Fall is century bike season in Sierra | SierraSun.com

Fall is century bike season in Sierra

Fall is century bike riding season, with numerous organized rides taking place from the coast to the Sierra crest, including local favorites like the Tahoe Sierra Century cycling tour on Sept. 25.

Ideal temperatures and gentle fall sunshine enhance the experience. Committing to participate in a century is one of the best ways to dust off that stored bike, or finally act on those threats and jump in to cycling.

The following series of columns will focus on century-riding preparation from basics of purchasing and fitting the bike to perfecting pedal technique and training, with the entry level/recreational rider in mind.

Todayand#8217;s column outlines factors to consider when purchasing a bike.

First and foremost, when purchasing a bike, consider the riderand#8217;s body type, and make the bike fit the body. While cycling is easy on the body, offering a low-impact alternative to running, an improperly sized and fitted bike creates the potential of improper pedaling mechanics, leading to injury.

The riderand#8217;s crotch-to-floor measurement determines the seat tube (the tube extending from the bottom bracket to the top tube). Modern-day frames have a sloping top tube, and most manufacturers provide a and#8220;virtual seat tube height.and#8221; Traditional frames used a diamond shape with the top tube parallel to the floor.

A rider with a long femur and short torso will require a longer seat tube and shorter top tube. Short femur and long torso equates to a frame with a shorter seat tube and longer top tube.

These theoretical frame formulas are fine and dandy assuming the rider is purchasing a custom-made bike. But since frames are built with proportional seat and top tubes, meaning long seat tubes equate to long top tubes, the long femur/short torso and short femur/long torso scenarios are rarely ideally accommodated by the frames in and of themselves. This is where the art of bike fitting perfects the picture, using the seat, stem, etc. adjustments to maximize the individual fit.

An effective bike fit blends the body with the bike and aims to balance handling and optimum power output with comfort and aerodynamics.

The body is also effectively trained to adapt to more efficient, powerful riding postures through cycling-specific movement preparation, prehabilitation and dynamic stretching programs. This exercise regiment helps the rider improve lower back and hamstring flexibility, thus allowing a more powerful and aerodynamic torso angle (the angle created by the torso in relation to the ground when reaching forward). And more time in the saddle will allow muscles to adapt and become increasingly supple in the cycling specific position.

The bike industry has revamped their traditional design, which produced bikes with an average 3-inch drop differential from the top of the saddle to the handlebars and placed riders in an aggressively aerodynamic position. Now industry engineers are designing bikes with a longer head tube (connecting the fork to the stem), affording a higher handlebar position. This innovative design has raised the handlebars nearly even with saddle height and as a result has improved comfort while also increasing power production and maintaining efficient aerodynamics.

Subsequent columns will revisit the individual bike fit, cleat position and perfecting the pedal stroke, specifically applying the subject matter to the recreational century rider.

and#8212; Julie Young is a Truckee resident and owner of o2fitness. She is a former U.S. National Team member and pro cyclist who currently competes in triathlons and trail runs. Contact her at o2fitness@sbcglobal.net.

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