Stretching For Cyclists

Stretching for cyclists and generally active people is so important in your health and fitness regime. As I’m writing this post, I’m actually sitting on my chair and stretching my glutes and IT band by crossing one leg over the other and leaning forward or pushing down on the knee. Being extremely active, my muscles get really tight so I always dedicate time to stretching and foam-rolling every single day. I also found that the more I cycled, the harder it was for me to get lower in my squats but it’s been improving now that I spend even more time stretching than before. Tight muscles put everything in your body out of alignment which increases risk of pain, injury and discomfort… who wants that?

Foam Roll

Stretch [and roll] everything and everywhere!

Why it is so important for cyclists to stretch:

  • When you are cycling, joints are never taken through a full range of motion which causes your muscles to tighten AND shorten.
  • Cycling is such a repetitive motion.
  • Cycling is not a natural movement like running or walking.

What does do stretching for cyclists:

  • Stretching will help to elongate and loosen your muscles and reverse what hours in the saddle may cause.
  • Stretching helps improve performance, power, speed, agility and ability to ride for longer.
  • Stretching increases flexibility which helps you cycle more efficiently by helping you get into the best form possible.
  • Stretching aids in cross-training. For example, tight hip flexors are common amongst roadies as we lean forward when we ride which causes tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors means it will be very hard for you to get your ass to the grass when you squat. A half squat is NOT a real squat, okay people! So if you don’t want to squat like a bitch, make sure you are stretching those hip flexors!

So when you should stretch? After a good warm up when your core body temperature is warmed up. Never stretch before your workout because your muscles are still cold and you may increase the risk of injury. Static stretching before exercise may even reduce your performance so it’s always best to do a good dynamic stretch or a light warm up before you stretch.

While stretching may not be 100% proven to enhance your performance as there is much debate over this, you cannot deny that not only is it therapeutic but it feels AWESOME to stretch. I always look forward to my recovery regime after every workout …which includes a lot of stretching and myofascial release.

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    Things I Love

    Chick Pea Cakes

    Addicted to bean cakes: you can’t even tell they are made out of beans! Chocolate coconut & raspberry-filled chocolate … both made with chickpeas.

    Wants & Buys

    I’m obsessed with these new leopard print sneakers I JUST bought + this new saddle is about to be mine SOON. I can’t wait for my butt to feel like it’s sitting on a cloud while I cycle. Sigh.

    Snacks

    Snack addictions: turkey jerkey + berries, berries and a lot of berries.

    Grub

    Why I workout: We’ve been making a ton of pulled pork lately (well just Boyfriend because cooking is totally not my thing) and experimenting with sauces; this Asian style one is the best one that he’s ever made… because it has Hoisin sauce in it, and I LOVE Hoisin. Asian flavors are the best! Speaking of Asian-ness, I don’t live in Richmond anymore so I haven’t been going out for dim sum as much as usual (it’s not the same in Vancouver!) but when I do… NOM!

    Gym Rat

    What I will ALWAYS love: gym-ratting, bike rides to work and foam rolling.

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      Silent Suffering: My First Cypress Climb

      It was the Sun Run last weekend and I’ve never done it so I was really looking forward to my first time but the race came too quickly and I never made the time to train for it… so instead, I did another first that day: a Cypress climb! In my biased opinion, this is way better than the Sun Run anyway … only because I suck at running and I’m kind of awesome at cycling (just kind of).

      My First Cypress Climb

      Stanely Park + Cypress Bowl Road Lookout

      Here is my first Cypress climb experience in dramatized and rambl-y pointform:

      • Woke up to a sunny day and sipped my coffee while watching waves of Sun Run people running down West Georgia from my apartment window. Super excited that it was going to be a nice day!
      • Packed all my “just in case it gets really damn cold and pours like shit” gear and decided not to bring it last minute. Damnit. I am a Vancouverite and should have known what was in store for us. But really, I was just lazy and stupid because I like to travel light while cycling. And it was really really nice out. *shakes fist*
      • Made a quick breakfast of egg wraps and then hopped on our bikes, got on the Sea Wall towards Stanley Park to meet with the group.
      • Warmed up with some small hills; Stanley Park Drive, Lions Gate, West Vancouver, Hwy99… finally arrive at the base of Cypress. Yay! I was so excited! Now for the 12km of uphill…
      • First couple kilemeters up to the Cypress Mountain Lookout went by quicker than I thought. The last kilometers were very consistent with a gradient averaging to 8%. I saw it jump to 10-12% at some points but those were pretty short segments.

        @ Cypress Mountain Lookout

      • I was passed by a lot of semi-pro looking people and looked longingly at their backsides wishing I could catch-up… but I really didn’t want to or try to. I know, I didn’t push myself okay. Not that I could’ve caught up anyway but you know.
      • Since this was my first time biking up Cypress, I was trying to conserve my energy because I wasn’t familiar with the climb so I did NOT push myself at all. This is one thing that sometimes holds me back from any sport; I’m afraid of running out of energy and not making it. Bad. Mentality.
      • Especially with my clipless pedals because if I stopped to break, that meant I’d have to clip in on a slope and that is something I still suck at.
      • The way up, I was thinking how it sucks for cyclists to suffer in silence as we climb these torturous mountains (which we have no one to blame but ourselves). Or maybe that’s just me because I’m a total loner and if you try to talk to me while I’m in the middle of a hard workout, I will tell you to STFU. But not because I’m mean… it’s because I’m struggling to breath.
      • I remember thinking, “man this is hard!” It was definitely one of the tougher rides I’ve been on. I need to go on more rides! Boo.
      • My heart was going pretty fast but I wasn’t huffing and puffing like a dying penguin like I usually do (because I was going slow and steady). Do penguins huff and puff?
      • I was actually proud of myself because I rode all the way up to the top and there was never a point where I wanted to die or give up. And I was the first one up too!
      • Again, I’m sure it would’ve been different if I pushed myself harder. Next time, I’m sure I’m going to die and Boyfriend will probably have to push my bike and I up while riding along side of me. I’ve seen my friend’s husband effortlessly push her up with one hand on her back up on a steep hill (while I was struggling to bike up beside them). Pretty badass, I tell ya. Now I have really high expectations for my boyfriend. He better have my back.
      • I felt I was extremely prepared mentally because I already knew this was going to be a long and hard climb and instead of being scared or anxious, I was seriously… Really. Excited.
      • Physically, my legs did tire out but I used my usual techniques for getting through any hard workouts: focusing on something else to forget about the pain (breathing, my pedaling, drafting this blog post in my head…).
      • And I must thank my tough workouts like our killer Burpee-Kettlebell Swing Pyramid and the thousands of squats and lunges.
      • 15km and 730m of elevation later, we were at the lodge and it got pretty chilly but the sun was still shining and all was good.
        Being the awesome girlfriend that I am, I stopped before the lodge to take a picture of Boyfriend coming up... BEHIND me. He later told me that he wanted to pass me but decided not to so I can get up first. Yeah right. Since he was pretty far back. Muhahaha.

        Being the awesome girlfriend that I am, I stopped before the lodge to take a picture of Boyfriend coming up… BEHIND me. He later told me that he wanted to pass me but decided not to so I can get up first. Yeah right. Muhahaha.

      • We took a couple pictures when we re-grouped and lo and behold… the clouds came rolling in out of nowhere and we were suddenly caught in The Perfect Sh!tstorm. Since nothing was opened, we decided to start our descend and this is where we entered hell…
      • 30 minutes of pure misery: huge chunks of ice and hail smashing into your face as you descended at 50km/hr while being 100% exposed on a bicycle. Frozen fingers, soaked feet and being blinded by the rain as it got in your eye was the cherry on top. I remember hoping that a piece of ice wouldn’t smack into my eye…
      • But 30 minutes of pure misery I would go through again if that’s what it means to have to climb up Cypress. Okay… thank god it’s not though.
      • The entire way down I was telling myself, “fuck this shit, I got my eyeliner tattoo.. I can handle this!!” My entire way up and down was filled with cursing because of my potty mouth.
      • The pain of the ice hitting my face reminded me of when I got my eyebrows tattooed— which was like a needle pricking your eyebrows a billion times, but in this case, it was like your entire face was being tattooed (and man, that would’ve been a hideous tattoo). And the rest of the elements made it 100x worse!
      • But maybe not as worse as getting your eyeliner tattooed… twice. Just maybe!
      • Comparing your situation to a situation you’ve been through that was a lot worse really helps you get through tough times!
      • By the time I got to the bottom, I could not stop shaking. Being lean sucks when it’s cold— we all need some fat in us (which was why we had a poutine that night).
      • We took the express way back to West Vancouver on the highway and down a super steep  and scary hill to Marine Drive. I thought I was going to die because I was shaking so bad, my fingers were frozen and I could smell my brakes burning as I was hugging it down along with all that traffic… in the pouring rain. Okay, being totally dramatic for the blog but still. Biking in those conditions require a lot of concentration!
      • I bombed down the mountain in the descent despite the weather because all I wanted to do was go down… then I later realized that the roads could’ve iced up and it could have been a bad situation. What a stupid mistake. Must be more cautious next time.
      • We finally found a Starbucks and I finally warmed up hours later while waiting for Boyfriend to get our car with the bike racks so we can take the drive of shame home (whose lovely brother + family picked him up). I had great conversations with my fellow-riders and learned some interesting things which I should really blog about next time. It’s nice to hang out with people who are passionate… about cycling and fitness!
        Drive of Shame

        Drive of Shame: Stuffing our bikes into the car for the “ride” home.

      • We originally planned to bike to Lions Bay to make this ride a total of 110km but no one was in the mood for it at that point.
      • But it’s just so Vancouver that the sun came out and made it seem like that horrible misery of ice, hail and rain was all just a dream! I wanted to continue our ride but oh well, we are definitely rescheduling it.
      • The climb was hard but fun and challenging, the arrival at the top was amazing, the descent was pure misery but I would do it all over again in the same conditions! Plus the group we went with was awesome, everyone was infectiously positive and did a great job!
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