cycling

Cycling: One of the Most Beneficial Exercises for Seniors

Cyclists over the age of 60 account for one third of the increase in bike ridership over the past 20 years. Older adults who get a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, such as cycling, lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Exercise also promotes emotional wellbeing and improves cognitive function, preventing the development of conditions like dementia and late-life depression.

With age, it’s important to find safe ways to keep active, and cycling provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints and promotes better balance. As you adjust your exercise routine to accommodate changes that come with age,  consider the variety of benefits cycling has to offer.

Photo by  Fernando Meloni  

Photo by Fernando Meloni 

Cycling Gets You Out in Nature 

Getting outdoors is great for your physical and mental health. Sunlight boosts your body’s vitamin D supply, which is important for maintaining healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. Spending time outside can also promote better sleep, by sinking your body’s natural circadian rhythm to cycles of day and night. People over the age of 65 especially benefit from the melatonin regulating effects of sun exposure. Just be sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from UV rays whenever you go for a bike ride. 

Cycling Can Make a Great Social Activity

Keeping your heart healthy with daily exercise is one the most effective tools for preventing dementia, and biking with a friend or group of friends can bolster the positive effects. Socialization helps keep the mind active and engaged, combating memory loss and other cognitive challenges that may come with aging. Biking is a sport that naturally lends itself towards building community and connecting with others. Taking a ride with a friend gives you the chance to talk, laugh and challenge each other.

Staying Active and Independent

Bicycles not only provide an excellent form of exercise, they can also be a great way to get around town. Riding a bicycle is an environmentally friendly alternative to driving, and gives you an opportunity to interact with your surroundings in new ways. On your bike, you may discover landmarks, restaurants, businesses and people you would have otherwise overlooked. Substituting just one five mile car ride for a bike ride instead also helps burn more calories, strengthens muscles and improves bone density, all while getting you where you want to go.

Riding a bike can be liberating and exhilarating, making you feel like a kid again. Many people who typically avoid exercise can still find something to love about riding a bike. If you’re an older adult, you can find fun and safe ways to incorporate cycling into your fitness plan.

Please share any advice you have on stay healthy and fit with age!!!

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 

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!

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!

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.

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

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!