Why Would Anyone Bike 100 Miles?

There are few logical reasons someone would bike 100 miles. It’s impractical. It’s slow. It’s exhausting. To non-cyclists: it may seem pointless — to many cyclists even: it may seem pointless — but to one, it is a tradition going back decades, a rite of passage to Summer.

PJ has ridden this century – a cycling term for a 100 mile ride – every year since 1971, from the suburbs of Philadelphia to the Jersey Shore to kick off each Summer. This year, for his 60th birthday he brought along 6 riders for what would be his longest century – a 12 hour ride with temperatures hovering near triple digits. Here’s what 3 of those non-cyclist tag-alongs thought and why they did it:

Juliet

PJ’s daughter-in-law-to-be, spin instructor, and total cycling novice

Is indoor spinning different from riding outside? Well, I found out… the hard way. I teach spin 4–5 times a week so I thought riding a century down to Cape May, NJ would have to somewhat equal the number of miles I put in during a week of classes. Well, I was somewhat right. Could my legs handle it? Yes! Could my endurance keep up? Yes! Could my upper back and lower back side? Not so much — about 10 miles into the ride I started to feel it, but I took my own advice from spin class: JUST DIG! About 45 miles in, when I was just about at a breaking point with my back pain, my future brother-in-law zip-tied a Bluetooth speaker onto the back of my saddle… GAME CHANGER. I set my mind to the beat of a spin class and we crushed through to the end.

This was my first-ever century ride! And, may I add, my 2nd time EVER being on a road bike.

My advice? Hop on a road bike a few times before completely switching from indoor cycling and outdoor cycling. Your body is not used to being in positions for that long in an indoor cycling class compared to being on the road! Oh, and grab that Bluetooth speaker and get a very, very, very long playlist.

Would I do it again? Heck yes!

Stephanie

PJ’s Daughter-in-law, occasional fair-weather cyclist

It was my second time doing a century. My first go-round ended rather unceremoniously with a crash at Mile 99: I went down on a slippery metal grate after it torrentially poured for the last 30 miles. Heading into my second century, I hoped for a better finale.

No rain in the forecast, thank god. But as we set off at 6:00 AM, the heat was already palpable. Temperatures were expected to hover near 100 degrees. I’m admittedly a fair-weather cyclist. Did this count as fair?

My preparation for this century, I would say, was rather abysmal. First off, I broke my toe three weeks earlier and had to stop pretty much all cardio. But the 45-minute SoulCycle class I did days before would surely make up for all that lack of training, right?

I also hadn’t been on my road bike for more than a year. When I lived in Washington, D.C., I adored riding my Fuji Supreme all over the city — but especially along the Mt. Vernon trail. I recently moved to Los Angeles and am still in search of a place I actually feel comfortable riding (happily taking suggestions!). I have a Tuesday August cruiser I ride along the Strand, but I haven’t shipped my road bike out yet.

So, as we departed for the 100-mile journey from Jenkintown, PA to Cape May, NJ, I wasn’t exactly feeling confident…

Our first stretch was urban sprawl. It was an easy start, physically (so much stop and go with the traffic lights). But it was mentally intense since we were constantly on the lookout for potholes, errant pedestrians, cars making blind right turns, or blindly opening their doors to oncoming traffic. I was relieved to be in a group of seven – each of us looking out for each other and commanding a presence on the road.

The highlight was a trip over the Ben Franklin bridge. I’ve crossed it dozens of times by car, but this was simply so much cooler — remarkable, towering views and so much in the landscape I had never noticed before. Doesn’t that epitomize cycling? Ordinary experiences turned extraordinary.

 

Our first full stop was about 20 miles in at a bakery in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Perhaps some would advise against eating tater tots and a hearty egg and cheese sandwich on an everything bagel. I vote yes. It was magical. If you need the calories and protein, why not make them something you actually want to eat? And it’s the one time you don’t have to feel bad — you’re quite literally going to burn it all off.

Our next 20 miles meandered through some gorgeous, quiet New Jersey suburbs, including a stretch on the lovely Gloucester Township Health and Wellness Trail. We then hit Route 42 and 40, which were packed the Friday before 4th of July. But the wide shoulder and flat, straight roads allowed us to pick up some speed before stopping for lunch.

While generally I’m not a fan of slowing momentum, on such a long day, I think the stops are critical. I remember getting a wicked charley horse my last century, so I knew I needed to pay even greater attention to my father-in-law’s sage advice this time around: “Eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty, rest before you’re tired.” The stops give you time to run through this checklist. I also used the time to stretch as much as possible and slather on more sunscreen.

For me, the stops are also crucial to my sanity. Biking 100 miles is super daunting. Biking 20 miles: less so. Breaking the day into 20-mile segments: approachable, doable.

When we returned to the pavement, the sun was scalding. Finding a sliver of shaded road was glorious. There was no breeze to be had. We refilled our water as much as possible, aiming to drink at least a bottle an hour. Our group started to splinter a bit, each of us riding at a different speed. My legs at this point felt really good. I didn’t feel tired. But the heat was taking its toll on me.

By the time we arrived at our next stop, Tuckahoe Bike Shop, I was feeling light-headed and drained. As I experienced during my last century, it’s this 60–70 mile mark where you feel like you hit a wall. 50 miles in, you’re feeling on top of the world. You’re a superhero capable of anything. You could ride 200 miles if you wanted to.

Then, it all falls apart. Your butt hurts so much you can’t possibly sit on the saddle for 30 more miles. Your legs are cramping. Your neck and back are stiff. If you’re anything like me and grip just about everything too hard, your hands are red, blistered, and sore.

But you must go on.

Even though I wasn’t hungry, I ate two Cliff bars and I downed a bottle of water and Gatorade. Thankfully, that helped enormously. The air conditioning and friendly staff at the shop were an awesome bonus.

The next 30 miles hurt, a lot. The pain was punctuated by three flat tires for the group, including one of my own. We were incredibly fortunate to have our hero Jerry. He was our SAG. He met us at each stop and several in between, where we would quickly refill our water. He’s a bike mechanic, so he had our flats fixed in minutes. He was also a phenomenal morale boost, always telling us how great a job we were doing.

The countdown was on. 10 miles to go. 9 miles to go. 8.5. Wait, those signs aren’t for Cape May. Add 2 miles. It was brutal, every bump sending painful vibrations up my whole body. 5 miles on the Middle Township Bike Path was a nice respite from the busy roads but still oh so painful. It was at least comforting to commiserate as a group.

We could smell the ocean, feel the salt. One more stop: to a liquor store to get tequila, of course. We climbed the bridge into Cape May and arrived at my in-law’s house on the bay. VICTORY!

Was it the finale I was hoping for? It was better than I imagined. No crashes, a jump into the bay still wearing all my gear, and a margarita — plus an immense feeling of accomplishment.

It was all worth it. I had done the century as a 60th birthday gift for my father-in-law. What a way to celebrate together.

If you’ve been thinking about doing a century, I hope this gives you some insight into how it can go, how worthwhile it is, and how really anyone can do it.

Pat

PJ’s son, prefers beach cruisers to road bikes

I’ve done a couple of century rides, all with my dad who has done literally many hundreds of them. Fortunately, he has a set of rules that keep every ride manageable: Eat before you get hungry; drink before you get thirsty; rest before you get tired. If you do that, he says, you can ride all day.

Well, turns out, we did ride all day. It was by far the hottest ride we’ve ever had, with temperatures soaring near 100 degrees. And the route was slightly longer than usual, topping 107 miles.

To prepare, my wife and I fit in a quick SoulCycle class a few days before because we did not have our road bikes. On the rides — aside from two late flats — the only problem I encountered was that I wore cycling shoes I hadn’t worn before and they must have been too small, because both of my big toes are now pretty badly bruised. So, my advice would definitely be to wear and use the gear you are comfortable with!

So… why would anyone bike 100 miles?

The sense of accomplishment? The work out? The camaraderie? Tradition? The margarita at the end? The margarita at the end.

Why would you?

 

 

 

 

 

Shred Series: 6 Steps to Track Stand on Any Bike

Shred Series

Learn how to track stand

Regardless of your discipline, track stands are an important skill to learn. On the road: track stands help you stay clipped in at a red light. On the trails: track stands help you get a good look at a drop before rolling down. On the track where the skill (and name) originated: track stands are a crucial tool to fight for the best position at the start of a race. But — more than anything — track stands are just plain cool.

Track stands can be done on any bike and learned fairly quickly. The steps are simple and you can practice almost anywhere.

Equipment: You can track stand on virtually any bike, but here’s some recommendations. Track bikes or “fixies” are easiest to learn on, but only when you’re already comfortable riding them. If you aren’t used to riding fixed gear bikes, we recommend starting with something with some low gears like a mountain bike. We also suggest using flat pedals — not clip-ins — to make it easy to get your feet to the ground in case you lose your balance while learning.

Here’s some great gear to help you perfect your track stand:

Nashbar 27.5″ Disc Mountain Bike

Nashbar 27.5 Disc Mountain Bike
Your gateway to the wonderful world of mountain biking awaits with the value-packed Nashbar 27.5″ Disc Mountain Bike.

Nashbar Verge Platform Pedals

Nashbar Verge Platform PedalsThe Nashbar Verge platform pedal – solid and well-built – delivers some serious bang for your buck.

Giro Xar Mountain Helmet

Giro Xar Mountain Helmet
The Giro Xar offers all the features you’ve come to expect from Giro’s top-level mountain helmets.

Step 1: Find a slight incline

Unless you’re on a fixed gear bike, starting on an incline will help you use gravity to your advantage — letting the bike rock down the slope before you use your pedals to rock back up. As you get better, try it on flat ground.

Step 2: Place your feet horizontal on the pedals

This puts you in an optimal position to balance the bike between your legs. Most find putting their strong foot forward is easiest, but whatever is most comfortable should work best for you.

Step 3: Turn your front wheel into the hill

Like Step 1, this lets you use gravity to your advantage.

Step 4: Look at the ground 6 ft. ahead of you

Locking your eyes on a fixed point allows you to focus on keeping your bike in one place.

Step 5: Rock bike back and slightly pedal forward

This is where it takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. Work toward making your movements smaller and smaller.

Step 6: Fail, try again, get better

If you don’t fail, are you even trying?

Have any tips from your own experience? Or want to share your learning process? Share it in the comments or across social media with #shredsomenash

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SE Bikes: BMX Innovations

SE Bikes make it easy to customize your BMX bike “Putting the F-U-N back into B.M.X. One bike at a time,” says SE Bikes head honcho and BMX legend Todd Lyons. And that’s really what it’s all about when it comes to SE Bikes. Pure fun on two wheels (or one wheel for the wheelie kings out there).

With its roots in California BMX, SE Bikes is taking on the world with innovative new bikes and a hyped up social media presence that’s off the hook! Mixing old-school style with modern day geometry, SE’s Retro and Rad Series have introduced a whole new generation of kids to BMX and is making heads turn with new designs, bigger wheels, and plenty of accessories to customize your ride.

Retro Series Bikes

SE Bikes Fat Ripper 26" BMX Bike

With unique and ground-breaking bikes such as the original PK Ripper and Quadrangle, along with sponsorship of legendary riders such as Stu Thomsen and Mike Buff, SE Racing was at the forefront of the first BMX boom four decades ago. Those original old-school SE bikes have now been recreated and transformed. SE’s Retro BMX Bikes of today – such as the SE Fat Ripper 26″ BMX Bike – have the same legendary design aesthetics that made them famous in the ’80s, but now are built with modern day geometry and upgrades. Originally created for the old-school BMX enthusiast, the audience for SE Retro has grown organically and are now in demand by all types of riders.

Rad Series Bikes SE So Cal Flyer 24" BMX BikeStaying true to the wildly unique styling that SE is known for, the Rad series of bikes – including the SE So Cal Flyer 24″ BMX Bike – feature 6061 aluminum, floval tubing frames and crazy fun colors. These bikes are lightweight, comfortable, and are perfect for poppin’ wheelies in the streets or taking out to the local BMX track. They’re guaranteed to make a screaming statement wherever you ride.

And it’s not just SE bikes at Bike Nashbar. We also provide the latest in SE Bikes accessories to customize your ride:

The Narler Stem The SE Bikes Narler stem embodies the true essence of retro BMXInspired by the classic design from the ’80s and named after a legendary SoCal BMX track, the Narler stem embodies the true essence of retro BMX. It’s available in five different colors: Black, Silver, Blue, Red, and Yellow.

The Blitz Seat The SE Bikes Blitz seat exudes '80s style BMXThe Blitz seat is a classic molded plastic seat that exudes ’80s style BMX. Some things you really don’t need to mess with. Scratch that – with this seat, SE went ahead and added the integrated bottle opener to the seat rails, too. Definitely a practical addition to a classic look.

Tires SE Bikes provides an inspired selection of BMX tires The first thing kids usually want to swap out when they get their new ride are the tires. SE’s got you covered with the Cub Tire, which features a classic BMX tread and skinwall sides. The Cub is available in Red, Blue, and Black and in 20″, 24″, and 26″ size tires.

For all you Fat Bike lovers out there, SE delivers up the Chicane, a cool design modeled after the pattern of classic cars. The smooth tread will keep you flying.

Finally, for your 29er needs, the SE Speedster features a tread pattern designed for high rolling speed and minimal drag. The side knobs feature a large diamond-shaped pattern to provide the grip you need in corners, while the center tread features a densely packed honeycomb pattern for longer tire life.

Bear Trap Pedal The SE Bikes Bear Trap pedal is a rad way to add style and functionality to your BMX bikeGet ready to shred! SE Racing’s classic Bear Trap pedals feature a durable aluminum body with anodized aluminum cages and come in a variety of awesome colors to customize your ride.

Grips SE Bikes Wing Grips are the easiest way to customize your rideGrips have always been the most affordable and easiest way to customize your ride. The SE Wing Grips feature a classic and comfy mushroom pattern with the SE Wing logo embedded for extra grip. These grips are available in Black, White, Blue, and Red.

SE is always working hard to bring something Rad to the table – it’s what they do best! So be sure to check back with us at BikeNashbar.com for the latest SE Bikes gear.

From Fluid to Interactive-A Trainer Evolution

For decades the home trainer has been a staple of maintaining or improving fitness for time-crunched or weather condition-crunched cyclists. Over the years the means of generating resistance, so you can build muscular and cardiovascular strength, has transitioned from fans to magnets to fluid configurations as time and technology have progressed.

The fluid trainer, characterized by a flywheel encased in a fluid container to generate resistance, provides a reasonable facsimile of riding outdoors with its progressive resistance – meaning the faster and harder you pedal, the more resistance is created. Fluid trainers are quiet, can create a leg-searing amount of resistance, and also are generally foldable and portable so you can tuck it out of the way when not in use. The portability is also a plus if you need a means to warm-up away from home at a race venue. Walk around the parking lot at a criterium or cyclocross race and the characteristic whirring sound of bikes on trainers is a ubiquitous sensation. And above all, these trainers are also just plain simple to use.

Nashbar Fluid Trainer

The Nashbar Fluid Trainer is a fine example of fluid trainer technology

Classic fluid trainers have their limitations, however, as the trainer itself is an inert device that provides no metrics of your workout – particularly data such as power, cadence, and speed. There is also the matter of engagement and staving off boredom which sometimes no amount of watching videos or listening to music while you ride can alleviate.

Enter the world of interactive trainers.

In our own office as well as the cycling community in general, interactive trainers have been a game changer in not merely making indoor training palatable, but actually making indoor sessions enjoyable and engaging. Through the magic of sensors on the trainer plus ANT+ and/or Bluetooth wireless transmission of data, information about your workout can be monitored via compatible computers/laptops, smart phones, and handlebar-mounted bicycle computers. Not only that, this data transmission also opens you up to software such as Zwift, and the game-changing realm of cycling in a virtual world.

Elite RealAxiom B+ Interactive Trainer

It’s time to try an interactive trainer, such as the Elite RealAxiom B+

As opposed to smart trainers, which only feature a one-way transmission of data away from the trainer, interactive trainers are able to both send and receive data and commands which is the real benefit of their design. Gone are the days of watching a race video while sitting on a fluid trainer and simply imagining what it would feel like to climb the Koppenberg in a peloton of riders. Now with interactive trainers, used in conjunction with software such as Zwift, the resistance of your interactive trainer will be adjusted according to the terrain you negotiate in your virtual world. Now you will experience the burn in your legs as the road heads upwards. Now you can experience the benefit of drafting or the relief of heading downhill for a spell.

Interactive trainers typically use either a fluid or electro-magnetic system to generate resistance and can feature the classic rear wheel-mounted design or a direct drive system in which the rear wheel is removed and your bike’s chain engages with a cassette mounted on the trainer itself. The direct drive system is the ultimate in pedaling action as there’s absolutely no potential for slippage of a tire on the roller which ensures absolute peace of mind and concentration during huge, watt-heavy efforts.

The wealth of power, speed, cadence, and heart rate data that’s now at your fingertips (and filed away for study) combined with the engagement that comes with focusing on the virtual road ahead amongst other riders makes the time pass on interactive trainers like no other indoor system prior.

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A Primer on Bike Lights

Yes, it’s definitely that time of year when it registers that our allotment of daylight is beginning to dwindle. Daily commutes may no longer take place in brilliant sunshine and what was once plenty of time post-work to ride in dayllight is quickly becoming a more precious commodity. Which makes now the perfect time to discuss bike lights and which ones will fulfill the needs of your riding endeavors.

In general, lights fall into two categories: lights that help you see and lights that help you be seen. And of course there’s then the million dollar question – which do you need?

Much will depend on when, where, and how you ride, but one thing is consistent: every cyclist should own at least one set of lights to help ride safely during the darker months. While many bikes come with reflectors, and a lot of cycling clothing is reflective as well these days, you still need to use lights for safe cycling. In fact, most states require that lights be used when riding at night. Our home state of North Carolina requires a front light that can be seen from at least 300 feet in front of the bicycle and offers a choice for the rear of either a red light visible from at least 300 feet behind or clothing/a vest that’s visible from 300 feet behind.

Safety Lights

Quite simply, every cyclist needs to own at least a set of safety lights. These small, inexpensive LED lights have become much brighter and have longer battery life in recent years. They take up a minimal amount of space on the bike, attach easily to the handlebars and seatpost, and are bright enough to help you be seen on even the darkest roads. Even if you don’t plan on riding at night, having a set of these with you during the fall and winter is important in case something unexpected happens and your ride makes an unplanned transition into darkness.

Going beyond having safety lights for use when it’s dark, it’s just a good idea to use them as daytime running lights to maximize your visibility to motorists, fellow cyclists, and pedestrians. Even in broad daylight, a small set of front and rear safety lights can create bright pulses and flashes to snap other road users, especially motorists, out of the haze and malaise of the day and alert them to your presence. I’ve personally become a fan of the Knog Blinder 1 headlight and tail light as they’re well-designed, the epitome of minimalist, and – like many lights in this category – conveniently re-charge via USB. They’re on every time I’m out on a ride.

Safety lights, such as the Blackburn Click Combo, are an inexpensive, minimalist means to alert others to your presence on the road or trail.

Commuter Lights

Packing more of a punch than safety lights, commuter lights make an ideal choice for commuters and road riders. Commuter lights are much larger and brighter than safety lights, and have a higher light output as well. These lights are typically in the 50-450 lumen range (lumens are a measure of how bright a light is – the more lumens, the brighter), and are capable of putting out enough light to illuminate the path in front of you with some help from a street light or two. They also usually have a flash mode that can make you more visible to drivers from further out.

They’re typically very convenient to mount on the handlebar – most utilize a tool-free system – and they feature an internal, rechargeable battery that helps keep the weight down and re-charges via a USB cable. Commuter lights are also moderately priced and won’t bust your budget. Always use a commuter light with a tail light.

The NiteRider Lumina Micro 450 Headlight/Sabre 50 Tail Light Combo makes an excellent choice in the commuter light realm.

Headlamps

Headlamps are the big hitters of the bike light world. Packing high powered LED lamps in the 500-2200 lumen range, these are the lights that are used to light your way during full-on night rides in pitch black darkness. At the lower end of that brightness range the lights are still relatively compact, self-contained units, while at the upper end of that brightness range they can be fairly big and heavy, and some even require external battery packs. And they can be priced in the several hundred dollar realm. But what you get is a bike light that is so bright if feels like you’re riding with your own, personal sun – such as the brightest light Nashbar currently sells: the NiteRider Pro 2200 Race Headlight, featuring a massive 2200 lumens in its brightest mode.

If you ride on trails at night, like to do some road cycling at night, or commute down unlit country roads, these are the lights that can show you the way home. We also recommend pairing these lights with a flashing commuter or safety light as well, so drivers won’t confuse you with a slow moving car or motorcycle. Always pair a headlamp with a tail light.

The Cateye Volt 1200 uses 1200 lumens of broad beam power to light up the darkest roads or trails.

Tail Lights

Basically, tail lights are flashing red lights that mount to the back of your bike — either at the seatpost or seatstay, or by clipping onto a saddlebag or backpack. Their purpose is to make you visible to traffic approaching from the rear, while some tail lights also offer a wider radius of illumination and can also help you be visible from the side. Most are pretty inexpensive, and they go a long way toward helping you stay visible and safe. The most powerful tail lights can be seen from over a mile away, while smaller “blinky” lights are more suitable for city or suburban streets that aren’t totally dark.

Tail lights are also required of cyclists riding at night in almost every state, city, and municipality in the United States, but independent of the law, we just think they’re a very good idea to enhance your safety.

A tail light, such as the NiteRider Sentinal 40, is an essential element of cycling safety.

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