Category Archives: Training

Bike Skillz

So Kim suggested that I post some cycling tips.  This is definitely coming from a novice (I actually didn’t finally master bicycling until I was 22!), but I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on as I prepare for my triathlons (oh yeah – this is in conjuction with actual workouts!). 

I’ve known for a long time that I’m a reader & a learner. I like to “know” before I “do.”  So I’ve done a good bit of research on bike handling, although I’m still developing my actual physical skills.  Good resources that I’ve found have been triathlon websites like,, and also Healthy Tipping Point, one of the first blogs I began reading that mentioned triathlon. I’ve also found YouTube and random Google searches helpful too. 

The below list is my interpretation of what skills I have been working on related to cycling. I’ve also found another list that’s pretty similar, of skills needed to handle your bike with confidence.

Cycling Skills Checklist:

  • Basic Cycling (straight)
  • Turning a Corner (90 degrees & 180)
  • Shifting gears
  • Stopping
  • Taking your hand off the bike (for hydration, nutrition, adjusting sunglasses)
  • What to do if you get a flat
  • Clipping in & out of bike shoes
  • Cycling Power/ Fitness (how to get stronger & faster)

1. Basic Cycling:

I must have had really bad balance as a kid, as I never really got comfortable riding a bike a child. My family & I tried, but it didn’t really stick and I didn’t feel badly enough about it to work on getting better.  Once grown up, I met a guy, and he did encourage me to try again!  I got a bike, and we did basically the same thing:  practicing in empty roads & parking lots, getting the basics down.  It’s really getting a sense of the balance and moving your feet at the same time.

I’ve definitely gotten better as I practice more and more. I’m fortunate to live in an urban area where there are a lot of cyclists, and to be able to make riding to work something that’s possible for me.  It was scary the first few times though!  But regular practice does really help.

Turning a Corner

For commuting/tooling around town, I don’t really have to think too hard about this, but I’ve found it a lot more challenging to turn tightly on my road bike.  Whether it’s in traffic, or just in preparation for a race, there’s a bit more skill involved. 


How+to+Steer+and+Corner+on+a+Bike — powered by LIVESTRONG.COM
Livestrong–cornering & steering on the bike


Another article that’s also helpful on cornering technique

Shifting Gears

Understanding the basics of gear shifting is also important. For me, it’s hardest to remember when it’s best to shift to a harder gear versus easier gear. And that “smaller” equals easier.  And that you have gears in front and back. 

I found this post at Healthy Tipping Point on shifting that I found helpful.



I originally was told that I should always use the rear brake for stopping on the bike, however recently began doing research along the lines of “well, why do I have a front brake then?”  I’ve learned that it’s actually OK to use your front brake and that you should actually use both brakes.  I’m still working on this for my road bike skills, but have gotten pretty comfortable on my hybrid/commuting bike with using both front & rear brakes to stop in traffic. 


Taking Your Hand off the Bike

This is one of the hardest things for me to accomplish, but it’s important in endurance events so that you can take a drink or snack while not stopping! And here’s something I found pretty amazing on a commercial this week:

Strava Commercial–check out putting his jacket on at 00:14


The main tip I’ve found has been to move the hand that will stay on the handlebars closer to the center/stem of the bike.  Apart from that, I haven’t found too much on how to work on this, but I have been taking the “baby steps” approach – a few seconds with one hand hovering above the handlebar, then a bit further away, then fully grabbing for the bottle. It’s important to keep your eyes on where you’re going – and not look down as you reach down.  I’ve successfully accomplished this a few times, but need to practice regularly to keep my skill up.


For part 2, we’ll talk about the rest of the tips! To be continued!


Venus De Miles

So I signed up for a cycling event!  Who wants to do this with me?

Venus de Miles is a women’s-only cycling event that raises money for the Greenhouse Scholars program.  The Illinois ride has two distance options: 25 miles & 61 miles.  I think I’m going to try for the 61 mile event in order to get more time on the bike. (I recently learned the acronym TITS as something important to improving at cycling:  Time In The Saddle)

I signed up today when I saw that there’s an Schwaggle for this event – only $59 for the event – for 5 more days!

The ride is out of Lake Forest, Illinois.  If you want to do this and plan for a meet up or carpool together, please let me know!  I’m excited for this and to learn more about this new charity and event to the Chicago area

12 “Fast” miles in San Francisco by laurenruns at Garmin Connect – Splits

12 “Fast” miles in San Francisco by laurenruns at Garmin Connect – Splits.
This was my long run on Sunday and I love running in San Francisco.  I was surprised at how fast I was on this course. I did know where I was going, especially in comparison to last year’s debacle, however this was much faster and easier than I’d expected. If I’d done another 1.1 mile, I would have had a half marathon PR.

*I was stopping my watch for scenic breaks & a bathroom stop.*

Short Run

Tonight I did a short run. Short runs are great because:

  • They take less time
  • Shorter people do them better Smile
  • You can get errands in
  • You’ll get the cardio burst as well as shaking out your legs
  • You don’t have to worry about ‘when’ – you just go!

I think I often make a big deal about when I’m going to run – even though my average run length is 4 miles. I get it done in 45 minutes, however I fret about ‘when.’ “I have to have enough energy.” “I’ll have to shower afterward.” “I have somewhere to be.” I have a lot of excuses!

Hopefully the short run – mine was 1.68 miles and included a stop at CVS for some toothpaste – will become a little more frequent, or at least the option when I otherwise want to skip a run.

Today was my last day at work for a few weeks – it’s wedding time!  I’ve got some wedding prep days, and then the big day is Saturday! Some key memories from this weekend and week:

  • Going out to a wine bar for one of the last nights as a single lady
  • Prepping welcome bags with my future mother-in-law
  • Bridal shower at work today (I wore my boss’ veil from her wedding 10 years ago! Tossed a bouquet!)
  • Picking out plants at the garden store (odd & not completely wedding-related, but something I really enjoy)
  • Well wishes from so many people!

And a fun photo that’s wedding-related – can you guess what it is and where it’ll show up at the wedding? 

bike photo


I was battling my demons yesterday at my computrainer class. Once my first setback occurred (in the 2nd of twenty intervals), things just kept popping in my head:

  • they’ll all be hard
  • why keep going
  • you’re not doing well at work or running either
  • you have so much going on, that’s why you’re not doing this workout well
  • just pick a lower number (threshold – the benchmark that the computrainer workout is measured against)
  • you’re cramping -> you ate too much junk food today.
  • you can’t concentrate on anything; you don’t go to yoga enough to meditate while cycling

Too scary to be big in the blog. (Source)

What I’d like to do instead – next time these demons come out to play:

  • remember the meditation principles: I’m focused just on the interval we’re doing right now
  • Start keeping track of nutrition & cycling workouts. This was the 2nd time that I’ve had cramping/not digestive fun while cycling.
  • Inject the ‘om’ back into my life.  Really, where did my yoga go?
  • Try to get in some easier cycling workouts. Maybe another one on some weeks. That may help with my overall confidence on the bike.
  • Think about the mental training needed to go hard.  Are there things I should be doing to strengthen mentally?
  • there’s a reason why these workouts are hard. You’re paying for a professional to train you!
  • Maybe I should look into when I schedule these workouts. Maybe it needs to be after a rest day.

What do you do when your demons come out to play?  Any tips to share?