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To Bodily Go...

Cyclists" legs

To the uninitiated, endurance cycling would seem exclusively about the legs. Looking at a rider, there isn’t anything else going on other than propelling the bike forward, mile after mile.

But the reality—and one of the things that draws me to it—is that long-distance cycling involves nearly every part of the body, and stresses many bodily systems to their maximum capacity.

Imagine bringing your heart rate up to 80 or 90 percent of your max and holding it there—not just for a few minutes, but for seven or eight hours. Imagine the load on your circulatory system of 50,000 extra heartbeats. Think about the demand that big muscles, hungry for oxygen, place on your lungs and respiratory system.

Working muscles also need fuel in the form of glycogen. A cyclist quickly depletes what’s stor »more

Pedal the Lakes

Pymatuning Reservoir

Summer’s last gasp was provided by the Labor Day weekend Pedal the Lakes century. It capped four consecutive weekends of hard riding that began with the Mon Valley Century, continued with the very challenging Every Neighborhood Ride, and peaked with back-to-back metric centuries in the Tour de Red Belt and PedalPGH.

I was up at 5am for the 90-minute drive to the start up in Mercer County. After a consistently hot August, the September nights have started cooling off, and the ride set out at a chilly 51°. I began with a jacket and arm warmers, removing the former at the first rest stop and the latter at the second as the day warmed into the 70s.

With little wind, the weather was just about perfect, and allowed me to ride with a much lower heart rate than I’d have in hotter weather. Esp »more

Bikefestivus

Beginning the Neighborhood Ride

Much like Bay State Bike Week, Pittsburgh has its own celebration of cycling, known as Bikefest. The 10-day period features an opening party, plus lots of rides and events designed to promote cycling and bring the community together. The week ends with a big citywide populaire ride called PedalPGH which is similar to Boston’s Hub on Wheels tour.

My Bikefest began with the Every Neighborhood Ride, which hits all 90 of Pittsburgh’s recognized neighborhoods. Including riding to and from the start, it wound up being a solid 86 miles over 11 hours in the saddle, and the mile and a quarter of ascent made it the second most climbing I’ve ever done in a single ride.

Needless to say, it was a long, hard day, made longer by waiting for stragglers who were in over their heads, two flats, plus an »more