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Cool Route: Nature in the City

nature

This is one of our favorite routes in Portland! There is so much to see and do along the way with this ride. If the weather is good, plan to spend some time hanging out on the beach at Kelley Point Park. Bring a book – maybe even your suit! Kelley Point Park is a fantastic swimming spot in the summertime.

VIEW THE FULL ROUTE HERE >>

This route comes from the Best Bike Rides in Portland book by ORbike editor Ayleen Crotty and published by Falcon Guides.

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Profile: The Costumed Alig Family

wdyr

They say that a family that bikes together stays together. We say that a family that costumes together stays together. Fortunately for the Alig family of North Plains they have both of those elements totally nailed.

We first noticed the Alig family when they were dressed as dalmatians at the 2012 Tour de Lab bike ride. They looked AWESOME.

One day we were going through photos from Worst Day of the Year Rides from over the years and we noticed that the Alig family popped up every few years with impressive group costumes. So we decided it was high time we caught up with this creative biking family.

Maybe you’ve seen them out there. They’ve arrived by bike dressed as Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and ghosts, Cat in the Hat, dinosaurs, crayons and then last year, Minions and banana at the Worst Day of the Year Ride.

We sat down with dad Tim Alig to find out more. Along with his wife Anna and sons Zach (9) and Travis (7) they are quite the creative biking bunch.

Does your family get creative with other events, or mostly the Worst Day of the Year Ride?

The costumes usually start as Halloween costumes and get reused at the bike rides.

Why do you like dressing up as a family?

We enjoy the reactions from other people. The kids think the costumes are fun and cozy.

Why do you like participating in the Worst Day of the Year Ride?

The ride is a way to get out in the middle of winter. The kids enjoy the bike ride and other costumes. It’s also a way to teach the kids that it doesn’t have to be perfect outside to go do something.

What do your kids think about being involved in the event?

They like the treats at the stops and the challenge of the ride.

Who is the mastermind behind most of your getups?

The ideas come from the kids, I restructure the ideas into a feasible theme and Mom makes the costumes.

Up Next

We know what you’re all wondering and Tim says, yes, they will be at this year’s Worst Day of the Year Ride. As to what their costume will be, he’s tight lipped, “That will be a surprise,” he says.

A Family That Rides Together

Tim and his family are no strangers to bike rides that are much more intense than the quirky Worst Day of the Year Ride. They have completed several self-supported tours, including a 500 mile month-long trip along the Sierra Cascades bike route form Hood River to Hilt, CA. “We have plans to to complete the Washington and California sections a some point in the future.”

The family has also ridden through the San Juans and Victoria, Canada and along the Old West Scenic Bike Way. Later this year the family plans to ride the Bitterroot, a 300k ride in Idaho and Montana, the Monster Cookie Metric Century out of Salem and a backpacking trip through the Wallowas.

“The main thing is teaching the kids that they can go on adventures and things don’t always go right. Our 500 mile trip was hampered by a fall off the monkey bars and a broken arm for my youngest. We’re not particularly fast or strong, but we still make it,” Tim says.

Ride Details

Worst Day of the Year Ride
Every February
Lucky Labrador Brew Pub
More info >
Registration >

The ride says costumes aren’t required, but we feel the ride just wouldn’t be the same without them. Even if you simply don a wig over (over, not under – it’s much radder that way) your helmet, you’ll be getting into the true spirit of this wacky annual tradition.

Photo Gallery

Special thanks to Tim for sharing these family photos with us.

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Winter Warmers for Rainy Days

chocolatecinnamon

We are strong advocates of rewarding yourself after a particularly cold and rainy ride, and a cozy drink is the perfect way to warm up.

Here’s our favorite recipe for a hot winter drink that’s perfect for cyclists.

2 cups of almond milk or dairy milk
3 1/2 ounces high quality dark chocolate (chips or powder both work)
1 cinnamon stick broken in half
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum, or more to taste

Warm the milk in a saucepan, using caution not to boil it. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the milk along with a cinnamon stick, honey and chili powder. Stir gently until the chocolate is melted.

Add the vanilla and mix with a small hand whisk. Still whisking, add the rum. Taste to see if you want more.

Pour into two mugs, ensuring each one gets a cinnamon stick.

Put your feet up, relax and sink in.

How do you cozy up?

What is your favorite post-ride drink on a particularly cold and rainy day? Share your suggestions below.


How do you stay warm and dry on rainy days? Visit the #KeepRiding Lounge to learn more about how to make this an amazing winter on your bike.

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Ergonomics With a Ride Leader

linda

With all those miles we’re putting on our bikes, it’s important to think about our bodies when they’re off the bike, too. For many of us, while we may long to be on our bike all day, in reality we’re at a desk, slogging away at a computer. Spending endless hours at the computer is taking its toll on our health, but there are some simple ways to combat the ails of working life.

We sat down with Linda Watts, ergonomic expert and president of the Sorella Forte competitive riding club to find out more. Linda works for Fully, a furniture company based in Portland that believes movement is good.

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Why do you think sit-stand desks have become such a trend?

The science is clear and you feel the health benefits right away. Long periods of sitting directly increase our risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. By encouraging us to move more throughout the day, sit-stand desks lower these risks, keep us out of the chiropractor’s office and boost workplace productivity. This is the easiest entry to workplace wellness, whether you work from home or at a corporate office. And as cyclists, we intuitively understand that we shouldn’t leave our bodies at the door with our bikes!

Why is an ergonomically friendly workstation important for people?

A body and mind in motion tends to stay in motion, surfacing our best ideas and our best work.

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Okay, so most of us have heard about sit-stand work stations by now, but what are the other trends in workplace ergonomics we may not be as familiar with?

Active sitting is the other big part of the sit-stand desk equation. Having the right chair for a sit-stand workstation does a body wonders. When we sit, gravity tends to overtake our bodies and the “afternoon slouch” gets the better of us. Having a well-fitted chair helps combat this slouch by protecting our spines, improving our circulation, and reminding us to move again. No more mom telling you to “sit still.” Move, fidget, change body positions. There is no wrong way to be in an ergonomic chair, except for too long!

When standing at your sit/stand desk, an anti-fatigue mat can help alleviate leg and back muscle fatigue. My favorite is the Topo mat by Ergo Driven.

How does an ergonomically friendly workstation dovetail with cycling or an active lifestyle?

What we do from 9-5 is the biggest chunk of our active lifestyle. All of my best ideas occur on my bike from a clear mind, the fresh air in my lungs, and the blood and fluids pumping through my body that encourage my brain synapses to fire. I never want that euphoria to end. Walking from my bike to my Jarvis sit-stand desk, I can avoid the hard shift from all movement to zero movement, and skip all the stiffness, soreness and stress by moving through it.

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What are some of the coolest workstation developments happening right now?

At Fully, it’s about embodiment of the mind/body connection. You will naturally become more aware to be more present while you work. And we’ll continue to design products that encourage your body to move in more natural positions.

We test everything we release on our site, so our customers can feel confident that it’s the best product for its function and value. At the same time, we also want to make accessories that we want for ourselves.

We’ve got some cool ones:

Beyond just the physical awareness, we will soon be releasing a product that helps diffuse noise and offers personal privacy around your workstation. Like many offices these days, we have an open floor plan with hardwood floors and tall ceilings. And at full capacity it can get a bit unruly. So our goal is to allow you to be your best self at work, and we feel these products will provide that much more focus.
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What does someone say to the HR department to convince then to make the switch to a more ergonomically friendly workstation set up?

Less sick days, lower health bills, more productive staff, and easiest entry to wellness at work. Companies hip to their employees’ well being attract and keep great people. And people should scope out workspaces before they commit to moving their lives there.

What else should we know?

Fully is a collection of movement junkies from bike builders, sprinters, hikers, yogis, skateboarders, climbers, meditators, tango and hip hop dancers that agree on one simple thing: the human body was meant to move, all day long. Our office is a play-gym of products under development; the stuff we love working at most, we bring to market. We even keep a little diary of our life-at-work adventures (you can read it here)

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Cool Route: Fanno Creek Greenway

coveredbridges

Like riding on paved off road trails? You’ll love the Fanno Creek Greenway in the Tigard area!

This wide, smooth trail takes you on a quiet wildlife journey through the areas of Tigard and Garden Home on the edge of Portland as it follows Fanno Creek, an important restored habitat for turtles, ducks, beaver, nutria and other wildlife. The out-and-back trail features many offshoots, nature loops and optional side routes so you can see different scenery on the way back to the start location. You will pass through seven parks along the way during this very flat ride.

VIEW THE FULL ROUTE HERE >>

This route comes from the Best Bike Rides in Portland book by ORbike editor Ayleen Crotty and published by Falcon Guides.

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Nutrition on a Big Ride

nutrition

Guest post by Jamie Singer

Every biker remembers their first time. No, no, not THAT first time, we’re talking the first time they bonked.

Perhaps you’ve heard about it, others have told you about their own experiences but you never thought it would happen to you. Then wham! You’re out for the count, losing touch with reality.

My first time was in France whilst riding from London to Paris over three days. It happened somewhere between St Malo and Paris – please forgive my vagueness, in my condition, I was way beyond geographical certainty.

Let me back up. That morning I had shunned the grim looking breakfast on offer at the ferry’s “restaurant” in favour of a few extra minutes of sleep (in truth I could’ve been a little hungover from a late night in the Ferry’s “night club”). Besides, I was trying out an energy powder, ‘free-mixing’ it with approximate measurements into my water bottles.

Upon further research later on, I found out that energy powders might not actually improve the performance during extreme exercise. It turns out they subtly change the way you feel during that exercise. Recent research carried out by United States Sports Academy and Concordia University Chicago has shown that the supplements cause vasodilation of the arteries within the muscles being worked the most. This increases cardiac output and decreases systemic resistance which gives a tickling feeling on the skin that makes you feel as if you are pumping those pedals harder.

After an hour or two naively setting the pace on the front, burning nothing but early morning enthusiasm, we hit a small town and descended en-masse on an inviting looking Boulangerie, where if my memory serves me right I gorged on an apple turnover, pain au raisin and a cone shaped pastry filled with custard. Whilst admittedly a little queasy I felt good and ready to ride on to Paris. The sugar hit that ensued was palpable.

Sugar is broken down into simpler carbohydrate molecules in the gut. In turn, these are broken down in the constituent glucose molecules which are stored in adipose tissue and the liver. Glucose is the most essential ingredient that the body needs in order to produce energy – every cell in the body needs it. Although the breakfast I just ate may not have contained much other nutritional content, I did get that hit of energy I needed to continue… but not for long.

Half an hour later, slowly at first, I started to struggle. Hanging out at the front of the peloton didn’t feel so good. So, I hung on at the back, the wheel in front becoming harder and harder to hold. The gap was getting wider and wider; first six inches, one foot, a yard. Then the elastic snapped. I was off at the back.

The rest of the day was a blur. Every pedal turn became a monumental effort until I threw in the towel. Lying amongst the flowers in a roadside pullout chewing slowly on an energy bar, I wondered where it had all gone wrong.

Energy bars have one purpose – to give you that extra drive required to push you that extra mile. How do they do that? You guessed it: Glucose. Energy bars are not fantastic for nutritional content but that’s because they don’t need to be. By supplying you with a rush of carbohydrates the bars fulfill their purpose by giving your muscles the energy they need to push those pedals an extra turn.

Now I don’t wait for the hunger pangs, I dutifully consume a bar on a regular basis. I keep hydrated, again with the hydration tab brand that’s the most effective in warding off cramps in my legs (it’s worth trying a few different brands to find your optimum). If I know a big climb is coming up or know the pace is going to pick up, I pre-empt the increased energy burn with an extra bite or two of energy bar or a banana.

This is optimum fueling efficiency because at this stage, my body is respiring both aerobically and anaerobically. By respiring anaerobically, the liver is undergoing a synthesising glucose to meet the energy demands of the legs during cycling. The main thing to remember is that eating little bits enables us to give the legs enough energy at the points it needs it the most.

Only in an emergency – Chris Froome on Alpe D’Huez style – will I resort to energy gels or jelly babies/beans to get me through to a proper food stop or even better the end of the ride.

It’s only after completing this mammoth ride, that I realised how important nutrition is. Eating right is what can make the difference between muscle ‘hangover’ and post workout soreness. Ultimately, everybody is different and I highly recommend you test different types of pre- and post-workout nutritional plans to design something that is unique to you. But be aware of the claims energy bars and powders elude to – although they may promise you the world, let your body be the judge.

Photo by Human Powered Health


Jamie Singler writes the Bike Torpedo Blog where he reviews the latest cycling gear. For updates from Jamie, follow him on Facebook or Twitter

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