Research shows that exercise like cycling can reverse age-related heart damage



Failed love affairs notwithstanding, time can take a real toll on your ticker. Sedentary middle-aged adults can end up with stiffening in the heart muscle, particularly the left ventricle (the chamber that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body), raising the risk for heart failure. Masters athletes of the same age, by contrast, have large, compliant left ventricles similar to those of their younger peers.

Now, groundbreaking research shows that people can reverse age-related heart damage, but they need to make regular aerobic exercise—like cycling—a part of their daily lives before it’s too late.

In a recent study published in Circulation, cardiologists at UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources had 53 sedentary adults, ages 45-64, either perform a cardiovascular exercise program for two years or act as a control group, participating in yoga and balance training over the same period. After a gradual three-month buildup, the cardio group ultimately worked out four to five days a week and for 30 minutes at a time, including one high-intensity interval workout and one longer session.

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Cycling Becomes Illinois’ Official State Exercise



Back in September I reported on House Bill 1784, which unanimously passed the Illinois legislature on August 25, officially legalizing three commonsense bike-related practices. The laws kicked in on New Year’s Day (thanks to state bike advocacy organization Ride Illinois, which proposed the bill, for the reminder), so here’s a quick recap.

Drivers may cross a solid centerline in order to safely pass a cyclist.

On most two-lane roads, the travel lanes are too narrow for motorists to safely and legally pass cyclist by providing the required three feet of clearance, without crossing the center line. In a no-passing zone with a solid centerline, drivers can now do so with the confidence that they aren’t breaking the law, assuming that there’s no danger of striking an oncoming vehicle in the other lane.

Bike riders are allowed to ride on the shoulder of the road

This should be obvious, but the new legislation specifies that it’s legal (although not required) for cyclists to use the shoulder of the road. Making it clear that cyclists may the shoulder could be helpful in liability cases where a cyclist is struck on the shoulder, and it will also be useful for road agencies that wish to designate a road shoulder as part of a marked bike route.

Cyclists may use a taillight instead of a rear reflector

Again, this should be a no-brainer, but the legislation codifies the fact that a rear, red taillight is at least as visible as a comparably sized reflector. The city of Chicago, as well as eight states, already allow a taillight to be used instead of a reflector, and now Illinois has a more logical law in this regard as well.


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The A-Z of cycling jargon



In the early 1980s comedian and keen cyclist Alexei Sayle gave an interview to Bicyclemagazine in which he talked about the way bike shops guard their knowledge with language. “You ask for a hub,” he said, “and they reply ‘cross-threaded or off-flange?’ and then they’ve got you!”

Cycling’s technical jargon is one of the biggest hurdles when you’re starting out, so here’s a glossary of terms to help you out. 


Alloy: A mixture of one or more metals and other elements. Alloying changes the physical properties of the main metal. For example, the common 6061 aluminium alloy used for bike frames contains magnesium and silicon and has a yield strength roughly thirty times higher than pure aluminium.

Aluminium: Low-density metal used in various alloys for bike frames and components.

Anti-seize: Grease containing very fine metal particles, used to stop threaded parts from corroding together.

Bead seat diameter: Diameter of the tyre bead.

Bead seat: The part of the rim where the tyre bead sits. The diameter of the bead seat is the basis of rim and tyre size standards. For example the standard road bike wheel and tyre size, 700C, has a bead seat diameter of 622mm

Bead: see Tyre bead.

Bearing: Any mechanism that reduces friction to allow parts to move easily against each other. Most common bicycle bearings use steel balls to allow parts to turn easily. Plain bearings, also known as bushings, have low-friction surfaces that slide against each other and are found in some components such as pedals and jockey wheels

Bimetallic corrosion: Aka galvanic corrosion; this is corrosion damage caused by a chemical reaction between two dissimilar metal surfaces and salt water. The most common example is aluminium seat posts corroding in place in steel frames because of the constant washing in salt water this area gets in a British winter.

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How to keep riding once you have kids



Becoming a father for the first time is an undoubtedly life-altering experience. Most that have been there will tell you it’s the proudest achievement of their life, that little comes close to the feeling of helping a child find their way in the world.

Of course, becoming a parent comes with a set of significant challenges. Reduced independence, sleep deprivation, reduced personal time — all factors that can make it hard to stay commited to the life of a dedicated cyclist.

But as Nathan Hosking writes about his first year as a father, it’s not impossible to stay fit and active while maintaining your responsibilities as a parent.

It was a slow February afternoon in the manchester department of my local Myer store when the words hit me. “I’m pregnant”, said my wife. A momentary of high elation was followed by an equal moment of apprehension as my mind calculated the due date. I’d been training hard for three months towards my personal Everest: the Gran Fondo World Champs in Perth, September 2016. “But that’s just six weeks before the champs!,” I thought to myself. I couldn’t help it, I’d been training so hard!


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Biking has become part of New York’s commuting culture as the city expands bike routes and Citi Bikes become ubiquitous

From The

On one of Brooklyn’s busier commuter streets, bicycles now outnumber cars.

The two-wheelers glide down a bike lane on Hoyt Street, which links Downtown Brooklyn with thriving brownstone-lined neighborhoods. There are so many bikes during the evening rush that they pack together at red lights and spill out in front of cars.

It is the kind of bike hegemony that was once hard to imagine in New York City, where cars and taxis long claimed the streets and only hardened cyclists braved the chaotic traffic.

“New York has really become a biking world,” said Jace Rivera, 42, a former construction worker who so enjoyed riding his bike to work that he changed careers last year to become a bike messenger. “The city has gotten a lot more crowded, and the trains have gotten a lot more expensive. By biking, you spare yourself the crowds, you save a lot of money, and you can go to work on time.”

Biking has become part of New York’s commuting infrastructure as bike routes have been expanded and a fleet of 10,000 Citi Bikes has been deployed to more than 600 locations. Today there are more than 450,000 daily bike trips in the city, up from 170,000 in 2005, an increase that has outpaced population and employment growth, according to city officials. About one in five bike trips is by a commuter.

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New “cycling-inspired” cafe rolling into Highland Park

From The

A “caffeine fueled, cycling-inspired” cafe is preparing to join the other new restaurants, bars and shops along York Boulevard.

The owners of à Bloc, which is taking shape inside  an approximately 1,300-square-foot storefront at 5025 York,  will not only serve coffee, pastries and snacks but will also sell custom cycling kits, urban cycling apparel, cycling accessories, caps, socks, water bottles and t-shirts.

“We want to bring our passion for coffee, cycling culture, and food together into one space, and build a community for like minded individuals to enjoy all three of these symbiotic elements,” said Kjeld Clark, one of the partners in the new shop.

The Clark and husband and husband-and-wife team Katherine and Johnny Richardson not only bring a love of cycling to the business but also backgrounds in retail and restaurants to run à Bloc. Clark owns a cycling apparel brand,, and has worked in bike shops and restaurants.  The Richardsons have extensive restaurant experience.

“Running any business takes many skill sets, and between the three partners we hopefully have them covered,” said Clark in an email. “Our three personalities will be revealed to our customers as we all put in time behind the coffee bar, pulling great shots and serving superb food, beverages and snacks.”

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Could your daily cycle commute be saving your life?


New research suggests we need an hours’ exercise per day to counter eight hours at a desk

The latest research into the perils of modern working practises, published in the Lancet(link is external) on Wednesday, suggests the current WHO recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise per week may not counter the risk of premature death caused by long hours of desk work.

However, the team of international experts behind the paper found this risk was eliminated among those who did at least an hour’s physical activity per day, and only sat for four hours per day.

Middle-aged cycle commuters typically 4-5kg lighter than those who drive to work

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Researchers analysed data from 16 previous studies encompassing more than one million people, and predominantly focused on those aged over 45 living in the USA, Western Europe and Australia.

In a two- to 18-year follow-up the risk of dying was 9.9 per cent for those with desk jobs that did little activity, compared with 6.8 per cent for those who sat less than four hours per day and were active for at least one hour per day.

While not everyone lives within cycling distance of work, or feels safe cycling on UK roads, there are other smaller things people can do to improve their health. Five minute breaks every hour are believed to be beneficial, as are replacing some of each evening’s rest time with some form of physical activity.

Standing desks(link is external) have been mooted as a solution to computer-based work, with recommendations people spend two hours standing at work, building up to an ideal four. Meanwhile staff at the journal that published the study, the Lancet, have introduced cycle desks.

Pedalling the pounds away: Why cycling could be the best way to lose weight

As the Tour de France gets into gear and the world’s elite cyclists compete to conquer climbs and steer clear of skin grafts, new research reveals the true impact of the cycling boom here in the UK. Studies from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, published in a Lancet paper on Diabetes and Endocrinology, reveal that cycling is the best activity to combat the obesity epidemic, with men in particular most likely to gain from a ‘get on your bike’ approach.

Over 150,000 British adults, aged 40 and upwards were measured, weighed and surveyed about their activity levels for the study. Researchers, led by Dr Ellen Flint, discovered that for the average man, cycling to work instead of driving was associated with a weight difference of 5kg (11lbs).

For men in their thirties onwards, the need to manage weight gain and combat the associated health risks that come with it is essential. Research shows that muscle mass, aerobic capacity and flexibility in men naturally goes into decline at this age. But by maintaining exercise levels through sports such as cycling, those most at risk of ‘middle age spread’ or its deadlier form – metabolic syndrome – can put up a strong fight for a longer, healthier life.

“Two thirds of the UK population don’t achieve weekly recommended levels of physical activity,” says Dr Flint. “But our study found that those who do manage to build physical exertion into their commute tend to be less heavy and have less body fat than people who drive all the way to work.”

One such cyclist is Darren Cole, 34, from Beeston in Nottinghamshire.

“I was 20st (127kg) in 2011 when I started riding along the canal paths from home to work a couple of times a week.”

Darren concedes that at first it was breath-taking – in all the wrong ways. “I was wheezing along and it took me around 50 minutes to do six miles.”

But as he began to feel the benefit of a new meal plan too, he invested in a road bike and began riding at weekends. “Today I’m 11st 6oz (74kg) and I commute 22 miles a day as well as racing for Beeston CC. I’ve rode on 100-mile sportives, appeared in Cycling Plus magazine and this September I’m aiming to cover around 200 miles in two days in aid of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust(supported by Vision Express).”


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Watching Cycling on the TV


New Velon deal could change the way you watch cycling

Team group Velon announced a 10-year deal with sports marketing firm Infront Sports & Media on Tuesday that could challenge race organizers’ grip on TV revenue while bringing live telemetry and on-bike video to cycling fans worldwide.

The deal’s implications extend well beyond simply improving cycling’s TV product, a goal that has been the lynchpin of Velon’s efforts to change cycling’s economic model.

In addition to improving traditional broadcast television, Velon is “building a platform for people to see the content that will reach out to a wider fanbase, and bring the race alive,” Velon CEO Graham Bartlett told VeloNews. In a sport where television revenues are monopolized by race organizers, such a platform is a potential source of revenue for Velon and its 11 WorldTour teams.

“It will provide a unique experience during live racing, with everything [fans] want to know, see, and understand,” Bartlett said. The live telemetry Velon plans to roll out in early summer will include speed, cadence, power, heart rate, altitude, and acceleration data.

Infront is one of the world’s largest sports marketing firms. Through subsidiary HBS, it is responsible for host broadcasting of the FIFA World Cup, among other major projects. In November, Infront was purchased by Wanda Sports Holdings, the same company that was rumored to be interested in purchasing RCS Sport and the Giro d’Italia.

Race organizers have expressed reluctance (to put it mildly) to share their television revenues with teams. Teams are currently reliant on independent sponsorships, a cause of instability even at the highest levels of the sport. A Velon multimedia platform, potentially a source of revenue, would sidestep traditional TV broadcast contracts, which are penned with race organizers.

The long-term partnership between Velon and Infront is positioned to take advantage of the continued fracturing and decline of traditional television viewership, as viewers unbundle from cable packages and, increasingly, get their television online.

Tour de France organizer ASO, a goliath within cycling, is small relative to the big fish called Wanda. It is therefore notable that Infront is interested in a partnership with Velon, particularly over 10 years; it points to the Wanda group’s confidence that the upstart team organization will play an increasingly large role in cycling.

Velon’s stated goal is to increase the economic strength of pro cycling, and in the year and a half since its debut, it has focused heavily on improving the sport’s television product. It struck deals with major race organizers RCS (Giro d’Italia and other races) and ASO (Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix) last year, as well as technology providers like GoPro.

Velon is working with teams to gather more key rider data, and with TV broadcasters to help bring that data to fans, and said it will continue to work with race organizers to improve their product. It is also working with the UCI to ensure that all data release fits within the UCI’s regulations.

The new platform and improvements to traditional broadcast will be made possible through the partnership with Infront, which will quickly take Velon’s plans for live telemetry and on-bike camera footage “from theory to reality,” Bartlett said.

The partnership has been in the works for over a year, according to Bartlett, meaning that discussions began shortly after Velon’s founding.

“The partnership will bring investment and expertise, and will help cycling build a sustainable model,” Bartlett told VeloNews.


Riding in the heartland of Cuba

Here is Cuba in a nutshell. I’m straddling a Trek bike at an intersection in La Palma on the northwest side of the island, and passing before my eyes are a rusted-out Soviet-era Lada, a teenage boy riding a horse bareback, a 1957 Chevy and a man with a pig literally hog-tied to the back of his bicycle.

Part cliche, part undiscovered country.

Although it doesn’t seem like it, this muggy, 80-degree December day represents a historic first in the long and tumultuous past between two countries 90 miles apart. A day we’re marking by wearing fluorescent triangles on our backsides.
It’s the first official American bicycling tour in Cuba.

The question worth asking, and the reason I’m here along with 16 other Americans, is to find out if, at a time when U.S. travelers are yearning to know everything about this gradually accessible Caribbean country, it’s a place you want to see from the seat of a bike. Will pedaling at a slower pace help in discovering what for the most part is terra incognita to us?

And will biking be easier to do — and easier on the backside — when the embargo is finally lifted?

Roadway hazards

As we sit in the Havantur luxury bus, the windscreen of which bears a small flag of Che Guevara’s face, our Backroads guide, Lara, lists the particular hazards of Cuban cycling. First, the enormous number of potholes in the road. Second, the unexpected number of animals (cows, turkeys, pigs) in the road. Third, the fact that what these animals leave behind is, well, slippery.