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WheelPeople Articles

  • 2023-07-20 1:43 PM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    There are risks in any active sport. You can get hit by a bat or a ball, slide on an icy spot into a tree, or get caught in a pothole or smashed by a car. We don’t know how biking safety relates to other sports, but we do know that some of our friends are involved in accidents and get injured. Not to our surprise, we learn that a broken bone, or whatever, doesn’t discourage most folks from getting back on the bike, which is the point of this article. We review the accident stories of CRW members who were injured but continued riding and put their past injuries aside when they recovered. Reading this article may cause you to question the wisdom of some of the authors as there is a fine line between courage and foolishness. Finally, stories matter, and change how you think about issues. We hope these stories encourage you to keep biking if you have a spill and are even injured.

    Pamela Blalock

    I am always surprised when folks ask how I was able to get back on the bike.  What's the alternative? Not riding is simply not an option.  

    I've had a few setbacks in recent years. I get back on the bike because it brings me joy, pure and simple.  (Photo is Pamela relaxing with her cat)

    It started in 2013, when I was hit by a truck. I was visiting my dad in NC and had gone out for a quick morning ride. An inattentive driver hit me from behind. Luckily, I was riding a fixed gear bike and was thrown clear. When the truck tire hit my rear wheel, the pedals stopped moving, but I kept going. Good thing or my left leg would have been crushed. I broke several vertebrae and ribs. A surgeon who had ridden down the same road a few hours earlier before, put rods and screws in my back to stabilize things.  

    The next day as I started to process what had happened, I spent a split-second wondering if would be able to get back on the bike. I had to wear a back brace for several months and as a result lost a lot of core strength. But I started walking right away and was soon walking 6 to 10 miles a day. I started riding a stationary bike at PT and have photos of me smiling on the bike.  

    I've never been one who enjoys riding indoors, but I got a stationary trainer and set my fixed gear bike on it. I rode it lots over the next few months.  I got out of the brace just after Christmas, just in time for snow and ice to present an additional challenge. But then a mild spell came in January, and I headed out one day for a spin up and down the bike path. And it felt good. Bob Wolf accompanied me on my first road ride and thanks to having no memory of the collision, I had no PTSD. What I felt was the simple pleasure I have always taken from riding a bike.  

    I've had a few setbacks since, with cancer, shoulder replacement and a few broken collarbones. The bike is always there and my source of strength for each recovery. 

    Bob Wolf

    In November 2022 I crashed on my own when turning right and landed hard on my left side.  I have no memory of what happened so don’t know what caused the spill. Injuries included concussion, vertigo, broken collar bone, plus other more minor trauma.  I saw 7 doctors for 10 conditions and am still in recovery.  I’m now happily riding with friends. Despite all my medical issues, I never thought of not getting back on the bike. (Photo shows Bob with his precious grand-daughters)

    Author’s Note. Bob is a good friend, and I visited him at home several days after the accident. Although he slipped and fell without contacting an automobile, his injuries were severe. I can’t think of a medical term to use, but I will try my best to describe his injuries as I perceived them. They don’t exist separately and the collection in one body was scary. It is a credit to Bob’s courage, determination, and positive thinking that brought him back to biking.

    Eli Post

    It was the Spring of 2011, and the two of us started out in Brookline, and were heading to Lincoln. My friend was ahead of me and made the light at Center Street in Newton. I remember the light changing and crossing Center Street, but the rest was blank until I found myself on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. My son arrived the next day and we put together the scenario. A twig got caught in my front wheel, locking it up. I flew over the handlebars and suffered a partial shoulder tear, and cracks in my cervical spine. I’ll spare the gory details, but one incident is revealing. The surgeon came by my hospital room with his medical team. He patiently explained my medical condition vertebra by vertebra and advised that surgery was not warranted but that I would need to wear a massive neck brace for many months. He spoke for several minutes, was serious in tone, and concluded his exhaustive medical analysis by asking if I had any questions. Without thinking, I blurted out “When can I get back on the bike”. His head dropped in utter astonishment, and he never responded.

    Fred Newton

    My accident was so unlikely to happen again, say less than one in a million, that it was easy for me to rationalize continuing riding. (Top photo is Fred out of rehab,and bottom is on a ride three months later.)

    Back in March in 2017 I was on a small group ride on a windy day when a small piece of tree branch fell and bounced into my front spokes, sending me over the bars and landing square on my back. Immediately I couldn’t move either leg, and a friend had to release my feet from the pedals. I was taken to Lahey and after about an hour I regained some movement in my left leg. After a laminectomy and metal rod insertion for fractures of thoracic vertebrae 3 & 4, I regained some movement in the right leg, but was left with a permanent 50% loss of strength due to spinal cord compression. 

    I went home with a back brace and walker, but after a few months I got on my indoor exercise bike and by fall I was able to do a 17-mile road ride with a friend and I did well but was 3-4 mph slower. I was stable for 4 years, but old age creeped up on me and I got an e-bike the spring of 2022. Love it and having as much fun as ever!

    Author’s Note. Fred is a friend, and I visited him at Whittier Rehab in Southborough. He was wearing a monumental back brace and was not able to lift a leg. It was as if his brain could not talk to his legs. I feared he would not be able to walk. However, I was delighted to see Fred return to biking after months of rehab, exercise, and old-fashioned determination. It is truly miraculous that Fred conquered his injury.

    Rich Taylor

    I was on a club ride in 2012 when the disaster struck. I was in Harvard, MA on a long downhill when the front wheel came off my bike. We don’t know what caused this mechanical disfunction, but the consequences were severe. I lost control of the bike and went over a rock wall. My injuries included 12 broken ribs, puncture of the lungs, and a broken shoulder bone. I had to be air transported to the UMass Hospital in Worcester. There was a medical doctor on the ride who stopped and rendered aid. I was in the emergency room for 2 days and in the hospital for 10 days, when they took me to a rehab facility where I spent another week, before recovering at home. In total it took three months to recover. You ask why I didn’t call it quits. I love biking and it would take more than some broken bones to make me stop.

    (Author's Note: Rich is a dear friend, and I visited when he was at UMass Hospital. I thought I was on a movie set as he had all sorts of tubes with multi-color liquids surrounding him. I could not tell which were connected to his body nor whether the liquids were from within him. Needles to say, the picture was of a man with elaborate medical support, and Rich underplays how serious his condition was. I was happy to see him back on the bike, and we recently rode together.)

    Barbara Martin

    Greetings Eli, thank you for this survey of those of us who have had biking accidents and their consequences for our lives going forward.  (Photo shows Barbara with her son after his run in the Boston Marathon) 

    I was within the first 10 miles of an 80-mile ride and was in the lead of a smaller group of friends starting a descent of a smallish hill when I saw a dog owner with his dog on the sidewalk on my right. The dog was straining hard on the leash, and I remember (the last thing to remember till I was in the ambulance moaning about the pain in my lower abdomen) saying to myself, “Oh I hope he can hold that dog”.  

    Needless to say, he was not able, and the dog must have come at me resulting in me crashing.  Elizabeth was the first on the scene and the others followed quickly.  They too found me moaning but seemingly coherent enough to say to them, “I best get up and lay down off the road”. (Again, no memory of this). 

    At the hospital in Worcester, I was evaluated, and it was discovered I had 2 cracked ribs and a dissected descending aorta (only months later did I find I had fractured my pubic bone).  Only 4 months later did I realize that the impact of the accident had stretched the ligaments that support all my female organs to the point that for the last 3 years I have suffered with prolapse of all female organs with the consequence of needing major surgery.  While the specialists say this condition is due to 2 pregnancies, there is no question that it is a consequence of the accident.  

     Thankfully I can say that I have healed from the injuries (including the stretched ligaments which are, strange as it seems to both my doctors and friends, feeling like they are regaining their strength and elasticity).  Only time will tell how thorough that recovery will be. 

    I always knew the accident would not prevent me from getting back on my bike and I was blessed with a body that knows how to heal itself to allow me to fulfill this resolve.

    Frank Hubbard

    This will be a difficult post. It essentially resolves the benefits of riding varied routes with other people. My last accident was dramatic, but I cannot recall the specifics. I was on a training ride in preparation for the July diabetes ride, but I have no memory of the accident or for several days following the ride. I had a fractured leg but also a fractured spirit. At the time, I did not see a path to return to biking. As I progressed in rehab, I focused on improving my walking and dreamed of a return to swimming. Only with time did I begin to realize that riding with friends and getting out every day was essential to my recovery. I hiked, swam, and did indoor biking but I missed the socialization provided by group riding. I finally analyzed the facets of my riding style that were problematic and realized that if I were willing to return to riding, I would have to accept the risks. If I remained sedentary however, I would lose part of my social identity. The choice was simple.

    Dr. Marc Baskin (Dr. Marc Baskin, MD, is affiliated with Boston Children's Hospital)

    I was in New Hampshire on a CRW ride and was riding in front of the main group. The road ahead was bearing to the right I went to the left side of the lane and signaled as our route showed a left turn. A panel truck that had been behind me, moved out into the passing lane, and then swerved into my lane striking me on the left side and throwing me to the right. I was knocked unconscious for a short time and had a shoulder injury, and eventually recovered.  My impression is that the panel truck, when it went to pass saw an oncoming car, and that they could not see me initially, because the road ahead was bearing to the right.  I assume this caused the driver of the panel truck to move back into my lane striking me. Although it was a scary event, cycling is my main sport and I really enjoy it, so I went back to riding.

    Dom Jorge

    My accident occurred on June 19, 2021, when I hit a pothole that I hadn't seen. Although I did not lose consciousness, others told me that I continued to talk to them the entire time, I don't remember anything after flying over the handlebars until I was in the ambulance on the way to Emerson Hospital. I was told that I was moved to the local fire station where the ambulance picked me up. Ken, who I was riding with, took care of my bike.

    After multiple CT scans it was determined that I had a pelvic fracture and a cracked sternum, as well as abrasions and deep contusions. They told me that no surgery was necessary and that everything would heal naturally in time. That evening I was transferred to the MGH trauma center at MGH Boston as Emerson does not have a trauma center. Also, my PCP and other physicians are at MGH.

    I spent 2 nights at MGH before being released on crutches to my home. They estimated an 8–10-week recovery period. I received at home PT 2-3 times a week for about 5 weeks. 

    My wife spent a lot of time taking care of me and the only reason I thought about not riding again was so that I would not put her through the ordeal again. But she was very supportive of my returning to riding, and I resumed riding in mid-August, first with a few stints on my trainer & then back on the road.

    I had no hesitancy in going back to riding as I missed riding with my cycling friends. I have not suffered any PTSD and have continued riding since then with no adverse effects.

    That's it. If you would like any further details, feel free to let me know.

    Ken Hablow

    October 2005. I was arrowing the Rosy Cheeks ride for, and with, Connie Farb. We were coming down Littleton County Rd. just before the friendly Crossings Hostel. Connie was behind me. A dog ran out from the right, which I did not see until it was too late to slow or make maneuvers.  I remember hitting the dog, then getting airborne. My next memory was lying on the side of the road with the EMTs asking which hospital I wanted to go to, Ayer (NOT!) or Emerson. I spent 3 days in the ICU after having a CT scan. I had; 6 or 7 cracked ribs, a cracked scapular, a fully torn left rotator cuff, and a cracked pelvis. “Cracked” is the operative word since nothing required surgery, except for the rotator cuff. I spent 2 full weeks in the orthopedic ward of the hospital. There was daily PT and OT. They would not release me until I could walk up and down 3 steps. It was the cracked pelvis that kept me immobile. It was several months before I could get back on a bike, and about 6 months of outpatient PT. the objective was always to get back on the road, which I ultimately did. There was never a doubt that I was going to do that, cycling is too addictive.


  • 2023-07-20 1:37 PM | Anonymous

    By Nancy Clark

    The American College of Sports (ACSM.org) is a professional organization for sport science researchers, exercise physiologists, dietitians, doctors, and athlete care-providers Each year, at ACSM’s Annual Meeting, more than 3,000 sports medicine professionals and scientists from around the globe gather to present their latest research. At this year’s meeting (May 30-June 2, 2023, Denver, Colorado), a lively 10 Questions / 10 Experts session hosted by Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Science (PINESNutrition.org, a global organization for sport nutritionists) addressed some current hot topics. Below is a summary of the key points that might be of interest.

    Continuous Glucose Monitors

    Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) can help athletes determine the best fueling tactics to maintain their blood glucose levels within an energizing range and ideally reduce needless bonking. This can be very helpful during endurance exercise such as long runs or cycling events. Unfortunately, CGMs have yet to be perfected for athletes. The monitors can easily get dislodged from the body and some studies show a >15% failure rate. The sport of cycling has banned CGMs during races, but many cyclists use them during training to learn how to “read” body signals.

    Pre-sleep protein

    While extra evening protein is unlikely to offer a winning edge, it also will not cause harm, nor will it convert into body fat. Research to date shows that pre-sleep protein simply allows another opportunity to meet daily protein goals. More research is needed to determine if consuming pre -sleep protein will help enhance muscle recovery, tissue repair, sleep, or performance.

    Free amino acids and bioactive peptides

    When compared to the protein in whole foods, free amino acids are slightly less effective for muscle protein synthesis. Consuming protein within its natural food matrix is best. Plus, free amino acids taste terrible (although they have improved over the years).

    Bioactive peptides (2-3 amino acids linked together) are available to purchase but they lack research to validate any potential benefits. Why bother…?

    Bicarbonate supplementation

    With high-intensity sports, sodium bicarbonate might offer a 1% to 2% improvement in performance. The standard dose is 0.3 to 0.5 g/kg body weight; the higher the dose, the greater the increase in performance—as long as the athlete can tolerate it. Capsules that bypass the gut help resolve gastro-intestinal issues, and potentially sodium bicarbonate encapsulated in a gel may help even provide further protection from side effects. Another option that bypasses the gut is sodium bicarbonate in the form of a lotion. The athlete applies it 20 minutes before high intensity exercise. The lotion feels nice, but the specific dose that actually gets absorbed is unknown.

    The lightest athlete is the best athlete

    While lighter and leaner “works” to a certain extent to enhance performance, the cost of being too light and too lean can take its toll. The less food an athlete consumes, the less protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals the athlete consumes. This can hurt performance and recovery, while enhancing the risk of getting injured.

    A study with elite race walkers reported no performance benefits (nor detriments) among the dieting athletes in a training camp who lost about 4.5 lbs (2 kg) the two weeks before a 10K race. The dieters and the non-dieting control group both carb-loaded in the 24-hours pre-race. They both performed similarly, with no significant benefit gained by having lost weight pre-race. Ideally, athletess should fuel well to support optimal performance, instead of diet to be lighter.

    Carbohydrates 

    Despite popular belief, hungry athletes who consume a sports diet rich in quality carbohydrate do not “get fat” nor become diabetic. The advice to limit carbs might be appropriate for unfit people, but fit athletes preferentially metabolize carbs and convert them into a winning source of muscle fuel.

    Iron supplements 

    Iron supplements are better absorbed at 6:00 a.m. than 11:00 a.m.. Therefore, taking iron first thing on an empty stomach appears best. That said, iron is known to contribute to stomach upset, and some athletes cannot tolerate iron if taken without food. For them, the best time to take iron is either prior to, or 30 minutes after exercise, before the post-exercise elevation in hepcidin (a hormone that hinders iron absorption) triggers a negative effect. If an athlete takes an iron supplement two hours after a hard exercise session, the elevated hepcidin concentration can reduce iron absorption by about 36%.

    Sustainable sports diets
    To perform well, athletes need access to good food and clean water, both of which depend on a healthy biosphere. We all need to honor the global dietary guidelines that integrate the 
    UN Sustainable Development Goals. To living a sustainable lifestyle means: eat adequate, but not excessive, protein; consume at least one-third of protein from plants, minimize food waste (for example, after team buffets, take home leftovers for the next day’s lunch), eat locally-grown foods (to reduce transportation emissions), and choose foods with minimal and bio-degradable packaging. (No Styrofoam!) Ann athlete does who advocates for a sustainable environment not need to be vegan but does want to be mindful about dietary choices.

    Vegetarians
    Do vegetarians have a reduced risk of chronic disease because they eat less red meat—or eat more plants? Uncertain. Plants are rich in phytochemicals (reduce inflammation), dietary nitrates (improve blood flow), and many other performance-enhancing nutrients. A vegetarian diet imparts no obvious benefits (nor detriments) for athletic performance. Meat-eaters looking for a path towards vegetarianism can honorMeatless Monday (https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/meatless-monday)s and enjoy a plant-based diet with smaller meat portions the rest of the week. Small steps can indeed have an environmental impact!

    Alcohol

    BORG (Blackout rage gallon) drinking, in case you are not familiar with this trend, is a mixture of water, alcohol, sweet flavorings, and electrolytes (which supposedly offer the hangover remedy) in a one-gallon plastic jug. The concoction is popular on some college campuses, easy to drink, and easy to overconsume. An ounce of alcohol takes about one hour to breakdown; too many ounces can hinder training and performance, as well as sleep. BORG drinking is only good if the other team is doing the indulging…

    -- Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD Sports nutrition counselor Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 6th Edition www.nancyclarkrd.com (Books, presentations, blog) Twitter: @nclarkrd Office: 1155 Walnut St., Newton Highlands, MA 02460 Phone:617-795-1875 "Helping active people win with good nutrition." Secretary, Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (PINES) www.PINESNutrition.org


  • 2023-07-20 1:33 PM | Anonymous

    By John Allen

    Preferred routes for CRW rides are on scenic, lightly traveled rural roads, but almost every ride must include connecting segments on numbered highways.  As CRW's Safety Coordinator, I stress that riding these can be safe, if not necessarily pleasant. 

    On July 12 Harriet Fell and I led a Wednesday Wheelers ride that did not take the planned route all the way, due to repaving of Peakham Road in Sudbury. Most of the group instead road Route 20 for two miles through South Sudbury, an important two-lane highway with a constant flow of traffic when we rode it, including truck traffic. The narrow shoulder tapers down to nearly nothing in a few places.

    We first rode through the South Sudbury commercial district. Crossing and turning traffic are the main challenges here. The main think to remember here is to avoid being hidden to the right of slow or stopped vehicles The shoulder may be tempting in allowing bicyclists to continue moving, but every driveway and street to the right poses the risk of a left-cross or right-hook collision with a vehicle you are passing on its right, or a left cross collision with one it hides from you. The image below, from Google Street View, shows the intersection at Union Avenue, with the potential for both of these crash types.

    Passing waiting vehicles on their right would expose a bicyclist to both of these hazards – a couple of my companions did. By jumping the queue, they were putting themselves in conflict with motorists who might turn right and would not have seen them. I am pleased that nobody passed the large box truck which was the first vehicle waiting – and which did turn right.

    I merged out from the shoulder, into line with waiting vehicles, and only merged back to the right after crossing the intersection. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is safer – defensive driving.

    Once traffic got moving, riding on the shoulder became safer. A motorist overtaking at speed would have to slow before turning right, so I’d have a warning to slow and get behind the vehicle. Overtaking motorists also prevent oncoming vehicles from turning left.

    Farther west, approaching Wayside Inn Road, entrances are few and traffic speeds up. This is the type of situation where the risk of the much-feared overtaking collision becomes significant. But situational awareness and strategic lane positioning can prevent these.

    Like many CRW members, I use a rear-view mirror. It is a game changer. On a two-laner like route 20 where the shoulder disappears, I’ll ride far enough from the right edge that, again, overtaking motorists’ merging left demonstrates that they have seen me. On a shoulderless multi-lane road, I can control the right-hand lane, and with glances into my mirror, check that every overtaking vehicle has changed lanes to pass. It is always necessary to turn the head when merging left: the mirror shows what is behind, not what is next to me. But the mirror is invaluable to help me time when I can merge safely, and it allows me to be continually aware of what is happening back there. If it is unsafe for a motorist to pass, I’ll hold out my left arm, palm facing the rear. When it is safe, I’ll merge back to the right. The key to safety here is active two-way communication.

    Some safety tactics - like merging left in both situations I have described - may seem counterintuitive. But they work by removing uncertainty and eliminating surprises. They increase both safety and confidence.

    I am a CyclingSavvy instructor and recommend the free CyclingSavvy Club Rider Essentials course, online.  It also covers in-group communication and protocol.  I have a workshop scheduled, with two or three options for a Zoom session, as well as on-bike sessions on September 23rd.  You may contact me, at johnsallen68@gmail.com or 781 856 4058, for further information.]


  • 2023-07-20 12:01 PM | Anonymous

    By Doctor Gabe Mirkin

    This aricle is courtesy of Dr.Gabe Mirkin MD https://www.drmirkin.com/


    If you want to become stronger and faster and have greater endurance, you need to exercise on one day intensely enough to damage your muscle fibers and feel sore on the next day, and then train at reduced intensity for as many days as it takes for your muscles to heal and the soreness to lessen. Then you take your next intense workout. Knowledgeable athletes in most sports train by stressing and recovering because:

    • You can’t make a muscle stronger unless you damage muscle fibers. You can tell you are exercising intensely enough to damage them if your muscles feel sore the next day.
    • You can’t improve your maximal ability to take in and use oxygen unless you train intensely enough to become short of breath.
    Even if you are not a competitive athlete, you can gain greater exercise health benefits by adapting to the same stress and recover program. It will make your heart and skeletal muscles stronger and increase blood flow to your heart.

    The faster your muscles recover from an intense workout, the greater your improvement. The key to training is to speed up your recovery so you can take your next intense workout as soon as possible. Anabolic steroids, the banned performance-enhancing drugs, improve athletic performance in part by helping muscles recover much faster from hard workouts, but they also increase your chances of suffering a heart attack in the future.

    How Muscles Become Stronger
    Muscles are made up of thousands of fibers just as a rope is made of threads. Each fiber is made up of blocks called sarcomeres joined end to end at the Z-lines like a line of bricks. Muscles contract only at each Z-line, not along the entire length of a fiber

    Intense workouts cause muscle damage, which can be seen as bleeding into the muscles themselves and disruption of the Z bands that hold the muscle sarcomeres together. Significant increases in muscle strength and size come only with workouts intense enough to break down muscle Z-lines and cause inflammation. When muscles heal they become stronger and larger.

    Avoiding Injuries During Intense Workouts
    To avoid injuries, first warm up for 10 or more minutes by going at a slow pace. Then pick up the pace by running, skiing, cycling,or jogging until you start to feel a burning in your muscles or start breathing hard, usually after about 5 to 30 seconds. Then slow down. When you have completely recovered your breath and your muscles feel fresh again, start your next interval. Alternate picking up the pace and slowing down for full recoveries until your legs start to feel stiff and then cool down by exercising at a slow pace for at least 10 to 15 minutes. You can help to avoid injuries as long as you listen to your body when it tells you to reduce the intensity of your workout. Non-competitive athletes avoid injuries best when they use intervals lasting less than 30 seconds and back off each interval when they feel their muscles just starting to burn.

    Recovery Days
    Most athletes in endurance and strength sports exercise on their recovery days and do not plan to take many days off. However, on recovery days, they work at a markedly reduced intensity to put minimal pressure on their muscles. If you develop pain anywhere that gets worse as you continue exercising, you are supposed to stop for that day. Active recoveries on easy days at low intensity make muscles tougher and more fibrous so your muscles can withstand harder intense workouts on your intense days.

    Almost all top runners, cyclists and weight lifters do huge volumes of work, and most of it is on their less-intense recovery days. The stresses of intense workouts are extreme; the recoveries take a long time and are done at low pressure on the muscles. Top endurance runners run more than 100 miles per week, cyclists do more than 300 miles per week and weight lifters spend hours each day in the gym.

    Research to Improve Training Methods
    New training methods are developed by athletes and coaches. Then when these athletes win competitions, scientists do studies to show why the new training methods are more effective. The literature is full of conflicting reports, but most athletes do more than 85 percent of their training loads less intensely on their recovery days. One study showed that runners recover faster by taking a relaxed swimming workout 10 hours after high intensity interval running, rather than just resting (International Journal of Sports Medicine, January 2010). In another study, runners recovered strength and power faster after a marathon by resting for five days compared to those who ran slowly (Journal of Applied Physiology, December 1984). Active recovery should be of limited intensity that does not interfere with the healing process (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, June 2009).

    Recover Faster by Sleeping
    Athletes in intense training recover faster by getting off their feet after they finish their hard workouts and not even walking until it is time for the next day’s recovery workout. Every athlete who trains for competition in sports that require endurance learns sooner or later that after exercising long and hard, you fell sleepy and have to go to sleep to recover, and older people may need even more sleep (JAMA, 1997; 227: 32-37). Intense exercise damages muscles, which causes your pituitary gland to produce large amounts of human growth hormone (HGH) that helps repair injured tissues, and you produce the largest amounts of HGH when you sleep.  A ninety-minute recovery nap after you exercise also improves your ability to reason and think (Sleep, April 12, 2019;42(1):A71–A72).

    Recover Faster by Eating Immediately After Intense Workouts
    Eating a high-carbohydrate meal within one hour of intense workouts hastens recovery (Int J Sprt Nutr and Ex Metab, 2010;20:515–532; J Sprts Sci, Jan 2004). Adding protein to that meal hastens recovery even more (Sports Science Exchange, 87:15, 2002; Physiologie Appliquée, Nutrition et Métabolisme, February 2008). Taking caffeine-rich foods and drinks such as coffee or chocolate may help muscles replenish their stored sugar sources faster (J of Applied Physiology, 2008;105:7–13). Drinking lots of fluids is also necessary for a faster recovery (Journal of Sports Sciences, January 2004). As long as the post-intense-exercise meal contains lots of protein and carbohydrates, it doesn’t matter what you eat (Am J Clin Nutr, Jan 2017; Med Sci Sports Exerc, Oct 2008;40(10):1789-94). Fast foods such as French fries, hash browns and hamburgers helped athletes recover just as quickly from hard workouts as sports nutrition products such as Gatorade, PowerBars or Clif Bars (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, March 26, 2015). Add salt on hot days or if your muscles feel excessively fatigued or you develop cramps (Can J Appl Physiol, 2001;26 Suppl:S236-45).

    Why You Need Protein as Well as Carbohydrates after Intense Workouts
    The soreness that you feel 8 to 24 hours after an intense workout is caused by a tearing of the muscle fibers at their Z-lines. The fastest way to get muscles to heal is to have your body produce lots of insulin and also provide a supply of protein to repair the damaged tissue. Insulin drives sugar into cells to be used for energy, and it also drives protein building blocks called amino acids into the muscle cells to help them heal faster. Eating protein-rich foods immediately after intense exercise helps cyclists recover faster so they can ride harder for several days after an intense workout (Physiologie Appliquée, Nutrition et Métabolisme, February 2008).

    Don’t Take NSAIDs to Relieve Muscle Soreness
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can block gains in strength and endurance (PNAS, June 27, 2017;114(26):6675–6684; Med & Sci in Sports & Ex, April 2017;49(4):633–640).  The processes that heal damaged tissue in your body use the same immune cells and chemicals that fight infections. Certain prostaglandins that heal damaged tissues are the same prostaglandins that cause muscle soreness. These prostaglandins can hasten healing of muscles damaged by vigorous exercise by increasing production of stem cells to replace damaged muscle cells. They also increase endurance by increasing blood flow to damaged muscles, widening blood vessels and increasing the ratio of blood capillaries to muscle fibers. Taking NSAIDs hinders this process and can prevent the gains in endurance that you would expect to get from your exercise. Earlier studies showed that taking NSAIDs can reduce the gains in endurance from aerobic exercise by restricting the ratio of blood capillaries to muscle fibers and decreasing the number of strength fibers in muscles (J Physiol Pharmacol, Oct 2010;61(5):559-63).

    My Recommendations
    • Before you start a program of interval training to improve your endurance, you should have exercised regularly for many months, be in good shape and not have any health conditions that can harm you.
    • Try to set up your exercise program so that you take a hard workout that damages your muscles so they feel sore on the next day. Then take easy workouts until the soreness goes away, and then take your next hard workout.
    • Immediately after an intense workout, eat whatever sources of carbohydrates and protein you like best. I eat oranges and nuts immediately after I finish an intense workout to help me recover faster for my next workout.
    • When you are training properly, your muscles can feel sore every morning. If they don’t feel better after a 10 minute warm-up, take the day off.
    • If you feel pain in one spot that does not go away during a workout, stop that workout immediately. Otherwise you are probably headed for an injury.

    CAUTION: Intense exercise can cause a heart attack in a person who has blocked arteries or heart damage. Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program or make a sudden increase in the intensity of your existing program.


  • 2023-07-20 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    By EliPost

    Most spectatotor sports have championship games like the World Series in baseball or the Superbowl in football. Cycling has no such event. One engages in the sport for the exercise, the pleasure of riding, and in the case of club rides for the companionship. Nevertheless the Tour de France Is a signature event in cycling. While recreational cyclists like us do not enter the Tour, the event serves to demonstate the feats you can accomplish on a bike.



  • 2023-07-20 8:52 AM | Anonymous

    By Coach John Hughes

    Bonk! Yes, Coach Hughes managed to bonk on Colorado’s Triple Bypass.  I rode the Triple in my ultra-racing days. The Triple is 118 miles long over Mestaa’Ėhehe Mountain (formerly Squaw Pass) at 9,790 feet, Loveland Pass at 11,991 feet and Vail Pass at 10,662 feet.  There was an aid station at the base of the pass, but with four miles of 6-7% grade at altitude I didn’t want anything in my stomach so I didn’t eat. By the top I was already a little cross-eyed. The 13 miles down to Keystone with the first mini-mart seemed endless.

    Here are a dozen mistakes I’ve made preparing for and riding centuries and longer events. And what I’ve learned and teach my clients:

    1. Inadequate training.

    In the 1970s when we started riding, Ralph and I started training on Super Bowl Sunday to train for the 70-mile Mt. Hamilton Challenge in late April in California. After several years we decided to step up our game and ride the Primavera Century a few weeks earlier.  But we didn’t change our training to include longer rides. We were good for 70 miles and then it ceased being fun. A century is an endurance event and a successful and fun event requires miles in the bank.  Now I recommend building up to a long training ride 2/3 to 3/4 the distance of the planned event over similar terrain.


    2. Ramping up too fast.

    I learned from that experience and knew I needed more miles in my legs. Still just starting on Super Bowl Sunday I piled on the miles … and got injured. Now my rules of thumb are to ramp up slowly:  Increase week-to-week volume by 10-20%. Increase weekly long ride by 10-20%. Increase month-to-month volume by 15-25%.




    3. Training at the same intensity.

    Back then there was very little information on effective training and the available information was for racers.  So we just rode our bikes through the Santa Cruz mountains. We were building our endurance and our moderate intensity was climbing the mountains. Recovery days — what were those?  Now I know that effective training includes endurance riding, some significantly hard intensity rides (not just long climbs) and also very easy recovery rides.



    4. Training too hard.

    In our 30s our goal was to be faster century riders, to set personal bests.  How do you get faster? Faster training rides, we thought. But a steady diet of faster rides doesn’t allow enough recovery time to ramp up the endurance we needed. And we certainly didn’t understand that training at different intensities produces different physiological changes. Now I know endurance rides should be done an easy conversational pace including the weekly long ride. I teach my clients they should be able to talk the whole time but not whistle or sing when climbing or riding into a headwind.


    5. Not testing and perfecting

    Not testing and perfecting nutrition, clothing, equipment, etc. in advance. I don’t know how many times I’ve screwed up on this one. The worst was the 1994 Race Across America.  The third day it was over 100F with a great tailwind. I lay down on my aerobars and cruised for hours.  I noticed my butt getting warm but didn’t think anything of it — until it was so painful I couldn’t sit on the saddle.  The day before RAAM I’d put a thick black gel pad on my saddle so I wouldn’t get saddle sores but didn’t test it in the weeks before. The gel heated up and the nurses at the Mercy Medical Center in Durango were sympathetic but also amused by the second degree burns on my butt. Now I preach nothing new during the event.


    6. Skipping breakfast

    I’m a well-organized kind of guy and when I had a longer drive to the start of an event I put bagels and fruit in my car the night before. One morning I started driving and after about 30 minutes realized I’d forgotten to bring breakfast. If I drove home I’d miss the start of the century. And there were no towns en route to the start. So I didn’t eat. Now I know that glycogen supplies (from carbohydrates) are limited in the body. A rider should eat a good breakfast (but nothing new!) primarily of carbohydrates with a bit of protein and fat.


    7. Not eating enough during the event.

    To go faster Ralph and I rushed through the aid stations like we were racing the Indy 500. Grab and go.  It’s hard to quickly grab enough to fuel several hours of riding to the next aid station. Now I coach a client to eat at rest stops and on the bike.



    8. Not eating regularly during the event.  

    By 1979 I’d learned a lot about endurance riding and was one of the first Americans to ride the 1200 kilometer (750-mile) Paris-Brest-Paris, which I had to finish in under 90 hours including time off the bike.  I’d tested my nutrition: bananas and ham and cheese sandwiches on long rides at home.  PBP has controls roughly 100 km apart where I got bananas and sandwiches to eat between the controls. By the second day those were unappetizing so I stopped eating on the bike.  I ate soup or pasta at the controls but not enough to keep me fueled until the next stop. Now I tell a client that if the client only eat at rest stops, rides several hours to the next rest stop and then eats again, the rider’s energy may fade in between rest stops.  The rider should eat 200 to 300 calories every hour.

    9. Improper hydration.

    When we started riding, the pump was mounted on the seat tube and one cage for a 16 oz. bottle was on the down tube. Temps were usually in the 100s by afternoon on the Davis DC and thirst was a serious issue so I improvised another cage on my handlebars.  Each year we finished significantly dehydrated but finished. CamelBaks were invented in 1989 and marketed with the “Hydrate or die” slogan.  Problem solved – except it’s also possible to drink too much, which may dilute the blood sodium, resulting in hyponatremia, a potentially dangerous condition.  Drink enough to satisfy thirst your thirst but not more.




    10. Improper pacing.

    The first part of the Davis DC was flat so Ralph and I would jump into a pace line and then try to hang with them through the climbs. Inevitably we got dropped and struggled through the remaining climbs. I’ve learned that a negative split is better: ride a little easier the first part of a ride and a little harder the latter part of the ride. If a rider can’t ride with a group at conversational pace then drop off. The right group for him is behind him!


    11. Getting lost.

    One year at Paris-Brest-Paris Ralph and I were in a good group riding our pace and he flatted. We quickly fixed the flat and I told him to tuck in and I’d pull us back up to the group.  Then a course martial came up on his motorbike yelling something in French and point back on the course.  Oops — bonus kilometers.  If possible a rider should spend some time in advance to study the cue sheet and then double-check each turn.



    12. Inappropriate equipment.

    In 1996 I got my Ti Merlin, which I still ride. It came with Shimano combo shift and brake levers. I was riding big miles training for RAAM and discovered the cables were prone to break after about 3,000 miles. I carried extra cables, which were a pain to change on the road. I also put purple aluminum nipples on my spokes because they looked cool, but they also weren’t very durable so I carried extra nipples. Before RAAM I asked myself why I was riding equipment prone to failure so I put on bar end shifters and brass nipples before the RAAM.

    Before buying a new bike or changing components talk with your shop about the kind of riding you do and get what is appropriate for your riding, not the latest and lightest

    Related columns

    Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.


  • 2023-06-24 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Ed Cheng

    Dear Members:

    Can you believe that it's already July and that Summer is upon us?  Come out in force for our Weekend Rides so we can bring back the pre-COVID numbers that we all enjoyed.  Also, a reminder to look at our Adventure Rides.  We have overnight rides for those new to bikepacking as well as for old hands.  These rides are comparable to the expensive trips with companies that charge hundreds of dollars, except ours are included as part of your membership and you get to ride with fellow members!  I did my first overnight ride with one of CRW's Adventure Rides and have been hooked ever since -- and if I can do it, you can too.

    A quick shout out to the organizers and riders of the Climb to the Clouds Century earlier this month.  It's hard to believe that our Century Committee organized two centuries back-to-back already.  Erik Dentremont, in particular, made a tremendous effort to make the CttC take place this year, not only securing permits, and finding volunteers, but even carting water, tables, and equipment to the sites himself. 

     Last, CRW purchased and installed a bench for our late president, Sandy Gray.  Harriet Fell spearheaded the effort for the club.  It is on the Bruce Freeman trail at mile marker 6.8 between Evans Way and Greenwood Road - just north the Chelmsford town line and Greenwood Road in Westford.  Keep your eyes on the calendar for a ride commemorating Sandy and dedicating the bench.


  • 2023-06-20 4:38 PM | Anonymous

    While we do most of our riding in the greater Boston area, we sometimes travel and it's good to know where you can experience challenging terrain. WheelPeople Editors

    By Alex Post

    There are of course numerous rides that could be included as the best or most epic cycling climbs in the USA, but for this article we’ll follow the top 10 list created by the well done climbing focused site pjammcycling.com. This is their opinion, but includes among other things the length, vertical gain, average percent grade, and scenery. The details for each of the 10 rides can found here. 

    https://pjammcycling.com/zone/224.US-Most-Epic-Bike-Climbs


    Pikes Peak, CO  One of the most iconic climbs not just in the US but the world, Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs is a long steep climb averaging 6.1%, and if not counting the couple small descents, it averages 7.9%. 

    Mauna Loa, HI  Although not as steep as some others listed, at 62 miles long Mauna Loa is the longest climb in the world. Depending on how you look at it, you fortunately don’t have to do it right now since it’s closed due to lava flow. 

    Whitaker Forest, CA  Described by Pjamm as an exceptional experience, including riding through the middle of a tree. 

    Mt Washington, NH  The closest ride to us, and the only east coast ride on this list, it’s an absolutely brutally steep climb, averaging 12% grade, with the steepest section at 16%

    Mauna Kea, HI  According to Pjamm, Mauna Kea is flat out the hardest climb anywhere in the world. A mind boggling ascent of 13,755 feet. Starting at the ocean and at the top having 42% less oxygen in the air. 

    Shafer Trail, UT  In Canyonlands National Park near Moab UT, the road on this is dirt and gravel, but described as smooth enough for a road bike, at least certainly a gravel bike. Scenery is unique and beautiful. 

    Mount Evans, CO  The highest altitude paved road in the northwestern hemisphere. 

    Haleakala, HI  The third of the monster Hawaiian volcano climbs, there are only a few places in the world you can do a climb this big. 

    Tioga Pass, CA  Near Yosemite National Park, Tioga Pass is described as one of the most beautiful climbs anywhere. 

    Nate Harrison Grade, CA  This ride in the vicinity of San Diego is primarily on dirt and gravel, so at least 28mm tires are recommended, but it’s considered a beautiful and challenging ride. 


  • 2023-06-20 10:14 AM | Anonymous

    By John Allen

    What if you encounter someone whose bicycle is a crash waiting to happen? 

    So, recently I was riding through an apartment complex on my way to the gym. I was half a block from the new rail trail in Waltham. It isn’t officially open yet, though people are already using it. 

    I encountered a girl about 8 years old, headed home from the rail trail, riding alone. She had a very nice bike for an Internet purchase: in her size, and made for comfortable travel, rather than for acrobatics. The bike had derailleur gears, aluminum rims, and direct-pull hand-lever-operated  brakes. A kid could grow as a cyclist on this bike, with guidance. 

    The girl was having trouble mounting and dismounting. We started a conversation and I coached her on that. I handed her my business card. She could show it to her mother, and maybe I could help her mother teach her? But then I noticed: neither of the brakes was working. The cables were not installed properly.

    The most common kind of serious bicycle crash for young children is to ride out into the street and get hit by a car. It could be due to not noticing an approaching vehicle –  or to brakes that don’t work. 

    I asked the girl for permission, got out my tool kit  and went to work on her brakes.  The cables were in a tangle, iIt took some time,  but I got the brakes working properly. 

    I asked, “who assembled the bike?”

    “My Mom.”

    “There’s nothing wrong with your Mom, but that is a job for a bicycle mechanic.”

    I showed the girl about not using the front brake too much. 

    We parted. I rode home without going to the gym.

    What lesson does this encounter hold? 

    On paths and in parks especially, you’ll see many people – children and adults – riding bicycles with serious safety issues. It may distress you, as it does me.  

    How to deal with this? 

    Might a Karen, there’s a word for it, have called the police on me as a predator? When I described my encounter to my wife, she reminded me that two adults always had to be present in a Sunday School class in our church, in case of such complaints. Point taken, I hadn’t thought of that, but then we were out in the open with people going by. That assuaged my wife’s concerns.

    I am not going to let myself be consumed with fear about a favor I do anyone in good faith, in plain view of passersby. But I wish now that I had not been in such a hurry to get home. If I had walked home with the girl, I could probably have spoken with her mother face to face, gone on to offer more coaching, become a family friend….

    People’s attitudes about accepting help differ. I have helped a couple times on CRW rides to straighten bent chain links, allowing the riders to complete their day of riding – description  of the technique is in this article.  I have lost count of the number of flat tires I have fixed – other people’s and my own. I have straightened bent derailer hangers, adjusted brakes…I could go on. The tool kit offers a great way to connect with people when used in the right context. 

    Indeed, context matters. My assistance has usually been welcome, or politely declined – “all set” –, when the bicycle was disabled. Offering help to someone who is still able to ride is trickier, and I often avoid it. 

    But this was my first interaction with a child whose bicycle put her in serious danger. It was a learning experience for me. I missed out on making it the best experience for the child, and learned how I might do better next time.

    Beyond that, community events – bicycle rodeos and the like – offer an opportunity to address bicycle maintenance where more people are available to assist, and in a more impersonal context. So, do consider setting one up in your community. 


  • 2023-06-20 9:13 AM | Anonymous

    By Coach John Hughes

    I was 46 when I bought my home in Boulder, CO in 1995 and the heating and cooling systems were like a cabin. When it was cold I chopped wood and built fires in the wood stoves. When it was hot I opened both low and high windows to increase the airflow. About 10 years ago my wife and I decided that getting up when it was only 50F in the house and building fires wasn’t tolerable any more so we put in heat in each room. This year we’ve decided that 85F in the house is too hot and we’re putting in air conditioning next week. As we age we feel less tolerant of the heat. But is loss of heat tolerance inevitable with aging?

    Epidemiological Studies

    Data collected across large samples of the older population show a correlation between age and hot weather and more heat-related illnesses and deaths. “Older individuals, regardless of how one classifies ‘old’, are the most rapidly growing portion of the population. Statistics from heat waves and other morbidity-mortality data strongly suggest that older persons are at greater risk of developing life-threatening manifestations of heat stress such as heat stroke.” Heat Tolerance, Thermoregulation and Ageing

    However, the data are for the general population. It’s not clear the extent to which these heat-related problems are due to chronological aging or due to other factors. These variables change may change with age, and could affect heat tolerance independent of chronological age.

    1. Sedentary lifestyle. In the general population physical activity decreases with age. This contributes to the next five factors.
    2. Decreased aerobic capacity (VO2 max).
    3. Your body dissipates heat via two basic mechanisms: 1) greatly increasing blood flow to the skin and 2) producing and evaporating sweat. Decreased aerobic capacity means decreased blood flow and therefore less cooling.
    4. Physical changes such as decreased lean body mass and increased fat tissue. The basal metabolism slows by about 2% per year and this combined with less physical activity results in weight gain.
    5. Increased prevalence of chronic diseases. Decreased physical activity also increases the occurrence of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
    6. Increased use of prescription medicines. The chronic diseases are often treated with medications that reduce heat tolerance, e.g. diuretics, vasodilators, beta blockers.
    7. Chronic poor hydration from not drinking enough and/or increased fluid secretion by the kidneys.

    If you keep exercising you can greatly reduce the effects of these factors.

    Heat Dissipation During Exercise in Warm Conditions

    Some physiological changes that affect heat tolerance are inevitable with age:

    Decreased cardiac output. How much blood the heart pumps decreases by about 30% between the ages of 20 and 80. Cardiac output is a function of heart rate and stroke volume, how much blood your heart pumps per beat. While your maximum HR inevitably declines, through exercise you can maintain your ability to sustain a reasonably high HR and slow the decrease in the elasticity of your heart, which is what reduces stroke volume.

    Decreased skin blood flow. Skin blood flow is 25-40% less in older athletes. The reduced flow is due to changes with the blood vessels in the skin. Staying very fit does not prevent the skin from aging.

    Sweating rate. Compared to younger equivalently fit athletes, most older athletes have lower sweating rates. Although the same number of sweat glands are activated each gland produces less sweat. Genetics plays a large role in determining sweating rate and there is wide variability among older athletes. Decreased sweating is more of a problem in hot, dry environments than in humid ones.

    Bottom Line

    The bottom line is good:

    • As athletes get older the capacity to sweat declines although there are exceptions. This does not mean that older athletes are less tolerant of hot conditions.
    • Older athletes can acclimate just as well as younger athletes.
    • The ability to exercise in hot conditions is primarily a function of physical fitness, especially VO2 max, rather than chronological age.
    • One caution is that the sensation of thirst diminishes with age. For athletes the general recommendation is to drink to satisfy thirst but not more because drinking too much fluid risks diluting the blood sodium to a dangerous, potentially fatal level. For older roadies be sure to drink enough whenever you are thirsty. For more information see my column 12 Hydration Myths.

    Much of this information is from The Older Athlete: Exercise in Hot Environments.


    My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process includes information specifically for older cyclists on all of the different physiological changes with aging and how you can mitigate the changes. The 106-page eBook is available for $14.99

    Summer Bundle for all roadies regardless of age.
    The 65-page summer riding bundle includes four eArticles:

    1. Cycling in the Heat, Part 1: Ride Management is 19 pages and covers how to acclimate to hot conditions, how to train in hot months, what to wear, eat and drink, how to cool down if you overheat, and how to deal with heat-related problems.
    2. Cycling in the Heat, Part 2: Hydration Management is 21 pages and covers how to determine how much you should drink depending on your physiology and sweat rate, how best to replace your fluids and electrolytes, the contents of different sports drinks, how to make your own electrolyte replacement drinks, how to rehydrate after a ride, and how to deal with hydration-related problems.
    3. Preventing and Treating Cramps, 10 pages. A detailed look into the causes of cramps, prevention techniques, and tips (both on-bike and off-bike, including photos) for breaking and flushing cramps.
    4. Eating and Drinking Like the Pros, 15 pages. What pro riders consume before, during and after a stage and the benefits for cyclists at all levels. Eating and drinking like the pros offers recreational riders the same nutritional benefits, which you can customize to your own needs at a fraction of the cost of commercial sports food and drink, if you choose to make our own. I worked with a professor of nutrition and an expert on hydration and electrolytes (both experts are cyclists) in creating recipes for both sports drinks and food.

    The cost-saving bundled 65 pages of eArticles Summer Riding are just $15.96 (a $4 savings).


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