Community Champion - Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores, the first cyclist to wear ruffles to victory, was a household name before he crossed the finish line in purple and white. With continued success, Flores (and his fully customized Scott Addict bicycle ) became synonymous with showing up daily as your fullest self. Harnessing the ability to channel what he desires in life, Adrian lives each day submerged in the outlets he enjoys the most - creative expressions, adventure, and the inner peace of fulfillment. 

LifeCycle Biking had an opportunity to connect with Adrian and learn more about his biking lifecycle.

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

My cycling life has had a few different chapters. I rode a BMX bike around when I was young around the neighborhood. I re-discovered the bike during the summers in college when I was a collegiate swimmer and that’s where it really took hold of me and brought me to where I am today. Cycling provided me a sense of adventure and exploration I simply couldn’t do staring at lanes in the pool. 

You’re from Austin, TX and moved to Barcelona for some time. How have your home and travels influenced the way you ride? 

Austin is where I found my legs and spent my formative years on the bicycle. I grew up in the competition and hill-country rides of that area of Texas, where brutal heat and open rolling hills slowly eat away at you over long rides. Whenever I come across a place like that in another part of the world it reminds me of home, it kind of makes me feel alive. I’m stronger in that sort of terrain and climate. Barcelona is not too dissimilar, but it was the first place I lived with climbs that lasted longer than 10-15 minutes. Moving to BCN was intended to be a growing experience and it definitely helped me learn to appreciate cycling on a deeper level than competition. I learned to ride just because I loved riding.

Speaking of the love of riding, what has been your favorite moment on the bike so far? 

I’ve had so many life-changing moments on the bicycle but at the moment the one that sticks out to me is a 7-day long ride from Portland to San Francisco with 3 friends of mine. The fourth day of the journey I had suffered some sort of knee injury and my only option was to tough it out 129 miles of insane hills or rent a car the rest of the trip. I toughed it out and it was one of the most beautiful rides I could have hoped to do. 

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We admire your willingness to push your limitations. Tell us about your brand, Prince Cycling.

Where did the inspiration come from? How has His Purple Highness contributed to your cycling life? 

I got a few nicknames over the years and I think Prince stuck after I dyed a cycling skin suit purple and sewed ruffles into it. For me, it represents a sort of confidence in yourself, your abilities that I like to pull from the Prince Persona. I still can’t really fathom the reach this character of mine has had. I still have people walk up to me to either tell me that I look like prince or ask if I am prince cycling.  

Creativity is very present in various areas in your life.  How did you discover your love of creative writing and cooking? Are these interests/passions intertwined with cycling at all? 

Writing was my first outlet as a young kid to express myself and it never faded. Somewhere through college I decided I should pursue that deeper and I graduated with a degree in English, creative writing. As for cooking, I’ve always been around it but it wasn’t until I was much older that the nature of my cooking has gotten more precise. As an athlete, it’s important to put good fuel (food) in your engine. As I’ve eased from such a strict training regimen food has become less a utility and more a passion. I feel that in all my pursuits I find a tranquil space of creativity and peace. They’re all connected in that way. 

As a cyclist of color in a field dominated by the majority, how would you describe your ability to ascend into pro racing and establish a presence for yourself (and subsequently other riders of color)? 

I’ve had a very fortunate child-hood. My father is Honduran and my mom is Irish and I learned from both of them all I needed as a child to make me a natural athlete. Driven role-models and plenty of athletic outlets shepherded me through the cycling ranks quickly. The key here is that they enlisted me in every type of sport that helped me build all sorts of coordination. So now when I jump into something new it’s typically just mastery that’s required. I usually catch onto basic skills and aspects of a sport really easily. 

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

I personally find more joy in a lack of social pressure and a more inclusive environment. Cycling, much like society, tends to segment itself off to those who participate in the sport in different capacities. I enjoy bike races that take time to include recreational cyclists.

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 can be inspired by all sorts of cyclists. No feat is too small. The type of people that I engage with the most are those that use cycling to find a balance in their life. I have plenty of friends the world over that do so many other cool and interesting things. From professional photographers, small-business owners to rocket scientists. People with a story to tell. Here are a few people that I enjoy:

Patrick Newell and Benedict - have not so quietly influenced personality and style onto cycling in a way thats had a big impression on not only my own life, but hundreds of thousands of cyclists the world over. Together and separate they are a force to be reckoned with. 

Tyler Hamilton - is known for an epic saga which is his pro-tour life but his after pro-tour life is much more fascinating and inspiring. He’s a kind and gentle human with a passion for retribution of the self and others. He continues to hold a warm spot in my heart. 

Anna Schwinn - is one of those unabashedly opinionated and objective cyclists that I look upon for the real. She’s got a ton of life experience and a ton of personality. Any time I get to see her at a cycling event or tradeshow is a blessing and I hope she continues to be 100% authentically herself forever. 

Kym Perfetto - She really is nonstop. And she’s great. Fun to watch, fun to be around and an inspiration if I ever feel like I’m overwhelmed. I just remember, Kym is doing more. 

Last but not least Adrian, please finish this statement- 

In my life cycle, cycling has been . . . 

A space for friends, an escape, a sanctuary, a place to reset, to thrive, to explore. 

Cycling has been my rock. 

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Check out Adrian and his custom purple chariots at Prince Cycling 

PSA - Get Bigger Brains by Cycling More!

Jocelyn Jones of Lifehack explores how cycling shifts our mental wellbeing and helps to increase the production of proteins used for creating new brain cells in her article Science Explains How Cycling Changes Your Brain And Makes You Mentally Stronger.

 Photo by  Andhika Soreng  

Photo by Andhika Soreng 

"Cycling can grow your brain in the same way it can grow your muscles. When we cycle, the blood that flows to the muscles increases, allowing our bodies to build more capillaries, supplying more blood (and therefore more oxygen) to those muscles. The same process actually occurs in our brains. Cycling allows our cardiovascular system to grow further into our brains, bringing them more oxygen and nutrients that can improve its performance."

Read the rest of the article here

Cycling Health Hacks: Essential Oils

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The years between 2012 and 2014 saw a great increase in the cycling population or bike riders in the U.S. By 2016, the country recorded as many as 66.5 million cyclists and bike riders. The popularity of the sport can be credited to the fact that it is a fun and adventurous hobby to keep in perfect health. However, Luis Herrera, South America’s first Grand Tour champion says that it is this sport that gave him skin cancer owing to the constant exposure of his skin to the sun. Moreover, sunburn cyclists are also subjected to harsh weather conditions, pollution, stress, road rashes and aching muscles on a continuous basis. For overall health, just boosting the hip strength while cycling is never enough. Feeding nutrients to the body and exposed skin is equally crucial so that cycling continues to remain a healthy sport. Recent studies have revealed how several oils can become an integral part of a cyclist’s daily care ritual.

Skin and hair care with oils

We all admire the energetic, well-toned athlete with glowing skin racing past the cycling tracks. For an even more glowing look, experts have spilled the beans recommending moisturizing the skin with pure coconut oil which is loaded with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It also makes an effective deep conditioner for the hair. Massage your hair with some of this oil right before your cycling trip. To combat pollution, use the anti-oxidant rich Chia seed oil for your skin and hair which works by forming a protective film barring the pollutants.

Cycling under the bright sunshine is probably one of the greatest pleasures of life, but continuous exposure to sunlight leads to premature aging, sunburn and even skin cancer. So while wearing a hat and glasses is a must, applying sunscreen is most important when going for a bike ride in the daytime. Go for a chemical-free red raspberry oil which has a high SPF between 30 and 50, and stay sun safe naturally.

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Use oils for health

Cyclists often have to ride in the pouring rain and through cold, blustery weather for miles. For them, embrocations made with certain oils really help in warming up the muscles. The embrocations form a protective layer on the skin. The blood flow to the muscles is boosted and any injured muscles are healed rapidly. Most of these embrocations are made with the oils of sesame, grapeseed, and soybean. Cycling in the harsh sub-zero temperatures and chilling winds cause the skin of the hands and legs to become hard, sore, calloused and cracked. Treating those tired limbs to a bowl of warm water infused with sweet almond oil is very soothing. This can be followed up with an olive oil scrub for softening the tissues and replenishing the dead cells.

Cycling is a healthy and fun sport, but with it comes the responsibility to enjoy it sensibly by taking care of your skin, body, and hair. Natural oils are the best alternative for healing any skin injuries and conditions and helping the muscles work to their optimum best. 

Do you have any all natural health hacks that work best for you? Share below!

Theft In The City

GPS Tracking Tightening the Grip On City Thieves

Bike theft can be as devastating as car theft to the owner, but is treated very differently by the authorities. This emotional trigger is the reason for the rise in demand for technological advancements in the GPS bike tracking market. Smart tech products are providing powerless cyclists the tools needed to combat the plague of city bike theft.

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A survey conducted by Van Lierop in Montreal and published in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation revealed the shocking truth that bicycle theft can happen more than once in a cyclists lifetime. Couple this with the seemingly flippant way that bike theft is handled by the police, the market for GPS bike trackers becomes evident.

Even Google experienced a continuous stream of bike theft at their headquarters in Mountain View California. Thanks to GPS tracking they have been able to locate a few of their missing rides, some had even traveled as far as Mexico.

A low priority crime

Bike travel is considered a sustainable means of transportation, yet when it comes to protection, cyclists are often left in a lurch. Police consider bike theft to be of low priority due to the highly pressurized crime environment that is synonymous with a city environment. Investigations into this are often limited by many factors such as identifying and apprehending the culprits. Therefore the matter of protection lies with each cyclist in order to gain a semblance of mental rest when parking their bikes in the city streets. Cyclists must assume responsibility for finding cost effective GPS bike trackers in order to protect their property.

Sherlock on the case

Sherlock, the invisible GPS tracker, is the brainchild idea of Pierluigi Freni, who after great frustration with having his bike stolen in Turin, decided enough was enough. Indeed this final straw found him wondering, what if he had an app that could track his bike the same way people track lost iPhones. The resulting answer was the invisible GPS bike tracker Sherlock, just like it’s fictional detective counterpart.

Sherlock can be considered ‘petite’ for an anti-theft gadget for cyclists. The invisibility factor of this piece of tech makes it ideal, as it ‘sits’ inside the handlebars. This ingenuity means that thieves cannot simply remove the device and get away with your mode of transportation.  

The device is activated when parking and should the bike be removed an alert is sent. In addition to this, all the information of both the bike and its owner is included in the app as a ‘bike passport’. The development of this part of the app was in conjunction with police.  

No need to play superhero

With this innovation comes some concern for vigilante type behavior in pursuit of the culprit. It goes without saying that should you find yourself in a situation where your bike is being stolen and confrontation is not a possibility, call the police. With the tracking, the culprits are able to be found without you having to risk your life or put yourself in unnecessary danger.

Do you have any suggestions for GPS bike tracking devices? Share them below!

It's All In The Hips

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Boosting Hip Strength for Cyclists

We’re all aware that cycling has a great effect on our physical health but as research is consistently proving, it also has a positive effect on our mental health too. While some of us cycle to get fit, for many of us, we ride simply because it makes us happy and helps improve our mood. Whatever the reason you enjoy cycling, it’s likely that you feel pain or tightness after a ride so if you want a fitter, stronger and leaner body, it’s important to keep all your muscles toned.

The stiffness that is often felt originates from the hip rotator muscles which are hidden under the glutes and is down to our hips never being open while we’re on a bike: as our legs go up and down, we never straighten enough to open up our hip joints. Subsequently, the strength in our hips are paramount to boost cycling power and limiting the strain on the lower back so it’s beneficial to do stretches to improve our physique and contribute to our well being..

Incorporating these exercises into any hip-flexor fitness regime to loosen tight hips will help develop your strength to generate maximum power with minimum strain.

#1 Activating the glutes muscles

Due to us spending a great deal of time sitting down, our glute muscles have a tendency to not function as well as they could. A reaction to this is that other muscles, namely our lumbar extensors and hamstrings, are called upon to the job of hip extension.

Lie down on the floor on your back with your legs bent and raise one leg. Pushing your hips from the floor, focus on contracting the muscles of your glutes while keeping the toes of your lifted leg upwards. Alternate legs as a pre-warm up.

#2 Power Bridge

This is designed to stretch the hip flexors whereby the bridge strengthens the connection between your glutes and lower back.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your heels close to your glutes. Arms should be at your sides with your palms down. Push your hips off the floor, tighten your glutes and push up from your heels. Keep toes raised and lower yourself downwards to complete the rep. Hold for a couple of seconds and repeat.

#3 The low lunge

This exercise is an important stretch for hip flexors and also effectively works for stretching the upper thighs.Position yourself on all fours - you might like to place cushions under your knees. Step up your right leg between your hand and raise your upper body. With your bottom tucked in, slowly slide forwards into the lunge position. When you can feel the stretch - at the top of the leg where it joins the front of the hip - stop and repeat.

Needless to say, stretching is paramount, so make sure to never skip this part. Here’s to many more great bike rides.

 

Have any hip strengthening exercises that have worked for you? Share below!

Focus! Distracted Drivers and Your Safety

In 2015 alone, an estimated 818 cyclists were tragically killed in road traffic incidents. Arguably, of those motorists, distracted drivers have become a bigger threat due to the variety of distractions offered these days, primarily by smartphones and their ilk.

It seems like the most utterly basic and straightforward considerations as a cyclist, but safety really is the key to unlocking all of the incredible holistic benefits of being in the saddle and in the community. There are a number of considerations to bear in mind when you’re riding, but with a particular nod to road safety, there are a few things beyond the periphery that need paying attention to.

 @omarlopez1

@omarlopez1

Distracted Drivers

The best driver in the world can be driving at the right speed, be in the right lane, and be keeping an eye out for the signals you’re providing to give them guidance on your behavior, but it can all be undermined by the presence of a distracted mind.

The most obvious form of distracted driving is texting, which is ubiquitous and dangerous. The US Department of Transportation have produced a helpful example; texting or sending a message could take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which, at 55 mph, equates to the length of a football field.

Impacts

Whilst road safety for cyclists has improved year-on-year since 2008, the risk is still there, as outlined above. But what are the risks of distracted drivers and how can they be mitigated? In 2014, it was found that distracted driving contributed to 3,179 deaths nationwide (not just cyclists).

What Can Be Done?

Distracted driving is listed as a primary safety concern of many drivers globally. As such, focus has come down on it in recent years and we’ve begun to see the starts of change from a top-down perspective in ways you might not expect. Following a distracted driver accident in California Apple has been sued in a class-action lawsuit seeking to address their non-use of a service designed to prevent drivers using their phone and driving.

As a single cyclist, however, there are a few options you can take. Really, it’s just about being more mindful - taking stock of the drivers around you and their behavior. Treat a driver on their phone, or eating, or glued to the stereo, as if they were unsafe. It might be momentary; it might not.

Distracted drivers are a menace to cyclists and other motorists alike and can present quite a scary proposition on the roads. Luckily, the law is hoping to do something about it, and in the meanwhile, you can too, to make sure you’re safe and secure before you take off on a soul-fulfilling ride.

Have any tips for staying safe on the road? Share them below!

Cycling for Sanity

In 2015, a new study showed the brain boosting benefits of cycling. Charlotte Hilton Andersen explores several new studies that have found that cycling improves the way your brain works by making several important structures bigger so you can think faster, remember more, and feel happier in Shape.com's The Brain Science of Biking

You'll not only feel mentally better after a ride, but you'll actually be smarter. Biking, along with other types of aerobic exercise, has been shown to increase the hippocampus, one of several brain structures related to memory and learning. A study from the University of Illinois found that the hippocampus of participants grew two percent and improved their memory and problem solving skills by 15 to 20 percent after six months of cycling daily. Additionally, the cyclists reported a greater ability to focus and an improved attention span. To top it off, all of these perks seem to counteract the loss of brain function normally associated with aging, with the scientists noting that the cyclists' brains appeared two years younger than their non-exercising peers.

See the full article here.

You + Biking = Happiness

Vancouver based Momentum Mag featured an article on seven mental health benefits of bike riding. Author Hillary Angus explores the impact of cycling on mental, as well as physical, health in her article - Pedaling Towards Happiness: 7 Mental Health Benefits of Riding Bikes.

 Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo 

... The link between exercise and improved mental health is not new, many studies over the years have made the connection the two. But as the body of research grows, it becomes clear that regular exercise – especially physical activity outdoors – should not simply be a supplementary method to improve our mood, but a key part of any strategy to combat depression, anxiety, and the general stress of daily life.

While some people ride to get fit, there are many who ride bikes simply because it makes them happy, and happiness is not trivial. How you feel about yourself, your life, and the world is just as important as the mechanical workings of your body. In fact, science suggests that mental health may even be a stronger predictor of life expectancy than physical health, or even heavy smoking.

See the full article here

Everyday Cadence: A CycLing Tale

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

And in a snap, my “professional” co-ed weekend football career ended. My upcoming snowboard trip (after I’d just bought a board!) - canceled.

While catching a game-winning interception, and juking to avoid the intense recreational competition ahead, I tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament - my ACL, the small ligament that stabilizes the knee and is attached from the femur to the tibia.

My teammates cringed when they saw me go down. They knew.

I, on the other hand, had no idea that I’d just destroyed the tiny piece of flesh that basically attaches one part of the knee to the other for the very important goal of catching a football. I also didn’t know that while I’d just ended my promising weekend pastime, I’d soon adopt a new obsession; biking.

 Photo by  Sandro Schuh

Photo by Sandro Schuh

The next day, my knee blew up to the size of a cantaloupe as I hobbled around to work and to several doctors (apparently, this happens when you rupture a ligament). I can’t tell you how many people asked me if I heard a “pop” (I hadn’t).  I learned quickly about ACLs. They break a lot. And yes, we can live without them, but many athletes who have torn theirs choose to operate and later return to their sport. Also, it seems, women are more prone to these tears, with thanks in part to our wider hips, and how we land. Yay for us.

When the doctors recommended reconstructive surgery for me using my own tendon, it seemed like the sensible choice. I could go snowboarding with my newly-purchased board, and rejoin my team, I thought. Plus, I would finally be bionic (sorta).

Well, needless to say, years after the surgery, I am in no way bionic. And I’ve contemplated converting my snowboard into a bench. But the reconstruction (and some forced introspection) did re-jigger my life.

Immediately following the surgery, my muscle atrophied, shrinking my right thigh to the circumference of a 14-year-old version of little me. The range of motion in my marshmallow-like extremity was obviously limited, and for the first time in my memory, I was unable to do some things by myself, and without intense pain.

This would all pass, but the rehab process was intense and slower than I’d hoped. It also came with some mild depression and severe tear-swallowing.

Forced to slow down, I had to rethink how I got from here to there...and why I went from there to here. I taught myself to knit (scarves, exclusively long scarves). I took the bus. I looked for a new job. I read (and watched really bad TV). I learned who my “real” friends were (those who visited or called or were mindful about the activities we did).

I started physical therapy quickly, and shortly thereafter started to experience the delight (and tooth-grinding agony) of re-building my muscles. In bright red Asics Onitsuka Tiger kicks (which I chose for their flat soles), I channeled Jamie Sommers and moved swiftly from crutches to brace to bandage.

Astoundingly, I was on a stationary bike within a few days. This seemed kind of nuts considering the joint that moves an awful lot when you peddle was the one I had just traumatized.

But over the course of weeks, then months, I went from walking, to balancing boards, to painful squats, to stationary biking, to running. I learned that the body and mind are truly incredible when tested.

Now before the surgery (to date myself), I wore my rollerblades everywhere -- with skirts, shorts, to sports, to work, to dates. I’d skate next to trucks and cars and people, sweat like heck, then toss my (purple) blades on my shoulder and walk in any bar/restaurant/place I chose. It was kind of badass now that I think about it.

That all changed after ACL surgery and rehab. After trying to rollerblade again (a sport that tests your knees and hamstring muscles to the max), I tossed them -- like they had betrayed me -- into the back of the closet, and fought back a few tears.

My inherited mountain bike, meanwhile, had the admirable role of wall decoration. I’d been wary of bike thefts and poorly paved roads, and thought that funny looking booties on wheels were way more efficient than bike riding (it isn’t).

I looked up at my glorious, dusty wheels, which had become a bit of a perch for laundry and assorted bags.

Thanks to PT, I’d grown comfortable with (or tolerant of) the bike, so I pumped some atrophied tires and dug my helmet out from the closet. That was it.

 Photo by  Gemma Evans

Photo by Gemma Evans

Before I knew it, I was purchasing a “fancy” road bike. I started doing loops in the park on weekends. Weekends became week-nights. Loops became longer treks. Longer treks became day-long rides. Day long rides became an obsession. I now needed two bikes: one for treks, and one for commuting.

I came to know and appreciate the style, the vibe of the cycling community. I came to understand the rhythmic addiction to the sport -- because I had it. I needed to ride a bike.

On weekend mornings, I was drafting off of “Amstrongers” along the West Side Highway, and onto the Palisades in search of that cafe and a muffin.

For anywhere from 1-5 hours, I would be alone, often with music, sometimes with interactions with other cyclists, sometimes only with the terrain below me and the trees around me. Sometimes, I’d ride with others, but the solitude and togetherness of cycling enabled me to see clearly, and to think more strategically about how I spent my time.  

And just like that, my friendly games of football - which, let’s face it, I’d never really be good at (and were often followed by evenings playing flip cup) - had gone the wayside as I became more focused, more motivated, and more willing to take on new challenges.

Hours upon hours in the saddle filled my life with tons of other life-lessons. The drive to get on a bike regardless of my mood or of the weather made me appreciate my body’s comeback from the surgery and to see through any sort of obstacle. It reminded me of the strength of the human body and mind. In a relatively short time, my muscles got stronger, my reflexes improved, my confidence rose.

Fast forward a few years later, and, no, I haven’t played a co-ed recreational football game again (though I have played on a basketball team) and I’m not in any way a professional cyclist. But since I started cycling in earnest, I have run a half marathon on my reconstructed knee, acquired quite a few sets of wheels, and have accumulated a few (maybe too many) more scars and tales to tell.

Now, when the next interception happens (and it will), I’m good and ready.

Pedal Powered Memory

Psychology Today posted an amazing article discussing the benefits of bike riding on cognitive health and well-being. Author Lindsay Wasmer Andrews explores recent scientific studies that highlight the emotional health benefits of cycling. 

Photo by Max Bender

... Aerobic exercise is good for the brain in other ways as well. For instance, it helps maintain adequate blood flow to the brain, which supplies the metabolically rapacious organ with a steady stream of oxygen and nutrients. This may be one reason why regular physical activity helps keep thinking, learning and judgment sharp as people age.

But you don’t have to wait for your AARP card to reap these rewards. Even younger adults often claim that a bike ride helps shift their thinking into high gear — and research backs them up. In one small study, healthy, young men pedaled a stationary bike at moderate intensity for 30 minutes. They also completed a series of cognitive tests before and afterward. After cycling, they scored higher on memory, reasoning and planning, and they were able to finish the tests more rapidly than before.

See the full article here

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!