Spring And Warmer Weather Cycling….Are You Ready?

Posted by Beth Hartman

Now that the weather has finally given us a break and is starting to act like it’s the end of May/Early June, it’s the perfect time to get out and get riding. After all, taking up cycling can be one of the best decisions you’ll make in life. Whether you choose to hop on a bike for health reasons, to help the environment, try a new activity, or even to supplement another sport, cycling is a ton of fun.

And if you're taking up cycling for the first time, you’re going to be joining a great group of people that are already out there enjoying the road on a two-wheel, self-propelled means of transportation. Globally, more people own bikes than own cars – about 42% of the world’s population – and that number is growing every year.

FOR EXAMPLE, in the US, the number of people biking to work has grown by 60% over the past 10 years and the number of cyclists has grown by 15 million people overall.

And there are many benefits of taking up cycling, the best is to get yourself in better shape by taking up a cardio sport like cycling. After all, exercise Is A Critical Component of Staying Healthy. But the Type of Exercise You Do – Strength or Cardio, Sprinting or Endurance - Also Matters. Cycling, Is a great way to capture the health benefits of these different styles of fitness since It blends the line between lower body strength, aerobic training, intervals, and long rides in the “Saddle”.

Of course, health benefits don’t come for free. While you might see some benefits after your first few times on the bike, many of these benefits require cycling regularly to develop and maintain these improvements. Mixing up your cycling workouts, for example by doing intervals one day a week and a long ride later in the week, can help you to hit on different aspects of fitness.

Build Muscle
Cycling is a serious leg workout, and your quads, hamstrings, and glutes are sure to respond by building new muscle fibers to adapt. Although cycling at low resistance will slowly build muscles, you can maximize the gains and build muscle faster by riding uphill, riding in higher gears, or including sprint intervals in your workout.

Cut Fat
Low intensity, aerobic, and consistent exercise is one of the most effective ways to lose body fat. Cycling for an hour or so each day is plenty to begin losing fat, and you can maximize the loss by heading into a training section after fasting for a few hours – but be careful not to overeat at the end of the ride.
Low Intensity, Aerobic, & consistent exercise Is one of the most effective ways to lose body fat.

Strengthen Your Legs
Cycling is far more fun than lifting weights in the basement, but it can help you achieve similar strength gains in your lower body. The best way to build brute strength, particularly in your quads, is to grind away in your highest gear – but if you drop below 60 pedal strokes per minute, drop a gear so that you don’t crush your knee joints.

Decrease Your Stress
Many athletes point to the “runner’s high” as a zen mental state that comes from exercise, but the same stress-free feeling can be found through cycling. Cycling forces you to regulate your breathing, breathe more deeply, and focus on the task at hand rather than the stress of other parts of your life.

Save Your Knees
Unlike “Running”, and most team sports that involve running, that high impact shock of your feet hitting the pavement or that hilly mountain trail can, over time, slowly breaks down your knee joints. Cycling, on the other hand, has a low impact on your knee joints and as a result, is a sport you can participate even in old age. Be sure to fit your bike properly, since a seat that is too high or low can cause grinding or overextension.

Breath Deep
Just as you can train the muscles in your legs, you can train the muscles that expand and contract your lungs. Cycling is a great way for this because there are ample opportunities to include intervals in your workouts or to practice cresting a hill and then keeping up the hard effort. This type of training can help to expand your lung capacity and teach you to move air more effectively.

Reduce Anxiety
Cycling has been shown to reduce stress levels by up to 40%, and as a result, can keep feelings of anxiety at bay. By keeping your mind on the road in front of you rather than aspects of work or life that are bothering you, cycling can provide a much-needed mental break.

Stretch Yourself
The motion of cycling forces you to extend specific muscles in your lower body that don’t often get stretched, like your glutes and hip flexors. This stretching can increase your overall range of motion and flexibility. However, it’s also important to remember to stretch these muscles after rides so they don’t tighten up after expanding.

Sleep Better
Decreases in fitness have been found to correlate with levels of insomnia in both men and women, so it’s important to stay in shape to give yourself the best possible chance of a good night’s sleep. Cycling, in particular, is a great way to reap exercise-induced sleep benefits since it reduces anxiety and keeps weight down, both of which are thought to contribute to insomnia.

Heart Healthy
Hopping on a bike can drastically cut your risk of heart disease. One study found that cycling regularly can decrease your chance of developing heart problems by 50%, while another study found that those who ride just 20 miles per week have half the heart disease risk as people who don’t exercise.

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of getting that bike out of storage and hitting the open road or mountain trail, if you’re going to put some significant miles on that odometer of yours then you should get yourself a good cycling computer. One that can track your distance, your leg reps, the measurement of your ride’s difficulty and with Garmin’s GPS functionality, it can not only tell you where you are but provide maps that help to get you where you're going! The cycling computer that does this and more is the Garmin Edge 530 . It also has functionality built in to provide cycling safety features, which also include a new bike alarm, group messaging and tracking, incident detection and compatibility with Varia™ rearview radar and lights so you can see and be seen!

Now, just so you have an idea over the features that come with this model of cycling wonders. The Garmin Edge 530 has the following features designed in:

Increased display size 13% from 2.3” to 2.6”

Increased battery life from 15 to 20 hours, and to 48 hours in battery saver mode

Significantly increased processor speed: Results in much faster route calculation

Maintained complete onboard turn by turn map database for your region

Added WiFi: Used for syncing of activities/metrics/routes (not during the ride)

Added ClimbPro: Automatically shows how much distance/elevation remains for each climb on the route

Added Mountain Bike Metrics: Shows Grit, Flow, and Jump details on both unit and Garmin Connect

Added Trailforks maps to the unit: Added global Trailforks data/maps to baked-in data on the unit (no downloads required)

Added ForkSight: Automatically shows mountain bike trail options when you pause at a fork in the trail

Added Heat Acclimation: Will automatically take into account heat/humidity for performance/recovery metrics

Added Altitude Acclimation: Will automatically take into account (high) elevation for performance/recovery metrics

Added Training Plan API support: This includes a redesigned structured workout execution page

Added Hydration/Nutrition Smart Alerts: When using a course/route, it’ll automatically figure out how much water/calories you should be taking

Added Hydration/Nutrition Tracking: It allows you to record this data in ride summary screens and log it on Garmin Connect

Added Edge Battery Pack Support: You can now attach the Garmin integrated battery pack to the Edge (you can still use generic USB power too)

Added Bluetooth Smart sensor support: You can now pair Bluetooth Smart sensors like heart rate, power, and cadence

Added Performance Power Curve: This shows you your mean maximal power over different durations/timeframes (like many training sites)

Added Bike Alarm Feature: Used for cafes/bathroom stops, emits loud alarm if bike is moved

Added ‘Find my Edge’ feature: Automatically record exact GPS location on your phone if Edge is disconnected (in case unit pops off)

Added Training Plan Weather/Gear Tips.

Now if the above is not enough to satisfy you, then YOU are a very finicky person! So what are you waiting for? Get that bike out, give it a “Once Over” to make sure it's in “Tip-Top” shape. Get yourself that Garmin Edge 530 GPS Cycling Computer  and go ahead and start those peddles churning!

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