NAGGING NECK PAIN?
TRY THESE SIMPLE TWEAKS
If you sweat a lot on your bike while you ride, that could be the problem. You need to rinse it off thoroughly, as frequently as is practical.
Salt deposits form in any kind of corner – especially underneath clamps – and continue the process of corrosion, even if the bike is dry. Unless the locknut on your headset has an O-ring seal, sweat can seep down the sides of your stem into the steerer tube.
If this happens, you may need a hacksaw to remove the stem from the steerer.
Clear siliconerubber bathroom caulk can help keep sweat and water out of the inside of your bike’s frame. A thin bead of clear silicon around the base of the bike stem (wipe away the excess) will prevent the problem.
Since I started riding, I’ve lost a decent amount of weight. But recently that’s stopped – what happened?
You may be hitting a plateau in terms of your weight loss. As you become more efficient, you burn fewer kilojoules, so that 20km commute that helped you lose your first 5kg probably won’t help you lose your next five.
“If you’re riding at the same effort level all the time, your body isn’t having to adapt,” says cycling coach Nadia Sullivan. She recommends adding at least one day of speedwork a week, which will challenge you to work harder and burn more kilojoules.
More and more research also suggests that high- intensity interval training makes you burn kilojoules long after the workout is over. This is thanks to something called excess post- exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. When you push your body to its absolute limits, you continue to use more oxygen – and thus burn more kilojoules – for hours after you’ve stopped your post- ride sweating.
My friend tells me that I spend too much time doing long, slow rides, and should do high- intensity intervals more regularly. Is this the best way forward?
If you’ve already built your base fitness, then yes; if not, then no. “The bulk of your riding should be in ‘ Zone 2’, or at an intensity where you can have a conversation – about a five or six on a one to 10 scale,” says long- time pro trainer Iñigo San Millán.
He says that even pros spend a lot of time riding at a steady pace to build and maintain a strong foundation of endurance fitness, at which you have optimum fat- burning and capillary development.
This intensity isn’t slow or easy; rather, it’s a steady, moderate pace from start to finish. So while it feels almost too easy when you first roll out, by the time you finish you should feel as though you’ve done some work.
I want to start commuting to work, but it goes against what I was taught about taking time out to rest. Is it okay to ride every day?
If you ride to work every day, you won’t need to search for the time to ride. Plus, racking up just three hours of riding time a week slashes your risk of heart disease and stroke in half. You’ll also lose the gut and unwanted flab – no diet required.
Besides the health benefits, you also save more money by not taking your car. With the rising cost of fuel, as well as the higher cost of maintaining a vehicle as opposed to a bike, you can save thousands by just making that simple change.
Why do I feel sluggish, even though I start my day with a cup of coffee?
If by ‘ start your day’ you mean first thing after you put your feet out of bed, then you’re not going to reap the benefits of the caffeine. That’s because in the first couple of hours after waking, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol are at their highest, which actually gives you a natural energy boost.
Many experts agree that the best time to have your first cup is some time between 10am and 12pm, when cortisol levels start to dip. That way, you’ll be taking advantage of your body’s natural high, and saving that hit of caffeine for when you really need it.
If you do drink your first cup super- early, chances are you’ll need another a couple of hours later, to keep the momentum going – and more coffee may not be a good thing. For individuals who have difficulty controlling conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, the cons of excess coffee may outweigh the pros.
I’ve been having this nagging neck pain that’s making me reconsider my cycling future. What’s causing it, and how can I stop it?
Well, you can start by generally keeping your gaze about two metres in front of your front wheel. Not only will this automatically point you in the right direction and help you avoid squirrels, potholes, broken glass and other obstacles, but it will also keep your neck in a neutral position – which also happens to be best for cycling.
Julie Bates, a Body Geometry Fit Instructor with Specialized, says that having your handlebars in the right position (which depends largely on stem length) will also help to keep your neck pain- free.
She adds that regularly shifting your hands around to the different positions available on the handlebars can also help avoid neck strain.
Lastly, when shifting your grip, keep your elbows from locking up – try to ride with strong but flexible elbows that can respond to (and better absorb) the shock from bumps in the road.