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Beginner’s Guide to Cycling: Triathlon Edition

Become more comfortable on the bike with this Beginner’s Guide to Cycling

Cycling is the second leg of triathlon. There are several ways for you to become more comfortable and efficient on the bike. Casual bike riding is much different than cycling during a triathlon. Read this Beginner’s Guide to Cycling to become more familiar with what you need to know and expect. This advice will help you now and set you up for success on race day!

Understand your bike

James will tell you all you need to know about your bike.

As a first-time triathlete, you must know the ins-and-outs of your bike. This is an essential part of your training. Knowing what your bike can and cannot do is critical to your training and racing. You’ll want to understand how the gears work, get a feel for the brakes, and practice mounting/dismounting and drinking on the bike. Contact a trusted bike mechanic, like James Balentine with Velofix, for a more in-depth review of your ride and to make sure it’s ready to go. The brand that built your bike might have helpful videos to watch on their website or YouTube.

What to wear

It might make sense to wear cycling shorts on race day since you have to ride a bike during the triathlon. However, keep in mind those are designed specifically for cycling and cycling only. They’re good for training and long rides, but triathlon shorts are designed for race day and brick workouts. The fabric dries quickly which would result in less chafing. 

The helmet you wear should snuggly fit your head. You don’t want it so tight that it hurts, but you don’t want it to be loose either. Consider wearing a pair of sunglasses during training and race day. They will protect your eyes and cut down on the sun’s glare.

Know the rules

You should always wear sunglasses when you ride. Credit – Ed Sparks

Jack’s Generic Triathlon is a USAT-sanctioned event and abides by its rules. Did you know if you don’t wear your helmet when you’re supposed to, the officials can disqualify you? When you get to transition after the swim, make sure you put your helmet on and buckle the helmet strap before you touch your bike. Similarly, after you complete the ride, make sure you rack your bike before you remove the helmet.

You should also know the rules about drafting and passing. These rules are set in place to keep you and other cyclists safe. Drafting is when you use the slipstream of another rider to reduce how much energy you use. Make sure you maintain an adequate distance away from your opponents until you’re ready to pass them.

Reference this Beginner’s Guide to Cycling as much as you need. The more familiar you become the better. You’ll improve as a cyclist and make the roads a safer place. Add to your cycling knowledge and become familiar with these cycling rules of the road.

Why It’s Important to Wear Sunglasses When Riding

Protect your eyes and wear sunglasses when riding

In addition to looking cool, there are other benefits when you wear sunglasses when riding. This applies to running, hanging at the beach, driving a car, and especially riding your bike. If you have some sweet specs that make you look cool, all the better! We recommend the UA Igniter II Sunglasses by Under Armour. Learn why it’s beneficial to wear sunglasses when riding. Pro tip: follow our advice and don’t forget about protecting your skin!

Protection

Dust and debris

You will encounter visible and non-visible projectiles whether you’re riding the trails or commuting to work. Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from flying debris might be the most important reason. Flying debris doesn’t care if you’re riding solo or with a group. Cars kick up rocks, bugs are everywhere, even other cyclists can kick up debris on the side of the road. Dust is everywhere. It’s often stirred up by cars, other riders, or Mother Nature. Glasses won’t protect you from all the dust, but it’ll surely help. Your shades are going to get dirty. Make sure you clean them after every ride.

UV exposure

Repeated exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from the sun will have negative consequences on your vision. Protecting your eyes is critical to the short-term, and in this case, the long-term health of your eyes. Make sure your lenses are polarized and have a coating that absorbs the sun’s rays. Lenses also need to be a neutral color, not crazy tints and extreme colors. Your goal is to protect your eyes while replicating what your eyes see naturally.

Safety

A clearer view

The correct lenses will help clear your view when cycling. Cyclists have a large amount of information to process when riding. You’re watching for vehicles, intersections, signaling turns, avoiding potholes, tracking other cyclists and runners, the list goes on. Any time you can eliminate distractions you free up the ability to pay attention and process more information. Proper lenses will also help reduce the sun’s glare. Glare could shine in your eyes from street signs, windows on buildings, or the hoods of cars. Proper fitting sunglasses will also reduce the amount of wind that hits your eyes. Wind alone can cause dryness and irritation when riding.

Next time you’re on the road, grab a pair of sunglasses for your ride. Even a cheap pair will provide protection until you can get a pair that you’ll love. Taking care of your eyes now will pay dividends down the road. Make sure you’re comfortable during your ride so you can keep your eyes on the road. If you’re uncomfortable you might need to adjust your saddle height. Just a few millimeters can make all the difference!

7 Easy Steps to Replace Your Handlebar Tape

Expand your skills when you learn how to wrap your handlebars

The more you can learn about your bike the better. You become more knowledgeable about bikes in general while becoming more intimate with your bike and all of its nuances. Riders who ride often might re-wrap their handlebars annually. Checking the condition of your handlebar tape is a good step in your pre-ride inspection. Loose tape could interfere with your bike handling and could cause a crash while riding.

Keep in mind, the longer your training rides, the more sweat, hydration, nutrition, etc. get on or in the tape.

Whether you want to change your handlebar tape every year or every five years, the steps below will properly guide you.

Things You will need to replace your bar tape:

1.Remove old bar tape

First, you will need to remove the bar end plugs. If you don’t have any then we would suggest purchasing some as this will help keep your tape on longer. Next, flip back both brake lever hoods and unravel the old tape. 

2.Align brake levers

Check the alignment of your brake levers. The bottom of each lever should be in line with the bottom of the handlebars. They should also be in line with the side of your bars. Make sure the cables are securely fastened to the front side of the handlebar using electrical tape.

3.Begin wrapping

Start with the right side. Your new bar tape should have come with two extra 3″ strips of tape. Wrap this around the bottom of the brake clamp from the rear end. Unpeel a bit of the adhesive backing and start by placing the end of the tape under the end of the bars. You’ll want to leave about half of the tape hanging over the edge on the first wrap.

Because of the way you put pressure on. your handlebars while riding it is common to wrap the stage in opposite directions. This keeps it from unraveling longer and can extend the life of your bar tape. Wrap the bar tape is clockwise on the right side and counter-clockwise on the left. 

4.While wrappingBike with new handlebar tape

It is important to pull have the adhesive backing as you go instead of all at once. This will keep it from getting dirty until you’re ready to apply it.

Make sure each rotation overlaps itself by about one-third. You’ll want to make sure the middle section of adhesive on the backside of the tape is always contacting the bars. Pull-on the tape evenly through the process to keep the wrap tight, but be very careful not to pull too hard or the fragile tape will snap. 

5.Wrap around the lever

When you get to the brake lever, try to make sure the top edge of the tape overlaps a little bit of the bottom of the brake lever in order to avoid leaving a gap. Then pull the tape around the back end of the brake clamp and over the top. Now pull the tape around and continue wrapping the top section of the handlebar. Stop wrapping when you get about an inch from the stem.

6.Cut and tape

Holding the tape in place, cut the remaining angled section of tape away. Then secure it with a few wraps of electrical tape. Make sure to pull the tape so that it stretches nice and evenly. Overlap the end of the handlebar tape and completely seal it with the electrical tape.

7. Bar end plugs

Once the wrapping is done, go back to the bar end and tuck the extra tape into the handlebars using the bar plug. To wrap the left side, repeat the same procedure. Remember to start wrapping the tape counter-clockwise instead. The final step is to, flip your brake lever hoods back over your new handlebar tape.

Now that your bike is looking fresh you can air up your tires and for a ride in style! If you do find your tape sweaty or you spill drinks or nutrition, be sure to give your bike a good wash to help extend it’s life and prevent rust.

How to Defeat the 4 Most Common Excuses for Skipping Your Workout

No more excuses, it’s time to get your workout on!

We’ve all been there. We have the best intentions of following a workout routine, but sometimes life gets in the way. Next thing you know, we’re skipping more workouts than we should. There’s good news, you’re not alone!  Below are four solutions to the most common excuses for skipping workouts.

What’s Your Excuse?

1. You’re Too Tired

Taking time off when you’re tired is essential, but it may not be the best solution when it comes to skipping workouts. Sometimes pushing through a workout is the perfect way to get the boost of energy you need. Exercise increases blood flow and the release of serotonin and dopamine. All of which will help make you feel better. 

Solution: Maybe your regular workout is not ideal if you’re tired. Try less-intense exercise such as yoga or walking. They can be just as beneficial. You’re getting outdoors, enjoying the fresh air, and increasing your blood flow.

2. Gym Memberships Are Expensive

While gyms might be useful for strength workouts, it’s no secret that some memberships can be expensive. However, there’s an easy way to defeat this excuse and still increase your strength.

Solution: Get some basic equipment and create your gym at home. Start with a couple of dumbbells and resistance bands and slowly expand from there. Mix it up and find some online workouts for free to try at home. You can expand your gym from there. Additionally, you don’t need a membership to run or ride your bike and most city pools only charge a small fee.

3. Not Enough Time

Life can be crazy sometimes. When we look at our packed schedules, we might think the last thing we have time for is a workout. Try this, instead of finding time to work out, make time to workout.

Solution: You don’t need to work out for an entire hour to get the benefits from exercise. Sometimes 30 minutes can be enough. Try waking up 30 minutes early to exercise. Take some time off during your lunch break to ride your bike. You can also multi-task. For example, why not try out some body-weight exercises while you binge-watch your favorite series? If you have kids at home that might prevent you from working out, make it fun, and get them involved in your routine. Schedule family walks/runs/bike rides around the neighborhood.

4. Just Not Motivated

Sometimes improving our health or getting a PR in our next race is not enough motivation to help us stick to a workout routine and save the excuses.

Solution: Set smaller, short-term goals that are realistic and achievable. While setting big goals is important, it might take a long time to accomplish them. You might become unmotivated over time. For some people, having someone else to exercise with can be very motivating. Finding yourself an accountability partner can be helpful. Lastly, doing something that is not fun is definitely not going to be motivating, so find a type of exercise that is fun for you! 

How to Defeat the 4 Most Common Excuses for Skipping Your Workout

It’s Go Time!

Whether it is a lack of time or motivation, we’ve all made some excuse to skip a workout here and there. The good news is that there is always a way to defeat our excuses. No more slacking off with these four solutions for skipping workouts. For extra motivation, join us on Facebook for a great place to share training tips, advice, and keep up with your fellow triathletes!

How To Adjust Your Bike To The Perfect Saddle Height

Steps to Achieve Your Perfect Bike Saddle Height

Adjusting your bike to the perfect saddle height is crucial in order to maximize comfort and payoff during your training rides for Jack’s Generic Tri. Incorrect saddle height leads to pain and discomfort during and after your ride. It can also prevent you from improving your performance on the bike. Learn the importance of correct saddle height, and how to adjust your bike to the perfect saddle height with these easy steps.

What is Saddle Height?

Saddle height is measured by the distance between the center of the pedal axle and the top of the saddle, or your bike seat. This is set by adjusting the seat post to your ideal height to balance your comfort and power on the bike. Saddle height is arguably the single most important adjustment on your bicycle. Incorrect saddle height can contribute to discomfort in the saddle, anterior and posterior knee pains, and ultimately limiting how much power you produce.

How To Adjust Your Bike To The Perfect Saddle Height

How To Adjust Your Saddle Height

There are many ways you can approach finding your perfect saddle height. One of the best approaches is to establish it based on the rider’s individual ride characteristics and flexibility. You can follow the “heel to pedal method” before your next ride. This will get you in the ballpark.

  1. Stand next to your bike and raise the saddle to your hip to get an idea of where to start.
  2. Get on your bike, and place your heel on the pedal to determine if you will raise or lower your saddle.
    • If you are having trouble making contact with your heel to your pedal – the seat is too high.
    • If your knee is bent – it is too low.
  3. Put your bike on the trainer and adjust accordingly.
  4. Get back on your bike with your heel on the pedal and pedal backward to reach the six o’clock position.
  5. Your leg should be completely straight, without being overextended to achieve the correct saddle height.

Pro tip: Make very small adjustments during this process, then repeat until you have found the perfect saddle height.

Ready to Ride

Once you find the proper height, use a piece of electrical tape around at the base of the post where it meets the seat clamp as a marker. Take a tape measure and record the measurements at which you think you’ve found your perfect saddle height. This is good to have in case you need to make very slight adjustments in the future.

Have a professional look at your bike every few years to achieve maximum comfort on your bike. After adjusting your bike to the perfect saddle height, make the first few rides short. Give it time!  Your body may need a few sessions to adapt to your new saddle height before you feel yourself improving on your cycling journey. How often do you check your saddle height? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

Understanding the Different Types of Bike Pedals

Types of Bike Pedals: Understanding the Basics

When it comes to choosing bike pedals, you need to consider the best option to meet your needs depending on the kind of riding you’ll be doing. It’s all about personal preference and what you feel most comfortable with. If you’re in the market for some new pedals, keep reading to understand the different types of bike pedals to figure out which ones are right for you.

Types of Pedals:

There are two basic types of bike pedals: Flat and Clipless. Flat pedals are the more common of the two when it comes to triathlon because you wear regular running shoes with this type of pedal. Which is great and convenient for the bike to run transition. Clipless pedals are great for athletes who want to feel more at one with the bike. With these pedals, you’ll need to wear special cleats that clip into the specific type of pedal system that’s compatible with your cleats.

Different Benefits:

Flat Pedals types of bike pedals

Flat Pedals

There are many benefits of flat or platform pedals. Any type of shoe you decide on will work with this type of pedal. They’re great for a quicker bike-to-run transition because, without changing shoes, you eliminate the need to spend any more time in transition.

Flat pedals also reduce any anxiety you may have about falling over during the bike leg. You can put your feet down to catch yourself, as opposed to if you were clipped into the pedals. Lastly, this is the more common and affordable option of the two kinds of pedals. Flat pedals can be found for $10 – $40.

 

Clipless Pedals

Clipless PedalsThere are also many benefits of a Clipless Pedal (clipless means clipped in). Increase your speed during the bike portion by being clipped into your bike pedals. This allows you to take full advantage of your pedal stroke, which in turn allows you to ride faster once you have mastered the push and pull of it.

A smoother more efficient pedal stroke will lead to better average power output. Being clipped in can actually keep you a little safer while riding because it reduces the chance of your foot slipping off the pedal while climbing, descending, or while fatigued. There are endless options when it comes to choosing clipless pedals if that is the

You can go clipless right from the start or use flat pedals until you are more comfortable in the saddle. There are benefits to each type of pedal, but the important thing is to choose what is more comfortable for you. Whatever you choose, spend time becoming familiar with your bike pedals to maximize your efficiency on race morning of Jack’s Generic Tri!


Protect Your Skin During Summer Training

Break out your sunscreen!

Summer is here to stay and the importance of protecting your skin during summer training is crucial, but often forgotten. Keep reading to see some of our favorite products to protect your skin during the summer months of training.

Protect your Skin

Whether you’re swimming, biking, running, it doesn’t matter. Apply sunscreen! Even if you run in the shade or ride on the trail, applying sunscreen is a must. If you’re doing any kind of training outside, or even just getting outside for a walk sunscreen is important. Take a look at some of our favorite sweat and water-proof sunscreen products before heading out for your tri training to protect your skin. It’ll last long during your workout and ensure the sun’s rays don’t impact your skin.

Applying sunscreen to protect your skin during summer training

Reapplying Rules

Training with a sunburn is not comfortable. Plus, the sunburn will warm your body and make it that much more difficult to keep your core cool. Whatever variety you go for, make sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outside, to give your skin the chance to absorb the product so you don’t sweat it off right away. Then, you should reapply every two hours if you’re getting out for an extended period of time, apply sunscreen throughout. This advice will get help to protect your skin from UV rays as you continue to follow your training plan so you’re ready for Jack’s Generic Tri!

 

Top 5 Fitness Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow

Follow these top 5 fitness Instagram accounts for your fittest year yet!

Maybe you’re someone who likes to work out alone, or maybe your schedule is so crazy you can’t seem to find the time to get a good workout in. Luckily for us, getting a good workout has never been so easy! Well… convenient. Get back in the fitness groove for Jack’s Generic Tri on August 23rd, or start a new healthy habit with our top 5 fitness Instagram accounts you need to follow.

Strava @strava

Strava top 5 fitness instagram accounts you need to follow

Follow @strava on Instagram

Explore new paths and see where your training will take you with the help of Strava. “Designed by athletes, for athletes, Strava’s mobile app and website connect millions of runners and cyclists through the sports they love.” Connect with athletes all over the world and check out people’s favorite places to run or cycle all over the world! You can expect daily running or cycling workouts, along with words of motivation to help keep you on track. If you travel a lot, this is perfect for finding the top places to run when you visit or experience new places. You can follow other athletes to share your progress on the app. This is a great way to keep up with your tri squads training progress by uploading and sharing your routes with one another.

sworkit top 5 fitness instagram accounts you need to follow

Follow @sworkit on Instagram

Sworkit @sworkit

With over 18 million followers, the Sworkit (Simply Work It) Instagram account is a must-follow. This Instagram has it all. From daily workouts accompanied by instructional videos, to words of inspiration to help light a fire under you to get started on your fitness journey! This feel-good account also shares thousands of their participants’ journeys that bring a sense of community that can help you with your own fitness improvements.

 

 

Baby-Fit Gym @babyfit_gym

babyfit_gym top 5 fitness instagram accounts you need to follow

Follow @babyfit_gym on Instagram

Baby fit-gym was created by Kristy Ardo after having children a few years back. This one is for all the moms out there as a way to get you back to your fitness routine on your schedule! Kristy, a mother of three herself,  knows how difficult it can be to make the time. Especially when your hands are full. Kristy is a certified personalized trainer that specializes in pregnancy and postpartum fitness. These 15-minute workouts are based on your current fitness abilities and can be adjusted to increase or decrease the intensity. She has an impressive following that makes moms and new moms feel united and allows them to share their stories and encourage one another to keep up the hard work.

 

shona_vertue.top 5 fitness instagram accounts you need to follow

Follow @shona_vertue on Instagram

Shona Vertue @shona_vertue

This is for all our fellow yogi’s or anyone looking to get into yoga! Shona Vertue is an elite, ex-gymnast from down under who shares her fitness tips and tricks to inspire others to follow along with her. Her motto is based on consistency and sustainability to keep you healthy and fit for life and not focusing on your appearance. If you love her account as much as we do, she also offers more specific programs to join online depending on what you wish to improve on.

 

 

Susan Niebergall Fitness @susanneibergallfitness

Follow @susanniebergallfitness on Instagram

Move over kids, let Susan Niebergall show you how it’s done! Susan is a personal trainer and strength coach in her mid-fifties that says she’s “living proof that anything is possible at any age.” She’s also very passionate about the importance of a healthy well-balanced diet. If one of your goals this year is to shed a few pounds and develop healthier eating habits, this is the account for you. With over 101 thousand followers, it’s safe to say Susan has helped so many people accomplish their fitness goals and continues to inspire others to make the change to a healthier, more active lifestyle.

 

With access to endless amounts of online training workouts, tips for living a healthier lifestyle, and so much more, it can be overwhelming to find one that’s right you. Hopefully, this list of our top fitness Instagrams will point you in the right direction.

5 Ridiculously Relatable Triathlon Memes That Will Make You Laugh

For those times when you’ve hit the wall during your training, remember: you are not alone!

A little humor never hurt anyone, so we’re here to help you laugh through the pain as you train for your upcoming tri with these relatable memes for every triathlete.

 

5 Must Try Yoga Poses for Triathletes

Give your muscles the TLC they need when you incorporate these 5 must-try yoga poses for triathletes into your training.

Adding yoga to your life offers many benefits such as increasing mobility and range of motion, preventing injuries, and relieving pain. Hopefully, you already have some kind of stretching routine included in your training. If you don’t, the offseason is the perfect time to try some new things! We’ve compiled a list of the 5 most beneficial yoga poses for triathletes to combat the wear and tear we put our bodies through during training.

1. Downward Facing Dog

Purpose: This is a common pose but is especially beneficial for a triathlete with any built-up tension in your calves and feet from running. Also great for cyclists with lower back from riding. Hold this pose to help build strength in your shoulders, arms, and chest.

How To: Start on your knees with your hands out in front of you, push your bottom up until you feel a stretch in your calves and the bottom of your feet. Straighten your legs if you can, but the main thing to remember in this pose is keeping your back flat as possible.

Downward Dog

2. Crescent Lunge

Purpose: This pose utilizes all the muscles in your body but focuses on getting a stretch in the back of your legs, groin, and hip flexors, while building strength in the front of your legs. Practicing this pose will open your range of motion in your legs and hips.

How To: Start in a standing position, and go into a lunge until your front leg is bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your core tight to remain balanced as you lift your arms above your head. During this motion, you will feel a stretch in your triceps and chest.  Take deep breaths as you hold this position, switch to your other leg and repeat.Crescent Lunge

3. Pigeon Fold

Purpose: The Pigeon Fold is a great yoga pose for opening up your hips and getting a deep stretch in your hip flexors and glutes. Good for athletes who spend more time cycling to loosen and realign their hips after putting in hours on the bike.

How To: Start in a Downward Facing Dog, bend your right knee and sweep your leg down and place it on the mat beneath you. Lower yourself to a comfortable seated position with your left leg behind you as you feel the stretch in your quad and hamstring. Hold your chest high to focus the stretch in your legs. Pigeon Fold

4. Cross-Legged Twist

Purpose: This pose focuses on stretching your lats, shoulders, and neck. This will help reduce any pain you may have from constantly rotating your body side to side during your freestyle swim stroke.  Holding this pose will lengthen and help mobility along your spine which is great for increasing your range of motion during your swim training.

How To: Begin on the floor with both legs out in front of you. Bring your knees to your chest and place the bottom of your feet on the ground. Slide your left foot on the ground under your right leg to rest your foot beside your right hip. Bring your right arm across your body and place it against the inside of your left knee. Push slightly to twist your body until you feel a stretch in your lats and shoulder. Cross Legged Twist

 

5. Bridge Pose

Purpose: Offers relief from pain caused by the position you are in when training on your bike. Good stretch for your quads, chest, and abs while also strengthens your glutes and hamstrings. You will feel this pose strengthens your back muscles to reduce or prevent pain you may have from running and cycling.

How To: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent with feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. Place hands on either side of your body to help keep yourself balanced. Press your feet and arms firmly into the floor and push your hips up off the ground.Bridge Pose

 

These yoga poses work muscles that are often neglected in the repetitive movements you do while preparing for a triathlon. Get the most out of your training when you add in these 5 yoga poses that are best for triathletes before or after your next workout!