Charles River Wheelers

WheelPeople: Your Bike Club Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest Charles River Wheelers news, events, and rides. Our WheelPeople newsletter is tailored for current and prospective members seeking bike-related updates, expert advice, and cycling inspiration. Don't miss a beat – join our vibrant community today! Access our archived issues here.

WheelPeople Articles

  • 2023-05-29 3:23 PM | Anonymous

    By Edward Cheng

    Salutations, fellow CRW Members.  The good weather is here and CRW kicked off the 2023 riding season with a spectacular North to New Hampshire Century on May 13, 2023.  The weather was perfect and we had over 300 registrants ride the fully supported century -- the first N2NH fully supported century since pre-COVID.  Thanks to the century committee and the volunteers who ran the rest stops, without whom the event could not have happened.  I have to admit when I first heard from the century committee that they wanted to run three centuries this year just like pre-COVID times, I was a little skeptical, but so far so good!

    Help keep the momentum going by signing up and riding our weekend rides, followed by the challenging Climb to the Clouds Century on June 10.  John O'Dowd, our VP of Rides is working hard to cajole our Ride Leaders to post rides, so let's make it worth their while by making our weekend rides a success.

    Last, if you don't see me on the roads until September, the reason is that I ruptured my left Achilles tendon the day after the N2NH.  So while I can cheer you on from the sidelines, I won't be joining you on the roads for a few months.

    Let's make this first COVID free season a great one for the ages.

  • 2023-05-25 9:08 AM | Anonymous

    By Coach John Hughes

    RBR Reader Rob T. asks, “I was recently knocked off my bike by a driver going 55mph on a county road in Illinois that had no shoulder. Fortunately, no major damage to me or my bike or my two artificial hips, but I did fracture my greater trochanter bone in my left hip. I’ll be on crutches for the next two months and am allowed to put only 20-30 pounds of pressure on my left leg. I am concerned that I am going to lose all the conditioning I built up over the winter and early spring. I am wondering if you have any suggestions, or do I just suck it up and start at square one come mid-June? FWIW, I am 68 years old.”

    Coach Hughes: Rob, I’m very sorry to hear about your accident — I’m glad you’re mostly okay!  You have two artificial hips. Each you got one time you were less active than usual … and you came back. 

    I had hammer toe surgery in 2021, which consisted of straightening three toes and putting in pins to strengthen them. The surgeon insisted I mostly stay in bed for six weeks.  She was concerned that any sort of activity might cause the pins to migrate out.  I wrote this column about my experience:

    Anti-Aging: Regaining Fitness at Age 71 - Road Bike Rider Cycling Site

    Residual fitness Your riding history is the biggest factor in how slowly you lose fitness and how rapidly you can recover the lost fitness. Specifically:

    1. Number of years you’ve been riding and engaging in other aerobic activities.
    2. How many miles you’ve been riding the past several years.
    3. Your typical long rides the past several years.

    These relates to my concept of athletic maturity. This column explains how you can assess your athletic maturity and the following column explains how to improve your athletic maturity.

    Six Success Factors

    Success in athletics involves six factors, not just training. As we age we get a little slower. We can still ride very well – sometimes better than younger cyclists – if we pay attention to all six of the success factors. While you’re riding less use the opportunity to take a holistic look at how the success factors apply to your cycling.

    1. Planning—self-assessment, goal setting and planning the season.

    In The Cyclist’s Training Bible, Joe Friel wrote, “An athlete should do the least amount of properly timed, specific training that brings continual improvement.” In other words, just riding more miles doesn’t make you a better cyclist. Riding the right kinds of miles at the right times of the year is what counts. Use this time when you’re exercising less to think about your goals and priorities and then develop a plan to reach them. Create your plan so it starts today and addresses the all of the following success factors. The plan doesn’t have to be detailed – a very general plan is sufficient.

    I wrote several columns about how to plan:

    To aid your planning I suggest you get my 106-page eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process. It has chapter a moderate exercise to increase your aerobic and cardiovascular fitness and a chapter on high intensity exercise to achieve the same benefits. It has illustrated chapters on each of the other types of fitness recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine: strength, flexibility, balance and weight-bearing workouts.

    2. Training—aerobic, strength and flexibility conditioning.

    Cardiorespiratory fitness is lost a little more slowly than power and speed. Within about four to eight weeks of no training your body’s capacity to move blood to your muscles decreases. This happens in part because your blood volume decreases. The size of your heart muscle decreases and because it isn’t as strong it can’t pump as much blood per stroke. Because your heart can’t pump as much blood at submaximal intensities your heart rate is higher for a given workload.  Here are some ways you can get cardio:

    • Walking on crutches: After my hammer toe surgery I did laps on crutches up and down the hall of our condo complex. Why not outside? In the hallway I was never more than five minutes from the condo! Instead of doing one long walk, for example 30 minutes, you’ll get fitter if you do several shorter walks spaced throughout the day, for example three 15-minute walks.
    • Running in the water: If you have access to a pool and the doctor says it’s okay you can walk or run in the water in the deep end, which uses your leg muscles a little more like riding.
    • Swimming: Although it’s not similar to riding, swimming is also great cardio. Check with the doctor about whether kicking is okay. If kicking isn’t okay then start with a pull buoy and paddles so you’re just using your upper body.

    When you can start riding I suggest you also swim because it’s more cardio without stressing your legs, especially your hip.

    You can also work on three other important aspects of fitness:

    3. Nutrition—nourishment daily nutrition and fuel during the ride and for recovery.

    The quality of your nutrition has a great effect on your daily life and your longevity as well as on your riding. This is an opportunity to review your nutrition and make appropriate changes. I’ve written two related columns:

    This 31-page eBook applies to every roadie from age 50 to 70 and beyond:

    While you’re not riding it’s easy to put on some pounds.  Although written about the holidays, this column applies to you:

    4. Equipment—bike selection and fit, clothing, accessories and bike maintenance.

    While you’re off the bike review all your equipment. Get your bike tuned up. Bike fit is dynamic. As you change your goals, or get a different bike, or get fitter, or lose flexibility, your correct bike fit changes. If you haven’t had a bike fit recently now’s the time to get one. You can get a bike fit sitting on your bike and gently spinning — check with your doctor it’s okay. Here’s my column on:

    5. Mental skills—focusing and relaxation techniques and dealing with potential hard times during a ride.

    Here’s where you and other older riders can develop a significant advantage over younger physiologically stronger riders! I wrote these columns:

    Here’s a specific example of how my friend Eli used mental skills:

    You learn mental skills just like you learn riding, through repeated practice of skills.  I wrote this eBook as a guide to learning mental skills. The 17-page eBook has six progressive chapters, each with a specific skill to learn.

    6. Technique – safety, riding efficiently, group riding and pacing during events.

    There’s good news here. Once a skill is learned, it is never forgotten, especially if it is well learned. Even though it was the driver’s fault you were hit, review what happened and what you might have done differently. Here are two column including many contributions from RBR readers:

    Anti-Aging: Riding Smarter as You Age part 2 - Road Bike Rider Cycling Site

    Related columns:

    My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process has illustrated chapters on each of the types of fitness recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine: aerobic, high intensity, strength, flexibility, balance and weight-bearing workouts. Anti-Aging   incorporates the latest research and most of it is new material not published in my previous eArticles on cycling past 50, 60 and beyond. It’s your comprehensive guide to continuing to ride well into your 80s and even your 90s.

    The 106-page Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process is $14.99.

  • 2023-05-23 2:06 PM | Anonymous

    There's nothing better than getting out for a ride, but on a rest day a video can almost take us there. Enjoy our monthly virtual film fest. Click Title to watch video.

    Hiawatha Trail

    An interesting rail trail along the northern Idaho and Montana border, the 15 mile scenic Hiawatha trail has a number of high trestle bridges and a long tunnel. 3 mins.

    Incredible Bike Tricks

    German artistic cyclist Viola enjoys the scenic Austrian countryside while showcasing impressive skills. 

    3 mins

    Alex Post is a CRW member who lives in Virginia, but regularly visits MA to bike with his dad. He has also led rides for CRW.

  • 2023-05-22 11:44 AM | Anonymous

    By Eli Post

    Mark Nardone and Erik Dentremont contributed to this article.

    CRW’s 2023 North to New Hampshire Century may be in the history books, but it lives on as a memorable day for those who rode in the event. This was the Club’s first fully supported Spring Century since COVID and was heralded by one of the best weather days we could have hoped for in a New England May!

    The routes on North to New Hampshire are a long-time CRW favorite for a century event. They begin at the Wakefield High School heading north to NH and back, and winding though some of NH's more scenic roads. And it’s relatively flat so ideal for an early spring century when many riders are just returning to the road. Each ride provided refreshing drinks at rest stops along the route, with food and refreshments at the finish. CRW riders enjoyed a post ride party hosted by Hearth Pizzeria with many options for all dietary needs.

    The route has earned loyal fans over the years that enjoy the lovely stretches of country roads on the North Shore and in southern New Hampshire. Here are some of the comments:

    “Rode the CRW spring (half) century ride with buddies Ed Edward Cheng, Doug Douglas Bajgot, Eric Wilkins, and a few new friends. Here we are at the half way point rest stop. Great half century today! Thanks for joining us, Ed!” John O’Dowd

    “Thanks to the organizers, volunteers and ride leaders.  It was a lot of fun!” Ed Chang

    Rode with the 15mph group. The group pulled me along the whole way! First event ride of the season! Marianne Eybye

    Felt great!! Aside from my lower back tightening up I feel like I should have done the metric. Hermin Miranda

    CRW - N to NH, It was Felix's first big ride, and he did great! Vern Spinner

    As always, the success of the event was due to our wonderful, dedicated volunteers. Time and time again, our volunteers selflessly donate their passion for cycling by supporting our membership, and making the event possible. The only ones who are fully aware how much effort it takes to run a century are the ones who actually put it together. And it’s a catch 22, the smoother it goes, the less people realize how difficult it is. So we have no other recourse but to congratulate ourselves for a job well done.

    The Stats:

    262 riders set off to complete the 50, 63, and 100 mile routes. 

    There were 4 unable to complete due to mechanical issues. 

    Multiple led groups rolled out between 7 and 9am. 

    Last rider completed her 100 miles just after 4pm. 

    The riders appreciated the 25 mile rest stop and dug in to the many refreshments available. There was special interest in smothering a bagel with peanut butter, jam and/or Nutella. All left over food was donated to the Red Cross and other charitable organizations in our area.

    This year we did something a little different to make the Century rides more memorable. We created a 3 medal series to go with each event, by themselves the medals are great, together they connect to something special. Collect all three and proudly display your achievement for the 2023 Century Series.

    Did you miss the event? You can still register for a virtual option and complete the course or a similar distance within the month to earn your medal.

    The riders found innovative ways to wear/display their awards.

    The Spring Century has about 4,100 feet of climb, making it a relatively easy ride. If you need more of a challenge try the Climb to the Clouds century in July 2023.

    As we said, the volunteers made this event possible, and we thank them all.

    Volunteers May 13th
    ROLES Pick up Supplies Name
    Coordinators Event Day CONTACT Mark Nardone
    coordinator Erik Dentremont
    Ride Leader John O'dowd
    prez Ed Cheng
    Porta Johns

    The Shed Portable Santitation

    SudBury distribution Saturday Friday Joel Bauman
    62 Goodman's Hill Road
    Sudbury MA 01776

    Erik Dentremont
    10 AM - 4PM Rest Stop Org Nina Siegel
    Sudbury returns Monday 10 - 2 Joel Bauman

    Check-In / Registration Wakefield Tech HS

    Mel Prenovitz
    60 Farm Street Wakefield MA Francie Sparks
    7AM- 9:30AM Stanley Kay
    Richard Vignoni
    Mechanical Support
    Wakefield HS Trek Cambridge

    Robbe Smith | Store Manager

    Wakefield HS Velo Bikes Gunther
    Food & Supplies Costco Harriet Fell
    Fruit John Allen
    Bagels Barry Nelson
    Linda Nelson
    Rest Stops
    Shanahan Park
    423 Main Street Groveland MA Eil Post
    8AM-Noon Pick up Harriet Fell
    Lynne O'Riorden
    Ken Weber
    Pick up Bill Aldrich
    American Legion Park
    20 Pentucket Ave Georgetown MA Pick up Marie Keutmann
    9:30 AM - 2PM Pick up Penny Leslie
    Keeley Gammon
    Pick up person Tim Wilson
    Rosalie Blum
    Kate Strauchan
    Jim Evans
    Sawyer Park Kennsington NH Pick up Barbara Jacobs
    24 Trundlebed Lane Pick up Ted Nyder
    9:30 AM - 2PM Pick up person Nina Siegel
    Pick up Maureen Feibiger
    After rider party Pizza Harriet Fell
    11:30 - 5:30 Pizza Jack Donahue
    Pizza Ken Weber
    Awards Mark Nardone
    Pizza Megan Scully
    Monday Clean up Clean Up and Return Erik D'Entremont
    Hearth Pizzeria - Delivery 200 Pizzas, 20 Salads Ivan Pucelio
    Ride Leaders 100 Martin Hayes
    100 jennifer Allen
    100 Lindy King
    100 Megan Scully
    Mike Barry
    50 Clyde Kessel
    50 John Odowd
    62 Larry K
    62 Karen Hamel
    Sag Wagon Mark Nardone
    James White
    Sweeps Susan Grieb
    Jack Donahue
    Registration Lists Erik D'Entremont
    car signs Parking Lisa Najavitis

  • 2023-05-21 6:28 PM | Anonymous

    By Dr. Gabe Mirkin

    Just about everyone with an unobstructed nose will breathe through their nose when at rest or during casual activities, but most people will breathe through their mouth during exercise. The more intensely you exercise, the more likely that you will have to breathe through your mouth because you may not be able to get enough air through your nose to feel comfortable (Respiration Physiology, 1983;53(1):129–133).

    Possible Advantages of Breathing Through Your Nose
    Why would you even consider trying to control whether you breathe through your mouth or your nose? Compared to mouth breathing, nasal breathing:
    • helps to filter out pollutants
    • helps to filter germs
    • adds moisture to the air you breathe
    • heats the air you breathe
    • may reduce asthma attacks in people who suffer from exercise-induced asthma.

    Nasal Breathing Takes Practice
    You can breathe far more air into your lungs through your mouth than you can breathe through your nose. You can exercise intensely when you breathe just through your nose, but you will need to practice (PNAS, May 19, 2015;112(20):6425-6430).
    • How intensely you can exercise depends on how fast oxygen can pass from red blood cells into muscle cells.
    • The cells lining your nose and sinuses release large amounts of a gas called nitric oxide while the cells lining your mouth and throat do not (Nat Med, 1995;1:370–373).
    • Breathing through your nose releases far larger amounts of nitric oxide, which specifically widens the very small blood vessels next to muscles to bring the red blood cells closer to muscle cells, to increase markedly the rate that oxygen passes from red blood cells to muscle cells.

    One study showed that with training, you can get enough air while breathing through your nose to exercise at up to 85 percent of your maximum capacity (Int J of Kinesiology and Sports Sci, Apr 30, 2018;6(2):22). Ten recreational runners practiced nasal breathing during exercise for six months and when they breathed through their noses while exercising at up to 85 percent of their maximal capacity, they had the same:
    • time to exhaustion,
    • maximal capacity to take in and use oxygen (VO2max), and
    • peak lactate levels. (Lactate levels increase when you don’t get enough oxygen).
    Nasal breathing brought in the same maximal amount of oxygen as mouth breathing, but nasal breathing markedly reduced:
    • respiratory rate (breaths per minute), and
    • ratio of oxygen intake to carbon dioxide output.

    Nasal Breathing May Help with Exercise-Induced Asthma
    People who have exercise-induced asthma may benefit from nasal breathing when they exercise. Within minutes after starting to exercise, they often suffer wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, a tight chest, decreased endurance, or a sore throat. These symptoms are usually caused by breathing dry and cold air (Allergy, 2013;68:1343–1352). Practicing nasal breathing for several months can help to decrease asthma attacks (Clinical Allergy, 1981;11(5):433-9). However, nasal breathing has been shown to hinder performance of elite athletes who suffer from exercise-induced asthma (British J of Sprts Med, 2012;46:413-416).

    My Recommendations
    • Most people can learn to breathe comfortably through their noses during intense exercise if they want to (International J of Ex Sci, 2017;10(4):506-514), but nasal breathing is not recommended for competitive athletes since it is likely to reduce their maximum exercise intensity (Australian J of Sci and Med, 1995;(273):512-55).

    • You don’t need to breathe through your nose when you exercise in very cold weather. Your nose warms the air much more than your mouth does, but exercise causes your body to produce such large amounts of heat that air taken through your mouth at 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit during exercise will be warmed almost 100 degrees before it reaches your lungs. Breathing air that cold would burn your nose so much that you would quickly lose interest in exercising and seek shelter.

    • Your nose clears pollutants far more efficiently than your mouth does, but people with healthy lungs can exercise safely using mouth-breathing on mildly polluted days. Your air tubes are lined with small hairs, called cilia, that sweep pollutants towards your mouth where you swallow them with your saliva and they pass from your body. However, breathing heavily polluted air when you exercise can damage your lungs, whether you use your mouth or your nose. Air quality experts tell us that if you can see ash or smell smoke, stay indoors with windows and doors closed.

    • If you want to try nasal breathing, you may find that commercially-available nasal strips that fit over the bridge of your nose make it easier and more comfortable.

    • The bottom line is that you can breathe through either your mouth or your nose during exercise. Do whatever feels most natural for you.

    Dr. Gabe Mirkin on Health | Fitness and Nutrition. (

  • 2023-05-21 5:46 PM | Anonymous

    By John Allen

    E-bikes appeal to middle-aged and elderly people including long-time CRW members like me, who don’t have quite the energy we had when younger. And other new e-bike riders have not had much experience with bicycling since childhood. Some elderly people may also have worsened balance, reaction time, eyesight and other issues.

    Here are some specific issues for a new e-bike rider to consider. The CyclingSavvy Web Site has a series of articles addressing these issues in detail – but briefly stated:

    • CRW welcomes e-bikes, except for throttle-controlled ones, but an e-bike poses special questions of safety and etiquette during a group ride. Riding off the front doesn’t play to your credit, nor does running out of battery power. You might be called upon to pace another rider. Should there be a special ride option for e-bike riders?
    • The bicycle can just go faster, uphill - and downhill too, being heavier. Greater speed increases the potential for crashes, and their seriousness. Braking distance increases as the second power of speed – twice the speed, four times the distance. A particular problem is that a motorist may not recognize that a longer distance is needed to pass an e-bike uphill.
    • Infrastructure designed for slow bicycling (or not even well for that) works poorly for people riding at 20 miles per hour or more. Yet people tend to think “it’s just a bicycle” and maintain the same poor riding habits. My hair stands on end as I watch YouTube videos of people riding e-bikes at speed in the door zone of parked cars, etc. On an e-bike, it is even more important to understand and apply best practices for riding on streets, and to avoid the temptation to make full use of the e-bike’s power on paths.
    • The bicycle is heavier and less maneuverable. Much of the added weight is with the battery. This is less of a problem If the battery is low and in the middle of the bicycle (for example, on the down tube or inside it). A battery on the rear rack makes the bicycle top-heavy and tends to make the bike prone to shimmy if the frame is flexible. A heavy e-bike with a flexible frame and high handlebars, with an inexperienced small person at the controls, is a recipe for control problems.
    • Maladroit application of power can result in a loss of control. A common problem is the “lurch” when power is applied before the rider is ready. This can result in a pedal’s striking the rider’s shin or the e-bike itself striking another bicyclist, pedestrian or vehicle.
    • Control issues depend also on the rider’s situational awareness –more so at higher e-bike speeds, but also due to the more cumbersome handling at low speeds.
    • An e-bike may have front or rear hub drive, or a mid motor (at the cranks). The mid motor applies power through the bicycle’s gearing – and so it is effective over a wider range of speeds than a hub motor. A front hub motor makes steering less nimble, and if it causes the wheel to skid, you can’t steer to balance. For this reason, it is a poor choice for riding under tricky conditions or on soft or slippery surfaces – mud, gravel, snow.
    • Any e-bike will have several power level settings (for example “Off, Eco, Normal, Turbo“– or they may be maximum speed-under-power settings). It is best to use only as much power as needed, to get exercise, extend range on a battery charge, and avoid unexpected acceleration.
    • An e-bike may have torque sensing: power assist is proportional to how hard you push on the pedals. Or an e-bike may have pedal rotation sensing, which applies full power whenever you are turning the pedals forward. Torque sensing feels just like normal pedaling, only you are stronger. You can turn the pedals without applying power when you shift gears, and modulate pedaling to prevent the rear wheel from spinning out on a slippery surface. With pedal rotation sensing, you don’t have that level of control, and if there is a mid motor, you must apply the brakes to actuate an interruptor and release tension on the chain when shifting down.
    • Some e-bikes also have a throttle. By applying power even when you are not pedaling, it can lead to confusion and lurching when starting and stopping. With the throttle, you also lack the ability to modulate pedaling that you would have with torque sensing.

    All in all, as I hope that these comments have made clear, different e-bikes have different control characteristics, and it is important to feel them out. A new e-bike rider needs to start out cautiously, get to know the bike before taking on greater challenges, and recognize that riding habits may need revision.

    I thank Clinton Sandusky for assistance with this article.

  • 2023-05-13 10:55 AM | Anonymous

    By Coach John Hughes

    “Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer came down on her head.

    ”Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead.”— Paul McCartney

    McCartney said, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer was my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue.” (

    That’s bonking!  You’re riding along under a blue sky and all of a sudden your brain feels like mush. You’ll be depressed and discouraged and may also feel anxious, irritable, or confused.

    Or your legs suddenly can’t turn the cranks.  This is hitting the wall. You’ll feel extremely weak and tired and you may feel dizzy or light-headed.

    Both of these occur for the same reason: running out of glucose for fuel.

    A showstopper is anything that makes a ride very difficult and may cause a DNF.

    A Little Physiology

    You are always metabolizing a combination of fat and glucose even when you are sleeping.  The more active you are the higher the proportion of glucose you are burning.  Riding below your anaerobic threshold (AT), also called lactate threshold, about 50% of your energy is coming from glucose and 50% is coming from fat. Above your AT the major source is glucose although you are still burning fat. The harder you ride above AT the more glucose per minute you are burning.

    Glucose is stored in the body as glycogen. Your body can store about 1,800 calories of glycogen. (1,400 in the muscles, 320 in the liver and 80 in your blood) How much you store depends on your body size and your fitness. 

    Your body has about 100,000 calories of energy stored as fat, an unlimited supply of fat.  Even the skinniest pro has enough body fat to fuel a long race.

    If you are riding at 15 mph (24 km/h) you are burning about 4.5 calories / lb. / hour (10 calories / kg / hour). If you weigh 150 lbs you are burning about 675 calories / hour, about half from glucose (338 calories) and about half from fat (338 calories).  You have 1800 calories of glucose stored as glycogen so burning 338 calories of glucose per hour you’ll run out of glucose in about 5 – 5.5 hours.

    If you are riding at 20 mph (32 km/h) you are burning about 7.5 calories / lb. / hour (16 calories / kg / hour). If you weigh 150 lbs you are burning about 1,125 calories / hour, primarily from glucose and you’ll run out of glucose in about 1.5 – 2 hours!

    Your brain can only burn glucose for fuel and when you run out of glucose that silver hammer comes down.  At a moderate pace your muscles are burning about a 50 / 50 mix of fat and glucose. When you run out of glucose you only have half as much fuel and you hit the wall with dead legs. To compound the problem the metabolism of fat for energy requires some glucose so even your fat stores aren’t providing much energy.

    Note that protein provides only about 5% of the energy for the working muscles, although it is important for rebuilding muscle damage after a ride. If you run out of glycogen your body can produce glucose from protein by a process known as gluconeogenesis, which is inefficient, i.e., the metabolic conversion of protein to glycogen requires more energy than just converting glycogen to glucose.

    Bonking Prevention

    Endurance training helps defer bonking and hitting the wall in two ways.  By riding at a conversational pace over many rides your body will shift to metabolizing more fat and less glucose thereby sparing glucose. (This doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight. To do that you need to consume fewer total calories than you are burning.) Endurance training also increases your muscles’ capacity to store glycogen by 20 to 50%. If you’ve been doing endurance exercise for years both of these adaptations have taken place but if you’re a relatively new roadie you can improve your fuel mix and your storage capacity with endurance riding.

    These adaptations only postpone the silver hammer but don’t eliminate it.

    If the gas gauge on your car starts to approach empty you get more fuel and the same applies to riding.  Rather than running out of fuel you need to start refueling during your ride.

    Glycogen comes from carbohydrates, which include fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and legumes as well as the sweets, pasta and bread that we normally think of as carbs. Healthy carbs should provide 60 – 70% of the calories in your daily diet.

    American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends consuming 25 to 60 grams of carbs (1 to 2 ounces or 100 to 240 calories) per hour after the first hour of exercise. This is sufficient for several hours of exercise. If you are riding for three hours or more start eating carbs in the first hour. If you are relatively small or exercising lightly 25 grams / hour is enough. If you are larger or riding at a moderate to fast pace eat up to 60 grams / hour.

    Note that the recommendation is for carbs only. Gels and some sports drinks are 100% carbs; however, bars are a mix of carbs, protein and fat. Fruit and vegetables are100% carbs while carbs are only part of other foods.

    The ACSM recommends up to 60 grams per hour of carbs because this is the maximum amount of one kind of carb (glucose or sucrose or fructose or maltodextrin) you can digest per hour.However recent research shows that eating a combination of types of carbs can increase your ability to digest carbs. You can digest up to 90 grams per hour (2 to 3 oz. or 240 to 360 calories). Test subjects who consumed a mix of glucose and fructose could digest more every hour than subjects who just consumed glucose. They digested more per hour because the different types of carbohydrate used different intestinal transporters. Consuming a mix of carbohydrate reduces fatigue, increases endurance and may result in reduced gastric distress. Some sports bars and drinks are made from several types of carbs — read the label to see. Or you could eat a couple of cookies and a piece of fruit.

    Lab tests have shown no performance difference among carbs ingested in liquid, gel or solid form, assuming that each substance has the same caloric value. Further, sports products have no performance advantage over regular food. One of my clients was a nurse, and after consultation with the doctor for whom she worked, she raced the Race Across AMerica on pancake syrup instead of spending money on sports gel! Sports drinks and gels are easier to consume than solid food; however, you can ride just as well on food from the local grocery. Real food is cheaper and tastier. The key is to read the labels so that what you are buying and consuming is composed primarily of carbs.

    Bottom line: Eat Carbs!

    The principles and recommendations for eating before, during and after a ride apply to all roadies. These are explained in my eArticle Nutrition for 100K and Beyond. Although written for roadies riding 100K and farther, all roadies can learn from it. I show you how to calculate how many calories per hour you burn. I compare the nutritional value of bars, cookies and candy. Both Peppermint Patty candy and Fig Newton cookies have a higher percentage of carbs than any of the sports bars! I also discuss hydration and electrolytes. I conclude by discussing what you should eat every day to ride your best. My 17-page Nutrition for 100K and Beyond is just $4.99.Click here for details on how to order.

  • 2023-04-29 9:08 AM | Anonymous

    By Jerry Skurla

    A morning ride including Harold Parker State Park, and an afternoon finding free bike bargains - what a great way to spend a Saturday!

    At 10am over 40 eager riders from CRW, North Shore Cyclists, and Nashoba Valley Peddlers departed from Lynnfield Middle School on a rolling 40 mile route to start the day’s festivities. 

    At 11am 12 riders started the scenic 28 mile route, and by 12:30 riders were returning for energy bars, grapes, and Girl Scout thin mint pretzels.   Kudos to Dan Krechmer of NSC for two wonderful, well-designed routes!

    The Swap Meet opened at 1pm, with an additional 40-50 people who did not ride arriving at that time.  The “For Sale” section featured a variety of used bikes, components and clothing, and several sweet bikes got lots of attention.

    The “Free Stuff” tables were quickly covered with jerseys, tires, wheels, and complete bikes of all shapes and sizes.

    “WOW this is really FREE?” was heard many times during the afternoon, as people uncovered parts they needed or jerseys or shoes they really wanted.  Several attendees were building-up bare frames and found key components like wheel sets to keep their projects on or under budget.

    And a wonderful folding Brompton titanium bike found a new owner (on the left) who will enjoy it as much as it’s original owner (on the right)

    All unclaimed “free stuff” has been donated to the wonderful Bike Connector non-profit in Lowell -

    Special thanks to Harriet Fell & Ron Cater of CRW, Jeff King of NSC, and Merle Adelman & David Naigles of NVP for making the Spring Swap Meet happen and spreading the word to their respective clubs.  

    Please send any comments, ideas or suggestions for the 2024 3rd Annual Spring Swap Meet & Rides to Jerry Skurla of CRW at

  • 2023-04-29 9:08 AM | Anonymous

    By Dr. Gabe Mirkin

    You don’t need special sports drinks or power bars. Even the most elite athletes can get the nutrients they need from ordinary foods, water and salt. Healthy and fit people usually don’t need to eat during a bicycle ride when they cycle at a casual pace for less than two hours. However, you can prolong your endurance for a hard ride by taking:

    • a source of sugar when you ride very hard for more than an hour

    • a source of salt when you ride for more than three hours.

    Your muscles use primarily sugar and fat for energy. You have an almost infinite amount of fat stored in your body, but you start to run out of sugar stored in your liver after 70 minutes of intense exercise.  There is only enough sugar in your bloodstream to last three minutes at rest. To maintain blood sugar levels, your liver constantly releases sugar into your bloodstream.  However, there is only enough sugar stored in your liver to last about twelve hours at rest and less than 70 minutes when you exercise intensely. Your brain has almost no stored energy, so it gets almost all of its energy from the sugar carried to it in your bloodstream. When liver sugar levels drop, your blood sugar levels also drop and your brain has lost its main source of energy. Your brain then cannot function normally and you feel weak, tired, confused, and can even pass out.  It should never happen to you.


    An hour or more before your ride, eat oatmeal or whatever you normally eat for breakfast.  Avoid high-sugar-added foods such as pancakes with syrup, because they can cause a high rise in blood sugar, followed by a high rise in insulin, followed by a drop in blood sugar that will make you feel tired.  The extra sugar you ate just gets stored as fat and does nothing to help you during your ride.

    Sugar Before and During a Long, Hard Ride

    Take sugar no more than five minutes before you start your ride, or wait until you are underway. Do not take sugar earlier than that because when you eat sugar and your muscles are not contracting, you can get a high rise in blood sugar that causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. This can cause a drop in blood sugar levels that can tire you. On the other hand, exercising muscles draw sugar rapidly from the bloodstream without needing insulin, so taking sugar during exercise or just before you start usually does not cause the high rise in blood sugar levels

    The rule of thumb is that you should take a source of sugar during a hard ride lasting more than an hour.  Use a sugared drink, jelly beans, gel packets or any other convenient source.  You don’t need special sports drinks or energy bars because no sugar source is better for you than one that contains glucose and fructose, and almost all types of sweet foods contain these two sugars.

    During a hard ride, take sugar before you feel hungry. Hunger during exercise is a very late sign of not getting enough calories. By the time you feel hungry, your body will be so depleted of sugar that you will have to stop or slow down so you can eat some carbohydrate-rich food just to restore your sugar supplies.

    Sugar with Caffeine

    Taking caffeine with sugar during hard rides can increase endurance and improve your performance.  Caffeine works by increasing the absorption of sugar from your intestines and by increasing your exercising muscles’ uptake of sugar. However, taking sugar and caffeine when you are not exercising doubles your rise in blood sugar, and high rises in blood sugar can increase your risk for weight gain, diabetes and heart attacks


    The only mineral that you may need to take during a long ride is sodium, found in regular table salt. Just about everyone agrees that you need to take in extra salt during extended athletic competitions in hot weather, but you do not need to take extra potassium, magnesium or any other mineral during exercise. Salt is necessary to hold water in your body, prevent muscle cramps, and help keep your muscles contracting with great force. However, excess intake of salt may raise blood pressure and increase risk for heart attacks, particularly in people who have big bellies and high blood sugar levels.

    If you do not meet your needs for salt during a long ride in hot weather, you will tire earlier and increase your risk for heat stroke, dehydration and cramps. During a hard ride lasting longer than three hours, eat salty foods such as salted nuts or potato chips. Some sports drinks contain salt, but since salted drinks taste awful, the amount added is so small that it may not be enough to meet your needs.

    Eat Within an Hour After a Hard Ride 

    Eating within an hour after finishing a ride helps muscles heal faster and also replenishes their stored sugar faster than if you eat later. Your muscles are far more sensitive to insulin immediately after exercising, and insulin hastens muscle healing. Within one hour after your hard ride, eat fruits, vegetables and grains (for carbohydrates) and nuts, beans or seafood (for protein), or whatever else you like.  Add salt if you have been sweating a lot, if your muscles feel excessively fatigued or you develop muscle cramps. As long as the post-ride meal contains protein and carbohydrates, it doesn’t matter what you eat.


    • If you are planning to ride vigorously for more than an hour, take a source of sugar, such as jelly beans or any sugared drink, a few minutes before you start and every hour or so during your ride. There is no significant advantage to special sports drinks.

    • If you are riding hard for more than two hours, take some food that includes sugar such as fruit, cookies or candy bars.

    • If you are going to ride hard for more than three hours, or in very hot weather, add salty foods such as salted nuts or potato chips.

    • Eat to recover – any foods containing protein and carbohydrates — within an hour after you finish your ride, or as soon as you can.  See Recovery: the Key to Improvement in Your Sport

    This article is courtesy of Dr. Mirkin

    Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle.  A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More

  • 2023-04-29 9:07 AM | Anonymous

    The Athlete’s Kitchen: Carbs - Friend or Foe?

    By Nancy Clark

    Athletes create many reasons for limiting their intake of seemingly “evil” carbohydrates: I don’t like sandwiches … Pasta is so “heavy” … I’m staying away from gluten … I avoid any foods with added sugar … I prefer to eat two veggies at dinner instead of a veggie and a carby food. And, most often I hear: Bread is fattening!!! Anti-carb sentiment has pervaded my entire career as a sports nutritionist. While some fads have come and gone, the “carbs are bad” fad remains ingrained in the brains of even elite athletes. I am (again) encouraging you to reconsider your stance

    • Despite popular belief, carbohydrates are not inherently fattening. Excess calories of any kind are fattening. Excess calories of bread, bagels, and pasta are actually less fattening than excess calories of cheese, butter, and olive oil. That’s because converting excess calories of carbs into body fat requires more energy than does converting excess dietary fat into body fat. That means, if you want to be gluttonous yet suffer the least weight gain, indulge in fat-free frozen yogurt instead of gourmet ice cream!

    • To allay any confusion, let’s clarify what carbs actually are. Carbohydrates include both sugars and starches. Carbs are in fruits, vegetables, grains, and milk (lactose). Sugars and starches all digest into the simple sugar glucose. Glucose travels in your blood and, with the help of insulin, gets taken into muscles and stored as glycogen for fuel. Athletes who restrict carbs commonly complain about “dead legs.”

    • Sugars and starches are biochemically related. For example, an unripe fruit, such as a banana, is starchy. As it ripens, it becomes sweeter; the starch converts into sugar. Similarly, vegetables, such as peas, are sweet when young. Their sugar converts into starch as they mature.

    • All carbs—both sugars and starches—are excellent sources of fuel. Both “carby” bagels and sugary candy end up as glucose in your blood and feed your muscles as well as your brain. Whether you are a marathon runner or a weight lifter, a carb-rich sports diet (with adequate protein) can enhance your performance.

    • Quality carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, and veggies, offer abundant vitamins, minerals (electrolytes), and other health-promoting nutrients. Refined sugar, however, offers little nutritional value. Yet, dietary guidelines say 10% of daily calories can come from added sugar. That’s at least 50 grams of sugar for most athletes and allows for some “fun foods.”

    • Sugar-avoiders please note: the 3 grams of added sugar in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter will not negate peanut butter’s health-promoting fiber, protein, and anti-inflammatory fats. Nor will the sugar in chocolate milk diminish its value as a helpful recovery fluid after a hard workout. Please look at the vitamins,minerals and protein that comealong with the added sugar, not just the sugar itself.

    • Sports drinks, gels, and sports gummies are little more than refined sugar. That’s not bad; it’s exactly what the body wants during extended hard exercise. Even though refined sugar adds “empty calories” to a sports diet, athletes need not eat a perfectly sugar-free diet to have an excellent diet. There’s a time and a place for sweets.

     The messages that carbs are inflammatory, fattening, and bad for you is targeted at sedentary people who consume excessive calories, often from highly processed foods. For those unfit (often unhealthy) people, excess carbohydrate can contribute to elevated blood glucose, which triggers the body to secrete extra insulin. Consistently high insulin can be inflammatory and lead to nasty health issues. Yet, most athletes can handle carbs with far less insulin than the average American—and without carbs causing “sugar crashes” or weight gain.

    • The most common reason for “sugar crashes” (hypoglycemia) among athletes relates to running out of fuel. The shakiness and sweats are because the athlete did not eat enough carbs to maintain normal blood glucose levels and the brain has to demand a quick fix—sugar! One marathoner credited the sugary gel he took at Mile 16 to cause him to “crash.” More likely, he needed more just one gel to meet his energy needs.

    • For athletic people who routinely train hard 4 to 6 days a week, carbs should be the foundation of each meal. The International Olympic Committee’s recommendations for a performance diet include far more carbs than many athletes consume via fruit, salads, and cooked veggies. Baseline targets for a 150-pound athlete are:

    375 g carb/day for ~1 hour of moderate exercise

    450 g carb/day for ~1-3 hours of endurance exercise

    525 g carb/day for >4-5 hours of  extreme exercise

    This comes to about 100 to 150 grams carb/meal, which equates to about 400 to 600 calories of grains, fruits, and/or veggies per meal. This menu exemplifies what 450 grams of carb “looks like”



    CARB (g)

    SAMPLE  MEAL               




    Pre-exercise snack


    Post-exercise Breakfast




    Clif Bar                                    

    --1.5-hour bike ride--

    1 cup dry oats              

    cooked in 1 cup milk    

    1 large (9”) banana         

    drizzle honey                      


    Early lunch



    Fruit yogurt                    

    4 fig newtons                      


    Hearty Snack


    Dried fruit (in trail mix)






    2 cups (brown) rice     

    1 c cooked carrots

    8 Hershey Kisses      

    If your daily menu lacks starchy foods, experiment with adding grains to each meal and snack. You just might discover how much better you can feel and perform!

    Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD  counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a popular resource, as is her online workshop. Visit for info.

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