Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taking a hike

After the last few days of stuffing the face with cookies, puddings, chocolates, and possibly one to many glasses of wine getting back into the routine takes a little more effort then usual.

Taking a break from the holiday whirlwind around me; I was reading the January edition Outside Magazine; which has a great article on tackling stress, training the brain and living large. One of the sections called "Play the Fields"; discussed a topic that is near and dear to me the importance of cross training on developing the necessary skills to compete in your primary sport.

Varying your routine during the off season and focusing less time in-sport and working on being proficient on new movements, keeping the mind fresh, and staying injury free. One of the best low intensity activities is hiking; it still requires some aerobic strength; and for a cyclist it means that you get the lateral up and down motion which you otherwise don't get cycling.

The great thing about hiking is you get can get others involved and regardless of the region of the country you live in; its an activity that one can easily do. Some places you may just need to bundle up a little more and use a little more aerobic strength stepping through the snow.

Hope everyone had a good holiday; its on to 2009 and a new training year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A bag that carries a good cause

From time to time I run into a product company that presents that "wow" factor. As a avid cyclist I find myself schlepping a bag on my back as I commute through the city. I have basic criteria for the bag itself; durable, can hold more then what I cram into it, and stays on my back when riding. I've stuck with the timbuk2 for my urban commute for the last few years as I've found it to meet this basic set of criteria.

I started to see and hear more about a new company started in San Francisco called Rickshaw Bagworks; who is designing stylish and functional commuter/messenger bags, and is applying some rules of sustainability to the bag world along with way. So I stopped in for the store/factory launch party just to see first hand how they are saving the world; or at the very least the San Francisco; one bag at a time.

Stepping into their San Francisco based headquarters; one will first step inside the store which is full of plenty of eye candy; you will also take notice to the space behind the store which a large portion is dedicated to the assembling of much the eye candy that they offer.

The product lines are just as equally impressive; Rickshaw offers a commuter bag line in three sizes to accommodate a laptop, the "Zero" line of messenger bags again in three sizes, a baby bag, wallets, and on the bike accessories.

After some examination of the medium commuter bag; which is the largest in the series and can fit a 15inch laptop; I was sold; two things really sold me on the bag; the rear zip pocket; where I can stash pens/pencils, a notebook, and those things I need easy access to with out digging up front, and what is being described as silencers which are magnets for the front flap which reduces the need to use the velcro enclosures along with the sound that comes with it. Best thing is they offer what is called the "Bottles to Bag" line which is of course recycled from plastic water bottles; many designs and colors; and is as close to the "Cradle to Cradle" philosophy I've seen with a consumer bag to date. I could tell by just picking up the bag and giving it a basic stress test it was built to last; and if something does happen to it; well Rickshaw sticks by their product and will repair.

The Zero line is all about minimizing nylon in the design of the bag; yet is very sleek and is offered in a number of fabrics and colors for that personable touch. I also spotted one of the bags that was made from a SF bike coalition event banner; very cool.

The bags have plenty of personal touches which is demonstrated by the various fabrics and colors they offer. If you don't like any of the fabrics and want to provide your own; well Rickshaw will work with you in the design and assembling of the bag.

Rickshaw is also committed to a number of causes and charties in the community; which is made quite apparent in design of the bags. Rickshaw offers some limited edition designs for donors to various organizations in the community.

Though I didn't walk away with a bag that night; I did purchase a top tube sleeve for my bike. I had been searching for one for some time now; and finally found a sleeve to my liking; thanks Rickshaw.

For those who can stop in; there store is in the Dogpatch district of San Francisco; check out their website for directions. You can also order the bags mentioned here as well via the webstore.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Training during the holidays

We all know the story; one to many cocktail parties; a cookie here; eggnog there; just one more piece of gingerbread. It adds up; personally I stick to to oranges and spiced apple cider.

Here's what I've been doing for the past few years during the holiday's to motivate me during a ride; and get a little more in during the off season to push myself. Using landmarks such as the lighted house or the Santa Claus at the end of the block; I will sprint in the big chain ring between selected points.

With hills; I will start to look ahead for that house or tree lit up; and will do a hill climb alternating between sprints and recovery between these points.

In group rides; call out the landmarks; creating a little competition of sorts between them.

You can also use this as part of your interval training; it may be a bit shorter in duration; but you should be aiming for high cadence of 2 to 5 minutes with a recovery period of 30 seconds.