Although I ride all year on weekends, weather permitting, daylight savings time marks the boundaries of my official cycling season. Since I don’t race, and most organized rides are canceled because of COVID-19, this year’s cycling season means that I will be able to ride a few evenings a week after work, and I will start to increase the distance of my weekend rides, improving my bike fitness as I train.
I get excited just thinking about warmer weather and longer rides to come!
Daylight savings time begins on March 14 for most of the United States in 2021. That means we are just two weeks away from cycling season!
Whether you are a cyclist, want to become a cyclist or would like to get started in some other form of physical activity or sport, the longer daylight hours ahead provide a terrific opportunity to launch an exercise program or to step up your training, perhaps with a goal in mind.
It is important to set yourself up for success and fun by taking steps to prepare.
Here are some tips to help you get moving or upgrade your movement:
- Start safely: If you are new to your chosen activity, have any underlying health condition or have been sedentary, make sure you are medically cleared to start exercising. There is something for almost everyone, but it is important to make sure that what you are planning to do is safe for your current level of health and fitness.
- Assess your gear and update/upgrade, as necessary. Do you have what you need to get started in your activity or to start a new season? Consider:
- Equipment—Some activities require specific equipment, but others may require almost nothing you don’t already you have. Depending on the activity, make you might need a bike and components or accessories, helmet (non-negotiable if you are riding a bike, skiing, climbing, skateboarding, etc.), sport-appropriate shoes, water bottles, a yoga mat, resistance bands or dumbbells. If you don’t know what you need, your best bet it to visit your local bike shop, running store or other outfitter and tap into their expertise. You don’t necessarily need the most expensive equipment, but it does pay to get high-quality gear. It will last longer and be more fun to use. Beyond just purchasing equipment, take a look at what you have and upgrade or replace, as necessary. This can apply to things like bicycle chains or tires, running shoes, water bottles and more. Get a tune-up (or do the work yourself) to make sure your bike or other equipment is season ready.
- Clothing—Again, some activities won’t require any special clothing, but for certain forms of movement, like cycling, investing in some high-quality clothes will enable you to have more fun and be able to perform better. Your clothes don’t have to be fancy or expensive, but they should be functional, comfortable and something you enjoy wearing.
- Training plan—Think about what you know about your chosen activity. If you are not confident that you have the knowledge you need to start and progress safely and effectively, engage a coach, trainer, other professional or experienced friend to help you. There are some great books that can guide you, and, of course, there are countless online resources these days. Feel free to ask me questions or check out my coaching page for information on options if you would like a personalized training plan.
- Nutrition & Hydration—Fueling your body with high-quality nutrients is important all the time and will make your exercise more effective. You can’t go wrong with a whole-foods, plant-based diet consisting of loads of dark, leafy greens; fruits, including berries; a wide range of vegetables; legumes, including beans, peas, lentils, tofu and tempeh; whole grains; raw nuts and nut butters (the fewer ingredients, the better); seeds, including flax, hemp and chia; herbs and spices, including turmeric; and lots of water. A smoothie loaded with many of these great plant foods is a great way to start the day on a positive, nutrient-filled note. (I’ll cover smoothies in more detail in a future post.) If you are engaging in endurance activities, like cycling, running or hiking, you may need some portable nutrition and electrolytes to sustain your efforts, as well as pre- and post-workout food.
These are essentially the things you need to consider before starting a new exercise program, returning to an activity or increasing your training load. Depending on your activity, there may be more, fewer or different considerations, but this should help you start thinking about what you need. Below, I list some of my time-tested favorites in each of the above categories. Some are cycling specific, but others are relevant for any activity. This is not an exhaustive list—just those items where I have true favorites.
- Bike saddle (women specific): Serfas Niva-I have ridden this saddle for years after suffering through thousands of miles of misery with saddles that were not right for me. A bike saddle is very personal and may take trial and error. When you find the right one, stick with it. (I hold my breath every time I need to replace mine, afraid that it will have been discontinued. So far, so good!)
- Cycling shorts (women specific): Terry Breakaway-This is another very personal and very important piece of cycling gear. I am considering looking at some other options this year, but I keep returning to the Breakaway because it has served me well for several years and quite a few pairs.
- Rechargeable bike computer and lights: There are probably plenty of good options, but freeing myself from items requiring little watch batteries several years ago has been a game changer. A quick search reveals that all of my favorite products seem to have been discontinued. My main suggestion here is to choose rechargeable front (white) and rear (red) lights that flash and get a bike computer that is easy to install and remove from your bike so it can be recharged with a USB cable.
- Cycling shoes: It looks like my specific shoes may be discontinued, too, but I can recommend the Sidi brand. Granted, that is the only brand of cycling shoes I have ever ridden, but they last! Since 1999, riding at least 4,000 miles most years, I am only on my third pair of cycling shoes. One really didn’t wear out. Kenny just got them for me as a gift to replace my 13-year-old shoes (yes, really!), and they were a bit too small for riding in hot weather, when my feet swell. I still use them on the indoor trainer. Although I am a road cyclist, I ride mountain bike shoes with SPD cleats for ease in walking when I am off the bike.
- Helmet: For years, I rode Giro helmets because Kenny swears by them. They hurt me. I had a dent in my upper forehead that never went away. Yet I kept replacing worn-out helmets with new Giros. Until one day it occurred to me that I could try something else! Why it took years, I have no idea, but I have ridden Kali Protectives Maraka Road Helmets ever since, and they work so much better for me. Giro is a good brand, but this is a lesson in paying attention to our own bodies and realizing that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. So, take my recommendations with a grain of salt! 😊
- Nutrition: I eat ENERGYbits® spirulina before I get on the bike and RECOVERYbits® chlorella for recovery. These are not cycling specific; they are an easy way to add a terrific nutrition boost for anyone, whether used for physical activity or not. High-quality algae is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and these bits make it easy to incorporate it into your diet. Use my partner code, JustWind, for a 20% discount.
- Hydration: Plain water is perfect for most activities. For longer, harder and/or hotter efforts, I use a combination of electrolyte fizz like Nuun in water and Hammer Endurolytes ® capsules. No sugary, dye-filled sports drinks for me!
Feel free to reach out to me if you would like recommendations on other products or if I can help you brainstorm your fitness kickoff. And keep an eye out for next week’s blog post and probably a video announcement about an upcoming free opportunity to help you spring into action for both your body and your mind.
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