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Editorial by Tom Demerly.

Tom Demerly at Eco Challenge.

Man, I'll tell you what. It's here, or at least, right around the corner….


It is about time. This winter has been hard in every way, and I don't just mean the cold and snow. As I write this the mercury is climbing, the forecast is being revised upward and the sun is shining. Each day is a few precious seconds longer than the previous.

So here is your springtime lecture, I give it every year, it never really changes:


First, if you've only ridden 70 miles per week (which, realistically is quite a bit) on your indoor trainer then resist the urge to do all of the mileage this weekend on Saturday and/or Sunday. Increasing your mileage too fast will cause saddle problems, increase the likelihood of soft tissue injuries and tax your recovery system further exposing you to cold and other infections. Please increase your mileage gradually and keep your early rides easy, even if you have been raging on the Compu-Trainer. Keep early rides moderate in distance and intensity. Getting a cold at this time of year can take valuable weeks to recover from. You don't need that now.

Second, keep your knees covered. It never fails, the temperature goes above 55 and someone decides they want to ride shorts. At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs there was a rule that we were not allowed to ride outside with bare knees below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. There is minimal warm, arterial blood flow to the area surrounding your knees and the connective tissues are large, close to the surface and fragile. They are sensitive to extreme temperature changes. Try this: Put your palm on your thigh and leave it there. Feels warm doesn't it? Now put your palm over your kneecap and do the same. Hmmm, feels a good bit cooler, especially at first. That's because the blood flow is not as active around the bony kneecap as it is in the power muscle groups above and below your knees. Wear knee warmers, tights or leg warmers. Ignore the top pros in Europe doing the early season classics in shorts. They have their legs covered in layers of "weather guard" salve and "hot cream" that protects their legs from the elements. So, in effect, their legs are covered too. They also have thousands of miles in them. Keep your knees covered. Very important.

Third, Remember: There are cars out there. Motorists armed with cell phones, carry-out food, in-car GPS units, CD players and chatty passengers are not yet acclimated to having skinny people dressed in lycra zipping along the road and in and out of the shoulder. They will kill you and feel sorry later. Be proactive. "Preact" to developing traffic situations. Stick to routes you know during low traffic volumes. Maintain a high degree of situational awareness at all times and for God's sake, wear your helmet.

Fourth, I can virtually guarantee you your bike needs work. You call it a hassle, I call it pay day. Chances are you haven't done any bike maintenance in months, even if the bike has been on the indoor trainer. I can't promise you you'll "beat the rush", it's too late- it already started. But, if you get your bike in here now we will have it up and running, well maintained, tuned and safe, within a few days most likely. Better now than later… and, a ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Yesterday a guy doing Ironman Wisconsin brought his bike in for a tune-up. His frame was broken in not one, but three places. We're not talking little hairline cracks, we're saying full-on San Andreas Fault fractures in this guy's bike. Now he enters warranty hell. Where was he six weeks ago?

Fifth, Do something new on your bike this year. If you are a triathlete then join a group ride. For the first time this year we will be doing group rides from our store. Bring your helmet and be prepared to sign a waiver. Get a book like Eddie Boryswicz's "Bicycle Road Racing" and learn about riding in groups, the etiquette, conventions and safety techniques used in this subtle, high speed dance. If you only do club/group rides think about trying a time trial race. Not a racer? Don't worry, this is racing for people who aren't racers. It is safe and the only adversary is the clock (and yourself- the hardest competitor you'll ever know). You will riding by yourself and get a honest gauge of your fitness level. The French call this even the "Contre le Montre" or "Race of Truth" because there is no place to hide.

And finally, take a moment- or several actually, no, make that every day; to consider how incredibly fortunate we are in the grand scheme of things to enjoy vigorous exercise, health, fitness, good equipment, fun rides and great times. So few people have this privilege in the grand scheme of things. We are the favored minority.

See you in here soon. Be careful out there, and keep your knees covered!

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© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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