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Bicycle Helmets: The Breakdown

Bicycle helmets only work if you wear them correctly

That’s not breaking news, but anyone that’s new to triathlon might not think they’re necessary. Well, they are and you need to make sure the one you purchase is effective. Especially if you’ve started training for Rookie Triathlon, the first triathlon of your life! 

Your helmet could be the difference between life and death. Here's the lowdown on bicycle helmets, from choosing one that fits your head to avoiding common helmet mistakes. Click To Tweet

Why wear a bicycle helmet?

It’s simple: if you fall from your bike, the helmet will take the force of the blow instead of your head. Wearing a bicycle helmet when cycling is the most effective way to prevent a life-threatening head injury. Don’t assume that bicycle helmets are just for kids. Adults face the same risks as children. Even a low-speed fall from a bike can be dangerous.

Selecting a bicycle helmet

Bicycle helmets are cooler, more comfortable, and easier to adjust than ever before. There are plenty of inexpensive choices that will meet all these needs. Check out these recommendations from the staff at High Five Events.

Remember the ground rules:

Make sure the helmet is safe. Look for a seal of approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If it doesn’t have a seal of approval from them, don’t purchase it and most certainly don’t ride with it. Aerodynamic helmets should be held to the same standards as regular helmets. A few extra seconds are not worth risking serious injury.

Make sure it fits snugly

You shouldn’t be able to move the bicycle helmet more than one inch in any direction, front-to-back or side-to-side. The sizing pads included with every bicycle helmet can help make the fit more secure. If you have long hair, consider a helmet with a ponytail port. The rules for wearing a bicycle helmet are simple. Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head. The helmet should cover the top of your forehead without tilting forward or backward.

Think about visibility

If the bicycle helmet straps block your vision – even a little bit – choose another helmet. Likewise, make sure motorists and other cyclists can see you; choose a brightly colored helmet.

Fasten the chin strap just below your chin

If it’s not fastened, it won’t help you out much. If the bicycle helmet doesn’t feel snug, use the foam sizing pads that came with the helmet to get a better fit. The helmet shouldn’t rock from front to back or side to side. Some helmets are “one size fits all,” but others come in S-XL. Wear it before you buy it!

Bicycle helmets must be replaced after every crash

If a crack or any sort of puncture is spotted on the helmet, it should be replaced. No questions asked.

3 Riding Quotes That’ll Get You Back in the Saddle

Riding quotes to reignite your flame

The weather. Work got busier. Kids are sick. Your bike needs a tune-up. Recovering from injury. Whatever the reason, you haven’t been riding lately. These 3 riding quotes will get you back in the saddle in no time (unless you’re injured, get better first). Go for a quick ride on one of these three routes or get your friends together for a group ride. Just get the wind blowing in your face again. You’ll appreciate it!

“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.” Lance Armstrong

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” Charles M. Schulz

“She who succeeds in gaining mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” Susan B. Anthony

Preventing Flat Tires

Use these tips to prevent flat tires

Tired of monkeying around with flat tires? Then check out these prevention tips:
What’s the number one cause of tire problems? If you guessed too little air pressure, then you’re right. Having a good floor pump is essential in helping to prevent flats. The pumps usually include gauges. A good floor pump will inflate tires faster and easier than the pump you carry on your bike for emergencies.

Monitor your tires for wear and tear. Road tires generally last about 1,500 miles when used on the rear and about twice that on the front. If you go any longer than that, flat tires are more likely to occur.

Regularly check your tread for cuts and debris. Outside objects aren’t always the culprit for flat tires. Sometimes the culprit is something sharp inside the rim. If the hole is on the “belly” of the tube (the same surface the valve is on), something inside the rim popped the tube. If the hole is on the outer surface, it was caused by something that penetrated the tire and tube.

For punctures on the tube’s belly, make sure that the rim strip is fully covering the nipple holes and that it can’t move out of position. If you find anything sharp on the rim, sand it smooth with a file or sandpaper.

Dealing with flats

If you follow all these steps and still suffer more than your share of flat tires, there are several additional options available, such as flat-resistant tires, tubes, and tire liners.
These tips are meant to prevent flats and help extend the life of your tires. All cyclists now flat tires are going to happen. If you’re on a ride and you have a flat, memorize these 10 steps for repairing your flat!

Why You Should Wear Sunglasses When Riding Your Bike

Wearing sunglasses when riding isn’t just for looking cool

In addition to looking hip, wearing sunglasses regularly can have several benefits. This applies to running, hanging at the beach, driving a car, and especially riding your bike. If you have some sweet specs that make you look cool, all the better! We recommend the UA Igniter II Sunglasses by Under Armour. In honor of National #SunglassesDay, we take a look at why wearing shades on your bike ride will protect you and make you safer. Click To Tweet

Protection

  • Dust and debris – You will encounter visible and non-visible projectiles whether you’re riding the trails or commuting to work. Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from flying debris might be the most important reason. Flying debris doesn’t care if you’re riding solo or with a group. Cars kick up rocks, bugs are everywhere, even other cyclists can kick up debris on the side of the road. Dust is everywhere. It’s often stirred up by cars, other riders, or Mother Nature. Glasses won’t protect you from all the dust, but it’ll surely help. If you wear shades when riding then you know you have to clean them after every ride.
  • UV exposure – Repeated exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from the sun will have negative consequences on your vision. Protecting your eyes is critical to the short-term, and in this case, the long-term health of your eyes. Make sure your lenses are polarized and have a coating that absorbs the sun’s rays. Lenses also need to be a neutral color, not crazy tints and extreme colors. Your goal is to protect your eyes while replicating what your eyes see naturally.

Safety

  • Clearer view – The correct lenses will help clear your view when cycling. Cyclists have a large amount of information to process when riding. You’re watching for vehicles, intersections, signaling turns, avoiding potholes, tracking other cyclists and runners, the list goes on. Any time you can eliminate distractions you free up the ability to pay attention and process more information. Proper lenses will also help reduce the sun’s glare. Glare could shine in your eyes from street signs, windows on buildings, or the hood’s of cars. Proper fitting sunglasses will also reduce the amount of wind that hits your eyes. Wind alone can cause dryness and irritation when riding.

Next time you’re on the road, grab a pair of sunglasses for your ride. Even a cheap pair will provide protection until you can get a pair that you’ll love. Taking care of your eyes now will pay dividends down the road.

 

Rookie Triathlete: Part 2: Mock Rookie Tri

Mock Rookie Tri Overall Champ

mock

The Beginning.

I’ll begin this blog by stating that I’ve always respected other athletes and their abilities. After this morning’s mock Rookie Tri I have a newfound respect for swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes. Holy smokes that was an intense way to begin a Friday morning. I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would, but I hurt in places that I didn’t know could hurt like that (aka my ass). I have a stand-up desk at work, and it’s been a back-and-forth battle all day of standing up to not aggravate my cycling “injury” and sitting down to rest my weary body. BUT… I did it.

My morning began with an earlier alarm clock than normal, can’t be late to my mock triathlon! I ate a Clif Bar and Clif Bloks for breakfast. I also weighed myself – 195 lbs. Coach Barny met me at Barton Springs. After running into my *friendly triathlon* arch nemesis (saving his intro for another blog) I become even more pumped to get this mock tri started. It was chilly with some occasional wind; my phone told me it was 46 degrees outside. My bed was much warmer.

So… there’s no motor?!

The swim

As promised, the 300m swim took place in Barton Springs wearing board shorts with running tights underneath. We all know the water temperature (~68 degrees if you don’t know). I’m accustomed to the water because that’s where I relax after my morning runs in the summer. No better way to cool off. Swimming the first 300m of your life on Feb. 1st on the other hand…Yikes. But, I jumped in (yes, I held my nose). The initial shock wore off; I adjusted my goggles to keep stalling, finally started Barny’s swimming watch that I borrowed, then began swimming. Completely unnatural motions for me. I tried to emulate what I’ve seen others perfect, the stroke, breathing in above water, breathing out underwater. It went well for about the first 50m and then I started flailing. Not flailing like I was about to go under, but flailing like I’m only 50m into this, and I’m this exhausted? I kept pushing until I reached a point where I turned on my back. Greatest decision of my life (besides marrying my wife, duh). I was able to regain my composure and calm my breathing. I alternated this method until I reached the 300m mark, nearly ran into the wall at one point! Towards the end, my goggles started fogging, so I need to look into preventing that somehow. I slowly exited the Springs, said some things under my breath while toweling off, and began my ascent to the parking lot where the bed of my truck was Transition. I think Barny and I talked; I just can’t remember what about for the life of me!

This first transition of my mock tri took longer than the second one. I dried off as best I could. Next, I took off my board shorts and put on some running shorts, threw on a shirt and a quarter zip pullover. Half the time spent in transition was trying to get my socks on. I’m finally ready, grab my nuun performance, and load it into a road cruiser that I borrowed from the office. Pro tip, get a helmet before riding. I didn’t get a helmet (I will soon!) and had to ride without one. My course was a safer “course” riding on the roads of Zilker Park, but still, Rookie mistake. Before I took off, I put on my Garmin watch so I could track my time and distance for the bike ride and run.

Giddy up!

The bike

My 11-mile bike ride begins. It’s crazy, how many memories come back to you when you haven’t ridden a bike since you were young (like standing up on the pedals to give your ass a rest). It’s also crazy how those memories immediately went away when I left the Barton Springs parking lot, took a left, and encountered my first hill. A few more choice words and lower gears later and I’m at the top thinking I’m out of my league. But by the final lap (the laps were ~1.25 mi) I felt good about the hill, my approach, and plan for attacking it and using different gears. There’s way more to learn, but much was learned between the first and last laps. My muscles started screaming at me in the last few laps. Passing a good buddy of mine, Paul Terranova, three times while he ran helped distract, and his words of encouragement were indeed needed. Thanks, Paul!

My ride ends at 11 miles on the dot, and I head to transition (aka my truck bed). I hop off the bike, and my legs begin wobbling immediately. I thought I was going down for the count. This foreign feeling had me worried about the run. Barny laughed at me and told me I’d be fine (he was right). I took some more hydration, gathered myself, and began my run.

The run

Two miles is nothing for me. Or so I thought. After swimming 300m and riding for 11 miles, my body felt as though I’d never run before. EVER.

It wasn’t as bad as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill when she wakes up from her coma, but it wasn’t pretty. My motion was different; my stride was off. I was shuffling the first half mile. Then muscle memory kicked in. I climbed the hill (that I just rode several times). My stride began to elongate. I started feeling better. I get back to my truck (aka transition), and I still have .75 miles left. But the loop was 1.25 miles. I thought to myself there’s no way in hell I’m running an extra half mile. Not today. So I ran towards the familiar Greenbelt entrance. Hit a certain point on the Greenbelt and turned around. I finished my mock tri right next to the Zilker water fountain. Just like I’d planned it. By then I was picking up the pace and feeling better about the day, knowing I was so close to the end.

GPS is always right.

After my mock Rookie Tri, I composed myself, checked my body to ensure everything was where it was supposed to be, got out some salted watermelon Clif Bloks (my go-to), and got in my truck. I sat for a few seconds to ensure I could operate a vehicle. It turns out I could. I made my way home, gingerly took a shower, swatted away Napoli, my blue heeler, who wanted to play, and headed to work.

The end. Right? Wrong. Now the training begins! Check out my splits below.

Overall time – 1:34:43

300m swim – 7:16

T1 – 6:00

Bike – 1:01:47 (5:35, 5:39, 5:37, 5:08, 5:23, 6:01, 6:03, 5:56, 5:44, 4:57, 5:44)

T2 – 2:00

2-mile run – 17:40 (9:06, 8:34)

Want to join the fun? Coach Barny (I think that’s what I’ll call him) has a training deal for Rookies (like me) who want to complete the Rookie Tri on May 6th (you HAVE to be a first-timer!). It’ll be a 12-week program for $400 total. That’s a steal and significantly less than what he normally charges. Plus, I need some training partners. Accountability is huge when training. It makes getting out of bed easier. It makes training in general easier. JOIN ME! Hit him up today and tell him you’re a Rookie who wants to #feelthebarn.

Rookie Triathlete: Part 1: A Work in Progress

Hi, my name is William. I’m a Rookie.

What started off as a small idea has now taken on a life of its own. I’m committing to my first triathlon, The Rookie Triathlon on May 6, 2018. My world-class/uber-talented triathlon coach is none other than Paul “Barny” Matthews. I have no tri kit. My only swim gear is a pair of swim goggles. I’ve never swum for an extended period of time. I don’t have a bike, I don’t even have a helmet. I haven’t biked for 15+ minutes since I was a kid 20+ years ago. But I do have all the running stuff I’ll need! There it is, the silver lining.

Paul “Barny” Matthews at 2017 Rookie Tri (credit: Ed Sparks)

Quick background, my name is William Dyson. I’m a runner. I love to be in the water. I can ride a bike. I’m also the Communications Manager for High Five Events and have been so for nearly two years now. I’ve never committed to a triathlon. Until now…

This blog will provide updates on my training progress, my research into the sport, and insight from Barny as to why he’s having me train the way he is. So let’s kick things off! My training starts this Friday, 2/2, at Barton Springs. I will complete (fingers crossed) a mock Rookie Tri (300m swim, 11-mile bike ride, 2-mile run) on Friday, Feb. 2nd, to create a database that I can use for training purposes and compare and contrast my (hopeful) progress (time, weight, measurements, etc). For updates, stay tuned to this blog, follow us on Twitter (@stay_vertical #feelthebarn @paulbarny), and check out Barny’s coaching website!

If it weren’t for my running gear I would have NOTHING needed to compete in a triathlon. So what am I doing about that? I’m leaning on triathletes, asking them questions. I have co-workers who’ve competed in many triathlons, including Kona. They’re helping establish my knowledge base.

Felt Z100

I’ve researched bikes. I’ve been in touch with Josh from Jack & Adam’s Fredericksburg about a Felt Z100 (hope I wrote that correctly). My thinking behind buying a bike as opposed to renting/borrowing one, I’d like to start riding to work to conserve on gas and mileage on my truck. Josh put together a ~$700 package that includes the bike, a helmet, flat kit, tube, and flat pedals (since I won’t get the clip pedals and the bike shoes needed for those pedals (aka more money). I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m leaning towards this route for my introduction.

My total swim gear consists of one pair of swimming goggles. Sounds like I should acquire some more gear before May 6th. When I complete my mock Rookie Tri it’ll be done in running tights and boardshorts. I’ll wear goggles too, but I don’t think I’ll wear a swim cap or any shirt. The forecast calls for chilly temperatures so I might rethink the top part and wear an Under Armour shirt. Full disclosure: I hold my nose when I jump in a body of water.

Like I said, I’m a runner. I have all I’ll need. My only real focus for the two-mile run is speed. I know you can’t make up much time on a short course, but I want to nail the Rookie Tri run course.

My first meeting with Barny took place on Jan. 26th. His father was visiting from Australia, fresh off a blistering time at 3M Half Marathon, and joined the meeting. Gerry’s advice helped establish my base as well. He mentioned triathlon training is just like any other training: make sure you control what you can control. Barny reminded me not to panic (yeah right) because there was a lot of time between now and race day. Focus on getting better, continuing to show progress.

That’s it until next week. I’ll provide a recap a the mock Rookie Tri, show my results, chat about next steps, and provide any other updates. If you’re like me and have never completed a triathlon, I hope this blog gives you the nudge needed to join me on race day. If you want to watch me transition out of the bed of my truck and pedal 11 miles on a cruiser with a helmet that’s a size too small, join us at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 2nd, at Barton Springs!