Learn How to Ride like Lance

November 30, 2009

Austin is very unique in many ways–including its friendliness to cyclists. Because cycling culture is so prominent in Austin, it is important that we take tips from experts to ensure safety while riding in the city.

Chris Carmichael and Lance Armstong

Chris Carmichael, cycling coach to Lance Armstrong and head of Carmichael Training Systems, was in town to promote his latest book: The Time Crunched Cyclist.

Through his book, he asserts that athletes can become “fitter faster and more powerful on the bike in just six hours a week.”

As a coach for both the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic cycling teams, he knows a thing or two about teaching people not only how to advance their cycling skills but the fundamentals. Here are his tips for recreational cyclists:

Look Up: when you just look down on the ground in front of you, you do not have as much control of your bike and you will be more prone to for a bumpy ride.

When you look down as far the road as you can, that smooths you down. If you only look one or two bike lenths ahead, you get squirrelly action.

Hills: Don’t overexert yourself in the beginning of your ride. Take a steady approach when riding on the hillside.

A lot of times when (cyclists) hit short hills, they just want to get it over, so they spring to the top. Save you legs for later on, for hills no. 4, 8, and 16. If you try punching up those early hills, your pedal cadence will drop, you won’t shift and you’ll drag up the hill. You’re dead in the water.

Changing Position/Speed: Once you are on the bike, there are going to be instances where you need to shift your body. Get comfortable with riding in different ways and speeds.

If you spend 99 percent of your time above the brakes, your body doesn’t adapt to the lower position. You have less control (at high speeds) when you ride the brakes. Give your body time to get used to it.

Be careful out there cyclists! Make sure that you try to follow these tips when you are on the road!


Austin City Council passed “Ciclovia”

November 22, 2009

On Thursday, Austin’s City Council voted for Austinites to have a different type of fitness event–a ciclovia, a Spanish word meaning “bike path.” The event, which was voted to take place in May 2010 as part of the Bike Month festivities, is described as a “motor-vehicle free event that connects runners, skaters, and cyclists.

Other places that have enacted ciclovias in their area include Cleveland, El Paso, Chicago, Portland, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Wayne County, Mich. However, this type of event is extremely popular in South America. The event originated in Colombia–every Sunday and holiday, the main streets are rid of all cars, so that citizens can use any other forms of transportation. From 7 am to 2 pm, runners, skaters and cyclists are known to take over the streets.

As part of this resolution, the City Manager will work with the community to build this event, but to also encourage future event of this nature that will encourage public health and cycling.

Currently, there are no plans as to an official site where the event will take place or how much road will be cut off for the event.

First, they need to round up volunteers and get help from neighborhoods, says Nadia M. Barrera, Bicycle/Pedestrian Project Coordinator.

What do you think about this event? I can see the traffic already! Let me know in the comments!

Cassandra writes about fitness in pop culture and north Austin. If you have suggestions let her know in the comments or email her: CassandraHdz AT mail.utexas.edu.


The Great Outdoors

November 5, 2009

Today was supposed to be about some more healthy eating, but it’s way too nice outside, so let’s ditch the kitchen and talk about what Austin is all about: the outdoors.

Particularly, there are a few places around town where it’s impossible to avoid the throng of runners and biker.

When it comes to scenery, the Lady Bird Lake area is about as nice as it gets. And when the weather is in a good mood, like today’s clear skies and 70s range, it’s pretty much calling your name.

Lady Bird Lake Trails

Courtesy of (CC) Larry D. Moore

Little did you know, the Lady Bird Lake Trial is one of the oldest hike and bike paths in Texas. It gets its name from former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, who took a special interest in the lake front, championing a 1971 effort to restore it from its dirty, weed-infested state.

But don’t try to tackle it all at once. The trial spans a little over 10 miles, so it might give you a little more than you can handle.

Once you’re done working up a sweat, head over to Barton Springs (while you still can) and hop into the 68 degree water.

If you want to keep dry, there’s always the recently reopened ZilkerPark, fresh from its ACL, dilo-dirt incident. We hear the smell is gone.

Looking for a challenging bike trail? Look no further than the many Greenbelts that can be found around town, a complete list of which is available here. My bike-enthusiast roommate swears by them.

That’s all for today, go out and enjoy the sun while it’s still here.