Next Stop on My Yoga Journey

A group Yin Yoga class was the next stop on my yoga journey. Yin Yoga is a slower-paced and meditative form of yoga as compared to other yoga disciplines. The poses are held for longer periods of time. In my case we spent about one minute on each pose.

The 75 minute class was designed to target the body’s connective tissues, rather than the muscles. It was billed as the perfect complement to athletic training and recovery plans. While I don’t know if that is true, I do know that I did enjoy the class and I continue to see improvement in my flexibility, so I signed up to continue classes.

My yoga experience reminds me a lot of my cycling experience. I returned to cycling as an adult because I felt it was a beneficial sport for my health that I could continue into old age (I am now into my seventies and still riding strong). I feel the same about yoga. It is a beneficial activity/exercise for my body that I can hopefully continue until the day I die. And I’m enjoying my journey with yoga as much as I enjoy my journey on my bicycle. Stay tuned, I’m sure I will have more to say about yoga and my journey in the future.

Ken Whittaker


Is a Yoga Evalution Worthwhile?

My private yoga evaluation paid off immediately. The yoga instructor noticed that I had lost some of my range of motion in my right arm resulting from being struck by a car several years ago while cycling (see “My Biggest Challenge“). In addition, she noted that I was more flexible on the left side of my body than the right side. She showed me how I could modify the yoga exercises/poses and use yoga tools to accommodate my specific situation.

While I would have loved to continue the private lessons indefinitely, I only had six lessons and I was destined to join a group yoga class. However, the private lesson gave me the specific training I needed for my situation and physical limitations. More importantly, it gave me the confidence that I need not worry that I would be doing my yoga poses differently than the others in the class.

In addition, while my instructor didn’t develop a special yoga routine for cyclists, she did point out the poses that were the most beneficial to offset the negative impact of the repetitive use of the same muscle groups used in cycling. After only six lessons, I felt better and could see a noticeable improvement in my flexibility. While it might only be my imagination, I feel like I’m cycling better too.

Ken Whittaker


Yoga for Cyclists

I’ve been cycling for decades. While I’m not a world class cyclist, I consider myself a strong cyclist. However, my increased strength hasn’t come without a cost. Although the repetitive motion of cycling has strengthened some muscles groups, it has also weakened others. As a result, overtime as my strength has increased, my flexibility has been decreasing.

Yoga Pose

In essence, it is the same reason cyclists have skinny arms. While our sport helps to develop strong calf, thigh and glut muscles, it doesn’t work the biceps and triceps nearly as much. But it doesn’t end there, our whole muscle structure is impacted by cycling both in a positive and negative way.

The first step to resolving the negative impact of cycling on the body is to identify the problem. To help me identify the negative impact of cycling on my body, I started with three private sessions with a yoga instructor. The first session was to evaluate my flexibility. While this approach is a bit more expensive than simply starting yoga classes, I was hoping it would pay off by having the yoga instructor develop a yoga routine that would target my cycling specific problem areas.

Ken Whittaker


Don’t Forget Wind Chill

One of the many pleasures of cycling is that cool breeze we generate as we pedal along on a warm summer day. I can’t think of any other physical activity that offers such a pleasant breeze to help to keep us cool during physical exertion like cycling. However, as the weather gets cooler that same breeze can make it feel much colder than the actual outside temperature.

Staying warm is crucial l when cycling in the winter. Unfortunately, the outside thermometer alone is not a good indicator for selecting cycling clothing in colder weather. Cycling speed can also have a big impact on wind chill or perceived air temperature. Fortunately, it is easy to approximate wind chill by multiplying the wind speed by 0.7 and then subtracting that value from the air temperature. But, don’t forget to factor in your cycling speed for this calculation.

Example:

  • Formula
    • Wind Chill = Outside Temperature – (Wind Velocity x0.7)
  • Where
    • Outside Temperature: 45 degrees Fahrenheit (°F).
    • Wind Velocity: 18 mph (Wind Speed 3 mph + Cycling Speed 15 mph)
  • Wind chill
    • Wind chill = 32.4 degrees Fahrenheit (°F)
    • 45 degrees Fahrenheit – ( 18mph*0.7)

Not good with math or don’t want to be bothered by the calculations? Then just click here on the Wind Chill Calculator.

Don’t be afraid of cold weather cycling, just be prepared. Layering up is the best way to stay warm and remember that too many layers are better than not enough. You can always take a layer off  and enjoy the ride.

Ken Whittaker


How to Prevent and Treat Cycling Saddle Sores


When you think about it, cyclists get saddle sores for the same reason babies get diaper rash, mostly from chaffing, wetness and bacteria. So, it only makes sense for cyclists to use the same strategies moms do to prevent diaper rash. Accordingly, here is a modified version of Mayo Clinic’s online article on Diaper Rash adapted for cyclists:

• Remove wet diapers promptly. This translates to get out of your wet cycling shorts immediately after completing your ride. While it is tempting to relax with a cold beverage before showering, this is akin to sitting in a bacteria brew incubating an infection.

• Wash baby’s bottom with diaper change. Besides getting out of those wet shorts, get into the shower too. If you’re touring and a shower isn’t available, use a baby wipe to clean the area.

• Dry with a clean towel or let it air dry. Use a clean dry towel and give yourself some time to air out before putting on clean dry underwear.

• Give baby’s bottom time without a diaper. While this may not sound practical for cyclists, I have a friend who tells me that she has let her bottom air at night in the privacy of her tent when she’s touring.

• Consider using ointment. While I rarely get saddle sores, at the first sign of a potential problem, I immediately apply baby ointment to prevent further skin irritation.  This has always worked well for me.  While many cyclists swear by one brand or another, the active ingredient in most brands is zinc oxide. 

It should be noted that the Mayo Clinic doesn’t recommend anything comparable to chamois cream to prevent diaper rash. My guess is that although chamois cream is designed to reduce friction, a similar product is not used on a baby’s bottom because an anti-friction cream would also prevent a baby’s skin from airing and could also trap bacteria. For this reason I never used chamois cream. I do, however, use a powder like Anti Monkey Butt to reduce chafing and keep my skin dry while cycling.

Finally, while it seems every cyclist has their own remedies for saddle sores, if you can’t find one that works for you, you might consider asking your mom.  Even if she doesn’t ride a bike she does know what worked for you when you were a baby.  There is something to be said about a mother tested and approved remedy. 

Ken Whittaker


Why You Should Add Your Emergency Info to Your Phone’s Lock Screen Now

Emergency responders are not universally trained on where to look for emergency medical information. Their goal is to do as much investigating as possible to figure out what is wrong with you so they can provide the emergency care you need.

For this reason, I try to cover every place they might look for my information. I wear a wristband, carry a card in my wallet, and have it displayed on my phone’s lock screen. Getting your emergency medical information in the hands of emergency responders quickly could save your life.

If you don’t already have this information on your mobile phone, I would recommend that you do it NOW! Here are the links on how to get it done.

Use Emergency SOS on your iPhone – Apple Support

Get help in an emergency using your Android phone – Android Help

Don’t wait another minute! This could save your life.

Ken Whittaker


9 Ways to Avoid Getting a Sore Butt While Riding a Bicycle

One of the biggest complaints I hear from new cyclists is that they get a sore butt from riding a bike. Unfortunately, many new cyclists give up on the joy of cycling before they overcome the pain. Here are nine common and some not so common tricks I use to eliminate the problem.

1. Padded shorts – Padded shorts have become a cycling standard because they work by reducing soreness from cycling. A little bit of padding goes a long way, so don’t overdo a good thing. Your shorts don’t need to be Lycra. There are plenty of baggy padded cycling shorts available. However, tight fitting Lycra shorts don’t bunch up into a wedgie like baggy shorts can.

2. Go Commando – Lose the underwear when wearing cycling shorts. Cycling shorts are designed to be worn without underwear. Wearing underwear only causes problems such as bunching. While Lycra shorts may have a “freeing” feeling that may take a little getting used to, they also have a modesty panel built in so the “freeing” feeling is not also revealing.

3. Get a gender specific saddle – There are saddles designed specifically for men’s and women’s anatomies. Make sure you have a saddle designed to fit your anatomy that helps to relieve pressure where it counts.

4. Get off your butt – You can greatly reduce the beating your butt takes simply by taking your weight off the saddle when riding on rough sections of road or when encountering bumps.

5. Change Positions – Luckily, touring bicycles have drop handle bars that allow you to change your position on the bike easily. In doing so, you are also reducing the pressure on the same points on your butt.

6. Keep riding – Toughen up the tissue around the sit-bones by continuing to ride. Most seasoned cyclists do not experience a sore butt except on very long rides because they have toughened up this area over time.

7. Wax the saddle – This is a secret I’ve used for years but I find many cyclists don’t believe me when I tell them. While it is a common practice for riders with an unpadded leather saddle to wax their saddle, I’ve found that it is just as useful for padded saddles as well. I use spray furniture wax on my saddle. A waxed saddle helps me to easily slide to a new position. Frequently changing my position on the seat helps prevent pain caused by remaining in one spot too long.

8. Massage – It’s always worth a laugh when I tell a new rider to get a butt massage. However, I find that massaging the sore area after my ride eases the inflammation, improves blood flow and reduces the soreness in my butt for me.

9. Reduce tire pressure – While cycling across the United States in 2015, the chip seal road surface throughout most of Texas was a jarring experience not quickly forgotten. To reduce the beating on our bodies at the contact points at the handlebars and saddle, we reduced the air pressure in our tires by several pounds per square inch (PSI). Let your tires absorb some of the beating rather than your butt.  Thankfully,  with today’s tubeless tires you can ride in comfort with much lower tire pressure.

I hope these nine tricks help to get you back in the saddle again.

Ken Whittaker


Secret Healthy Cookies?

I hate to disappoint those looking for a secret healthy cookie. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any such thing as a truly healthy cookie. However, there are times when a cookie can provide cyclists with just what they need to keep from bonking. Let me explain.

When a cyclist bonks the glucose levels drain from their blood resulting in fatigue and light-headedness.  There are many sports products out there that can help restore glucose levels. Lately, my favorite has been Honey Stingers, particularly the Cherry Blossom chews. However, if I run out or forget to throw a few packs in my jersey, I can generally always find Fig Newtons.

Nutritional Value

Amount Per ServingHoney Stinger Cherry BlossomNabisco Newtons Fig Cookies
Calories160100
Total Fat0g0g
Sodium80mg95mg
Total Carbohydrates39g21g
Cholesterol0mg0mg
Protein1g1g
Fiber1g1g
While the nutritional values are similar, the Honey Stingers do have more carbohydrates with correspondingly more calories.

So why Fig Newtons? Figs are from nature and are high in natural sugars, minerals and fiber. You can’t say that about Oreos.

Ken Whittaker


What’s in your wallet?

In the event of an accident, an emergency medical information card is invaluable. Being able to provide first responders with a ready source of your medical needs could save your life during the “golden hour” of a medical emergency. If you can’t speak for yourself, your emergency medical information card will.

An emergency medical information card should include:

    • Full name
    • Birthdate
    • Current medications
    • Allergies
    • Chronic medical conditions
    • Emergency contact names and phone numbers

An emergency can happen at any time, so I  keep my emergency medical information on me at all times, not only when I’m cycling.

Ken Whittaker


Substitute for Sunscreen

I’m a big believer in sunscreen, however there have been times when it isn’t readily available or practical. For instance, when I ride trails and camp at night, sunscreen attracts dirt like a magnet. Without a shower available at the end of the day, this can become a bit of a dirty sticky mess.

In those instances, I tend to use sunwear like sun sleeves. legs and headwear to protect my arms, legs, head and the back of my neck. This way, I only have to apply sun screen to protect the exposed area like my face and top of my ears. This greatly reduces the amount of sunscreen needed and helps to keep me cleaner while still protecting me from the damaging rays of the sun.

Another advantage of sunwear is that it is super light when compared with a large bulky tube of sunscreen, it isn’t washed off by rain or sweat, it can be used again and again, and it doubles my protection if I do use it with sunscreen. I also feel like sunwear keeps me cooler on hot days, yet warmer on cooler days, if that is possible.

Ken Whittaker