29 July 2011

Why I Ride...One Man's Personal Story of Why he Supports the Tour de Cure

By Ray Bransky

Fifty-five years ago, four years before I was born, my sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four. For most of my life I always thought my sister had a normal childhood. Sure I knew her diet was a little different and she needed to take insulin injections, but for the most part the challenges she faced were similar to most. Because of our age differences, my sister and I rarely shared "coming of age" milestones. High school, college, dating, work, marriage, children were all events we passed on separate calendars. In truth, our parents and the family visits they encouraged were our mainstay in spanning the generational as well as geographical differences. When my father, our last surviving parent, passed away 5 years ago, I made a promise to myself to put more effort into staying in touch.

Oddly enough, cycling became that connection. Being avid century riders, my son and I are always looking for new events and rides. Because my sister lives in Portland we started looking for organized rides that could bring us into her town for a visit. When we found the Tour de Cure, we knew we found our event. The first year it was just my son and me raising a small sum and riding the century. The next year we formed a modest team, Linda’s Loose sprockets, in honor of my sister. Riders included my son and myself on the century, my wife, niece and two of my sister’s friends (including “Red” Jennifer, a red rider diagnosed in her teen years) pedaling the 27-mile route and my sister and brother volunteering at the stadium.

Even though I had grown up with a diabetic in my family that year, as Linda’s Loose Sprockets gathered for our post celebratory dinner around my sister’s table, I think I finally had a better understanding as to what diabetics really faced. My sister talked about the changes she has seen in her lengthy tenure as a type 1 diabetic. She remembers my father sharpening needles and having to boil glass syringes to sterilize them for reuse. She spoke of learning to count calories at an early age to balance out her blood sugar and insulin levels. With pride she recounted her testing of some of the earliest insulin pumps, one of which allowed her to successfully navigate the gestational cycle that produced her daughter, my niece and now our fellow rider. “Red” Jennifer, in turn beamed about my sister’s current health and her ability to control diabetes. She shared the challenges she faced as a rebellious teen diagnosed with diabetes and subtly wondered what health issues lay ahead for her due to the choices she made as an adolescent.

All of this made me realize that my sister, and diabetics face anything but a “normal” life. In a way, I see my participation in Tour de Cure as an opportunity to pay back all those before me who have helped my sister, through research, education and technology, live a half-century and beyond with diabetes. But in truth what I really hope is that my riding might be a small step that helps someone else diagnosed with diabetes enjoy a life that is at least as long and fulfilling as that of my sister.

NOTE: Join the BicyclingHub.com Team at the Portland Tour de Cure tomorrow (Saturday, July 30th). Look for the BicyclingHub logoed jerseys en route and introduce yourselves. Can't make it to the start line? You can still DONATE TODAY to help put an end to diabetes and spread the word.

What else is happening at the Hillsboro Stadium? Here's the latest word from Kris Bockmier, Portland Tour Organizer.

Stick around! Here's What's happening at the stadium before and after the ride:
Join us for breakfast and coffee, 5:30am-10:00am, brought to you by Ambridge Event Center. Breakfast will include fruit, bagels, PB & J, yogurt, granola and boiled eggs. Gleukos will be available at 5:30am to fill your bottles and is also the sports drink on the course. Located next to food area. Bring your swimsuit, shorts and towels so you can enjoy the Wild Rapids waterslide after you return from your ride. Lunch will be served by Helvetia Tavern. They will be grilling burgers and veggie burgers, along with a salad and chips. Fruit, snacks and soda will also be available. Extra meal tickets for your friends and family are available for $7.00. Bring your ID and cash for the beer garden.

26 July 2011

Form and Function: A Clothing Buyer's Guide for Women

Imagine BicyclingHub's surprise when we opened our July 2011 issue of Velo News and discovered some of the products we carry were featured in their Women's Gear Guide! That's great news for the more than 16 million women in the U.S. ride road bikes looking for performance-enhancing apparel built with the female figure in mind. Below are some of the highlights, showcasing some of our favorites found on BicyclingHub.com.

Form and Function: A Clothing Buyer's Guide
by Rebecca Heaton

When it comes to cycling clothing, women have a dizzying array of options to choose from. To help with all the choices, we selected short-sleeve jerseys and shorts in small, medium and large sizes from 10 different companies. Then we gathered a group of 10 female cyclists of all interests, shapes and sizes — several road racers, a few casual triathletes, and a number of women who enjoy putting in serious miles at endurance events, century rides and multi-day bike tours — to try everything on and give their feedback wearing the clothes both on and off the bike.


COLOR AND PATTERN: Fun colors and prints, but nothing transparent or frilly.

FIT: Tight, but not too tight. The jersey shouldn't slide up and expose skin.

FABRIC: Soft, light, breathable fabrics are best, nothing scratchy.

POCKETS: Three pockets — a small zipper pocket for key and cell phone is a bonus.

BOTTOM BANDS: Minimal elastic, as tighter band tend to slide up on women with an hourglass figure.

FRONT ZIP: Three-quarter to full-length zippers.


WAIST BAND: Wider, softer bands and those that drop down a bit in front.

LENGTH: Nothing too long, although longer styles offer better compression.

FABRIC: Strong and thin, but not flimsy or see-through.

LEG GRIP: Need a gripper in the leg band, but not too grippy or sticky, and not so tight as to cause sausage legs.

CHAMOIS: Soft and comfortable, but not bulky.

STITCHING AND STYLING: Flat stitching is a must, and subtle style touches are welcome; basic black is still the most popular.

BIB VS. NO BIB: The jury is out; interesting option, but bathroom stops remain a challenge.


In the clothing descriptions, we note which pieces fit these four body types:

P PETITE BUILD: 5'2" – 5'4", chest (30"–32"), hips (32"–34")

B BROAD BUILD: 5 '4" – 5 '7", c hest ( 36"+), hips (39"+)

M MEDIUM BUILD: 5 '5" – 5 '7", chest ( 32"–36"), hips (34"–38")

T TALL BUILD: 5'8" – 6', chest (33"–36"), hips (33"–38")

Pearl Izumi Ultrastar Women's Cycling Jersey

"Designed with a semi-form fit, this jersey uses wicking, textured fabric with UPF 50 protection. Three back pockets offer up great storage for clothes and snacks, and a few reflective hits keep a rider visible early morning or when the sun sets."

PROS: Well constructed; great color and design; comfortable fit; good pockets; good value

CONS: A bit heavy for warm days; styling best for recreational riding

BEST FIT FOR: Petite, Medium, Broad builds. A bit too short in torso length for Tall builds.

Pearl Izumi Women's Elite Drop Tail Cycling Bib Shorts

"These shorts live up to their name with a unique “drop tail” flap in the back to make bathroom breaks easier. Made with a soft and breathable UltraSensor fabric in a multi-panel design, the Drop Tail features a seamless ELITE 3D Chamois, which is antimicrobial, breathable and padded in just the right places."

PROS: Great mesh in the bibs; soft, breathable fabric; comfortable, padded chamois; nice flatlock seams.

CONS: Drop tail flap — it works, but it's awkward.

BEST FIT FOR: Petite and Medium Builds. Bib didn't fit longer torsos well.

Descente Women's Aero-X Cycling Shorts

"Made with Descente's Aero-X fabric, a blend of nylon and spandex, these shorts provide great compression and stretch on long rides. An elastic-free waistband makes for a comfortable fit at the waist, and the women's lightweight Stealth chamois is antimicrobial and breathable."

PROS: Comfortable waistband; simple styling; no-nonsense chamois; well constructed, form-fitting fabric.

CONS: Overly simple styling; no leg grippers.

BEST FIT FOR: Petite, Medium, Broad builds. Too short for Tall tester.

Castelli Perla Women's Cycling Jersey

"Made with Castelli's Softlex fabric, this jersey feels like soft cotton and is wicking and form fitting with seamless arm and neck bands, each with a nice hit of color. The full-length zipper allows for maximum venting, and the plethora of pockets — three elastic and one zip — allow for plenty of room to store ride necessities."

PROS: Comfortable fit; soft fabric; well constructed; classy, feminine styling; trim detail matches shorts; good pockets.

CONS: Poor fit for longer torsos.

BEST FIT FOR: Petite, Medium, Broad builds. Too short for longer torsos.

22 July 2011

"No Guts, No Glory:" Schleck and Team Leopard-Trek Grab Yellow in an all-out battle to win the Tour

Photo source: versus.com

"No guts, no glory" is what Team Leopard-Trek's Andy Schleck told reporters yesterday at the end of Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France after his team's meticulously executed plan to break early with 60 km of serious climbing to go netted him the stage win and put Schleck within spitting distance of the yellow jersey, narrowly held onto by Europcar's Thomas Voeckler. Frenchman Voeckler gave the performance of his life as he sprinted to an uphill finish atop Galibier to retain the leader's yellow jersey for a 10th stage win, and Team BMC's Cadel Evans stamped out his determination with his every pedal stroke not to let his bid for the maillot jaune slip through his fingers.

The excitement continued in today's "hillier than thou" Stage 19 climbfest, ending with a guns (and legs) a'blazing battle on the road up the fabled Alp de Huez.

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Voeckler's fellow Frenchman and Europcar Pierre Rolland escaped the pack to achieve an important stage win at the top of Alp de Huez, while Andy Schleck took over the yellow jersey from Voeckler as leader of the 2011 Tour de France. Schleck enters Saturday’s critical final time trial with a 57-second gap ahead of Evans, a noted time-trialist, while defending champion Alberto Contador from Team Saxo Bank sits nearly four minutes behind Schleck in 6th place overall.

Will Andy find his wings?

[Photo left: Andy Schleck raises his arms in thanks after winning Stage 18 on the mountain-top finish of Galibier after a long solo effort. Source: Team Leopard-Trek.] When asked whether he'll be able to hold Cadel Evans at bay in the 40km time trial stage tomorrow and ride into Paris as the Tour Leader, Schleck replied, “The yellow jersey gives you wings and I hope that is the case tomorrow.” We'll know for certain tomorrow at the conclusion of Stage 20…But in the meantime, BicyclingHub.com thanks Andy the Team Leopard Trek for providing one of the most exciting Tours to watch with baited breath in a long time.

Cheer Andy on to victory with an official Team Leopard Jersey or Team Kit!

Team Leopard-Trek boasts some of the strongest riders in the world, from the animated Fabian Cancellara to Stuart O'Grady and Jens Voight the lanky Luxembourgers Frank Schleck and Andy Schleck and newcomer Jakob Fuglsang. If you are a fan, then this official team replica kit is a must have.

Look sharp, look fast - and be inspired to ride a little faster too!
Lightweight fast-wicking fabric and breathable fabric ensures your comfort whilst emulating your riding heroes. A full zipper helps with extra ventilation and three pockets in the rear are waiting to be filled with your onboard essentials. A 4th zippered pocket/compartment is useful for that front door key or enough change for extra refreshments along the way perhaps. Order yours today with BicyclingHub.com and get free and fast standard shipping and prompt delivery.

19 July 2011

When did you know you were passionate about cycling? Scott Richardson can tell you.

A Guest Blog article by Scott Richardson
Outdoor editor/staff writer for The Pantagraph, Bloomington, IL

A bike saved my life. That’s not said to be dramatic. It’s true.

I was 54 in 2005 when I saw a picture of me that left me speechless. I avoided the camera most of the time because I weighed nearly 400 pounds. But there I was.


The truth couldn’t be avoided any longer.

At the same time, some members of the local bike club came to my office at the newspaper where I write outdoor recreation/adventure/travel stories. They were launching a local effort modeled after Bicycling Magazine’s Bike Change Lives Giveaway and wanted my help. They would give three people bikes if I would follow their progress toward their fitness goals.

I loved bike riding as a kid, but the driver’s license and girls and killed the passion. So I decided I’d get a hybrid bike and join in. I had to have a heavy wheel built to handle my girth without breaking spokes. But I joined group rides with thin people in spandex and rode my tail off – literally. I rode 3,500 miles that first year. By 2006, I’d lost more than 100 pounds. I went to the doctor for a long overdue exam. Fat people do not go to doctors. Why pay money to hear, “You’re grossly overweight. Lose it.” ? One test led to another until cancer was found. No doubt, the tumor would have gone undetected until symptoms developed were it not for the weight loss from the bike. As it was, the disease had not spread. Surgery was scheduled.

The McLean County Wheelers have an annual Big Dog contest where members log their miles and report them monthly. I was just 17 miles short of 3,500 for the year when the sun came up on June 22, the day I was to have my operation. Rather than sit home and fret, I got on my bike – by now a Giant TCRc1 road bike – and pedaled off. I got that 17 miles and more, thinking about how much my life had changed as a result of two wheels.

Afterward, I borrowed a recumbent and started to ride within a few weeks. A few weeks later, I was back on the road bike. In 2007, I rode my first bike race in a triathlon relay for LiveSTRONG. I was chosen to attend the LiveSTRONG Challenge in Austin that fall thanks to a web site devoted to Lance Armstrong’s team. I rode for that relay team again in 2008, all the while losing more weight. In 2009, I did my first full triathlon. In 2010, I did my first half Ironman. I’m training for IronMan Wisconsin on Sept. 11, about two weeks shy of my 60th birthday.

I was pronounced five years cancer free on June 22 of this year. The odds of its return are virtually nil.

The bike changed my life in another way. I got an email in 2006 shortly after my surgery from a lady who read my articles on cycling and how it helped me. She wanted help in choosing a road bike. At the end, she mentioned in passing that we had gone to high school together in a small town not far from where the newspaper is published. We rode together. She even finished a couple of centuries with me. We were married in 2008.

[Lance] Armstrong said, "it’s not about the bike," and he was right in a way. It’s about where the bike will take you. It can take you as far as your dreams.

14 July 2011

Funding for bicycling and walking is in jeopardy: speak out TODAY!

Your favorite road or trail network may soon be on the endangered species list. Join PeopleForBikes, the League of American Bicyclists, and the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) in contacting your elected representatives TODAY and urge them not to cut these critical transportation, safety and recreational trails programs.

Last week, Congressman John Mica of Florida, Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, outlined his plans for the new transportation bill and called for the elimination of dedicated funding for biking and walking programs, which he suggested, “do not serve a federal purpose.”

In the Senate, James Inhofe of Oklahoma is leading a similar attack. Inhofe, a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said that one of his top-three priorities for the next multi-year federal transportation bill is to eliminate “frivolous spending for bike trails.”

If Representative Mica and Senator Inhofe get their way, dedicated funding for three crucial programs -- Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, and Recreational Trails -- will be eliminated. We can't let this happen. Send a short email today to your members of Congress asking them to support ongoing, dedicated funding for biking and walking in the next transportation bill.

Suggested Talking Points (courtesy of peopleforbikes.org):
  • The federal investment in biking and walking is cost-effective: 1.5 percent of transportation spending supports the 12 percent of all trips that are made on foot or bike.
  • Biking and walking need continuing, DEDICATED federal funding. If bike/ped programs are simply eligible for funding and the decisions are left to individual states, key programs will be decimated.
  • More than 4 billion bike trips were made in the U.S. last year—a record.
  • Portland, Oregon built a 300-mile network of bike lanes, multi-use trails and bike boulevards for $60 million—the cost of one mile of highway.
  • The federal investment in biking and walking supported more than 3,000 projects and programs in all 50 states last year. Reallocating this money to road construction would pay for less than 20 miles of new of new highway in a single location.
  • Investments in biking and walking provide tremendous bang for each buck. Bike infrastructure reduces road congestion and air pollution, improves personal health, and creates and supports good jobs.
Suggested cuts affect trail users as much as road users.

Why does this matter to mountain bikers?
According to IMBA, many of the at-risk federal programs directly help improve mountain biking in the United States. For example, the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is incredibly valuable — no other federal funding source comes close to creating the trail opportunities that RTP puts on the ground in all 50 states. More than likely one of your favorite trails was funded in part by RTP.

Bicycling and walking are non-partisan issues. Thanks for taking five minutes to urge your Congressional representatives to continue dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, and standing up for cyclists on this important issue.

12 July 2011

Tips for Cyclists on Reducing Risk to Skin Cancer

Guest Blog article by Stephen Dupont, Pocket Hercules

MINNEAPOLIS (July 2011) -- You wear a helmet to protect your head. You wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from dust and dirt. You ride defensively to avoid careless drivers, kids, and dogs.

But more often than not, you, like many who enjoy bicycling, forget to put on your sunblock before you hit the roads and trails.

If you love cycling and want to enjoy it well into your senior years then protect yourself from the sun. That’s the advice for America’s 57 million bicyclists from a leading plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has treated thousands of patients over the course of his 15-year career for skin cancer and melanoma.

As the days grow longer and warmer, and the sun intensifies in it’s strength, cyclists need to take precautions against the sun’s harmful rays, says Dr. Sam Economou, who leads Plastic Surgery Consultants Ltd., a practice located in Edina, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.

The reason is simple: skin cancer is on the rise. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, more than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year. In addition, about 68,000 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, are diagnosed yearly. While more people are detecting cancer earlier, increasing their chances of survival, cancer rates are actually rising, especially among young people who use tanning booths and those who do not use sunblock when working and playing outside.

Cycling is about spending time outdoors. And more often than not, most cyclists enjoy riding their bikes when the weather is nice and sunny. That puts many of America’s 57 million cyclists at risk for skin cancer, says Dr. Economou. The more time you spend outdoors cycling, the greater risk of exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation and sunburns.

People who bicycle a lot have several strikes against them when it comes to skin cancer, notes Dr. Economou. Because many cyclists ride near their homes, they think they’re not at risk if they don’t put on sunblock -- even for a short ride. The problem is that cyclists tend to expose more skin than other athletes because of the clothes they wear (shorts and short-sleeve shirts). In addition, many cyclists may not realize that water, sand, and asphalt streets reflect dangerous UV rays.

To help cyclists lower their risk of developing skin cancer, Dr. Economou offers these tips:

Apply sunblock. Always apply sunblock lotion at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun, before you start to perspire, to allow the sunblock to be absorbed into your skin. If you think you may remove some cycling clothes during your ride, consider applying sunblock before you get into your cycling clothes. Even if you’re riding at 6 a.m., apply sunblock and reapply it after every two hours you’re outside. Use a sunblock with a SPF rating of at least 30 an arms, legs, face and neck and a water-resistant SPF of 50+ on your nose and the top of your ears. Make sure that your sunblock is effective against both UVA and UVB rays.

Wear a hat. The most susceptible place on your body for skin cancer is your head -- the top of your head, your face, nose and ears. Believe Dr. Economou, reconstructive surgery on the nose and ears is challenging. Cyclists should wear a thin cycling cap underneath their helmets to prevent from being sunburned on the top of their head. Always apply sunscreen to the face, especially the nose and ears, and to the back of the neck.

Polarized UV-blocking sunglasses. Cyclists should always wear sunglasses to protect their retinas from harmful UV rays, as well as dust particles on a windy day. Sunglasses that wrap around your face offer the best protection. Polarized lenses help cut the glare (from nearby water, sand, asphalt and snow) to help you see better during your ride. A really good pair of polarized sunglasses is one piece of equipment in which every rider should invest. They’re just as important as buying a bike.

Wear cycling gloves. Wear gloves specifically designed for cycling. Padded gloves not only make riding more comfortable, they’re essential to preventing nasty scrapes in the event of a fall. Gloves also are helpful in protecting the tops of your hands from sunburn, which is one of the most exposed parts of your body during a ride. Don’t forget to apply sunblock to your hands before putting on your gloves.

Wear protective clothing. If you have a high risk or history of skin cancer in your family you should look into protective clothing. Even on the hottest days, wear lightweight long-sleeve shirts, caps, socks and shorts. Equip yourself with cycling jerseys and shorts that are specially made to block the sun and wick away moisture to keep you cool while out on the road or trail -- apparel that offers a UPF rating of at least 30+, as recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, to protect against harmful UVA/UVB rays. Remember, UV rays are present even on cloudy days.

Cycling jerseys, such as the Pearl Izumi Annata White Elite Limited Cycling Jersey pictured here, feature Pearl Izumi's famous moisture-wicking polyester fabric, UPF 40+ protection from the sun's harmful rays, and a form flattering fit. This bold new design also offers Direct-Vent size panels to enhance syle, performance and comfort.

Move your cycling time. Here’s another excuse for getting yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn. It may be more pleasant to wait until the day has warmed up and the sun is shining, but that’s when the sun is at its strongest, and cruelest, in terms of skin cancer. And don’t fool yourself on cloudy or partly cloudy days. Harmful UVA and UVB rays still get through clouds. Instead, shift your riding time to early morning or early evening to avoid the affects of the sun. Just don’t forget to wear highly visible clothing (screaming yellow, orange or lime green) to make sure automobile drivers and other cyclers see you.

Avoid sunburns. Repeated sunburns over time can cause significant damage to your skin. Severe sunburns as a child are a leading risk factor in developing skin cancer as an adult. Sunburns happen though, despite our best intentions. If you do get a severe sunburn, stay hydrated, treat the sunburned area with an aloe-based lotion, take cool showers, and if you’re experiencing headaches, take a pain reliever.

.KEVIN SAYS: Give the Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves a try!

Having the fair-skinned complexion that comes as standard with red hair, I have to watch myself in the sun lest I should become lobster-man! I tried the Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves out and found them to be great and much more convenient than applying and re-applying lotion. I guess there is less chance of 'missing a bit' also, and ending up with red patches that might have escaped the lotion. Any concerns about putting on what seem like armwarmers for a hot summer's day soon went away once I started out. These actually did feel cool to ride in and I had no problem leaving them on for my entire ride. I would recommend these highly for anyone looking for sun protection - which I guess should be everyone, right? Be safe out there!

We finally got some good weather in Portland and the mercury was up there in the 90's - well that's hot for us ! Thing is - the hotter it got, the cooler these, and my arms, felt. To add to this - the last couple of days have started out chilly and these did the trick keeping the goosebumps away in the morning. Later on when the sun blazed throught the cloud cover I did not need to take them off and/or apply sunscreen. I am loving my sun sleeves!

Stay hydrated. To maintain healthy skin, don’t forget to stay hydrated while cycling by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic beverages before and during a ride. When your skin dries out or is not hydrated properly, it’s more susceptible to sunburn and long-term skin damage. Water remains the best liquid to drink while exercising. Sports drinks add empty calories.

Conduct skin cancer self-examinations. If you have a fair complexion, multiple freckles and moles, and experienced severe sunburns as a child, you have some of the leading risk factors for skin cancer. Take this seriously, especially if you spend a fair amount of time outside cycling. At least once a month, before you get into or just out of the shower, look at your
skin. Look at moles and freckles to see if you notice any changes in their shape, size, color or asymmetry. Make an appointment once a year with your doctor or a dermatologist to look at your skin as part of an annual exam. Especially watch moles and freckles on high-risk areas of your body, the face, nose, ears, the back of your hands and your calves.

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