Just a few short weeks ago in this space, I outlined a plan to help us all gear up for biking season.
1) Set a goal early. Put some kind of special ride or trip on your calendar for motivation.
2) Focus on one thing to develop, whether it’s pre-ride fitness or a commitment to a certain biking routine.
3) Find a support system. Either through a group or a partner, be accountable to someone who will help you make strides in your biking this season.
4) Have your gear and your bike ready — because you don’t want to be left out when the serious biking begins!
Haven’t put your plan into place yet? You’d better hustle.
Many paths and places — like the Greenbelt — are already great for biking right now. Expect the trails to be ready soon! (Visit ridgetorivers.org for updates on our Ridge to Rivers trail system and the conditions.)
Start by eating right
That means it’s also time to dial in on your nutrition habits. As a certified holistic nutritionist, I take the nutrition part of my training pretty seriously.
Of course nutrition is very personalized, just like any training goal, but one key factor to keep in mind is that you need enough calories — and the right kinds of healthy foods — for your efforts.
Last year, I had to increase the calories I was consuming to have enough energy for my rides — and I still dropped two pants sizes.
Make sure you’re eating fats, carbs and protein. Plan to “fuel” often so you keep your blood sugar stable. Your body will be using up your glycogen stores to keep your energy needs met. (Do some research or consult a nutritionist to learn what’s best for you.)
Below, you’ll find the recipe for my favorite packable snack because I have to eat while I’m riding, and you should, too, so you won’t “bonk.” That kind of energy drop will bring your ride to a very tiring end.
Take on your next ride for a whole-food source (made by you!) of carbohydrates and protein.
Another tip for cyclists ... yoga!
I personally like yoga since it develops flexibility, strength and mental toughness and also counter-balances much of what I do to my body while riding.
Here are my two favorite yoga poses specifically for cyclists.
I recommend doing these poses when you complete your ride, when your muscles are warmed up and are ready for these stretches.
This pose is excellent for countering all the “hunching” over that is done on your bike. While riding, your shoulders tend to be rounded, and it’s great to do the opposite during your off-the-bike training.
This pose will help strengthen your spine, and that’s always a good thing. Bonus: Good posture looks good on everyone.
Start on your back with your knees bent. For me, I can typically graze the back of my heels with my fingertips when my knees are bent in this position.
Your feet should be flat on the floor with the toes pointing to the end of your mat.
It can be helpful to place a yoga block between your knees to provide some stability if needed.
On an inhale and while gently pressing your feet into the floor, lift your pelvis off the ground.
Come to a comfortable point while keeping your knees steady. Slide your shoulders gently underneath you, if you are able to do so, clasping your hands together.
Keep your breath long and steady while holding the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Lower down slowly, one vertebrae at a time.
▪ Pigeon (with modifications aka Thread the Needle)
I especially love this pose, but even more so since I started cycling.
It’s great for helping the range of motion in your hips as well as stretching the glutes and hip flexors.
Start on your back with both knees bent, much like you did for bridge pose.
Gently bring your left ankle on your right knee. Reach your left hand through the opening between your legs — like your arm is the thread, and your legs are the needle.
Use your right arm to work with your left on the back of your right hamstring to gently draw the right knee toward your chest.
Come to a point where it is comfortable, and you still feel the stretch. Always back out gently if you feel any pain or pinching.
Hold in this position with a long steady inhale and exhale for 30 to 60 seconds.
Release and do the same on the opposite side.
You can hold the pose longer or repeat multiple times on both sides.
Jessica Wyman, an author, speaker and nutritionist, is a mountain biker who hits a variety of trails around the Northwest. Visit Wyman’s blog at Jessica-Wyman.com for recipes and lifestyle advice. She hopes to inspire other women to participate in outdoor fitness activities. Learn more at www.Jessica-Wyman.com/GetMoreGirlsOutside.
3-Ingredient Cocoa Protein Energy Bites
Prep Time: 10 minutes
2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not cocoa mix)
1 cup chopped nuts of choice (I like walnuts with my chocolate.)
Blend dates in a food processor or high-powered blender until a thick paste forms. You’ll know when you’ve got it right because it will all come together in a paste-like clump.
It’s best to use moist dates. If you found them in the back of your pantry, they are probably still good, but fresher dates are better for this recipe.
Add the chopped nuts in with the dates. Mix until the nuts are well-distributed in the date mixture.
For the next step, work fast so the mix doesn’t dry out. Scoop about a tablespoon of the mixture together, and roll into a ball in your palm. Set aside until all the mixture is in round bites.
In a large shallow dish, (I use a square baking pan), add the cocoa powder.
Put a few of the bites in the baking dish and gently shake as the bites roll around, getting covered in the cocoa powder.
Continue until all the bites are lightly dusted in the cocoa powder.
Store in the refrigerator.