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I read all those recommended training routines in Bicycle Magazine, but even when I have the time to try and follow them (which is rare and inconsistent) I'm usually not up to snuff.

But I've found a way to really benefit from the saddle time I have.

Nearly all of my bike riding time is commuting in the city. I get a short stretch of biking in between traffic lights and stop signs. Normally I would take the whole route at an easy pace, the kind meant for bike touring, and get restless and frustrated whenever the usual urban obstacles forced me to stop.

Now I look at my daily bike route as a series of sprints through an obstacle course. Now when I hit a red light I'm breathing hard, my thighs are burning, and I'm grateful for the 45 seconds of rest. The results:

  • More fun on the way to work, and less frustration
  • I might end up in better shape after a few months of this
  • I'm learning how to handle sharp turns, potholes, and bumps at faster speeds
  • I get to workearlier

This connects with a very popular philosophy of bike touring. Use what you've got. On a tour this means fixing a bike with duct tape, broken pens, or anything you can find because the only other alternatives are walking or hitchhiking.

In an urban bike commute, you practice this philosophy through better training. The "duct tape" is the time and circumstances you have available. Use what you've got.
Try this. Seek more challenges, fun, and rewards without changing where, when, or how long you ride. The secret is to change how you ride the bike.

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Want to get in shape fast? I'll kick your butt until your legs turn into sleek pistons of steel! Get a training plan from a professional coach!  Click Here!

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Almost everyone knows the benefits of bike riding. But I've been thinking about the similarities between biking and various martial arts.

Both are essentially practical survival skills that benefit your health and physical fitness as a "side effect," (Although for many people this side effect is the main reason to take up the art.)

If you get into it at all, it can become a lifestyle with social, mental, philosophical and spiritual dimensions. The experts incorporate daily rituals that include stretching and breathing, possibly visualization, and eventually dedication to the care and maintenance of your equipment. (For the bike Samurai, your bike is your sword).

Could this evolve into the richness of a martial art? Are there certain qualifications to be considered a master? What do you have to do to become a bike blackbelt? Who are the different, rival schools? (Think Karate vs. Kung Fu, Mountain Bikers vs. Roadies or Commuters vs. Messengers.)

At what point does a "sport" become an art, or a way of life? Are we there yet?

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Want to get in shape fast? I'll kick your butt until your legs turn into sleek pistons of steel! Get a training plan from a professional coach! Click Here!

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You have to eat. When you're at the end of a hard bike ride (or sometime in the middle of a long one), you'll recover faster if you give your muscles some protein and glycogen to work with. A boost of antioxidants can't hurt, either.

A lot of nutrition companies have gotten rich selling sweet and milky "recovery drinks" that are designed to give you exactly these things. The trouble is they all taste like malted baby formula. Luckily, you've got alternatives.

The real quick fix is a bowl of cereal with skim milk. This gives you the right balance of amino acids and carbs, and the cereal is probably vitamin fortified.

Better still (and my personal favorite when I'm really at the end), eat a big fat burrito with a pint of beer. Just as long as it's good beer. None of that watery Coors shit.

Buon appetito!

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Want to get in shape fast? I'll kick your butt until your legs turn into sleek pistons of steel! Get a training plan from a professional coach! Click Here!

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It's easy to go for a bike ride when you're bright-eyed and frisky, the weather's perfect and it's the beginning of a long weekend with no urgent chores or immediate plans.

For the rest of the time, try this.

Just ride for ten minutes. Anywhere. This will get you warmed up, and it makes it easy to get in the habit of riding your bicycle a few times a week. No matter how tired you are, or how cold it is, even if it's raining, you can handle ten minutes.

And the benefits of bike exercise, even for just ten minutes, are incredible. Research shows that a 10-minute bike ride can lift your mood. It's long enough to flood your system with endorphins that relieve pain and can give you a natural high that has been documented.

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Want to get in shape fast? I'll kick your butt until your legs turn into sleek pistons of steel! Get a training plan from a professional coach! Click Here!

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If you happen to be really busy, you can still take a 10-minute bike break. Come on. I guarantee the rest of your day or evening will be a lot happier and more productive.

Over time this ten-minute ride can really tone you up. If you're biking to lose weight or lower your blood pressure, these baby steps will help you right away, and they'll psyche you up for longer rides. Pretty soon you'll be ready to ride you bike to work, do a long distance bike tour, or even tour southern Italy on a bike.

If you have time to read this, you've got time to go on a 10-minute bike ride. Seriously. Go for it.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and any health claims about the benefits of biking, bicycle fitness, or the amount of calories burned while biking have not been evaluated by a competent medical authority. You should consult with a physician before going on bike rides. Also be sure to obey all local traffic laws, unless you're really feeling ballsy, you're riding a fixed gear, or you work as a bike messenger. Don't drink and bike. Always wear a SNELL-approved helmet. You're probably going to die anyway, so don't sue me. I warned you.

1

Last week I posted my first video ever on YouTube. It's about a bike trip up the California coast to visit my mom in Port Hueneme.

Anyway, there's a reason most people bust out laughing when they see it. I keep my helmet on, play up the dorky aspect of biking, and try on purpose to be a nerd.

Because biking is for everybody.

All the bike magazines are filled with pictures of supermodels. Even the non-profits like Adventure Cyclist feature bicyclists who have made it a lifestyle, and tend to be in great shape as a result.

Most of the bicycle media portray cyclists as ultra-healthy athletes, and there is some truth to this.

But it's enough to discourage a lot of "normal" people who would probably like to start riding, but say to themselves, "I'm too old/fat/weak/lazy/ to ride a bike."

But the truth is, you don't have to be an athlete to start biking. If anything, biking is one of the easiest and most fun ways of becoming more athletic. You start to see this happen pretty quickly once you get into it.

I had to start somewhere, we all did, and that's the whole point. You don't have to be an athlete just to start.

I was a nerd, back in the days before it became cool to be a nerd. Then I started bike touring, and my self confidence improved even faster than my physique.

But the quirky geek is still in there, so when I make a video about biking that's the role I'm going to play.

Now I have a request for you. If you're a biker, make a point to encourage people to ride who are especially insecure about their size, weight, or physical ability. Especially if you had to deal with those issues yourself at some point in your life.

If you like to show off, then start making videos. Here's mine:

By the way, if you've ever had an interest in touring Italy by bicycle, check out the touring Italy FAQs page: http://www.bicyclefreedom.com/?page_id=19