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Riding a Bike is Easy
Introduction to our new cycling writer, Don Magie.
By Don Magie
Since this is my first article for BeginnerTriathlete, I want to introduce myself and tell you a few things about why I am here and how I can help you.
To begin, I live just outside of Toronto, Canada. I have the so called ‘million-dollar family’ (wife, two kids and a dog), I run a little but growing company selling training products to good athletes who want to get better...and I love to ride my bike.
I have been a beginner four times: my first bike races when I was 17, my first triathlon when I was 20 and my first mountain bike race when I was 22. Then a long hiatus and my ‘new’ first bike race this year. For the past year and a half, I have had no responsibilities other than being home when the kids got off the school bus and getting better at riding my bike.
The best part of my story started about three years ago. Then I was sitting at a desk for several hours every day, driving in my car a lot, flying all over the world making the big wheels turn in society. But in January of 2001, I was putting on my favorite suit, and it didn’t quite fit. I looked at my wife and said, I need a new wardrobe or a new bike.
The bike was cheaper.
Riding my bike has always been an escape for me. When I was a kid, I would get on my bike and try to chase the cars in my little one street village. At 13, I was riding 14km each way to school, which was bizarre to everyone when there was a perfectly good bus stopping in front of my house to pick up my sister.
Later, at the university where I took physics, I was blessed with professors who asked metaphysical questions a lot. I rode my bike to think. But sooner, rather than later, the need to ‘live like others’ overcame my cycling and I got fat and lazy. I am over that now.
Today, my cycling is a passion. I have completed Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200km, 90-hour epic ride done every four years in France. I have trained with pros in Spain, I have raced more in the last year than I did in my entire life before that, and most importantly, I have loved every minute of it.
Riding a bike is easy, but often we worry too much about how hard we are working, or how fast we are going. Later, I will throw some ink at managing your training time, but since you will be reading this in December, if you are still riding regularly, slow down, relax and have fun on the bike.
If you live in the north like me, getting outside is tough and your local club offers spin classes, don’t get sucked in!! If you do go to spin classes, try this approach: I sit on my bike in the back in a relatively easy gear and actually spin away for the hour, keeping my HR in my low Zone 2. You should too. (Check the article on Spinning in this issue).
Create good experiences on the bike so that your legs, back, crotch and arms don’t always hurt, then later when they do hurt, you will be more accommodating to your evil bike. As beginners and intermediate cyclists it is important that you focus on a consistent effort over many months. This approach will easily beat any improvements you can make in a three to six week high intensity-training regimen. To ensure consistency you need to pace your effort, and now is not the time to work hard. (If you live in the northern hemisphere that is!)
Over the winter, I will talk about more about things that will make your cycling and possibly running and swimming better. Things like:
I hope that you find my insights helpful. Certainly you should send a note to me if you would like more, less or different information, or simply send me a note if you want to tell me about your experiences on the bike. Maybe I can offer some insight or a congratulatory word.
Don Magie, B.Sc. is the CEO of PeakXL, a company devoted to improving athletes through technology and innovative products. You can find out more about the products offered by PeakXL at www.peakxl.com. He also works with the Peak Centre for Human Performance, the most prominent athlete testing organization in North America.
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