Ten Reasons Cycling is Cooler than Running

I know what you’re thinking: “the pics are not fair”.  Ok, I’ll give you that but you have to admit I’m right.  Where running has cycling beat is in simplicity: lace up and go. vs. inflate, check lube, put helmet and gloves on, get water bottles, etc.  But once we’re out there, we definitely win.  Here is why:

1. The Bike.  Every athlete in the world has to admit that a bike is one of the coolest athletic implements ever invented.  It has been evolving rapidly, almost as fast as other technologies.  What’s really amazing about it is that sophisticated technology like titanium alloys, wind-tunnel designed carbon fiber and ultra-light components have reached affordability levels that put them at the reach the average cycling enthusiast.  They are works of art and engineering and they are so much fun to ride.

2.  The Gadgets. This day in age there are great gadgets for both running and cycling, for sure.  GPS, stride counters, cadence, etc.  But cycling has running beat with the power meters.  Granted, they are not for the faint of heart (literally) or the average enthusiast because cheap they are not.  But you have to admit that knowing exactly how many watts your body puts out on that damn hill is the coolest statistic ever.

3.  The Hats.  Check the variety of helmets available.  Wind-tunnel designed, 25 vents, Kevlar injected, you name it.  The best running hat has a wicking fabric and UV protection.  You could argue the fashion aspect of each one, but not the coolness.

4.  The Gear.  Running shoes are, well running shoes.  I get it, there are some minimalist trends today, ultra-light materials, psychedelic colors and even ones with a separate compartment for each toe. But come on!  Carbon shoes that you can perfectly mold to your feet by warming them up in your kitchen oven. Different kinds of sole stiffness, add the booty covers for winter and they get even cooler.  And that’s just the shoes! Don’t get me started with the jerseys.  Can you really compare a 3-pocket full zipper jersey with a sophisticated pattern to a T-shirt?

5. The Hills.  You can’t beat the thrill of the wind in your face, looking at your speedometer go up while you’re heart rate goes down riding downhill.  Running downhill is actually painful.  Uphills on your bike are an accomplishment, you get an endorphin rush of a full 5K in a 1/2 mile 10% hill.

6.  Coasting.  When you get tired or reach a flat, coasting is not only accepted, but encouraged. you can grab a sip of water, adjust the full zip of your jersey, or simply look around.  Walk breaks are, quite frankly, embarrassing.  You tell me, what would you rather have, your arch rival coming towards you in opposite direction while you are coasting or taking a walk break?  Exactly!

7. Your Body Will Thank You . Running is an impact sport and cycling is not. Your body can take a much longer cycling session than a running session.  At least the average body.  i know ultra-marathoners and Tour-de-Francers are exceptions, but the average enthusiast can easily train for several hours of cycling in a relatively short period of time.  Running for more than an hour is a lot more painful and takes a lot more training.

8.  Distance and Speed.  Cycling covers more distance so you get to see more.  A ride takes you to around 3 – 4 times more distance than running and you can squeeze an extra 15 min for a scenic route.  Looking at your computer mark 40 mph in a downhill is pretty thrilling too.  8 min miles are great accomplishments but not at all thrilling.

9.  Calories Burnt.  This is the most arguable of all because it depends on a lot of factors.  But Running Word estimates that your net calorie burn per mile ran is 0.63 x your weight in pounds. So a 160 lb runner burns roughly 100 calories per mile.  Let’s say that a fairly fast (8 min/mi) 160lb runner can do 7.5 miles in an hour so s/he will burn 750 calories.  According to Bicycling Magazine’s Calculator the same person cycling, let’s say @ 20 mph can burn over 1000 calories during the same hour.

10.  The Name.  Let’s face it, running gets sometimes associated with the wrong things.  I’m sure nobody has cycled away from anywhere in fear.  Have you ever told a friend “I’m going running” and s/he jokingly said “from what”? … Right!

Perhaps the athlete’s personality has a little to do with the choice of sport too.  At the risk of overgeneralizing, cyclist tend to be geeky and gadget oriented, a bit more so than runners. And runners tend to be pragmatic and efficient individuals.  I happen to do both, but obviously I prefer cycling.

Triathletes, well, those are just crazy!  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Keep Riding!

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Intellectual Cyclists Rejoice

For those of us intellectual athletes (i.e. people who spend more time reading about fitness than actually exercising) this is a great read!  Chris Carmichael’s credentials are top notch.  He trained Lance in his historic 7- Tour de France wins after defeating cancer, he is the creator of the Carmichael Training System, author of several books and videos on the subject, and a constant contributor to one of my favorite magazines, Bicycling.  He now published a new training program for those of us that have a life and do not have the 40 h/week required by the typical training program. This one requires 6 – 8 hour of exercise a week to be in top shape.  So, unless you want to keep your excuse for sucking at that major hill, pick this book up.

Chris seems to write for the athletic geek.  He explains the physiology of the training, why it is good, how it works, and how your body will react to it.  He includes several programs for different levels of athletic proficiency so you can feel comfortable at your own pace.  The book is full of tips and details about work outs, food, and how to take advantage of your new gained fitness.

Whether you want to compete in your local criterium, improve your PR in your local loop, impress your friends in your weekend group rides, or finally tackle the century you’ve chickened out of for the past n years, this book is for you.   The workout is not for the faint of heart (and I mean that literally) but it promises good progress without a lot of time.  I will follow one of the plans (Of course I won’t specify which one in particular) and will write about the results.

Keep riding!

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The Dreaded Words

Have you ever been on a solo ride feeling great, like you’ll break your PR and are riding as fast as ever?  Then you hit the hill.  A smile on your face.  “I’m ready for you, damn hill.  You got me last time, but not today.”  You take a sip of your Gatorade, shift down, get off the saddle and start spinning.  You start feeling the sweat roll down your forehead, you know, around the helmet strap.  One drop even gets on your glasses.  But you keep pedaling.  Shift down once, maybe twice.  You see the top of the hill out there, far.  Your legs start shivering, you sit on for a while and get back up.  Another sip.  “You can’t beat me.  I’m good today.” The burn in your legs gets stronger and stronger.  A quick glance at your cadence .. 65 … 70 … 64.  Faster! 69 … 72 … 75.  Beep 14 … 12 … 11 … 13 mph. Beep 69 … 68 … 70.  More sweat.  You shift down once more, unzip your jersey, panting heavier, but still pedaling.  That burn is now unbearable but the end is  in sight.  “A couple more minutes.  I can take it.”  One, two, deep breath; one, two, deep breath.  Stand again.  Another glance at the screen 55, faster! 60 … 62 … “I can’t, yes I can, come on, faster!” 62 … 63 … 60 …  Down shift.  65 … 66 … 70… There it is, the top of the hill.  Only a a few more spins away.  Triumphantly you almost yell “I made it.” when you hear the worst three words of the English language:

“On your left!”

You feel like the old lady pedaling to the local general store.  Get to the top and pedal back home.  You know you need to train more.

Keep riding!

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It is not about the Bike, it is about the gadgets

This is not what Lance meant when he wrote his book.  But for us mortals for whom the Tour de France involves wine, cheese, and escargot, we need a different motivation to ride and keep riding better.  In my case, it is the gadgets.

I discovered a gizmo (Garmin Forerunner 305, but there are some newer and more sophisticated like the one in the pic) that tracks my every move, with GPS coordinates, heart rate, speed, cadence, vertical gain, and calories burned.  You plug it to your USB port and downloads the data to your computer.  With the data in it you can now compare all these statistics and see if you’re getting better, worse, or the same.  Of course, nothing new there, but think about what it does to your riding.  You can also upload your ride to sites like MapMyFitness.com and have it track your weekly mileage, multi sports, and share your rides with friends in Facebook or Twitter.  It shows a map and a very, very cool “fly over video” of your ride.  Cool!

A pet peeve of mine is that I also use Nike+ when I run.  But it doesn’t support any other sport and it is only available for iPhone.  I’m moving to Android and Nike Plus will stay behind.  MapMyFitness.com’s app does not support indoors tracking.  Which means my treadmill, stationary bike, or trainer workouts I have to enter manually.  So, there is no app that tracks cycling and running, indoors and outdoors, and supports Android and iPhone (or Blackberry, Windows Phone, etc.).  Too much aggravation!

Anyway, you ride more because you want to get better, you ride better because you want to see improvement in your computer stats and your ride longer because you want to see your ride in Google Earth.  Well … maybe not exactly but, the next time you ride with whatever Gizmo you bought imagine a ride without it.  Better yet, plan and do one without it.  I dare you.  You will probably have a great ride, but you’ll know nothing about it.  See? it is like it didn’t even count.

Keep riding!

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Hello from a Bike Blogger

Welcome to Bike Blogging @ lfllmg.com.  I’m a bike enthusiast and I usually ride solo.  You know how it goes: when you ride solo your mind wonders. So, one day I said to myself: “myself, what if I blog about the things I think while I’m biking?”  I’ll give it a try.

For now it is February, freaking cold and I’m tired of “riding indoors”.  I don’t know about you, but a trainer, stationary bike, or any other mechanism that has you pedaling without actually moving does not feel like cycling.  Adding insult to injury, I usually turn on the TV in one of those boooooring morning shows, like Squak Box, or GMA.  These occupy my mind so I don’t go crazy while I pedal my way to nowhere fast.  I usually get there before and a bit more tired than I expected.  But I always get there … interesting how that goes.

Recently, my despair to go outdoors when the weather does not feel like adding a 20mph+ wind chill, I took to running.  Cool thing!  I can go outdoors and not get that cold.  It is not riding, but I get some of the thrills.  But I did discover that I really suck at running.  My best 5K is 25 min and my best 10K is about 1 hour. And I checked; it sucks!  BTW, I have not been able to run more than 10K.  The problem is that to keep running I need training.  And soon the weather will improve and I’d like to be on my carbon fiber vehicle instead.  So I think I’ll have to resign to be a sucky runner.  But hey, better than staying indoors!

Keep riding!

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