether cycling on or off road, wearing a helmet helps to prevent head injuries and is a safety essential every time you ride. At night or when visibility is bad, always use reflectors and a front white light and red rear light.

Off-Road Cycling

When cycling off-road, for instance in a scenic national park, be sure to choose the correct route which doesn't mean sidewalks. Dedicated off-road routes and trails can be found all across the U.S. Some paths can be restricted to cyclists, so using dedicated routes means this won't be an issue.

When off-road, you must be considerate to others. Always give way to walkers and horses and take extra care when passing wildlife as animals can become easily startled.

Road Cycling

Even when you are on a bike, you must obey the traffic signals and always stop at stop signs.

Don't automatically use the same routes you take when driving. It's generally better and safer to take different streets that have fewer and slower vehicles. Cyclists have a right to be on the road, but if you get to know the local routes, you will discover that you can ride through neighborhoods and avoid busy streets.

In 2014, cyclists accounted for 2% of traffic deaths and 2% of all crash-related injuries. But you're less likely to get hit when motorists know what you are about to do. Let them know you're about to turn by signaling with your arm. Before signaling left, check your mirror, or look behind you in case a car is passing closely by.

When you're riding alongside other traffic, the fewer distractions the better. Riding with headphones increases your chance of having an accident, just like texting or talking on your phone. You also need to have your hands free in case you need to brake suddenly.

It's sometimes safer to ride a little bit to the left, rather than close to the right curb. Cars ahead of you at intersections will be able to see you better and this also stops cars from passing you too closely on narrow roads.

Share your tips for bike safety below!

Shake Up Exercise in 2017

Recently, more and more people have started incorporating exercise into their daily routine, from young professionals to retirees. Working out is quickly becoming a popular alternative to drugs and medication, offering a holistic approach to health without any nasty side effects. Regular exercise can help to improve memory, enhance sleep, increase energy levels, and even boost your performance at home or in the office.

In 2017, you can expect to see an integrated approach to exercise that makes it easy to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

•       Smart Work Outs

Fitness trackers, smart watches, and other wearable technology saw a surge in popularity through 2016, and the trend is only expected to get bigger. The fitness wearables market is expected to exceed 4 billion USD in 2017, over a billion dollars more than the previous year.

You can also expect to see more exercise apps cropping up in 2017 that will help you to enhance your current training routine. On-demand spin classes are an emerging market that promise to bring the experience of a cycling studio into the comfort and convenience of your own home through an integrated bike and video training system.

•       Outdoor Fitness

No matter where you are, heading outside for your workout can be a real breath of fresh air. Outdoor exercise routines are becoming increasingly popular as people strive to take a few moments from their busy schedule each day to get in touch with nature. Cycling is expected to be one of 2017's top trends as increasing numbers of people choose to incorporate exercise into their day by safely biking to work.

•       HIIT

High-intensity interval training, more commonly known as HIIT, has gained a popular following as a tried-and-tested method to burn calories quickly. You can incorporate HIIT techniques into all sorts of workouts by alternating bursts of intensive exercise with short rest periods. Pilates high-intensity interval training, or PHIIT, is a new twist on your favorite Pilates workouts and is expected to take off in 2017. Be sure to look for a PHIIT class at your local gym!

•       Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training allows you to tone and strengthen your muscles by using the weight of your own body instead of relying on complicated equipment or an expensive gym membership. Better yet, you can keep up with your training routine regardless of whether you're at home, in the office, or even on vacation.

•       Group Personal Training

Training in a group setting is a huge trend in exercise right now, with programs such as CrossFit and LifeCycle Biking's Crank Crew (coming in February!) helping people to get fit while meeting new friends. Working out with your peers helps to build accountability and increases motivation, making it easier to stick to a rigorous exercise routine.

Know of a new exercise trend? Share below!


Healthy Indulgence

With the hearty holidays behind us and a new year of possibilities in front of us, we are beginning to make resolutions for greatness in various aspects of our lives.  And often times- our diet becomes a focal point as we balance nutritional intake with our bodies ridiculous, everyday cravings.

So here are some of our thoughts on how to navigate these decisions and start off 2017 on the right foot.

Photo Credit: breakingmuscle.com

Photo Credit: breakingmuscle.com

Our friends at Harvest & Revel have sent us a few reminders for conscious consumption in 2017. Without upsetting the dietary balance of our lives, these few tips highlight and help to reinforce small steps toward healthy indulgence. 

Olive oil
Substitute olive oil for butter in daily meal prep. A 3/4 cup olive oil can replace 1 cup butter, and with easy conversions, the replacement will become second nature. With more antioxidants and no trans fat or cholesterol, olive oil turns your culinary successes into heart-healthy meals. Not a fan of the olive oil taste? Try grapeseed oil or the lesser-known ghee, particularly for sweeter dishes. 

Sustainable, cage-free, hormone-free meat
Research shows that humanely raised animals contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals and less saturated fat than factory farm animals. Plus, when you eat ethically-raised animal protein- you know that you're contributing to a more sustainable food system- so you can feel good about your consumption for both reasons!

Fresh, seasonal produce
Buying items from your local farmer's market and grocers that source from local farms will ensure that you reduce your carbon footprint and receive fresh produce that is in season and beneficial to your body. Most NY Farmer's markets also now take EBT!
 


Honey
Honey is one of those "superfoods" that you often hear about. Not only does it help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other tummy problems- it is also an anti-bacterial AND helps regulate blood sugar. And that's not it! Honey's benefits are never-ending- so just trust us on this one, okay? :)

All purpose flour with the wheat germ
Using all purpose baking flour with the wheat germ still intact means you'll be getting the maximum amount of nutrition. Wheat germ is a fiber-rich, non-animal protein with a concentrated source of several essential nutrients including Vitamin E, folate (folic acid), phosphorus, thiamin, zinc, and magnesium, as well as essential fatty acids.  These nutrients help to ward off diseases, convert carbs into energy, build strong bones and teeth, and heal wounds.  So please ignore the diet trends that tell you to avoid gluten all-together, unless you have celiacs disease!

And remember- everyone's body is completely different. So do your own research and most importantly- do what feels best for you!
 

Photo Credit: LL Bean

Photo Credit: LL Bean

Have any additional tips for conscious consumption? Let us know below!

Harvest & Revel is a Brooklyn-based, full service private event catering company focused on using local and organic ingredients to create elegant culinary celebrations packed with flavor.

LEDs are Illuminating Cycling Safety

Cycling in NYC requires use of front and rear lights and a bell to increase visibility and reduce collisions. 

In a decade the number of cyclists has gone up by 50%, but deaths and injuries are going down. This is because as well as fighting for stronger laws and more awareness on the roads, cycling safety equipment is getting better. This means brighter lights, more visible clothing, and better helmets.

Photo Courtesy of Ledlights.co.uk

Photo Courtesy of Ledlights.co.uk

One vital ingredient is the LED light. It’s flexibility means that it is providing ever brighter headlights and taillights, but is also ok for helmet lights, and small strip lights attached to clothing. All of these things are helping to make the cyclist more visible. In addition, some authorities are putting LEDs into cycle paths so they are more visible too.

Check out an article contribution by Jenny Holt & Chris Angus on the many ways LEDs are helping cyclists keep safe on Europe’s roads.

Thanks for the info guys!

 

Community Champions - Taliah Lempert

Commuting by bicycle in New York City twenty years ago opened Taliah Lempert to the joys of urban cycling.  She quickly turned that joy into art and began painting to commemorate the cycling community.  Exploring how the bicycle relates to the human figure and examining each bicycle's beauty and specific positivity, Taliah's work continues to excite the art and cycling worlds alike. 

LifeCycle Biking had an opportunity to connect with Taliah and learn more about her biking lifecycle.

Velox Ace Blur Sketch10

Velox Ace Blur Sketch10

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Taliah! Let’s get right to it- who or what brought you to the sport of cycling?

Cycling was always around.  My dad was way into it and he would sometimes take my sister and I along in a trailer when he went for road rides.  When we got older we rode on the ten speed tandem and when we turned 13 he got us each a nice bike.  I didn’t get into the sport of it until I was much older and had bought a track bike because it was beautiful.  Once I had it and went to watch my friends race, I decided to race too.

Where are you from? Has your place of origin influenced how much you bike? 

I grew up in Ithaca, NY, went to college in Boston and moved to NYC in 1990.  I don’t know if living upstate influenced how much I bike as I took a long break from cycling and only started riding for transportation in 1996.  Living in NYC has been a good reason to cycle, it’s the best way to get around and escape!

We could not agree more- urban cycling is one of the best ways to see a city! In your current life cycle, what’s been your best moment on the bike so far? 

There are so many best moments that one doesn’t stick out.  I have been lucky to have time to do some road riding this summer with one of my best friends.  I raced on the track from 1999 until 2007 even though that’s suddenly a long time ago, it was incredible and shaped the adult me!  I love riding through the city pretty much daily and riding my loaded cargo bike to sell at street markets on the weekends.  The bike makes me able to do more, go faster, & carry lots of stuff like some kind of super hero.

As an artist who uses bicycles as muses, how would you describe your art?

I paint pictures of bicycles.  My work celebrates cycling and my community by recording the bikes around me.  In the specific, is the universal. 

Amy's Bike Brush Print

Amy's Bike Brush Print

What cycling and/or artistic accomplishment are you most proud of? 

I am proud that my artwork is my living. Like a bicycle, I am self-propelled! 

Are there any notable cyclists that inspire you? Or any other people that are doing inspiring things in the cycling world that you think we should highlight?

Local {bicycle} builders, the CRCA Women’s clinic and the Star Track program at Kissena.

Last, but not least Taliah- Can you finish this statement? In my life-cycle, biking has been . . . 

Transformative.

Michael's Schwinn

Michael's Schwinn

Check out Taliah's gallery and support her original cycling imagery. 

If you would like to be highlighted as a community champion, or would like to recommend someone, reach out to us!


Cranksgiving 2016

Photo Courtesy of Brooklyn Bike Co

Photo Courtesy of Brooklyn Bike Co

Cranksgiving is a food drive on two wheels. 

Part bike ride. Part food drive. Part scavenger hunt. 


All you need is a bike, a bag, and a lock!
 

Join the LifeCycle Community as we take on Cranksgiving!

Cranksgiving started in 1999 and has it's roots in bike messenger alleycats, however the only requirements are "get food" and "do it on a bike". All of the food collected will benefit local NYC non profits- Bowery Mission, Nazareth Housing, and New York Bike Messenger Foundation.

Event details:

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2016

Registration: 1pm, Hudson Yards- East side of 11th Ave between 34th & 35th St. You can not register online, only in person.
* times and locations are subject to change.

Start: 2pm

Cost: Free to register, but you'll need cash to buy food at the stores. $10-$15 per person should suffice.

Finish: TBD

After party & awards: 4pm-7pm, location TBD

 

More info closer to the date!

Interested in joining the LifeCycle Cranks??? Register here! 

All registered LifeCycle riders will receive a code for 15% off of official LCB community gear!

 

Community Champions- Blake Strasser

For the past twenty years, Blake Strasser has focused her efforts on one main goal- relentless advocacy for ending the transmission of HIV/AIDS. As a tri-athlete, ride coach, and event producer, she fights for social justice awareness with a quick tongue & strong will; never taking "no" as an answer. 

LifeCycle Biking had an opportunity to connect with Blake and learn more about her biking lifecycle. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Blake! Let's get right to it- What brought you to the sport of cycling?

I learned how to ride a bike as a child but only did it casually. I moved from San Francisco to NYC in the late 80’s after losing a lot of friends to the {HIV/AIDS} epidemic. I was very scared and angry and felt really helpless.  I was on a really bad date and excused myself from the table and back by the restrooms I saw a postcard for the original Boston to New York AIDS Ride. I called and signed up to ride right then. That was twenty years ago. What started as a physical challenge turned into so much more than I ever expected.  It was how I grieved my friends, made a difference in the fight against AIDS and became an athlete and eventually a coach. Now producing charitable sporting events (including BRAKING AIDS® Ride) is my full time job.

Your dedication to the cause is so inspiring and admirable. In your current life cycle, what’s been your best moment on the bike so far?

There are too many to count! I am a firm believer that there are only good and great days on the bike. One day that stands out though was on day three of the SF to LA AIDS ride. There is a hill they call QuadBuster. It’s really not that bad – about a mile long, steep, but doable. They make such a huge deal out of it though that people get all nervous before hand. I was getting close to the hill and I could feel someone behind me. There was a guy on my wheel looking super nervous. I asked if it was his first year and he said “yes”. I asked if he was freaking out about the hill and he said “yes”. I asked him if he had a good song in his head and he got even more nervous and said “no”. I told him to get some angry Whitney Houston in his head and he’d be fine. We climbed the hill together singing “It’s not right, but it’s ok.” At the top of the climb he thanked me, we stopped and hugged and didn’t see each other again. A couple years later I was approaching the hill and called out to pass a couple riders and as I did I heard this man saying “Get some angry Whitney Houston in your head” and it was him helping another new rider! We all climbed it together with even more hugs at the top.

It seems like you were made to be a ride coach! You're also a triathlete; how did you get into the field? Are there any tips you can give to anyone interested in exploring the tri-arena?

Do it! Work your weakness, and unless you are coming from a serious swimming background get some swim coaching. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I am confident and efficient which saves my energy for the bike and run. Also, unless you have money to burn, don’t buy into they hype. I’ve done Ironman three times on my road bike, have had the same $100 wetsuit for 10 years and a basic $25 bike computer. Upgrade yourself through training and experience, not your equipment.

We could not agree more. Not only are training and experience important, so is nutrition. Any tips on wellness while cycling?

EAT!!! Seriously – you have to feed your body. If you are going out for more than an hour eat before you ride, while you ride and after you ride. Trial and error will lead you to what works for you but you need food to get going, keep going and to recover.  And eat food (actual food – not processed junk) – just like with equipment you can blow a lot of money on bars, gels, etc. I use gels when I’m racing and electrolyte replacement on long rides/runs, but otherwise just food will do everything you need.

What cycling accomplishment are you most proud of?

This is my 20th year riding to fight AIDS and I am committed to raising $20,000 for Housing Works! When I hit that it will be my biggest accomplishment! HELP

That's awesome! Tell us about your team No Fucking Filter. Where did the inspiration for the team come from?

Heeheehee- it is an unofficial team. I was riding in CA and out of nowhere there were 45 mile an hour headwinds. Seriously up on the pedals, cranking to go 6mph. I dropped my chain and when I was fixing it the constricted nerve in my neck started spasming. After a few miles of tears, snot and screaming non-stop profanities the wind died down enough that I could relax my grip and stretch my neck. It was only then that I remembered that I had been taped into my red dress, (red dress day is an old AIDS ride tradition) so I somehow managed to calmly pull over and lay my bike down but then I ripped my dress off Incredible Hulk style. It was just then that my buddy Ramon came around the corner and called out “Are you ok? What’s going on?” I replied “I’m starting Team Mother Fucking Tourette’s!” and that was that. When it came time to make the jerseys (ask me! They are awesome looking and funds raised are going to Housing Works!) I started looking into Tourette’s and realized it is a lot more common and serious than it is portrayed to be, so I switched it to Team No Fucking Filter. Anyone who cycles, particularly in NYC, has had that day.  I am a strong advocate of cursing. It lowers your blood pressure ;-)

Fuck yea! How do you think you influence your immediate circle of cyclists and the cycling community?

I always try to get people to do more. Ride more, raise more, and get more friends involved. I’m sure I drive people crazy, but we actually have the tools to end the AIDS epidemic, we just need the funding and political will.

Is there anything you would change in the landscape of today’s cycling scene?

I love the way the sport is growing, but I fear our respect of each other and other people on the road is not growing at the same rate.  It’s frustrating when the bridge you used to have to yourself is full of people on CitiBikes going for brunch, but nobody has ever died from slowing down and making way for people. I am working on being more respectful…but I am the captain of Team No Fucking Filter, so you know it is a work in progress.

Absolutely. What advice do you give to women who are new to riding a bike?

Same advice I would give a man – buy a bike that fits you from a store you feel comfortable in. If you are on the wrong bike and intimidated to go to your shop you won’t ride. That, and don’t be afraid to ride alone. There are great groups to join, but there is nothing like taking off on your own for an adventure!

Are there any notable cyclists that inspire you? Or any other people that are doing inspiring things in the cycling world that you think we should highlight?

I am very lucky to be surrounded by people who inspire me every day. We have a woman how did her first AIDS Ride shortly after a double knee replacement, people who have been living with HIV/AIDS for 30 years and are riding, people who have never been on a bike, but learn to ride so they can take part in the Ride and support Housing Works. Professional athletes have nothing on these people!

Last but not least Blake, can you finish this statement? In my life cycle, biking has been . . .

My therapy, my weapon and my pleasure.

Support Blake's mission, explore her work, or just reach out and say hey

The Air Out There- NYC Air Pollution and Urban Cycling

One of the things mentioned by countless cyclists is that their love for riding bloomed with the increased opportunity to get out and enjoy the fresh air.  Riding in any season is great for blood circulation and respiratory expansion, but do we ever really think about how "fresh" the fresh air is- particularly in high population areas like New York City. 

Photo by Christian Mueller/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Christian Mueller/iStock / Getty Images

Last year, researchers at Columbia University began a study to understand how much air pollution New York cyclists are exposed to as they ride their bikes in the city, and the affect of it on their hearts.  Cyclists were fitted with an exercise vest that contained a wearable pollution monitor, bio-metric sensors, and a blood pressure cuff for five 24-hour periods centered around five bike commutes. Information obtained from the study will be used by researchers to inform New York and other big cities on how to improve their biking infrastructure to reduce the exposure of cyclists to air pollution. Results have not yet been publicized.

The University of British Columbia ran a similar study in 2012 to determine if alternate routes and times of travel were more beneficial to cyclists respiratory and cardiovascular health.  

The most recent New York City Community Air Survey, released earlier this week, examines neighborhood air quality from 2008-2014.  It shows a significant decrease in harmful chemicals like nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, and sulfur dioxide across the past six years. Chemical levels were measured seasonally and vary by neighborhood, with the South Bronx and Manhattan continuing to emit high levels of pollutants.  Researcher's credit the recent upgrade of properties to greener options and phasing out older oil heating systems with leading the cleaner air charge.  

Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Cycling in the city has seen double-digit growth in the past four years, doubling the number of regular cyclists, according to the Department of Transportation. More cyclists means less emissions, and as New York makes strides to improve the air quality and lower it's ranking on the "Most Polluted City" scale, cyclists can begin to breathe easier.

The increase in biking infrastructure in New York and other major cities can help cyclists to avoid highly populated and polluted routes. Using bike lanes which separate riders from traffic and riding on side streets instead of main roads will lessen pollutant exposure.

Overall cycling, even in large cities, provides a great health benefit despite the air quality, saving up to 12 lives a year compared to car use.  As New York improves, the next time you're on a main road, consider taking a side street- your commute may take longer, but your lungs will thank you.

 

Did you or anyone you know participate in the Columbia University study? Share your experience below!

 

 

 

Community Champions- Ayesha McGowan

On a mission to add color and numbers to women's cycling, Ayesha McGowan is pushing and pulling to become the first female African-American professional road cyclist.  From organizing tandem bike rides for differently-abled persons to bike discussions with pre-school aged tots, Ayesha is changing her community and achieving milestones- one pedal rotation at a time. 

LifeCycle Biking had an opportunity to connect with Ayesha and learn more about her biking lifecycle.

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Ayesha! Let’s get right to it- who or what brought you to the sport of cycling?

Some of my friends were getting into it, so we all started together!

Where are you from? Has your place of origin influenced how much you bike?

I was born in Atlanta, GA, but I grew up in Piscataway, NJ.  I would bike around with my friends as a kid and even commuted to high school my senior year until someone stole my bike.  Luckily, I got my license shortly after.  I think, in a way, I love feeling the same way I did riding around Piscataway when I as 12.

That’s a prime example of our community motto- in every aspect of your life, there can (and should!) be biking!  In your life cycle, what’s been your best moment on the bike so far?

If I had to pick just one, it would be riding with my mom, sister and nephew over the Queensboro Bridge for 2013 Cyclofemme in NYC.  The ability to share my greatest joy with my closest family was incredible.  Neither of them had been on a bike in years and they rode about forty miles that day.  I was so proud of them, and they were beyond proud of themselves! 

Photo Courtesy of Ayesha McGowan

Photo Courtesy of Ayesha McGowan

You are a huge proponent of women in cycling; particularly women of color. What advice would you give to women who are new to riding a bike? What has been the biggest improvement you’ve seen regarding women and cycling?

I would tell them to find a group of women to ride with. I grew leaps and bounds after I started riding with the women of WE BIKE NYC! It helped my confidence level tremendously, and I made several lifetime friends! I think the largest improvement is that people are talking about it more. There are also a number of groups being started all over the country geared specifically towards getting more women on bikes!

We couldn’t agree more!  LifeCycle Biking hosts monthly rides throughout the five boroughs and internationally. We encourage any and everyone to join our inclusive, no-drop rides

What do you do for a living? Has your occupation contributed to your cycling life?

I'm a Pre-school Music Teacher! Working with kids is a constant reminder of all the little things that make life great. It keeps me grounded and still helps me stay open to listening to my imagination. It also makes a great conversation piece when kids come to class wearing helmets! They make me feel really cool when they get excited talking about bikes with me!

What cycling accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my work in helping to develop the InTandem Bike program in NYC. It is a non-profit that provides tandem biking opportunities to people with disabilities. I was the Director of Programs until my recent move to California!

We love the InTandem Bikes mission!!! It’s so awesome you helped to develop that program. InTandem rides are prominently featured on our Community Calendar- check them out to be a ride leader.

While we serve and support others, we must also prioritize self-care. Keeping yourself going both on and off the bike is important, what tips do you have on nutrition?

Prepare ahead of time so you're not hangry trying to find food! Eat things that make you feel good and also make you happy. Last, healthy food doesn't have to be gross, there are lots of great options that also taste great!

Absolutely! Our favorite local, women-run catering company, Harvest & Revel, supplied us with some tasty nutrition tips that are super healthy and flavorful- check them out!

Photo Courtesy of Kristen Blush

Photo Courtesy of Kristen Blush

Tell us, is there anything you would change in the landscape of today’s cycling scene?

I really wish there were more women of color in the racing scene! I can still count the number of black women I've seen at road races on one hand. It makes me very sad.

Are there any notable cyclists that inspire you? Or any other people that are doing inspiring things in the cycling world that you think we should highlight?

Coryn Rivera is really representing women of color well in the pro peloton. She made her name as a crit racer, but has really shown herself as an amazing all arounder! I've enjoyed following her come up, and I have a feeling she's only just begun!

Last, but not least Ayesha- Can you finish this statement? In my life-cycle, biking has been . . .

The best thing that ever happened to me.

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Lash

 

Follow Ayesha's progress and personal blog: A Quick Brown Fox and cheer her on at @ayesuppose

For nutritious food recipes and event catering inquiries contact Harvest & Revel

Pre-Ride Nutrition Hacks with Harvest & Revel

There are few things worse than getting on your bike and feeling shaky or realizing that your breakfast isn't going to sustain the long ride ahead. 

Sara Elise, private chef and owner of Harvest & Revel, shared two of her go-to recipes that are easy to make and packed with nutrition to give you the energy you need to start your ride positively.

Savory Oat Bowl with Soft-Boiled Eggs

Ingredients:

Quick-cook oats

Two organic, cage-free eggs

Can of organic black beans (no additives), rinsed and drained

1 organic sweet potato, cut into cubes with skin on

Sea salt

Paprika (if desired for extra smokiness)

Extra virgin olive oil

Optional ingredients: roasted mushrooms and/or carrots, sliced raw avocado and/or radish, chickpeas, lentils, sauteed kale and/or spinach

  • When you wake up, preheat your oven to 425 and cut your sweet potato. Put in a bowl, toss with olive oil and sea salt, and set on a baking sheet. Put in the oven for 25 minutes, or until fork tender, turning them about half way through.  As the sweet potatoes are cooking, bring two cups of water to boil in a separate pot. Once boiling, add 1 cup of oats.
     
  • After 5 minutes (or when the oatmeal is at desired consistency), remove the oats from the heat source. Stir in sea salt and paprika to taste. Add in the rinsed and drained black beans.
     
  • Add the sweet potatoes when they come out of the oven.
     
  • Heat another pot of two cups of water to boil. Once boiling, add both eggs. Boil for 8 minutes and then submerge under cold water. Once cool, peel the eggs and place them on top of the bowl.

Feel free to add other toppings such as sliced avocado, roasted mushrooms or carrots (roasting them the same way you did the sweet potatoes), chickpeas, and lentils. You can customize the bowl however you'd like! 

Another great thing about the bowl is that you can make a large enough serving with all of the toppings, except for the egg, and save it to heat up and eat for breakfast for the week.


Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients:

Quick-cook or regular oats

3 cups of loose, organic spinach

1 organic orange (or 3 scoops of peanut butter, or 1 cup of cantaloupe)

1 organic banana

1 cup of organic almond milk

1/2 cup of water

1 cup of ice

Pure and local honey, to taste

  • Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Taste. If the smoothie needs sweetener, add a small amount of honey (honey is the best natural sweetener, agave is the next best option).
     
  • Pour in your container of choice and enjoy!

Remember, skewings your pre-workout meals or snacks to be heavier in carbs (vegetables, fruits and some whole grains) and lower in fats will help you to fuel up properly and avoid cramps

Look out for more nutritional, tasty, energy-boosting treats from Harvest & Revel- our favorite local and organically sourced private event catering company.

Have any pre-ride nutrition tips that work for you? Share them below!

 

All photos courtesy of Harvest & Revel. Check out their mouth watering IG- @harvestandrevel

LifeCycle Rides: Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Isla de Ometepe is an island formed from the lava of two volcanos in Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. In the shape of an hourglass, it is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua and has exquisite views of the two volcanoes that birthed it- Concepción and Maderas. With newly paved roads between the local towns, Ometepe has become an explorers dream for cyclists, both local and transient. 

LifeCycle Biking got an opportunity to explore the island while traveling through Central America.

Off road terrain common in Ometepe

Off road terrain common in Ometepe

In order to get to Ometepe, we took an hour long ferry from San Jorge to the dock at Moyogalpa. From there, we were shuttled to our lodging quarters at the earth-based, intentional, communal living retreat, Inanitah- situated atop a steep incline, about 45 minutes (driving) from Moyogalpa. At Inanitah- we camped on on their grounds, ate 3-4 vegetarian meals daily, explored meditation, yoga, & wellness workshops; and participated in ongoing learning opportunities for growth and expansion. 

Camping at Inanitah

Camping at Inanitah

Inanitah residents guided us along the island biking terrain. With the two volcanoes, dry and wet forests, and stop overs at warm lake shores and petroglyph sites, it is a mountain biking paradise. Limited paved roads make road cycling difficult as the roads tend to be the main connections between cities and have high traffic volumes. However, the trucks make room for riders and we experienced welcoming horns and thumbs up's along the way. 

Bikes were available for daily rental at various locations across the island and some hotel and hostels have bikes that visitors can use.

Our stops along biking routes included small villages and “comedores” where typical Nicaraguan meals of rice, beans, tortillas, fried cheese & eggs with either chicken, beef, or pork were served. Fresh fruit juices and coconut water were easily accessible and enjoyed roadside. 

Los Cocos Comedore

Los Cocos Comedore

With the recent re-pavement of the road between Moyogalpa and Altagracia, it is the route used by most cyclists. The cities are around 15 miles (24 kilometers) apart and it takes about an hour and a half to travel the route. The road to the Maderas Volcano is still unpaved and requires more time and effort to get to that side of the island. Biking around the Concepción Volcano is also possible, but cyclists will hit some dirt roads after Altagracia. 

With the frequent altitude changes and the Nicaraguan temperatures, cycling on Ometepe can be tough- but also amazingly rewarding.

The sunset views were some of the most amazing we had ever seen. 

Breathtaking sunsets next to the Volcano

Breathtaking sunsets next to the Volcano

On Ometepe, the local community is embracing the tourism influx and we felt genuine generosity and hospitality from the residents, both transplant and native. 

The scenery was unlike any other and a ferry ride back to San Jorge left us missing the simplistic pleasures and rough routes of Ometepe. 

Want to learn more of our journey through Nicaragua? Contact us!

Photos courtesy of Sara Elise

 

Community Champions- Brigid Siegel

From Nebraska to Germany, Brigid Siegel has led an active cycling life and has no plans to stop anytime soon. Her experience braving the triathlon scene and leading European tours has afforded her a wealth of knowledge in the sport. Nowadays, Brigid uses her knowledge to raise awareness for social justice matters, such as HIV/AIDS and homelessness.

LifeCycle Biking connected with Brigid recently to get a more in depth look at her biking life cycle.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Brigid!  Let's get right to it.  Who or what has inspired you to start cycling?

In 1977 at the age of fifteen, I spent the summer living with my grandmother in Linz am Rhein, Germany.  I was an early athlete playing team sports like basketball and softball, but I never considered the sport of cycling for myself until that summer.  I spent a lot of time with my cousins, one of whom was already an avid cyclist.  He had a racing bike he would ride in the hills along the Rhein river valley.  I loved everything about this: the racing bike with the drop handlebars, the gear he was wearing, his leather cleats in cages on the peddles, the fact that he shaved his legs- to me the sport was thrilling.

In your life cycle, what’s been your best moment on the bike so far?

I find I have a lot of “best” moments but I would say some of my favorite moments are when it is one of those perfect cycling weather mornings- cool, clear, sun is shining and I am on my touring bike on easy rolling hills where I can keep the bike in the same gear and travel for miles feeling the bike beneath me, the smooth road I am on and the wind against my face, while I am taking in the nature all around me.  This happens almost every year during the Braking AIDS ride during the morning on day two.

As a tour leader in Europe, your terrain experience has been very diverse. How did you get into leading tours? Do you have a favorite story from your journeys?

I grew up in Nebraska and worked my way through college.  One of the many jobs I had was as a server in an upscale restaurant in downtown Lincoln.  As a college town, the clientele during lunch was mainly professors, government officials and the moneyed folk visiting the capital.  At this point in my life I had already done a number of sprint triathlons with my first Cannondale and fancied myself an avid biker.  During one of my lunch shifts, I overheard a visiting professor from Cambridge University discussing the tours he sponsored through his work with Bythe and Company, a touring company from Toronto Canada.  This professor was looking for tour guides for the following season’s tours.  I simply told him I was interested in applying and shared my qualifications.  I was chosen due to a number of skills and competencies:  Fluent German speaker, cyclist, natural curiosity, leadership and simply I had ten weeks of time to devote to the company. 

Looking back on the two tours I led, there are many stories which I can highlight as a favorite.  The first tour consisted of a total of twenty-five students, two tour leaders and one student leader.  In an age of analog everything- simple logistics, communications and directions were a daily challenge.  We were in France on the Tour de France Sunday and the weather was rainy and cold, we had many flats and spokes were popping from hubs left and right.  At some point, one of the students simply could not ride on his wheel any further as it was shaped like an S.  Finding an open bike shop was not even possible, but through a cycling miracle, we met an older man who happened to have a bike shop in his garage.  This smoking, beret wearing man muttered under his breath his disdain for the throw-away society had become and began to rebuild the entire wheel, spoke by spoke.  Needless to say, this took hours.  We entertained ourselves watching the Tour on his small black and white television and marveled at his handy work. When the wheel was finished, we were able to get back on the road. 

Is there anything you would like to change in today’s cycling scene?

The cycling scene has a variety of realities.  The competitive NY/NJ scene is very male dominated and is looked upon as a group of weekend warriors who break traffic laws, cause congestion on roads, and are a menace.  In many ways, this is not wholly an inaccurate description.  I think we need to ensure that cyclist obey traffic rules in our urban areas, and that vehicular traffic give more respect to the cyclists.  One fatality is one too many. 

 

More recently, appreciation for women cyclists has grown- what has been the biggest improvement you’ve seen regarding women and cycling?

I now see whole lines of bikes and gear specifically made for women.  We can now buy a bike which we do not need to retrofit to female dimensions.  This ensures less injuries and better biking overall.

Totally!  Speaking of biking accessories made for women- one of our most popular items is our Rosie the Riviter short sleeve jersey in our Provisions shop!  What advice do you have to women who are new to riding a bike?

There are a few things a new cyclist should do- determine the kind of riding they want to do and buy a bike which fits that goal.  The bike needs to be fitted well along with a great helmet.  Understand how the bike works and practice in a safe environment which is traffic free.  Find a buddy who has more experience.  Ride a lot.  Learn how to change a tube.  Don’t worry about getting dirty! 

We have our own "LifeCycle Rides" cycling team that focuses on inclusion and community.  You are a part of a cycling team as well- "The Honey Badgers."  What does your team focus on and where did the inspiration for the group/team come from?

Our team captain, Courtney Meier, was looking for a way to increase her ability to contribute more to Housing Works through our participation in Braking AIDS.  She, along with fellow team mate Mason Scherzer, brainstormed the team name as they were inspired by a YouTube video.  The subsequent team was formed on a number of fierce principles from this rough and tough animal:  Honey Badgers don’t give a S#&t, are nastya#$ and are fiercely devoted to eliminating AIDS as an epidemic by 2020, working through Housing Works and the governor’s office.

What do you see as your biggest influence in the cycling community?

At fifty-four, I show my cycling friends that age is just a number and that by staying fit, participating in Braking AIDS and contributing to our cycling community and the community at large, cycling is something which can continue to be part of your life for many years to come.  Most people around me do not have the same length of experience as I do and many seek my advice on a variety of things cycling related.  I experience a real sense of contribution to my community through cycling. 

Are there any notable cyclists that inspire you?  Or any other people that are doing inspiring things in the cycling world that you think we should highlight? 

I met a woman on the Braking AIDS ride last year- Sharon Kliegman- in her mid sixties who recently road her bike across the United States.  This has been a dream of mine for a long time and I was inspired to keep the dream alive! 

Here in New Jersey, of particular note is a bike shop, Breille Cyclery, which has been owned since 1970 by Katherine Penna with locations in Asbury Park and Brielle.  This full service shop really supports women, their needs and cycling goals.  I highly recommend stopping by, saying hi to Kathy and checking out all of their great bikes and gear- a cyclist can never have enough!

On that note, I'm going to have to throw in a shameless plug for our LifeCycleBiking Provisions Shop that just launched!  We are definitely in agreement that a cyclist can never have enough gear that is right for them and will enhance their ride.

But thanks, Brigid! Can you finish this sentence?  "In my life cycle, biking has been . . ."

Biking has been part of my DNA.  I really never see a day which I will retire from it. 

 

Want to learn more about Brigid or pick her brain for cycling tips?  Contact her on Instagram: @sciencechic29 and Twitter: @sciencechic.

Know anyone who you would love to see featured as a Community Champion? Contact us with your recommendation!

Winter weight? Not a problem.

As the cold days drag on, our animalistic instincts kick in and our bodies roll into hibernation mode. 

The function of hibernation is to conserve energy during a period when sufficient food is unavailable and with our human over abundant access to food, we decrease activity while increasing intake.

But fear not! Our friends at Map My Ride , powered by Under Armour, have laid out five ways to help cyclists shed that winter weight and prepare for spring riding. Check them out and let us know some of your own tips for maintaining your physique during hibernation.

1. Eat breakfast post-ride.

A study* conducted by the Journal of Applied Physiology found that exercising in a semi-fasted state can help you burn more calories than you would if you ate beforehand. While not recommend before intervals or your weekly long ride, skipping breakfast a few times per week on moderate rides of 60 minutes or less can help you lose weight quicker.

Just remember to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal as soon as your workout is over.

2. Don’t quit cold turkey.

After a holiday's, don't cut out all sweets and treats completely. Intense cravings could lead to binging, which could lead to even more weight gain. Instead, include occasional treats in your diet, but limit the portions. This will help fight off cravings without adding a huge sum of calories.

3. Use your bike to commute.

A study* done by Health Behavior News Service shows that leaving your car at home may be the key to losing — and then maintaining — your weight. They recommend 150–250 minutes of physical activity a week; on the lower end, that equals a 30-minute ride five days a week.

Be sure to dress appropriately for the conditions — it can make a big difference in your winter cycling experience.

4. Ride hard.

With limited daylight, long rides can be harder to come by. Luckily, hard efforts such as intervals burn fat more efficiently than steady-state efforts, according to a recent study*. In fact, in just two weeks, it’s possible to increase your fat-burning efficiency by as much as 36%.

To make it happen, give this a try:

  • Warm up for 20 minutes with easy spinning.
  • Complete 6–10 repetitions of all-out sprinting for 30–60 seconds, depending on your level of fitness. Recover for 2–4 minutes between repetitions.
  • Cool down for 10–15 minutes with easy spinning at a cadence above 100 revolutions per minute.
  • Incorporate this workout into your routine 2–3 times per week for maximum fat burn.

5. Take advantage of your indoor trainer.

To avoid TV/couch/munching from becoming a frequently occurring habit, it might be a better idea to set up your indoor trainer in the living room.

This will allow you to ride for an hour or two while you watch your favorite TV shows or a movie. Instead of packing on the pounds, you’ll be shedding them.

We definitely understand that not everyone owns or has access to an indoor trainer. If you are DIY savvy, check out how these guys made there own indoor trainer for under $30. And guess what? A walk through Ikea for rolling pins will keep you super active. Double score!

Send us you winter maintenance tips, we'd love to hear them!

 

*please check out Map My Ride for all study details

 

Your Brain on Cycling

For those of us old enough to remember Rachel Leigh and her infamous frying pan in the 1990's anti-drug PSA, we learned a valuable lesson- drugs fry your brain (or so they say, right?). In the spirit of those positive intentions we laid out in early '16, we're looking to continue our personal growth, and since we are talking cycling- our muscle growth.

The most important muscle of all, our brainius maximus, benefits highly from our favorite sport. Improvements linked to cycling include better memory retention, decreased stress levels, and increased productivity. We all think cycling is the bee's knee's, so here are a few more reasons to justify the 20 degree, ump-teen layered rides we love to endure.

Image Credit: Shutter Stock

Image Credit: Shutter Stock

Stress and anxiety relief

Life can sometimes get the best of us, and in those moments of anxiety, it may seem like nothing will help. Research has shown that vigorous activity helps to reduce anxiety, fear, and sensitivity symptoms. When one exercises regularly, they are less likely to develop anxiety disorders or depression.

Increased enjoyment

Prolonged activity, such as cycling, wakes up the endorphin's in your nervous system and can provide feelings of euphoria. Just like a "runner's high", cycling contributes to the positive mood modulators in your life. As we continue to ride, our moods will improve, both on and off the bike.

Be productive, B-E- productive!

While procrastination is one of the most infamous excuses worldwide, when regularly riding a bike, it may become mute. Cycling energizes the brain and the body, leading to an increase in your productivity. Your ability to formulate ideas, provide input, and make sensible choices are heightened and the increased stimulation will lessen feelings of sluggishness and fatigue.

Rest better

Ever had the best sleep after a long ride? (Yea, me too.) Cycling lessens the amount of cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress) in the body which often keeps us from falling into a deep sleep. Regularly riding a bike is said to help synchronize your natural body rhythms and improve your sleep capacity.

Memory improvement

The hippocampus controls long-term and spatial memory, and just like the rest of your muscles, it grows with exercise. Cycling provides the brain with the stimulation needed to produce more cells in the hippocampus, thereby growing it's size and retention capability. Cognitive functioning, which is directly related to diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia, is stayed with regular exercise.

Sexy time

You may be tired after a long ride, but the feeling of accomplishment is radiant. That confidence in your ability and physical agility makes you feel sexier and people definitely take notice. The rise in blood oxygen levels that occur from high aerobic activity produces feelings of intense well-being and increased sexual vitality. Added bonus- those powerful leg, buttock and lower back muscles that cycling builds are all the muscles used during intercourse. The better developed these muscles, the longer and more athletic intercourse will be.

All in all, cycling can lead to an improvement in mental clarity, memory function, and sexual drive. . . not bad for a pole in the butt.

Anyone down for winter riding? Because I'm sold!

Think of any other mental health benefits of cycling? Let us know below!

 

Intentions in 2016

2015 was an amazingly successful year and we are so excited for what 2016 will bring! As we prep for the new year, LifeCycle Biking staff has gathered some of their favorite intentions from MindBodyGreen.

Below are 10 of our favorites, check out MBG for their full list.

1. Work less and live more.

Spend less time on what pays the bills and more time on what fulfills you. The trade-off is priceless.

2. Do less and be more.

Quiet time, reflection, and sleep help you stay productive, focused, and peaceful. Focus on doing less, and doing it better, in the new year. Practice saying no to what doesn’t align with your goals.

3. Have fewer distractions and more time for reflection.

The Internet is intended to distract. Resist by being mindful, present, and aware. A daily practice of silence or mindfulness like meditation can help you feel less scattered.

4. Complain less and appreciate more.

When you think about what you don’t have, you’ll foster a sense of lack. On the other hand, when you treasure everything you have — even the smallest of things — life will feel rich and abundant.

5. Judge less and understand more.

You may judge someone else’s beliefs, opinions, or views in a subconscious attempt at a short-term self-esteem boost. This will inevitably make you feel worse. Instead, try being understanding. You’ll have something to be proud of, and that will increase your self-esteem in a real, lasting way.

6. Hate less and love more.

If we continue the cycle of hate toward others, we breed more hate in the world. Set the light of love within, but more importantly, be guided by love in the choices you make and in the way you treat others. 

7. Criticize less and praise more.

Find genuine things to praise in people. Compliment random strangers. Show appreciation to the people who serve you at restaurants. Kind words are worth much more than a good tip (although you should give that, too).

8. Follow less and lead more.

Group think is a recipe for an unhappy life. Do what’s in your heart. Lead the way, even if no one else is doing it. 

9. Fear less and act more.

If you’re human, you’ll feel fear. Try to notice the fear, acknowledge the fear, and break through the fear. Thank your fear for encouraging you to be cautious, but proceed anyway. Courage is a muscle — the more you use it, the better you get at overcoming fear.

10. Please less and stay true to myself more.

You think you’re making others happy when you’re trying to please them. Unfortunately, you’re not being truthful to yourself or others. It’s okay to let people down by saying “no” if you do it with love and compassion. 

Choose authenticity and honesty over people-pleasing. People-pleasing precludes the possibility for anyone — including yourself — to get to know the real you.

We look forward to building with you in 2016. Happy New Year!

Cycle on!!!

Happy Holidays!!!

   

 

 

Happy Holidays from everyone at LifeCycle Biking!

As our inaugural year comes to a close, we would like to thank each and everyone one of you for your support.  We are SO excited for 2016 and look forward to your continued support and assistance.  In 2016 we are planning:

- Our official site launch!!! Date and location TBD

- The first LifeCycle Biking endowment ride supporting a local non-profit organization. With riding options of 30, 60 and 100 miles - we look forward to seeing everyone come out and give their best!

- The development of the LifeCycle Biking cycling team- know anyone interested in joining an all-inclusive team? Have them contact us!

- Continued community development rides

And more!

Thank you again for your support and we will see you next year- Cycle on!!