Category Archives: Cycling

Interval training

When a friend recently asked about my swim workouts,  I told him about interval training.  A swim champ taught me interval training in the 1980s.  It works.  It develops both speed and endurance while allowing you to concentrate on technique.  I use interval training for my swim workouts.  You can use interval training for your favorite sport.

Wikipedia has a simple definition.  About.com has a more complete explanation.

Here’s what I do1:
swimmer 150w blended

I use “fixed” intervals — intervals of a fixed duration.  I swim ten 50-yard laps on one minute thirty second (1:30) intervals.  If I swim hard I can come in on less than 0:55, but then I’m knackered and can’t recover in time for the next interval.  If I swim slowly, and come in on 1:15, I won’t have enough time to rest.  If I swim at about a 1:00 to 1:03 pace (that’s about 70 to 80 percent of full throttle), I can do ten intervals, maybe even 15.  Mind you, I’m gasping for breath by the last few intervals, but that’s a good thing.  Supposedly that’s when your body really benefits.  This ordeal requires about fifteen minutes.

stopwatchI like using a clock for intervals because it gives me an objective measurement of my performance on each lap.  When a 1:30 interval becomes easy, I’ll decrease it to 1:25, then 1:20, and so forth.  Or, I could increase the length of each lap to 75 or 100 yards (which would require me to increase the number of seconds in each interval).

I round out my workout by using a kickboard for alternating hard and easy kicking laps, and a pull buoy for freestyle pulls that strengthen the upper body and allow me to concentrate on breathing.  I don’t swim these against the clock.  I finish with some easy slow laps.

To get started in your sport — any sport — you can monitor your pulse after each interval.  You might see your pulse climb to 140 or more2.  (The younger you are, the higher you can push your pulse.)  Let it drop to 100 or less before beginning the next interval.  This will provide an idea of what sort of fixed interval works for you, for any particular exercise.

(I suppose that variable duration intervals — that is, always resting for thirty seconds regardless of how slowly or fast you swam/ran/whatever — a “fixed rest period”  — would be better than nothing.  I think, though, that fixed duration intervals, when adjusted to suit you, ensure that you always work hard on each lap.)

During the exercise portion of each interval, aim for an effort of about 60 to 80 percent of full throttle.

Once you’ve arrived at an interval that works for you, start with just a few repetitions.  Continue this routine for a few weeks until you can do these pretty easily.  Slowly — very slowly, in small steps — bump the number of repetitions up to ten.  Stick with it for months.  Try this routine at least three or four times a week.  Don’t give up.  You will see results.


  1. My times are pathetic compared to a competitive college swimmer.  He or she might swim ten 50 yard laps on a fifty or sixty second interval.
  2. An easy way to roughly measure your pulse is to feel your heart beats on the inside of your wrist or on your carotid artery on your neck.  Count the number of heart beats in ten seconds.  Multiply by six.  Easier (but less accurate): count number of heart beats in six seconds; multiply by ten.Measuring pulse

 

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Celebrities on bikes

Evel Knievel with bicycle in Fort LauderdaleWhile searching for bicycle in Fort Lauderdale, Google turned up an odd search result: a photo of Evel Knievel in his caped suit, standing with his bicycle in front of his Fort Lauderdale house. (Who knew?) Was he preparing for a ride to the grocery store? Or a training ride on highway A1A? This picture is part of an entertaining article in Cozy Beehive from 2008 titled Celebrities Who Ride Their Bicycles. It features photos of everyone from Albert Einstein to Frank Zappa with their bikes.

I guess that cycling is chic. Here are more photos:

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Recyclable Bicycle Exchange

I believe in recycling. So does Jeff Torkelson, who’s a generous Fort Lauderdale cyclist who additionally believes in giving to his community — and he has acted on his beliefs. Jeff created the Recyclable Bicycle Exchange (“RBX”) in Fort Lauderdale to convert unwanted and/or unneeded bicycles into dreams come true for kids who otherwise couldn’t own bikes.

Recyclable Bicycle Exchange and Jeff TorkelsonI first met Jeff in 2013 when he came to the Marino Campus to introduce the students to the Broward B-cycle bicycle sharing system. Jeff is its founder and manager. He gave away free bike helmets; I still use mine almost every day.

Our local newspaper, The Sun Sentinel, published in December an article titled Bike exchange turns trash into treasures about Jeff and RBX. It explains,

He decided he wanted to give back to the community after his father died of cancer five years ago. The idea for the exchange came about when Torkelson started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County.

“Here were children living lives where it was considered ordinary not to have a bike,” said Torkelson, 47. “I always thought every kid had a bike, that it was part of growing up.”

Future RBX mechanicOn the RBX website, Jeff defines the RBX mission:

To supply quality and safe bikes to the kids (big kids too) of South Florida, including the kids of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County (BBBS), as a means of introducing an entertaining activity that promotes an active lifestyle.

The Recyclable Bicycle Exchange Facebook page contains RBX news and reviews . . . and big smiles on little cyclists.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Alex Moulton’s remarkable designs

I’ve always admired Englishman Alex Moulton’s innovative solutions to thorny mechanical problems. His compact, lightweight, and simple elastomeric “donut” suspension design allowed the BMC Mini car of 1959-1970 to provide amazingly spacious interior room compared to its tiny exterior dimensions. Then he re-thought the humble bicycle, which resulted in a compact frame with tiny wheels and . . . elastomeric donut suspension.

Moulton BicycleWikipedia’s biography Like most memorable inventors, when searching for solutions, Alex Moulton returned to first principles. Though Dr. Moulton died in 2012, his Moulton Bicycle Company continues to manufacture his unique bikes.

loudspeaker iconHere’s a well-done audio program about Moulton bicycles, including Dr. Moulton’s commentary:

I’ve cycled through Moulton’s lovely canalside town of Bradford on Avon (and its surrounding hills). It’s beautiful country for bicycle touring. That’s why it’s remarkable that Moulton bikes are so maneuverable on crowded city streets.

Brief BBC video biography (1min 42sec)

Obituary, The Telegraph (UK) 2012

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Record bike ride info

I recently installed MapMyRide on my Android phone. I’m very happy with it. It uses GPS data to record speed, distance, and route of each bike ride. I use all of its default settings except Auto Pause; I turned it on so that it pauses each time that I stop the bike.

MapMyRide scheenshotI like hearing my split stats (time, distance, and speed) read to me at mile increments.

When you return home, tell MapMyRide that you’ve ended your ride. You can view your route on a map as well as your total distance, average speed, Calories burned, and average speed for each 1-mile segment. You may save your workout details for later viewing.

The free Android version does everything that I want. The paid version allows real-time tracking of your ride by a friend or family member and apparently it also integrates with a heart rate, bike speed, and cadence monitor. There are also Apple IOS and Blackberry versions available.

I know that we can mount dedicated bike computers that will provide much of the same ride information, but that requires careful mounting, sensor wire routing, and calibration. With this app, a rider just needs to run the app, press Start Workout, stick the phone in his pocket, and go.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Disguise your smartphone’s phone number.

Burner screenshot on smartphoneWhile watching a Youtube video clip about the recovery of a stolen bicycle, I learned about Burner, a smartphone app that allows a smartphone user to temporarily mask his or her phone number with an alias phone number. It’s available for iPhones, but not yet for Android phones. (originally published on 31 December 2012. 9 July 2014: Burner is now available for Android phones, as well as IOS.)

Theft recovery seems like a perfect use for telephone anonymity. The victim, who’s a Portland, Oregon resident, responded to a Seattle Craigslist for sale ad for what seemed to be his stolen bike. He used Burner to make his phone calls appear to originate in Seattle.

Bike theft is a low-risk occupation. Watch a NYC resident steal bikes in public view.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

A cure for muscle cramps

I’ve always been bothered by painful muscle cramps in my legs after strenuous exercise. They wake me at night after a hard day of hiking, biking, or swimming. Occasionally they’ll occur during a long hard bike ride or a hard swim workout. For decades I thought that I’d just have to tolerate the pain. Yes, some cyclists fill their water bottles with Gatorade, but it’s loaded with sugar. I thought that it was a useless gimmick. I’ve tried gorging on bananas to replace lost potassium, with no apparent effect.

gu-brewDave at Lauderdale Cyclery suggested that I try drinking a solution of Gu Brew and water (one tablet per water bottle) while cycling. I was skeptical, but was pleased to find that It actually works! No more cramps at night, and only occasional minimal hints of cramps when after a flip-turn, I push off the pool wall.

I drink this solution when swimming, cycling . . . any form of exercise. I wish that I’d discovered it earlier. The tablets are available in a variety of flavors. I don’t have a favorite flavor; I like them all.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Pushing the limits of road bikes

These guys perform tricks that look impossible . . . on a road bike. Fantastic riding from England. The 6-minute video is beautifully photographed and edited.

Youtube videos: Road Bike Party 2. All tricks were performed on one bike: The Making Of Martyn Ashton’s Colnago C59 Disc. Postscript: Martyn broke his back last September when he fell ten feet during a demo. His legs remain paralyzed. His mates helped him finish the video.

City Biking

Ralph Bueller, in an audio interview, claims that in Denmark, Holland, and Germany, more than 25% of trips by people over 60 years of age are done on bicycles. In the U.S., less than one percent of such trips are done on bicycles.

Looking south from 30th Street at bike lane in 9th Ave in Manhattan on a cloudy afternoon
Looking south from 30th Street at bike lane in 9th Ave in Manhattan on a cloudy afternoon
A friend points out that in most European cities, residences, shopping, and employment centers are clustered next to each other. Most American development follows the sprawl model: housing, shopping, and work centers are separated by dozens of miles of overloaded highways. The availability of affordable cars after WW2 encouraged sprawl. Now car-clogged sprawl is strangling us.

Bicycles offer many advantages over cars where commute distances are less than ten miles. It’s time for the United States to stop sprawling and return to a cohesive community model.

Two recent presentations from Australia:

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Amazon as importer and distributor

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon continues to disrupt traditional commerce models.

Recently I was in the market for a bright LED (light emitting diode) bicycle headlight. Top shelf LED headlights by Niterider and Baja Designs with outputs in the 2000 lumens range sell for $300 to $450. I searched Amazon and found a much cheaper alternative.

SecurityIng® 4 Modes Waterproof 2800 Lumens Cree XM-L U2 LED Bicycle Light
Lamp diameter 0.5 inch
The headlight that I bought is made by China-based Securitying, a company that I’d never heard of. It claimed to produce 2800 lumens, its reviews were favorable, and Amazon sells it for a mere $40. It’s tiny, good and bright, but not perfect. It arrived with no instructions or o-ring mounts, and its low-medium-high-off pushbutton switch isn’t ideal for vehicles. Its output is probably closer to 1200 lumens — not the claimed 2800 lumens. Still, it’s very bright with a nice broad beam.

The interesting part of this is that the Chinese manufacturer seems to have no US-based presence. They’re using Amazon as their importer, American warehouse, distributor, and warranty claims center. I wonder how many other off-shore manufacturers are doing the same?

P.S. I’m so happy with this light that I bought two more: a second to use together with the first one, plus a spare.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Google Maps for bicycles needs work

Last Thanksgiving, I again cycled 19 miles to a friend’s house. Again, Google Maps on my Android phone helped, but revealed flaws in its bicycle routes. It tried to route me about four miles out of my way.

While on Stirling Road, rather than routing me directly westbound on Stirling Road, Google Maps wanted me to head a couple miles north to Griffin Road, head west to Flamingo Road, then head south for about two miles to Stirling Road.

google maps bike route

This route would make sense only if Stirling Road were impassable. In fact, Stirling Road is friendlier to bicycles than Griffin Road. (Google Maps correctly suggested that cars use Stirling Road.)

Afterward, I used Google Maps’ user feedback facility to inform Google of this bug. With luck, Google will correct it before next Thanksgiving.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Against the wind

I was thinking about biking and how much pleasure it’s been over the decades, from my first tricycle, through my 20-inch bike with training wheels, through a succession of bikes of all types.

Schwinn Continental bicycle, c 1960One emotion runs through my memories of all of my bikes: freedom. The only bad memories involve headwinds. Hours and hours of headwinds.

In the 1960s I attended college in the middle of Kansas. I had no car, and saved my money for a new Schwinn Continental (a gorgeous but heavy 10-speed bike). I’d regularly ride that bike about 20 miles to Salina, KS. The roads were flat, but the never-ending wind was a killer. I’d not yet learned about the near-necessity of padded bicycle shorts or gloves. The rides would just beat me up, especially if I faced a headwind both northbound and southbound. (Yes, it happened sometimes — a front would come through and the wind would shift direction by 180 degrees. Result? Forty miles in first and second gear!)

Last month I was amused to find a Kansas bicycle podcast and the first thing that they mentioned was the difficulty of cycling into the wind. That persistent Kansas wind.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries

David Byrne (once the Talking Heads guitarist/singer, now world music producer) is an avid bicyclist. While on concert tour, he uses his folding bike to explore the local color. A few years ago he assembled his worldwide bike travel notes into a book titled Bicycle Diaries.

ListenDavid Byrne on folding bikeYou can listen to him read a chapter from his book. David Byrne reads his Australia chapter from his 2009 book, Bicycle Diaries. I like his transportation philosophy: use a bicycle when it’s appropriate, such as in urban settings and for short to medium length rides. Use other transport modes when they make more sense.

Librivox.org

I found a humorous reading of Mark Twain’s Taming the Bicycle on http://librivox.org/short-story-collection-001/. 648px-PSM_V38_D791_An_ordinary_bicycle_with_lines_of_forceI could sympathize with his difficulty in learning to ride a penny-farthing bike. The proper name for this design was Ordinary Bicycle. They had a large front wheel with pedals, a small rear wheel, and no freewheel — you couldn’t coast — and just one speed — you couldn’t shift gears. Oh — no brake, either.

Philip K Dick
Philip K. Dick
dwg: Pete Welsch
Librivox provides “Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain”. The readers’ voices bring life to the authors’ words. The authors include unexpected surprises: I spent a pleasant hour listening to The Defenders by Philip K. Dick (1928 – 1982). (Who’s he? An imaginative writer. Hollywood based Blade Runner, The Minority Report, Paycheck, The Matrix, and Total Recall on his short stories and novels.) The Defenders introduces a world in which humans have burrowed deep into the Earth to escape radioactivity caused by a never-ending war that’s fought by robots on Earth’s surface.

The-Defenders

ListenThe terrible destruction of total nuclear war between the Western and Eastern Blocks has succeeded in sterilizing the surface of the earth. No living creature can now exist there and all humans on both sides, have fled to the hives built miles below the surface where they constantly work to produce the war materials necessary to carry on the battle. For 8 years now, the actual fighting between these super powers has been conducted by robots known as Ledeys since only they can sustain the terrible levels of radiation caused by the constant bombardment. They are the Defenders, standing between the combatants far below and ultimate victory or defeat. Life is hard in the tunnels, but liveable, while it is lethal on the surface. The ledeys keep the generals informed on everything through vids and pictures; but how can this continue? what will happen? Who will win? (Summary by Phil Chenevert)

I look forward to listening to more Librivox readings on my smartphone. I’ll listen to more Phil Dick stories and then Edgar Allen Poe is next.

Mark Twain’s penny-farthing bicycle? Riding it sounds as daunting as riding a modern track bike: no freewheel, gears, or brakes. I’ve ridden them in a velodrome only. Some daredevils (somehow) ride them on the street. I think they’re nuts.

Feds shut down ten counterfeit bicycle gear websites

I found this opening paragraph in a May 8 claimsjournal.com article titled Houston HSI Seizes 10 Domain Names Selling Counterfeit Cycling Products:

Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Friday seized 10 Internet domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit cycling equipment and apparel globally. The 10 seized domain names are a continuation of “Operation In Our Sites” (IOS), an HSI sustained law enforcement initiative that began in 2010. These seized domain names are now in the custody of the U.S. government. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

The sites were apparently selling high-end carbon-fiber bicycle frames, apparel, and shoes. The counterfeit goods had Specialized, COOLMAX®, LYCRA®, SRAM, Cervelo, and Pinarello brand names.

CyclingYong.com
Click to view CyclingYong.com as of Feb 8, 2012 (Courtesy of WayBack Machine)
The affected websites:

  1. Ecyclingonline.com
  2. Ecyclingjerseys.com
  3. Bike-jersey.com
  4. Teamscycling.com
  5. Samewood.com
  6. Cycling-jersey.net
  7. Cyclingyong.com
  8. Yongcycling.com
  9. bikejersey.com
  10. Cycleoutfit.com

The sites looked legit. You can use the WayBack Machine to view them as they appeared before they were shut down.

Warranty?
If a counterfeit product fails, the manufacturer probably won’t replace or repair it. Manufacturers protect themselves by assigning serial numbers to frames. Not so with most apparel or shoes.

My concerns are:

  • Bike stuff is vulnerable to counterfeiting because it’s easy to manufacture (if you’ve invested in molds, presses, and paint equipment, or industrial sewing machines) and margins are high. I’ve been told that today’s molded carbon-fiber frames are manufactured in automated presses. One can buy an unbranded carbon-fiber China-made frame for about $700; the genuine article from a brand name manufacturer retails for $3000. So an unscrupulous seller could stick a respected name label on an unbranded frame, sell it for $2000, and make at least $1000 profit.
  • What happened to trial by jury? The Feds were able to seize the domain names because ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is based in the U.S. They’re trying to seize the websites’ PayPal accounts, as well. I don’t know if these actions have been tested in the courts.
  • Most larger American and European bicycle manufacturers have offshored manufacturing to Asia, so to some degree they’ve lost control of their quality and distribution, which helps counterfeiters.

An Australian article about carbon-fiber bike frame branding: Are all carbon bikes created equal?

Carbon-fiber parts — even name brand ones — can fail catastrophically: bustedcarbon.com


In May 2010 I wrote an article about counterfeit computer network equipment.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695