Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Road Bike Party-How good are your bike skills!

The cycling twittersphere has been blowing up today with Ashton Martyn's video showcasing his incredible bike handling skills.  I'm still blown away by this man's ability and have seen this video several times already.  It's extremely humbling to know that I will never possess skills like this on the bike...ever!  This also proves that I need to do more strength training and core work (YIKES!)

Get to the edge of your seat (cuz you'll end up there anyway), lean into the screen, watch and share!

Until the next time, 
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Go Wiggo!

A huge Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins (Wiggo) and Team Sky for what amounted to be a fantastic Tour de France for Great Britain and the world of cycling as he became the first Briton to win le Tour in the 99 years of its existance.

Wiggo showed poise in the face of assanine doping allegations from the media and dominated the 9th and 19th stages in the Indivdual Time Trial (ITT) sealing his spot as the winner of the 20 stage race that covered 3497 km or 2172.935 miles.

In addition to Wiggo winning the overall classification in le Tour, Team Sky also had a second rider on the final podium in Chris Froome who placed 2nd and Sprinter Mark Cavendish finished this years Tour de France with his 23rd Stage win in his 5 years of participating in the Tour de France.

Chapeau to all the competitors of this years' Tour de France! 

I look forward to seeing all the pros racing again in the Olympics (Road Race July 28/Time Trial August 1), the Tour of Utah (August 7-12) and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado (August 20-26)!

The following photos are taken courtesy of TheAtlantic.com

Stage 19 ITT

Stage 19 ITT Finish

The following are links to video highlights of the 2012 Tour.  Peruse through and let me know what you think of this years Tour de France  If you had the chance to view any of it, what are your favorite moments?

Tour de France 2012: the best bits pt1-video

Tour de France 2012: the best bits pt2-video

Tour de France 2012: the best bits pt3-video

Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Monday, July 9, 2012

You Done Been Shrunk Cortisol!!

Hello My Friends,

Sooooo Stressed Out!! I'll Fight Myself!
As everyday athletes, we all have to deal with normal stresses such as work, family, deadlines, etc. and there is that constant search to find time to unwind and relax so our bodies can decompress to some state of normalcy.  In my case, there is no such thing as "Normal". 

There came a point over the weekend when the stress level was too much for me.  I'm usually an easy going guy and am pretty good at rolling with the punches.  I could feel my mood changing, tension building in my neck and shoulders and my mind weighed heavy on far too many issues that I couldn't sort out.  Cortisol, one of the "stress hormones" in the body, had been apparently working overtime in mine.  My wife could even see it taking its toll on me and how rapidly my cortisol levels were preparing me for the "flight or fight" response. 
In the past, the natural tendency was to look for carbs to ingest to prepare my body for flight, a response I had grown accustomed to since childhood, but this time was particularly different. 

"When cortisol spikes, it tells the body to eat something with a lot of calories--a great survival tactic if you need energy to flee a predator but not if you're fretting over how to pay bills," says nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection.

Read more: prevention.com


More specifically, I was looking for a fight, even if it was with myself.  Instead of going toe-to-toe in front of a mirror, I suited up, prepped the bike and struck out on a ride determined to flush out every bit of worry, anger, irritation, and negativity in my body that resulted in a 24 mile trail of emotional carnage laid out on the road for no one to see, aside from the grimace on my face and anger in my eyes. 

As the miles and time ticked by, I could feel my mood change, shoulders loosen and head clear.  Endorphins were building in my body and I welcomed every drop of it as it put the smack down on the cortisol.  Every now and then one of those "things" would pop back in my head and I would increase leg speed and hammer on the pedals to either ride away from it or to simulate stomping it to the ground with every pedal stroke. I like to think it was the latter, but was probably a combination of the two. 

In the words of Vector from Despicable Me, "You Done Been Shrunk!" 

Throughout the ride, I found myself practicing techniques that had me pushing harder on the climbs and pedaling faster on the descents.  Now being a flat lander in East Texas, we don't have many real "climbs", but it just doesn't sound as cool to say that I rolled over a gopher mound in my hardest gear.  We do have our share of false flats and gentle hills, but for the sake of this post, these were climbs of the grandest nature. 

The techniques I'm learning are from a video training program that are teaching me ride stronger, faster and more efficient.  It's in the similar styling of P90X and Insanity in that it's a 90 day program with short specific training goals in mind.  I'm starting my 5th week and have already seen improvements in my cycling strength and ability.  It's challenging, tough and rewarding.  Graeme Street is the owner/operator/founder of Cyclo-Club and developer of the Cyclo-Core workout programs.  I've been listening to his podcasts for years and have learned a great deal from him.  If you'd like to check out the workout plan that I am using, click the link below the video.  You can also follow him on twitter @Cycloclub.

I hope you've found my lesson in cortisol management helpful, if not enjoyable to read and look forward to your comments and feedback.  Check out the training plan if you're into cycling and want to be stronger on the climbs and faster on the flats.  I definitely notice a huge difference in my abilities on the road and cannot wait to see what I'll achieve at the end of the program. 
Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy Belated Father's Day

Hello My Friends, 

I'd like to wish a very happy belated Father's Day!  I've been out of the pocket traveling for work the last few days and came home this evening to find a late Father's Day gift waiting for me from my wife and kids.  

I've wanted these bodylastics resistance bands for quite some time.  What I really like about these bands is that the weight/resistance for each band is stamped on the carabiner clips and it has a design system that prevents the bands from snapping.  The band has a braided inner cord that prevents the bands from being extended beyond its point of elasticity.  I'm really looking forward to trying these out and incorporating them into my workout routine.

I first discovered these bands while perusing Mike McErlane's Workout 101.  His instructive workout videos show proper technique and alternatives to performing specific exercises while explaining what muscle groups are being worked and how to maximize muscular growth.  I encourage you all to check out his videos and see for yourself, especially if you're looking for specific exercises to incorporate into your workout routine.  

Send me your comments below or tweet me @mindbodybike.

You can also follow Mike McErlane on twitter @McErlane and Bodylastics @bodylastics.

Until the next time, 
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tiny Bicycle Camera Helps Solve Hit and Run

Howdy my friends,

This story is a few months old, but shows good use of technology.  It's a remider that not all drivers are scanning down the road and allowing cyclist 3 feet of riding space. 

Tiny Bicycle Camera Helps Solve Hit and Run: Investigators in Berkeley, Calif. were able to use tape from a tiny camera mounted on a cyclist’s bike to track down an alleged hit-and-run driver. The camera was mounted on the bike of a friend of Brazilian racer Bruno Gregory to record his cycling performance so he could improve his technique. As the two were riding through the leafy streets of Berkeley, footage shows a black car swerving into the frame, slamming into them. The bikes went down and the car took off.
Luckily, neither Gregory nor his friend were seriously hurt in the collision; in the footage you can see them talking in the aftermath. They are only slightly bruised, but their bikes were seriously damaged.
The incident might have ended there, were it not for the tiny camera mounted on the bike of Gregory’s friend. They turned the tape over to police and posted it on YouTube, where it’s already been viewed more than 200,000 times.
Police were able to slow the video down and enhance it enough to see the car’s license plate number, which investigators traced to 43-year-old Michael Medaglia.
Medaglia claims he wasn’t driving that day, and that the car had been stolen. Police say they aren’t buying his story, and arrested him for felony hit and run, along with several other charges, including drug possession and violation of probation.

The video that abcnews ran can be seen here

I have also linked the actual video taken from the bike.

Part of my agreement with my wife when I started riding was to add safety devices/apparel when on the roads.  The brain bucket is a given as well as my mobile phone, and sunglasses, but I also use a rear flashing light everytime I'm on the road, as well as a front light, if I happen to ride at dawn or dusk, a bike mirror and a RoadID.  Granted, it wont stop an idiot from being an idiot, and it wont make you faster, fashionable, or stronger on the bike, and since I am not an elite racer with a support car following me, I'd rather be as well prepared as I can, especially when most of the rides are solo.      

What do you practice to stay safe on the roads?  Share with your comments or send me an email.  You can also follow me on twitter @mindbodybike.


Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life on the Run--It happens to us all!

Good Day My Friends,

The last several weeks have been extremely hectic with work and life in general.  I have therefore spent very little time in the saddle putting in some quality miles.  When life happens, and I can't get time on the bike, I still continue to look for ways to keep moving and motivated.  Fortunately, there is a wellness program at work and we have access to a gym, so I have been utilizing the facility during my lunch hour.  I've been spending time on the treadmill while also working on strength and flexibility.    

What I looked like running!!

When I first started my fitness journey several years ago, I turned to running (or my version of running, which was more like a bubba-run or a big-boy run) that wasn't a pretty sight and in reality was a fast uncoordinated walk with several bumbling hops to feel like a run.  I gradually got better, dropped some weight and became more efficient, if only slightly.  Since then, I have improved and being on the bike has aided in developing the endurance and strength to keep pushing myself. 

Here's a quick "run" down of "Old Me" VS. "New Me" based on averages over several years:

"Old Me"--257 lbs (when I started running)
Fastest 1 Mile--14'31"
Fastest 5K------47'52"
Avg Pace-------17'16"/mile

"New Me"--212 lbs
Fastest 1 Mile--8'02"
Fastest 5K------28'24"
Avg Pace-------10'24"/mile

Fastest 1 Mile--55.34% improvement / 6' 29" shaved off
Fastest 5K------59.33% improvement / 19' 28" shaved off
Avg Pace-------60.23% improvement / 6' 52" shaved off

In addition to my time on the treadmill, incorporating strength training and flexibility exercises into the routine keeps me in good form on the bike and reduces muscle tightness and strains.  In the search to keep things fresh and to prevent my mind and body from growing accustomed to the same workout routine, I continually look for ways to make training more engaging.  I was looking for alternative exercises to build upper body strength and read this article on LiveStrong. com.  I have tried a few of these exercises and have found them challenging.  I urge you to try these pushup variations to challenge yourself.

Martin Rooney is the founder of Training for Warriors, trained athletes from the NFL, MLB, NBA and several Division I colleges, and has lectured for the American College of Sports Medicine and many other professional strength and conditioning organizations. He created the Pushup Warrior app, which features 120 pushup variations and 80 workouts. He has also written seven books, including “Warrior Cardio,” which is now available on Amazon.

  After trying these variations of the pushup out, send me your comments below or follow me on twitter @mindbodybike and we can work together to become stronger, healthier athletes.

 Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit and Pedal Hard

Monday, May 14, 2012

121-Megapixel Photo of Earth Will Make Your Jaw Drop

Something a little different for you guys. 

Here is some cool technical feats for your viewing pleasure.  Article courtesy of Stan Schroeder at Mashable Tech.


Need something to put things into perspective on a Monday morning? Our suggestion: The largest single-shot photo of Earth ever taken.
Eclipsing NASA’s updated “Blue Marble” shot, which is a composite of many satellite images, this image is a single-shot taken from 22,369 miles away by Russian weather satellite Elektro-L No.1.
The colors on the 121-megapixel photo are quite different from the ones on NASA’s photos of Earth. To capture the image, the satellite combines visible and infrared wavelengths of light. Infrared light is used to see plants, which is why the parts of the Earth that would normally be green are seen as rusty brown.
Check out a time-lapse video of Earth’s northern hemisphere taken by Elektro-L below.
You can explore the zoomable version of the image here.

Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Foundation Training with Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park

Foundation Training

I recently received the book, Foundation, by Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park, that I have yet to complete reading.  What I have learned thus far is that in order to be a stronger athlete, your foundation, which include your abs, obliques, back, glutes, and hamstrings, must receive equal training time.  I am fortunate to have practiced a few of these exercises before reading this book as I suffered a lower back injury some years ago (nothing that required surgery) and have looked for ways to alleviate and strengthen my back.

***Note: At the time of my injury, I was 15-25 pounds heavier, so weight is a HUGE factor(no pun intended...well maybe) in increasing your risk for back issues***     

Building a stronger mid-section, you are able to generate more power for your specified sport or fitness goals as well as reduce fatigue in those support areas for endurance events.  By understanding a little anatomy and physiology, Goodman and Park teach you how to strengthen and build a solid mid-section that will also alleviate lower back pain that many of us suffer as a result of sedentary lives, poor posture, or as a result of injury.  

The following video clips will provide a few methods to strengthen your foundation, beginning with an exercise called the "Founder".  I hope you enjoy the videos and find them useful as you incorporate these exercises in your fitness training.

Please post your comments below or follow me on twitter @mindbodybike.

Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hardy Serious with Jens Voigt-Taken from Bicycling Magazine

Happy Monday my friends....well, as happy as Mondays can be for those that have to get back in the grind. 

I wanted to take a moment and share a blog post authored by a true icon and fan favorite in professional cycling as he reflects on the loss of a dear friend in a horrific crash last year.  Reading this made me reflect on how many lives we all encounter and how many of those have made an impact on us and vice versa.  I'd like to thank everyone that I have met in my life, the friendships I've made and the memories we've shared.  In our busy lives, we often neglect to express our appreciation to those that support us as well as those we support.  I thank you all and hope that I have had even the slightest sliver of positive influence in your lives.

Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Jens Voight

Now in his 16th year as a professional, Jens Voigt has earned a reputation as one of the sport's hard men, both among fans and his fellow riders. And the only thing Jens likes as much as riding his bike is talking about it. And that’s good for us.

May 5th, 2012

Remembering Wouter
Wouter Weylandt, 1984-2011. (Photo by Kristof Ramon)
By Jens Voigt
With the spring Classics over, everybody’s looking forward to the Tour of Italy and the Tour of California. But I’ve been thinking about my friend and teammate Wouter Weylandt, because as most of you know, he died in a horrible crash in the Giro about a year ago.
Wouter’s death is something we’ve been talking about on the team and with other riders. My teammates Fränk and Andy Schleck just went to visit Wouter’s family the other day, and let me tell you it was not easy.
Losing a teammate in a race is something that stays with you, and something that can keep coming back to you.
At first, it was unreal. You understand it, but you’re so focused on getting through the immediate. Of course, for my teammates who were at the Giro last year, they could not even think of continuing.
It’s one of those things that calls into question everything in life. You question everything you do. You wonder if you’ve made the right decisions. And you ask yourself questions like, Did I tell my parents how much I love them? Did I tell them they did a good job raising me? Did you tell your kids how much you love them? Did you tell your friends how much you care about them, that they are your friends forever?
Wouter’s death also reminds me of how lucky I am.
Crashing is part of the sport, but you never know when a crash can turn out very badly. As many of you know, I had a bad crash in the Tour de France three years ago. And so sometimes I pinch myself and say how lucky I am to be on a bike again, doing something I love, with good friends.
I can tell you that I remind myself of this every time I start to complain about the length of a race or the weather.
I’m one of the lucky ones. We are all the lucky ones.
So, my friends, don’t forget to tighten up the loose ends, to tell the ones you love how important they are to you, that they can count on you to be there for them.
But mostly right now, with the start of this year’s Giro, I just want to take a moment to think back about Wouter, a good teammate and a good friend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You are an Athlete 1st, no matter what!

Howdy My Friends,

I received this weekly email from Chris Carmichael, former pro cyclist, personal coach of Lance Armstrong, author, and Founder of Carmichael Training Systems (CTS).  I found the email insightful and encouraging.  As I have been working at being a stronger and healthier person, I never thought of myself as an athlete, until my wife called me one after a long ride where I was giving her a run down of the ride and how I overcame challenges and pushed hard on the difficult sections.  Shannon Sharpe's ideology and outlook should be the foundation of every person's mental outlook as we all work to be stronger, better versions of ourselves.  

Enjoy the email/newsletter and add your comments below or contact me at mindbodyandbike@gmail.com or follow on twitter @mindbodybike.

This week I had the opportunity to spend some time with 3x Superbowl Champion and NFL Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe, and he’s a very impressive guy. He visited our Colorado Springs facility for a battery of physiological testing: lactate threshold, VO2 max, body composition, and a 3D Bike Fit. He’s a big man, especially compared to the skinny runners, cyclists, and triathletes we typically see in our lab. And he’s also in great shape, quite lean, and looks like he could suit up for the Broncos and play right alongside Payton Manning when the season starts up.Jim Rutberg, our Media Director, asked him about his motivation for staying in such great condition now that he’s no longer playing in the National Football League. The entire video interview can be seen here. I found Shannon’s response very interesting. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, that he doesn’t want to walk past a father and his son and have the father tell his son that Shannon once played football, only to have the son ask his father whether Shannon was a defensive or offensive lineman. Now, maybe there’s some vanity in that rationale for staying fit, but there are also some very important statements about identity and legacy.

Shannon said he still wants to look like he could play, even though he knows he can’t. But he also said that he can’t see himself letting himself go to the point where fitness isn’t a major part of his life. (As you can tell from this photo gallery, he hasn’t let himself go.) And his actions and routines are indicative of someone of who values performance as much as, if not more than, appearance. He’s lean and very muscular because he’s continued to train consistently, and with a lot of intensity.

What's interesting is that Shannon is one of a relatively small number of elite athletes I’ve seen who have successfully separated the “professional” from the “athlete” after retiring from being a professional athlete. For many elite athletes, their identities are so closely tied to being professional athletes that they struggle to remain athletes once it’s no longer their profession. Shannon is passionate about being an athlete. Being an athlete runs deeper within him than being a football player, and that’s a great characteristic to instill in kids and young adults when they see him riding, training, and staying in great shape nearly 9 years after playing his last NFL game.What does any of this have to do with you? How does any of this impact your training? Well, I think identity is a crucial part of being a successful endurance athlete, especially when it comes to working parents and career professionals. When time-crunched athletes reduce their training time too far, and start skipping events and group rides/runs they used to enjoy, it becomes harder to maintain your identity as an endurance athlete.

I hear it every time I travel. “I’m not really an athlete.” Yes, you are.  an athlete in every body. Every single one. Sometimes you’re in training and sometimes you’re not. But everyone is an athlete.  People believe they are not athletes because they think there’s some unwritten minimum threshold for weekly mileage or training hours, or maybe it’s some arbitrary performance marker, but below that level they no longer qualify as an athlete. That’s just self-deprecating horse- umm, let’s say ‘manure’. Speed, distance, and power output don’t make you an athlete. If you’re getting out there, getting it done, and having fun, you’re an athlete.

Of course, you could be a better one; which is why we train, recover, fuel up properly, and work with coaches. Improving your performance level strengthens your identity as an athlete – to yourself, regardless of whether it changes how others identify you – and that has a positive impact across other areas of your life. When you identify yourself as an athlete, you act like an athlete. You eat like an athlete, sleep like an athlete, carry yourself like an athlete.

When you allow your athlete identity to whither, it’s more difficult to continue eating a healthy, high-performance diet. It’s easier to migrate over to junk food. When you no longer see yourself as an athlete, it’s more difficult to find the motivation to exercise. It’s easier to stay on the couch. When you don’t think of yourself as an athlete, what is going to fill that void? Unfortunately, some people discover that unpleasant parts of their personalities rise to the surface when they turn away from being an athlete.

I found Shannon Sharpe’s visit to CTS very refreshing because of the perspective and positive attitude that he brought with him. Here’s a man who reached the top of his sport and spent a long time at the top. But rather than rest in comfortable retirement, he’s still pushing himself; not for money or glory or endorsement deals, but because he’s genuinely passionate about being an athlete. In case you’re wondering, that underlying passion is the difference between good athletes and great ones, and if you can tap into that passion in your own athletic pursuits, you will be a better athlete for it as well.

Have a great weekend,

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

Stay the Athlete!!

Until the next time, 
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bath Time...for the bike, not me!--Update

Updated with a pic of the cleaning tools used in the bike bath.

Hello my friends and Happy May 1st! 

After a few hundred miles on the road collecting dirt and grime, it was high time for a thorough wash that went well beyond the simple wipe down after each ride and the scheduled chain cleaning. After removing the wheels, the frame was mounted on the repair stand. I used car wash soap in a bucket, a soft bristle & rough bristle brush as well as a wash mitt along with a chain brush and a sprocket brush/comb.  The repair stand allows me to maneuver around the bike and clean all the parts without crouching down and frees up both hands rather than balance the bike with one while washing with the other.

The Spray Down
Using a gentle spray from the water hose, proceed to hose off the bike from the top down to loosen the dirt and wash off any large chunks of mud and grime.  Do not use a forceful stream if using a water nozzle as it may get water and dirt into delicate parts of the bike which will lad to some serious issues. 

Spray degreaser on the chainrings, chain, cassette, and front and rear derailleurs and let it soak in while using the wash mitt to wash down the frame.  Start at the handle bars, toptube and seat, then move on to the fork and seat tube, then finally wash the downtube, seatstays, and chainstays.  This top down method, similar to washing a car, keeps the mitt from picking up the heaviest grime and moving it around to the other parts of the bike.  Rinse in the same manner, remembering to use a gentle stream.

Wheel Washing
Using the rough bristle brush, scrub the tires and use the soft bristle brush to scrub the hubs, spokes and rims.  Use the sprocket brush/comb to clean the cassette, rewetting with sopay water if needed.  Rinse.

Scrubbing the Drivetrain
Now that the frame is clean, I scrubbed the drivetrain using the different brushes listed earlier.  The soft bristle and rough bristle brushes were used to clean the front and rear derailleur, chainrings, cranks and pedals.  The chain brush, was obviously used to clean the chain.  To scrub the chain while preventing damage to the paint finish, I placed the brush underneath the chain with my hand resting on the chainstay while turning the pedals (illustration below is during the drying process, but the technique is the same). Rinse.     

Drip dry and hand dry with a terry towel, car chamois or in my case, an absorber towel that you can pick up at your local auto parts store.  Refrain from using compressed air to keep water from entering areas of the bike that are to remain dry, such as wheel hubs and the bottom bracket.

Truing and lubing
I hit a few potholes while dodging tire debris and the like on the last ride, so before mounting the tires back on, I checked each tire for trueness and luckily, it only required minimal adjustment.  With both tires mounted back on the frame, it's time to grease the pedals, oil the drivetrain including all the small swivel points as well as adding a few drops of oil into the brake and shifter cable sheaths using a teflon lube. 

Ta Da...All Cleaned and Ready to Roll!

Let me know what you folks think of these types of How To's/DIY's and share any techniques you use.  I'm always looking for ways to improve as well as looking for different ways to keep y'all engaged in my journey to be a stronger cyclist.

Send comments to mindbodyandbike@gmail.com, or follow on twitter @mindbodybike

Until the next time, 
 Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stretches for Cyclists

Hello and welcome my friends,

In the pursuit to become a stronger, leaner, faster athlete, I think alot of us, myself included, need to be reminded the importance and value of incorporating a good stretching routine after your workout.  The following is a great acticle from Bicycling.com.  I noticed that by remembering to perform these exercises after any workout will help keep me limber and will definitely flush out the lactic acid in my muscles to reduce soreness and muscle fatigue while improving your pedal stroke by improving your flexibility in the saddle.  The increased flexibility has helped me stay in the drops for longer periods of time which come in handy when riding with a headwind and the need to get aero is better than sitting upright like a mainsail catching the wind and making your forward progression that much harder. 

Stretches for Cyclists
Increase your flexibility—and improve your cycling—with these stretches.
ByJoe Lindsey

These yoga poses, though they're also strength moves, will double as stretches to warm up. You'll need a soft surface or yoga mat, a foam support block, and a strap or latex resistance band. Hold each pose for five to 10 breaths (about 30 seconds), remembering to breathe through your nose. After you reach the proper position, says Farmar, concentrate on improving it with each inhalation--flatten your back a little more, stretch your hamstrings a tiny bit farther.

1. Downward-facing dog

Start on hands and knees. Lift hips into an upside-down V-shape, keeping palms on the floor. "Bend your knees if necessary," says Farmar. "Don't focus on putting your heels on the ground, but rather on flattening your back."

Works: Lengthens back muscles and hamstrings, for more power on the pedal backstroke

2. Thunderbolt pose 

From downward dog, walk your feet to your hands and then squat as if you're sitting in a chair. "The tendency here is to have a big 'C' curve in your back," says Farmar. "But you want to engage your core, so pull your belly up and in, and flatten your back." Reach your arms up over your head and roll your shoulders back and down to open your chest.

Works: Glutes, quads, hamstrings and lower back; also helps open chest for better breathing

3. Crescent Lunge

Step one foot forward into a lunge position, arms still raised. Focus on keeping the heel of your back foot as close to the floor as possible and your back leg as straight as possible, and keeping your shoulders aligned over your pelvis. Never push your front knee past your toes, or you'll put undue stress on the joint. Hold for five to 10 breaths, then switch.

Works: Hip flexors, quads, hamstrings

4. Half-pigeon
From the crescent lunge, lower yourself to the floor with your forward leg crossed in front of you, rear leg straight out behind. Unless you're ridiculously flexible, use a block under your hip for this pose. Don't worry about how low you go--the important thing is to keep your hips level, without letting one sink to one side. Fold forward, if possible. Hold five to 10 breaths, then switch legs.

Works: Hips. "This leads to less hip rock and less knee rotation while pedaling," says Farmar, so your pedal stroke is more efficient.

5. Bridge

Lie on your back, knees bent with feet planted close to your butt, arms by your sides. Exhale and lift your pelvis up in line with your knees and your sternum toward your chin, keeping shoulder blades and head flat on the floor. Join your hands underneath you. NOTE: Never turn your head in this pose. If you have a back or neck injury, skip this exercise or do it with extra care, and place a folded towel under your shoulders at the base of your neck.

Works: Glutes and abdominals; helps strengthen your back and open your chest to make your reach to the handlebar more comfortable

6. Recline hands-to-toes pose

Lie on your back and, using a strap looped under one foot, lift that leg up in the air, leaving the other leg flat on the ground. Don't worry about keeping the raised leg perfectly straight if you're not flexible, but do try to pull your heel past your hip. As you hold the stretch, point your toes to the sky and then flex your foot so your heel points skyward. Do this several times; switch legs after five to 10 breaths.

Works: Hamstrings

Until the next time,
Keep your mind sharp, body fit, and pedal hard.