Monday, August 26, 2013

Plan for a Successful Ride

Whether you're riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle, some other multi-day distance event, or just want to improve your cycling, its a good idea to form and stick to a plan. If you're starting to plan now for your June ALC ride, you're smart and can be ready to ride every mile or every mile that you can. As you begin, here is a list of things to think about as you progress through the training season.
Sexy Mustache Riders eating yummy
Pismo Beach cinnamon buns

  1. Time Commitment. A commitment of three sessions per week, increasing in time and duration, will go a long way to the fitness levels you need to ride all 7 days (and most or all of the 545 miles) of the ALC. It will not be enough to attend one ALC training ride per week. As the season progresses, you'll need to up your weekly mileage. (Read about an 8-week program at
  2. The Right Bike. Getting just the right bike can take some planning. Questions to ask your bike shop are: What is the correct size for me? Which components are best for my price range or commitment level? Will I be able to upgrade the pedals or swap out handle bars to get a correct fit? You might want to try out several bikes and get advice from a professional bike fitter before buying.
  3. Bike Fit. If you just bought a bike or if you're riding more on an existing bike, you may still find little aches and pains popping up. If that's the case, you will need to see a professional bike fitter. With minor adjustments based on your proportions and riding style, the professional bike fitter will make your ride more enjoyable and help you to ride longer.
  4. Nutrition and Hydration. You'll need to have water and electrolytes with you on every single ride. That means two water bottles, minimum. Also, as your fitness levels increase, so will your nutrition needs. You will want to make sure you're getting enough calories, and that those calories have the right balance of macro and micro nutrients.
  5. Hills. To be properly prepared for a ride like the ALC, you'll want to make sure you get in significant hill training. Its not enough to ride comfortably on the flats. Nearly every day of the ALC (even the "easy" 40 mile day) has some climbs which challenge even the veterans. (Do you really have to train? Yes.
  6. Weather. The staff of ALC guarantees that the weather will be mild and sunny, with tailwinds the whole way. And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It will be windy. It will be cold. It will be hot. It may even rain. Find the joy in these things, but also prepare yourself for them. This is probably the single most important reason to start training now: its hot and will be cold. If you wait until March, you may miss that experience.
  7. Recovery. With every plan, you need to make sure you build in sufficient recovery time. That is where you build muscle and absorb the lessons you'll learn from training. (Got this idea from Year-long training plan from
  8. Goals. Unless you know where you're going, its hard to get there. Set achievable goals for speed or distance, and let me help you to achieve them! (Got this idea from Racing cycling plan from
  9. Group and Solo Rides. For fun and safety, make sure you're getting in both group rides and solo rides (even on group rides you may end up spending some time alone, its necessary to be self-reliant. (Tip of the helmet to
  10. Safety. Learn and know the safety rules for your every day rides and for the AIDS/LifeCycle. Once you absorb them, you'll scoff at those who ignore them. (Learn more at
This is a lot to digest. Over the coming weeks, I'm going to blog about preparing yourself for the ride on each of these points. If you think of others, please let me know. Also, peruse my prior entries, as I've hit on most of them. In the meanwhile, I've added a couple sites in the list above with information about training plans; I hope you find them useful.

Your Bear

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Become a Ride Leader for the Love of it

At the TRL group photo, ALC 12, 2013.
On Saturday, I re-certified to lead AIDS/LifeCycle training rides along with several other so called veterans. The question posed to us was, why are you returning? My answer was that when I'm out on the road, I'm proud to wear my TRL jersey. It means to me that I'm supporting the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the riders who make ALC possible, and the image of gay, lesbian, transexual, bisexual, and allied riders and roadies who participate in the event.

Its a way to show that we're members of the community and we deserve love and support. Even as we're making strides to earn that support, we still have a long way to go. Think about the tragic events unfolding in Iran and Uganda, most of the Arab world, and even in Russia. Although we're curing homophobia here in the United States, our public officials often remain unrepentant about their own personal homophobia and ignorant and cruel about the needs of transgendered youth (even California officials).

Yet, speaking out works. Simply coming out decreases homophobia and encourages support for gay rights among non-allies. I've always thought that being out is the single most important thing we can do to support gay rights. I'm not alone. That was the message Harvey Milk presented way back in 1977. Think about how far we've come since then.

That is why I'm a training ride leader. Every time I'm wearing that jersey, the love bubble expands a tiny bit further. One day it will completely envelope California. Then Europe and the US. Then the rest of the world.

Why will you become a ride leader?


Monday, August 12, 2013

Magical Diet

Clean, nutritious food is vital to our well-being. It's not shocking that people invest their food with magical properties. The problem is that fad diets are simply not a panacea for all life's ills.
Image Credit, Eliad Cohen.
To look this good, you have to eat well.

Instead, a focus on healthy diet, properly balancing macro and micro nutrients, and enough but not too-many calories is most beneficial. The real magic comes from our bodies' ability to remain healthy and fit from a great variety of foods. What we need to remain healthy is:
Additionally, there's hype about this food or that diet. Most of them are bollocks and not worth the time and energy people devote to them.
The up-side of all these fad diets and food fears is that people are thinking about what they are consuming. They are demanding a wider-variety of nutritious foods with less fat and a better balance of nutrients. The down-side is that clinging to a food or diet as a panacea is magical thinking, which is its own harm.

So, if you're wondering: "What's the harm? I feel like the changes I've made to my diet are beneficial." If you're getting enough nutrients, you're probably not going to hurt yourself physically. But for me, the reasons why we do things are as important as doing them. Choosing a diet because it is emotionally satisfying confuses and annoys me, especially when it is paired with a firm political stance. That stance can influence others who might be at risk from duplicating the choices you've made for yourself.

Those others might choose to treat symptoms identified by the proponents of diet-as-magic, eschewing real medical care. Even once those others get medical advice, the use of a diet may mask the real causes, undermining a doctor's ability to diagnose the real causes. Instead, it's better to focus on getting enough calories including the recommended balance of macronutrients and micronutrients, and visiting a doctor when necessary to diagnose and treat symptoms.

So, eat well, exercise and visit your doctor if you have worrisome symptoms or make a change to your routine. Also, if you're cycling, eat like an athlete!

Your Bear