Take time to select a good bike, and get a proper fit as you start cycling

By Michael Cobb, M.D.

Road biking is becoming more popular as a source of exercise, fun and camaraderie. Perhaps you are considering it; if so, take time selecting your first bike.

Choose a good road bike that will last a long time because you will probably be stuck with it for a while.

The price of a good bike can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The cost is primarily determined by the frame material, the shifting components and the wheels. The frames can be made of aluminum, carbon, steel or titanium, generally in that order of increasing expense.

Once you decide how much to spend, you then should be fitted on the bike properly by a professional. Jackson has two bike stores that do a great job fitting the individual to his/her selected bike. Proper height and reach will help the rider experience optimal comfort, power and aerodynamics.

Of course, safety also is of prime importance. Never ride without a properly fitted and approved helmet. Bright clothes and lights also are helpful. The rider needs to know the rules of the road and the proper way to ride within a group. And, as usual, check with your physician before you start any exercise program.

Jackson Spokes is a local riding club that encourages beginners and provides group rides for all levels.

The modern day road bike is designed for speed and efficiency. providing an exhilarating experience as the rider glides down an open country road, either in solitude or with friends. Like my ever-encouraging biking professor and friend Chris Liberto says, “It’s like being a kid again.”

Besides the fun, biking is an excellent aerobic workout, and another way of staying active. Safe biking!

Include stretching in your cycling routine

By Shea Cooper, P.T.

Cycling is a great way to get into shape or to stay in shape. It also can be a fun and enjoyable activity for the entire family.

Whether you are an avid cyclist training for a race, or a weekend warrior just wanting to try something new, you should take the time to include stretching as a part of your cycling routine.

Q: WHEN should I stretch?
A: Because stretching cold muscles has the potential to cause injury, stretching should not be done until after a brief warm-up. Hop on your bike and cruise around at a low speed for about five to ten minutes to get your muscles warmed up, or take a short jog or walk prior to stretching to help warm up your muscles.

By doing this, your muscles will be more pliable and ready to stretch, and you will get more benefit from the stretches. You also should stretch after you complete your bike ride. Some research has shown that it is even more important to stretch at this time.

Q: WHY & WHAT should I stretch?
A: Because riding a bike involves repetitive lower extremity motion, some cyclists are plagued with overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, bursitis, IT Band syndrome and plantar fasciitis. In addition, the leg muscles do not go through the full range of motion during pedaling. This can lead to specific tightness of the hamstrings and hip flexors, which can cause low back problems.

To help reduce the risk of these injuries associated with cycling, it is important to stretch all of the major muscle groups of the legs, including the hip muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. It is also important to stretch the muscles of the neck, arms and trunk. During cycling, these muscles remain in a fixed position over a long period of time. This can cause these muscles to become short and tight, and therefore more prone to injury.

Q: HOW should I stretch?
A: Stretches are only beneficial if performed correctly and can actually cause injury if done incorrectly. In order to stretch safely, follow these guidelines:

• Stretches should be done slowly & gently.
• Stretches should be taken to the point of mild tension, not pain.
• Stretches should be held for 10 to 30 seconds; do not bounce.
• Repeat each stretch three times.

Remember to breathe normally during stretching; do not hold your breath.