7 Do’s and Don’ts of Riding and Racing Bicycles

What follows is a list of dos and don’ts that I have learned from experience, either painful or embarrassing, but usually both. For those who these anecdotes are teaching you to suck eggs then sit back and have a chortle at how foolish yours truly has been. Others please learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them.
1. DON’T attempt to adjust your cycle computer sensor while the wheel is in motion. I’ve put this one first as I still wince at the pain and stupidity of this howler I committed on the 2004 Torture 40. I was having a great ride until I badly sliced up 3 digits in my front spokes. I was forced to stop at a stranger’s house and beg for plasters. Blood everywhere and scars to this day. 10 minutes down on the group I was with as well. The only consolation is that pros have been known to do the same thing with instances of fingertips lost to bladed spoke. Don’t do it!
2. DON’T ride through puddles that you can’t see the bottom of. I got caught out by this at the very start of this year. I don’t feel quite so silly about this one as it was an innocuous puddle and I was mildly distracted chatting to a friend. However the puddle turned out to be a 5 inch deep crater and I was thrown straight over the bars onto the tarmac. Ouch.
3. DO set up your bike correctly. This is important every time you take your machine out of the car for a race. The anecdote I’ll cite is from my 2003 Etape ride. On arrival in France I had set the saddle height to a little scratch on the seatpost that I thought was the correct adjustment. I hadn’t taken a tape measure with me and it felt about right so I didn’t double check. It was only when dismantling for the return journey that I realised I had been approximately 10-15mm too low. I’m not blaming this for my poor ride that year but it certainly can’t have helped. Saddle height is one of many adjustments. Be aware of all things mechanical, particularly anything relating to your safety such as brakes and tires.
4. DO carry all the required food, liquid, spares, and tools that you require, or have the means to acquire them. We all occasionally get caught out by forgetting something, but always remember the fundamentals – spare tube, pump, 30p for the ‘phone, and a credit card to buy your way out of trouble. Other bits I can recommend are some form of ID, an allen key tool, a chain splitter, tire levers, patches, and if you have an aluminium frame a rear mech hanger. I was once on a weekend offroad ride intending to camp out on the Ridgeway but we had to call the whole thing off on day 1 due to a bust mech hanger and no way to replace it on a bank holiday.
5. DO know your route. Again an anecdote from the 2003 Etape. Many people and magazines had done such in depth analysis of how many watts it was going to take to get up such and such a col and how many sips of energy drink and at which points you would need them that I rebelled and didn’t take heed. I had an appreciation of the route and I got through OK but I should have been much more aware of the course. It would have made me prepare better and more conscious of pacing myself. For road races, time trials, and cyclo cross the course will affect your equipment choice with gear, wheel, and tire choice being important considerations. Even on a clubrun look up the destination so you know what type of terrain to expect. That way you are at least mentally prepared.
6. DO arrive at your race in good time. You want to arrive at the HQ with plenty of time to spare. You will need to sign on, pin on numbers, go to the toilet, pump up the tires, perhaps say some prayers to your chosen deity and do 101 other little things. And if it is a time trial your riding
7. DON’T miss your start time. At the second club hill climb last season I managed to miss my start time by 15 seconds. In a 100 mile TT this wouldn’t have been a problem for me, but for a 3’30 hill climb starting 15 seconds adrift was dumb. The only saving grace that day was that Dani had been caught out by #4 above. He was riding a borrowed carbon disc wheel with tubular tires and had punctured with no means of repair gifting me a hollow victory. Dumb and dumber?
I am sure that other more experienced riders will be able to add many more to this list and I look forward to hearing some more DOs and DON’Ts. I can laugh now at my misadventure but if there is one thing to learn from this it is DON’T STICK YOUR FINGERS IN THE SPOKES OF A MOVING WHEEL.

The Magic of Retiring in Ann Arbor

If you’re looking for a retirement destination that will offer you the benefits of a rich culture, a cosmopolitan environment and is comparatively inexpensive, maybe you’d like to consider Ann Arbor in the state of Michigan.

The population of this town is slightly over 114,000, with 8% of residents being over the age of 65 years. This is where the University of Michigan is located. In fact, the cultural life of the town centers on the university, ranging from live musical shows at The Ark to plays performed at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater. There are 38,000 students at the University where you’ll also find Gothic architecture.

Apart from the pleasures of life in Ann Arbor, the fact that Detroit is only 43 miles away is an advantage in itself. So if you’re keen on cultural pursuits, you can reach the renowned Fisher Theatre in Detroit as well as the Detroit Institute of Arts in less than an hour. Sporting events are regarded as highlights whenever they are held and are welcomed with gusto.

There are other reasons why you will love living in Ann Arbor. If you are happy with the beauty of nature, you’ll find plenty of it here, as there are a number of scenic beaches and lakes fairly close by. Temperatures here vary between 71.5° and 24° F.

There are also as many as 147 beautiful parks. If you feel like venturing out further, you could join the Ski Club or the Bicycle Touring Society. These organizations arrange safe and economically priced expeditions to various locations around the state.

Although prices of property in Ann Arbor have been going up, they are still not too high. For instance, a 3-bedroom house for a single family in Arbor will be available for about
$ 210,000. You could also get a large condo for about $ 1,300 per month.

Property taxes here are calculated according to a complex plan. According to this, property taxes for an average 3-bedroom house have been estimated at about $ 4,755. The town is small enough to feel friendly, yet sophisticated enough for retired people to feel at home.

The cost of living here is fairly reasonable, with income tax being levied at 4% and sales tax at 6%. Traffic tickets will generally be less than $ 10. There’s no dearth of restaurants where you could pack in a substantial breakfast or lunch for just about $5. The state of Michigan also provides drugs for senior citizens on various discount schemes.

On the whole, you’ll find that people move to Ann Arbor simply because they love the place. It’s considered a city of smart people who tend to draw more smart people. Boredom is one thing you won’t have to worry about in Ann Arbor. This is one place where you can expect to be touched by the intellectual flavor of the environment, not least of which comes from the University.

Even retired people who have moved to Ann Arbor from elsewhere say they feel stimulated by the environment and are able to carry on with their cultural, political and intellectual activities.

So, do you think Ann Arbor sounds like the kind of place you would like to live in once you hang up your boots? If so, perhaps it’s time to give it some serious thought so that you can strike while the iron is hot. Nothing could be worse than a missed opportunity – this could be one that you’ll regret for a long, long time.

So why not go for it and act now? Secure your future once and for all in a place that you cannot help but love. Remember not everyone gets to live in a place that they fancy. So you should consider yourself one of a privileged few. Check it out and you’ll probably find that this is nothing short of a dream destination!

The Temporary Side Effects of Laser Hair Removal: What To Expect From Your Treatment

Whether you are embarking upon your first or fifth laser hair removal treatment, it’s important to understand the potential side effects that could occur. The truth is that there are many temporary side effects possible, even if you have not previously experienced them in your past treatments.
Some of the temporary side effects from laser hair removal treatment include:

  •  Pain
  •  Swelling
  •  Folliculitis
  •  Redness
  •  Hyperpigmentation
  •  Blistering

Many of these side effects can be avoided by sticking to the precautionary measures advised by your laser hair removal specialist, and also by using a trained technician to administer your laser procedure. The truth of the matter is that if your laser hair removal technician is not highly qualified, then you are more likely to experience temporary side effects, like blistering and hyperpigmentation.

One more thing to keep in mind is the fact that you must adhere to all of the guidelines before treating your skin. As an example, it is not advised to tan or have sun exposure up to 30 days before your laser hair removal treatment. If you forget or provide false information, then you are likely to blister or experience hyperpigmentation because your skin has too much melanin below the surface.

As a basic overview, pain is a very common side effect of laser hair removal. Many specialists will allow you to use a topical numbing agent after your first treatment to prevent excessive pain in the skin. If you are undergoing your first treatment, it is not recommended to use a topical numbing agent because your laser hair removal technician needs to know how your skin reacts to plan further treatments and laser settings. If you are undergoing your first treatment and the pain is severe, you can ask your laser hair removal technician to stop, and you can make an appointment for another treatment using a topical numbing agent to reduce the pain. You can also expect your skin to be sore to the touch for up to 48 hours after your laser treatment, but after that, the pain will subside.

If you experience swelling after your laser hair removal treatment, that is actually normal. The laser is penetrating heat energy below the surface of your skin, and if you have highly sensitive skin, then it is common for it to swell. This is also true in more delicate areas, like your upper lip, bikini area, and other areas of your facial skin. That is precisely why it is not advised for you to schedule your laser hair removal before any type of special event, like a wedding, vacation, or any time that you will be taking pictures. The odds are that you may swell after your laser hair removal as a temporary side effect, so make sure to treat well in advance of any special occasions.

Folliculitis is also another common side effect that is only temporary. It involves the swelling of the follicles, and it will look like red bumps on the skin. This is actually a good side effect because it shows that your treatment is working. You may experience severe folliculitis on your bikini area, or any other area that has very dense hair. If you have coarse hair on your face as a woman, or if you are a man treating your beard area with laser hair removal, then you can count on having severe folliculitis because it will take more laser energy to kill the hair at the root in denser areas. The folliculitis will subside within a few days, but it is important to keep track of how long you have folliculitis so that you can tell your laser hair removal technician upon your next treatment in case it was an extreme reaction. Likewise, redness is another very common side effect that will subside within a few days. This is especially true in sensitive areas.

However, if you experience blistering or hyperpigmentation, it is important to call your laser hair removal center right away to alert them of any reaction that you may have had. Blistering can often occur if you have had sun exposure, or if an improper technique was used in the laser hair removal. If the blisters are not treated properly, they can lead to hyperpigmentation, which is dark areas on the surface of the skin caused by outside damage.

As a rule of thumb, if you have a concern about any side effects from your laser hair removal treatment, make sure to contact your laser hair removal center right away so that you can receive the best care and preventative treatment!

Ilgaz: Excellent location for Skiing, especially for beginners

The Ilgaz Mountains are in the Black Sea region, in the city borders of Kastamonu and ?Cankari, and have an altitude of 2,850 meters.

The region has a terrestrial climate, and the dominant wind direction is north-northwest. The skiing season runs between December and April. The snow is between 1-2m deep, and the ski runs are between 1,800 and 2,000m. Ilgaz has an extensive range of tracks for the beginner, through intermediate to the more advanced skier.

The Ilgaz ski resort lies 40km from Kastamonu and 73km from Cankiri. Tour buses and private vehicles make the journey from the center of Kastamonu.

There are five government guesthouses and two hotels at the resort, with another hotel 3km away. There are facilities for medical care, plus ski instructors and equipment for hire. There is a double- seated ski lift, two ski-lifts and T-bar, and a baby-lift. Besides winter sports, this national park is a popular and beautiful spot all year round.


Road Rash

No one likes to crash, but it is a part of cycling and most of the time your pride is all that gets hurt, plus a few tears in the Lycra. Your clothing helps prevent injuries, but sometimes you get cuts and scrapes, so is important to learn how to carefully assess and care for your cuts and scrapes if you fall. Most race venues have a first aid station and often EMTs or paramedics to provide assistance.  They will likely have the materials to clean and dress your wounds, but not all races and events provide this service.  One of my crashes occurred at a course in the middle of nowhere.  I had no supplies with me and when I went to registration to get help, a guy gave me a band-aid out of his wallet.  I had to drive 30 miles to an emergency department with a make shift dressing using napkins from a drive through restaurant and a t-shirt.  I wasn’t prepared and I won’t make that mistake again.  Be prepared and don’t count on others to take care of you. 
            The first step in deciding how to take care of a skin injury is making an assessment as to the type of wound.   ‘Road rash’ is a generic term generally referring to an abrasion.  Abrasions, loosely defined as a skin injury that grinds away layers of skin, are often very painful.  The most superficial layers of skin are removed and this can expose the sensitive underlying nerve endings.  That is why a small abrasion often hurts more than a deep laceration.  Usually there isn’t much bleeding associated with an abrasion because few of the small blood vessels are exposed and those that are may actually be cauterized by the friction forces of the crash itself.  What ever bleeding does exist should be controlled with direct pressure.  If the bleeding continues, it is likely that the wound is deeper than you initially suspected and evaluation by a physician is important.
            The next step is wound cleansing.  At the race site, I recommend that you use clean tap or bottled water with some sterile gauze and gently rinse and clean the wound.  The cleaning process is usually more painful than the actual crash. Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) can help with the pain.  Then at home it is very important to clean the wound thoroughly.  Although this is often the most painful step, it is definitely the most crucial.  The skin serves as the barrier to harmful bacteria between the outside environment and our bodies.  Once the skin is damaged via an abrasion, that barrier has been breached.  The healing process will be delayed and scarring more prominent if the wound is not clean. The shower is a great opportunity to clean the wound.  You must push through the discomfort and scrub away the dirt. If you cannot do the cleaning process yourself then be sure to have someone help scrub. The cleaner the wound, the less the chance of infection and the sooner the wound will heal.
            Once the wound has been thoroughly cleaned you are ready to apply a dressing.  It is important not to apply a dry dressing, like dry gauze to the wound because this will dry and stick to the tissue, removing healing tissue when it is changed.  A non-stick dressing such as Telfa or petroleum impregnated gauze such as Xeroform will work very well. These are available over the counter and should be a part of your race kit.  If you do not have these you can saturate dry gauze with an antibiotic gel.  It is important to keep the wound covered and moist.  Not too moist however.  When a dressing gets wet from seeping fluid from the wound it should be changed.  If the wound becomes too moist it will delay healing.  If the surrounding skin looks like you’ve been in the bath tub too long, the wound is too wet. 
You should change the dressing 2-3 times per day in the first 48-72 hours. This allows you to keep the wound and dressing clean.  If an infection starts it will likely develop in the first day or two.  Signs of infection include swelling, redness, warmth, increased pain and discharge or pus.  After the first 72 hours you can usually apply a dressing after a morning shower and leave it open to air in the evenings if you are in a clean indoor environment.
The best dressing for road rash on the legs and arms when riding is telfa or xeroform gauze held on with Band-Net (looks like white fish-net stocking).  One of the most challenging components to any dressing is getting the supplies and often you have to make do with the materials you have available.  Also, every cyclist should have a tetanus booster at least every ten years.
Road rash supplies are an essential part of a medical kit that is imperative for all competitive cyclists to have their own kit. (We will have more on medical kits later.) 
Supplies for a Road Rash Kit
  1. Your name, health insurance information, contact names and numbers
  2. Normal saline or bottled water
  3. Betadine or hydrogen peroxide
  4. Dry sterile gauze 
  5. Non-adhesive dressing material, both telfa and xeroform gauze
  6. Medical bandaging tape
  7. Band-net
  8. Polysporin antibiotic ointment
  9. Non-latex gloves
  10. Scissors
  11. Band-aid type bandages of varying sizes.
  12. Ibuprofen or Tylenol (know appropriate doses and safe use)
Remember, the ultimate goal is to prevent infection and allow the tissues to heal.  When in doubt, see a physician.

Last Minute Vacations

When it comes to planning a getaway, few people think that they want to end up planning last minute vacations. To make sure they get all of the accommodations that they want, they generally end up trying to plan things very well in advance, instead of waiting until it’s nearly time to leave. The fact is, though, that there are some distinct advantages that last minute vacations have over vacations that are planned far in advance.

For starters, it’s often easy to find last minute vacation deals that simply aren’t available with vacations that are planned ahead. A lot of all-inclusive vacations are put together as packages, and these packages are often valid for a certain length of time. When these deals are ready to expire, it’s easy to find them discounted at the last minute. Last minute travel bargains are also easy to find on things like cruise ships or tour groups. In situations like these, the cruise or tour is going to go on no matter how many people are on it, so directors often end up offering any remaining seats at a steep discount if the alternative is going to be a bunch of empty spots.

If travelers are willing to be flexible as far as their discount accommodations go, they can even find last minute vacation deals on places to stay. This might mean going to a bed and breakfast or inn instead of a hotel, and staying outside of the city instead of right in the middle of town, but that’s the price of choosing last minute vacations.

Sometimes, it even happens that someone books a vacation in advance, puts down their non-refundable deposit, and is later finds out that they are unable to go. In these cases, they might try to sell off their vacations to last minute travelers, hoping to recoup some of their expenses. Sites like Yatra.com offer whole selections of steeply discounted vacations to many different area, which can make planning last minute vacations even easier.

That said, there are some disadvantages to planning last minute vacations that every traveler should know about, too. Like the old adage “beggars can’t be choosers” says, people hoping for last minute vacation deals can’t afford to be picky. They might end up with flights that don’t leave right when they want them to, and have a stopover or two. They might not get to stay in the hotel of their choice. The advantage that planning a vacation well in advance has over planning a vacation at the last minute is flexibility. At the last minute, many flights and accommodations are booked, and last minute vacation planners are left to choose from what’s available. For travelers who are willing and able to overlook this, last minute vacation deals can be a great, inexpensive way to go on vacation. However, for those who have their hearts set on doing things a certain way, planning ahead might be worth it to give them the best possible selection.

Some people prefer to plan ahead to make sure that they get the departure time, accommodations, and other specific details that they want, at the cost of not having the kind of discounts that last minute vacations can come with. For everyone else, these last minute trips can be just as nice as a pre-planned vacation, but often come with a much lower price tag. With a little flexibility and willingness to compromise, anyone can find a great vacation at a low price, without the aggravation that comes with obsessively planning ahead.