Tips for Buying a Road Bike

Are you watching the Tour de France? I’m not a hard-core cyclist, but I love tuning in to this crazy race. And, surprisingly, so does my 4-year-old son. Not that either of us really know what’s going on.

I do know that it will end in Paris on Sunday, July 22, so if you haven’t tuned in yet, you better get on it. You can watch the Tour de France on the official Le Tour de France website or on one of the NBC Sports stations.

The Tour de France coverage, plus a re-airing of last year’s Kona Ironman World Championship over the weekend has me longing for a road bike. I have a mountain bike, and it is great for cross training, but if I ever want to do a triathlon, I have got to get a real road racing bicycle. But I am clueless when it comes to knowing what kind of bike to buy, so I did a little research:

What to Remember When Buying a Road Bike

  • Size: One of the most common mistakes, according to the article How to Buy a Used Road Bike on Livestrong.com, is buying a bike that is the wrong size for your body. Before you buy a bike, go to a cycling store and ask a trained professional to help you find a bike that is the right size for you. Once you know, then you can choose to buy a new or a used road bike.
  • Handlebar Style: According to the article A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Bike on REI.com, road bikes come with two different handlebar options. Lightweight and aerodynamic drop-bar handlebars allow the rider to go faster, as well as give the cyclist more riding and hand position options, while flat-bar handlebars offer a more upright riding position lessening the strain on hands, wrists and shoulders and giving the rider a better view of what’s up ahead.
  • Test Drive: Test at least three bikes warns an article by ConsumerSearch.com. You need to get a feel for the bike — you’ll be spending a lot of time on it!
  • Frame Material: How to Buy a Road bike on ConsumerSearch.com offers great information on your potential road bike’s frame material, and how it can affect price, weight and the ride. “Aluminum and carbon are among the most popular materials used for road bike frames,” it reads. However, “Most budget road bikes have aluminum frames, which can have a harsh, unforgiving ride.” Carbon fiber is great for racing. Mid-range bikes combine the two: an aluminum frame with a carbon fork. It’s all about what you want to pay. Some high-end bikes are even made from titanium or bamboo!

Are you an experienced cyclist? Leave a comment and let us newbie road cyclists know what else we should be looking for!

5 Fun Game-Style Fitness Apps for Your Smartphone

The day I saw that my running buddy posted on her DailyMile workout that zombies had been chasing her was the day I started looking for a new running buddy. Just kidding! But I did ask her what in the world she was taking about. The next time I saw her, she raved about a fitness and game app on her iPhone called Zombies, Run!. Turns out that’s just one of a new genre of fitness apps hitting smartphones these days: exercise apps that are more like games than workouts. Here are 5 of them:

1. ZOMBIES, RUN!

The Zombies, Run! website describes this app as an ultra-immersive running game. While you are running, a story is delivered to you via your headphones as orders and voice recordings. The zombies are coming! You have to run faster! When you’ve outrun them, you can slow down – and so on. Once you get home, you can build and grow your base with items you collected while on your run (like medicine, batteries and ammunition).

Find out more: https://www.zombiesrungame.com/

Price: $7.99

Works on: Android, iPhone, and it’s been reported that it’s coming at the end of June for Windows Phone

2. FIT FREEWAY

Fit Freeway is a retro arcade-style racing game that you control while exercising on a cardio machine. Simply set your iPhone or iPad on your exercise bike or elliptical and the game reads the vibrations from your machine. The front-facing camera reads your head position – just lean left or right to steer.

Find out more: http://www.bitgym.com/games/fit-freeway

Price: $2.99 (or free for the Fit Freeway Lite version)

Works on: iPhone and iPad

3. TEEMO

The Teemo app combines “short-and-sweet exercises” with adventures and socializing to make fitness more fun. Create a team of friends and complete globetrotting adventures relay race-style while working out with the game’s interval timer, and audio and visual prompts.

Find out more: http://goteemo.com

Price: $2.99 (free during a limited introductory offer)

Works on: iPhone and iPad

4. SPECTREK

SpecTrek is described by its makers as an augmented reality game, which means it uses your phone’s GPS and camera to superimpose images into your natural environment. Hunt for ghosts on the Google map on your phone by running and walking, then zap them!

Find out more: Review of SpecTrek from AndroidAppReviewSource.com

Price: $2.49 (Try SpecTrek Light for free)

Works on: Android

5. JADE OF SPADES

Jade of Spades is from celebrity trainer and fitness expert Jade Alexis, and is described as an interactive fitness card game. Circuit-style interval workouts are randomly selected and last 10 minutes (or you can combine workouts for a full 60-minute routine).

Find out more: http://www.livingjade.com/

Price: $1.99

Works on: iPhone

Want to Commute by Bike? Better Get Aggressive

Commuting by Bike

I paid $3.99 per gallon to fill up my car last week. So I guess that’s why I’ve been thinking more about commuting to my part-time job by bike.

Beyond the monetary benefit, there’s the health benefit and it’s better for the environment. Besides, it’s hard core, right? Honestly, though, I’m so scared about it.

How do I know a car will not hit me from behind? Do I need a rearview mirror on my mountain bike?

And how long will it take me? I know about how long 11 miles on the trail takes me, but I’m sure it takes longer on the streets, right?

Of course there’s a website with some answers! Commute by Bike has a page called “Top Ten Commuting 101 Articles,” which includes a guide on how to commute by bike, how to select a route, how to claim a lane, and many more essential tips for beginning bike commuters.

One of the articles on the site states bike commuters are better off being aggressive: “Riders who are afraid to assert themselves in traffic are a danger to themselves and other riders…As this study about traffic deaths among London cyclists found, an abundance of caution in riding is not a benefit.”

To me, it seems the most important thing I will need for bike commuting is confidence and aggression. As a car driver, I have plenty of confidence. I know when it makes sense to be aggressive and when to just let things go. But on a bike? I’m a big chicken. I can’t even get first gear to work. I need help!

Do you bike to work? What tips do you have to help a relatively new cyclist commute by bike?