- injury prevention
- greater endurance
- how to gain strength
- how to stay in the zone
- how to maintain an even pedal strokes
- bike and body adjustments
- how to gain core strength
- lactic acid
I have a twisted solution to help you on you way to being the bad ass rider you are meant to be. It is something that cyclist think they can not do. No, it is not riding until your legs fall off, ignoring back pain or making it up the hill of death.
Are you ready…
I am talking about yoga.
It is something that we all know we should do but the excuses flow out of us like a water spout. “I don’t have time,” “I will suck at it,” “isn’t that for girls,” and my favorite “I can’t even touch my toes.”
You gotta let go of your excuses. I realize the thought of your hamstrings ripping off your legs comes to mind as many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga. But that’s a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to win The Tour in order to start racing.
Let’s start with the first step:
Show up to a class
I feel like my legs are about to explode! I feel my quads tighten…to the point of reminding myself “this is not permanent.” My once dry pigtails are dripping on my back, “this is not permanent” and then the dreaded happens. A river of sweat is mainlined into my eye. There is no way to rub my eyes…at least it made me not think about my legs. With each passing second I try to relax and not fight with my body. With each passing moment I remind myself to breath. As I become aware of my surroundings I hear thumps of music and a calm voice making me push my edge. I am screaming in my head but my face is calm with a slight smile.
“This is not permanent!!!”
Then it ends! I relax my legs, rub my eyes and come back to my breath. Then I am asked to do it again.
“This is not permanent.” Nothing is permanent…good or bad.
Then it finally ends! I roll up my mat and hop on my bike.
I have found two ways to push my edge: yoga and on my bike. For years I avoided yoga. ”Why would I want to sit in a room and….do nothing.” I grew up playing sports: swim team, track, basketball, cross country, soccer, mountaineering climbing and mountain biking. I didn’t have time for “stretching.”
But, I lost a bet and I had to pay up by taking a yoga class. When I walked into the studio I saw people with a “light” about them. I also noticed people had cut arms and strong cores. As the class began my feet settled on to the mat and I felt like I was home. I know what you are thinking, “Are you kidding me…How is that possible???”
Think about the first time you rode…it is the same thing.
It is said the way you react on your mat is the way you react in your life. Your mat (and your bike) will show you the thoughts you have when things are hard. Both will show you that it is easier to relax and let your body figure out where it needs to be. Both are a million times harder if you hold your breath. Both give you moments of no outside world, a place of being in the moment. Both take complete commitment and acceptance of where you are at this moment. Both will force your ego to take a back seat and let you know compassion with others doesn’t mean jack. It only means you’re not focused on what you are doing.
I had told Triple Crankset I would write about yoga and riding, but I dragged it out for a year and a half. I have been teaching yoga for six years; athletes tend to gravitate to my classes. I am flexible as all get out but I understand where and how athletes are tight.
The reason it took me so long to write about riding and yoga????
As my teaching schedule and my personal practice (we call it a practice because it ain’t perfect, plus it sounds cooler) took up my time I became a bendy yogini (female “yogi,” a person who practices yoga) who taught and forgot what it is like to be tight. Over the past year, I have done the reverse. I had my first cyclocross season (talk about ditching your ego), rode 250 miles on my fixie in a 24 hour period, and decided to fully commit to riding.
My views of yoga have changed over the year. It is the perfect partner to riding! When my hips are open I create more power. This is a little teaser of what I want to do. At least twice a month I will give you guys ways to add yoga to your training and focus on certain postures. I would love for all questions, goofy comments and concerns (if you can cruise around in spandex after a ride: YOU CAN DO YOGA! To kick this off, answer the following and send it to me:
All right my little yogis…until next time.
Namaste (the inner good in me honors the inner good in you…or my badassness honors your badassness)
Photos: Mike Hammer (middle)