Finding the Right Mountain Bike

Mountain Biking Handlebars

Breaking into the world of mountain biking can be a daunting task for someone who wants to buy their first bike. There are a few factors you should consider before you go out and buy a bike at your local department store. Do you want to go fully rigid, hardtail, or full suspension? Do you want clipless pedals or flats? How many gears do I want? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to choose the perfect bike.

Riding Style

The first thing you should research before buying a mountain bike is the terrain where you will be riding. Will you be shredding flowy downhill sections with moderate climbs peppered in, or will you be powering through rock gardens on mostly flat terrain? It could also be a mix of both. If you are going to be riding primarily flowy single tracks with a lot of climbing involved, you will want to go with a rigid or hardtail bike to maximize your climbs. With a full suspension bike, you’ll be losing ground each time you pedal and compress your rear shock, which will make your climbs much more labor intensive. If you plan on riding in rocky terrain, a full suspension bike is going to be your best friend. New suspension technology makes riding a mountain bike feel like you are driving a luxury car.

Pedals

One of the biggest learning curves I experienced when I got serious about mountain biking was learning how to unclip from my pedals. The pros to clipless pedals heavily outweigh the cons.  You can feel a dramatic difference in climbs by being able to pull and push with each pedal stroke, essentially doubling your output while you climb. You also have much more control over your bike since you are clipped in and attached to the pedals. Being clipped in is a double-edged sword, and results in the only downside to clipless pedals. If you are not familiar with unclipping, you will easily topple over whenever you go to put your foot down without properly rotating out of the clips. Once you are over the learning curve, you will never go back to flats.

Gear Ratio

There are a few different options when it comes to the gears on your mountain bike. It seems like most major bike manufacturers are producing one-by mountain bikes in 2017. The mentality behind this transition comes from the idea that most people don’t use all the gears on a 27-speed bike. By eliminating the extra chainrings, bike companies are also able to make bikes lighter. My advice to beginners is to always have more gears. When you’re out on the trail, you may need that extra low gear to get back to your car. As you gain experience, you may find that you no longer need the added weight and opt to convert to a one-by. If you are really feeling adventurous, you could convert your bike to a single-speed, but at that point, I feel like riding is more of a chore than something you are enjoying.

Mountain biking is a great way to spend time outdoors while still getting an intense workout in. The mountain biking community is an accepting and fun crowd that is always up for the next adventure. Do yourself a favor and find your nearest mountain biking club so you’ll never have to ride alone.

Crushing Paleo Cravings

Peanuts

When it comes to dieting, there always seems to be the looming question of how to prevent cravings.  The truth is, you can’t completely prevent cravings.  They’re our bodies natural “push notifications” to let us know that we are deficient in one nutrient or another.  The problem with cravings stems from curbing them with unhealthy food from an early age.  The most intense cravings usually come when you first decided to go Paleo since your body is not used to running on Paleo fuel. Once you understand what your body is craving, it becomes much easier to eat a Paleo-friendly alternative.

Chocolate

A magnesium deficiency is the most common reason we crave chocolate.  Since chocolate is not on the list of paleo diet treats, we find ourselves looking for other ways to combat that craving.  One sweet treat that can boost magnesium levels and leave you satisfied is a frozen banana dipped in raw organic peanut butter.  Bananas are loaded with magnesium, and provide other vital nutrients to help you recover from a workout and stay hydrated.  

Bread

The biggest issue I had when going paleo was giving up bread.  It is a staple in nearly every household in America, and it is difficult to cut something like that out of what you consume each day.  When craving those highly processed carbs, look to something else that is high in nitrogen, which is what you’re lacking during those bread cravings.  Foods high in protein, especially fish, also tend to be nitrogen-rich foods.  Broil a piece of Alaskan salmon with a side of green beans to make your brain forget what bread ever tasted like.  Your body will thank you later.

Dairy

One of the staples of the Paleo diet is swearing off all forms of dairy.  When your mind is craving dairy, the odds are your body is telling you to eat because you are calorie deficient.  There are two schools of thought on when to eat.  You can either eat when you’re hungry, or you can eat throughout the day so that you do not get hungry.  If you believe the latter, you may find yourself between meals craving a cold glass of milk.  Raw nuts are one of the easiest ways to get calories into your body quickly and in the most guilt-free way possible.  A handful of cashews should do the trick to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Starting a new diet can be scary for many people, and they’ll often look to give in to any craving that comes their way.  Think of going Paleo as a lifestyle change instead of a diet, and you’ll start understanding how to better plan for these cravings by stocking your cupboards with the right substitutes for the job.

Seven Gifts for the Workout Enthusiast in Your Life

 

What’s more fun than writing a blog about all of the gifts that you’d like to receive? Not much, in my mind. Lucky for me, I have a lot of workout junkies and health nuts in my family, so doing a bit of pre-holiday research comes just in time.

Take a look at the following roundup provided by Refinery29. Take note: these gifts are primarily aimed for those who simply can’t go a day without their workout fix. The marathon runner; the kale smoothie maker, the cyclist who rides each morning despite the rain. What’s really cool–these gifts are out of the box. They special or unique while still catering to that adventurous spirit.

  1. For the Yogi

La Vie Boheme Medina Yoga Mat, $86, available at La Vie Boheme.

Take a look at this funky mat. Practical and full of style, this mat will provide your favorite Yogi with hours of inspiring motivation.

  1. For the Runner

Road Runner RPI Travel Stick, $27.99, available at Road Runner.

I have about four different tools like this one at home yet this seems to be a perfect model. Small in size, this muscle tamer will travel well with you no matter where you’re headed next. Why I like this? The gift is thoughtful. You’re not giving the runner in your life another gift card to the Sporting Goods emporium. This one comes from experience. And that’s something everybody loves to receive.

  1. For the Multi-Trainer

SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask, $34.99, available at Nathan Sports.

Anyone who has participated in multi-race events will understands the true gift of the water bottle that carries you from land to bike to sea. Shower your ambitious friend with this upgraded model that even has built in compartments for keys, ID, and emergency fuel.

  1. The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer

Gu Energy Gel, $34.80, available at Gu Energy.

Why go for candy when you can stuff these covetable energy gems inside your loved ones’ stockings? Great for runners, cyclists, and hikers, these on-the-go power packs will give you the fuel you need to complete that last few miles.

  1. For the True Glamper

Primus Onja 2 Burner Stove, $139.95, available at REI.

Check out this upgraded camping stove that’s designed for the true glamper. What exactly is a glamper?

  1. For the sweetheart in your life

Weightlifting Necklace, $11.95, available at Etsy.

Sometimes traditional charms just won’t cut it. Check out this sterling silver necklace adorned with tiny replicas of all your favorite crossfit gear.

  1. For the person who’s always on the go

Skullcandy XTFree Wireless Headphones, $99.99, available at Skullcandy.

The revolution in wireless headphones has just begun. Gift this high tech set and your loved one will be rocking the latest

A Brief History of Fad Diets (And Why Paleo Is Here to Stay!)

It seems as though a new fad diet pops up on a weekly basis without fail. You finally know what one is about and maybe decide to try it out when suddenly there’s some new craze in this month’s magazines that’s guaranteed to work better than anything you’ve ever tried before. No matter what the diet is, it seems complicated and like a lot of work, though probably less work than closely monitoring all your meals in addition to exercising on a consistent basis. People want fast solutions, which has caused the rise of fad diets over the last couple hundred years.

Well, one of the newest diet crazes goes beyond a fad; the paleo diet! A nod to our caveman ancestors, this diet focuses on the foods that biology meant for us to consume.

Photo of  a pomegranate

History of Fad Diets

Fad diets have been around as early as the 1820s (though they likely existed long before that). In the 1820s, Lord Byron encouraged people to drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar in an effort to shed weight. At this time, other liquid-only diets were suggested and have stuck around since then. Over a hundred years later, the Grapefruit Diet rose to popularity, which encouraged a low calorie diet and a piece of this fruit with every meal. These relatively harmless diets were followed by others such as the founding of Weight Watchers in 1963, Slim Fast (a diet of mostly shakes with a daily substantial meal) and The Atkins Diet (low-carb, high protein) came onto the scene in the 1970s. In the 2000s, the South Beach Diet (a less intense version of Atkins) and juice cleanses become more popular and caught numerous followers.

In more recent years, the Paleo Diet burst onto the scene. This diet, however, has already proven its effectiveness.

The Paleo Diet

Why has the Paleo diet achieved so much popularity in recent years? To start, people began realizing that we’ve evolved over the last few million years from hunters and gatherers, but that it’s only within the last 10,000 or so years that humans settled onto farms and began producing food that way. Many argue that this period of time is incredibly short compared to the rest of human history and that our bodies have not yet properly adapted to consuming food this way. The root of this argument? Paleo diet is evolutionarily and historically best for the human body.

A main point of the Paleo Diet is cutting out grains, because our bodies haven’t developed to digest these properly, which explains the prevalence of gluten intolerance. Those suffering from celiac allergies are able to cut out gluten and eat a healthy diet through the paleo diet. The paleo diet has also helped reduce people’s symptoms who suffer from autoimmune diseases, along with various other conditions. Some people theorize that a root cause of many diseases lies in our incorrect diet, so switching to the paleo diet can help fix these issues. You’ll also take-in less sugars on the paleo diet, which can fight obesity and many other health issues, such as tooth decay, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Paleo is still gaining steam, but those who follow the diet sing its praises and swear that it’s the best diet for any human.

What are your thoughts? What fad diets have you tried over the last few years (or decades)?

Photo of a steak on a bed of rosemary

Paleo Diet Secrets: 5 Tips to Survive and Enjoy Your First Month

Photo of fruits and vegetables pexels-photo-100801-large

If cutting calories is not an aspect of dieting that you particularly enjoy, the Paleo Diet just may be the diet you’ve been looking for. Based on the types of food our ancient ancestors ate, this unique approach to eating healthier promotes optimal immune function, stronger muscles, and healthy bones through foods like grass-fed meat, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils.

This may seem like a difficult diet to maintain, but with the following tips on how to properly manage your first month, you’ll be able to develop healthy eating habits that could last a lifetime.

Budget your trips to the grocery store

Introducing non-processed foods and organic meats into your diet can rack up a pricey grocery bill. Be sure to write down what you plan to buy before entering the store, and set a price limit. A simple mistake first-time dieters tend to make is spending much more on expensive products because they fall under the category of “what to eat.” Research the least expensive foods that still fulfill your diet needs, and don’t go overboard.

Prepare meals the night before

If you are following this diet while contributing to the working world, first of all, hats off to you. To make your life a little easier, make any lunches or snacks that you plan to eat the next day the night before. This not only saves time but can build a healthy routine that could contribute to the successes of your diet in the long run.

Snack in between meals

Cutting carbs and dairy products out of your typical diet commonly leads to feeling hungry more often in the early stages. Luckily, the Paleo Diet allows you to eat a snack in between breakfast and lunch, and again before dinner. Your best choices for these mini-meals could be sliced lean beef, seasonal fruit, sliced apples, or raw nuts.

Exercise

The best way to see results faster from this diet is to exercise on top of it. In addition to improving results of the diet, this is an extremely healthy lifestyle habit to develop. Even if your day is a little too busy to squeeze in a quick workout, exercising just three to five times a week is sufficient.

Get creative!

Just because you’re dieting doesn’t mean every one of your meals must be bland and tasteless. Take advantage of all the foods you are able to eat, and find some fun recipes online, or come up with your own. Your options are endless!

Though starting a diet can seem like a dismal process, it is a practice that you will not regret. The Paleo Diet is an effective and easy way to improve your daily eating habits and can build healthy routines along the way. Once you begin to see results, the rest will come naturally.

Why Cycling? Reasons Why Cycling Should Become Your Next Addiction

There are countless hobbies and activities in the world that people take up every day, but few are as valuable as cycling. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider adopting this healthy habit.

Lose Weight and Increase Health

Not only can cycling promote weight loss, but this form of exercise can also improve your body’s overall well-being. This activity is an extremely effective way to burn calories depending on the intensity of the ride, and size of the rider, using several muscle groups throughout. According to National Healthcare Provider Solutions, cycling can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50% as well.

Photo of a bike and cyclist

Be Happier

With exercise comes a rush of endorphins. Cycling is one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can perform, and in turn, can reduce stress. If you’re feeling down or having a bad day, just a 30-minute bike ride is all it takes to release a surge of endorphins powerful enough to counter any negativity that you’re harboring. Introducing cycling into your weekly routine can create long lasting benefits to your mental health.

Become Environmentally Friendly

Perhaps one of the more obvious upsides to cycling is the eco-friendly aspect. Unlike driving a car, bicycles use no fuel, require no batteries or motor oil, and take little energy to make, all of which can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. In addition to helping out our planet, cycling also decreases traffic congestion, making that daily commute just a little bit easier for everyone on the road.

Kick Unhealthy Habits

Developing a positive addiction to cycling can take the place of any harmful dependencies you may struggle with, whether those are smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or overeating. Devoting time to this new hobby will reduce time available to give in to these unhealthy habits, and can create a routine that will eventually phase them out entirely.

Photo of a bike and cyclist

Bond with Friends and Family

Cycling is arguably one of the most social physical activities you can be a part of. Chances are there is a cycling club in or around your local area, in which you can build new friendships and connections within the community. This is also a hobby that the whole family can enjoy. The youngest of family members can join the ride in a bike seat and enjoy the scenery, while the oldest can ride alongside themselves, enjoying the fact that cycling is easy on the joints. With how impressionable children are, this also a great way to develop healthy habits early on, as they will see how cycling is a standard part of your day and want to mimic your actions.

So, if you’re seeking a new hobby, a different form of exercise or just an activity to remove the mundane from your life, cycling is one of your best options. Research what bicycles may work best for you, strap on a helmet, and begin your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Photo of a bike and cyclist

Reasons Why You Should Make CrossFit Part of your Summer Routine

 

Crossfit: Many Benefits

Summer is great way to get back into shape or to discover a new workout routine. For years, I’ve explored various fitness approaches in the quest to achieve an optimal level of health. Over the past year or so, I’ve developed a love for Crossfit. This high intensity routine has surged in popularity over the last decade and owes its success to the effectiveness and collaborative nature of its design. Interested in learning more about CrossFit? Why not try this extremely fun and effective fitness program out this summer!

 

You’ll get into Amazing Shape

Check out any photo of a crossfit gym and my point will be illustrated perfectly. Crossfit is a phenomenal way to get into amazing shape, super fast. You’ll learn to push your body and fight through the pain. You’ll continue through it because you’ll be surrounded by fellow success stories.

 

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It’s All About Community

One of the best things about the Crossfit craze is the strong community that accompanies the workout. You’ll never be in the gym lifting weights alone. You’ll be scarce to find a fellow crossfitter who won’t jump in and model a new move. This can be extremely beneficial to new crossfitters as they learn and adapt to the movements.

 

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You’re Life Will Improve

Yes, you’ll be in better shape. Yes, you’re heart and your joints will be healthier. But you’ll also notice improvements in other areas of your life. To start, you’ll notice a huge mood in your mood. Constant exercise performed alongside your active community will do wonders for your mental health. You’ll laugh more. You’ll sweat more. You’ll release a ton of endorphins. Who wouldn’t want to achieve a lifestyle that gets you in shape and manages your mental health as well?

 

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It’s Fun

There’s something electric about the sport that motivates and excites even the most timid fitness enthusiast. Why is the sport so fun? Many of the movements hark back to your childhood days; playing on the playground. It’s a wild form of freedom. And an outlet that many adults don’t get to explore nearly enough. Exercise should be fun. The most successful athletes can manage their health and keep up with their routines because of this aspect. The secret to crossfit is the varied workout movements. You’ll never get stuck cycling for an hour or repeating the same three circuits. Crossfit is all about varying the movements to target different parts of your body in fast and intense interval cycles.

 

Crossfit continues to make its way into every town and city in America. It continues to cultivate new communities of crossfitters; individuals who notice a tremendous improvement in their physical and mental health. What about you? Will crossfit change your life this summer?

 

Not sure you’re ready to try it out a gym or Crossfit studio? Check out my previous post, where I outline one of my favorite workouts. A few of these movements are crossfit standards!

 

Crossfit woman

2016 Fitness Gear Round-Up

As a fitness connoisseur and lifelong adventurer, I’m always on the hunt for the newest tools and gear to make fitness even more fun and rewarding. 2016 doesn’t disappoint. Check out my latest discoveries. Have you used any of these? What gear have you found to be the most rewarding?

 

2016 Fitness Gear Round-Up

 

Best Cycling Apparel : Vulpine Button Down Oxford Shirt : Perfect for days when you want to ride to work but don’t want to bring a change of clothes. This classic-cut shirt features a lycra mix for stretch and flat seams to prevent chafing.

Men's Button Down Oxford Shirt, Vulpine.
Men’s Button Down Oxford Shirt, Vulpine.

 

Best Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Charge HD : While the fitbit remains to be inaccurate when it comes to measuring miles or tracking steps, it still provides many useful features like the GPS and its community centric spirit. Compete against your family members and friends to see who log the most miles. Are you the fittest of them all?

 

Best Running Watch: Garmin Forerunner 225 / Need to upgrade your running watch? Check out Garmin’s latest tech that features its first heart-rate monitor. It’s best chest-free device a runner can find.

Garmin Forerunner 225
Garmin Forerunner 225

 

Best bike light: Blaze Laserlight / Need your own bat signal? Check out the Blaze, a front light that projects the image of a green, neon bicycle in front of you. The strategy–to help motorists see you before you arrive is a genius way to announce your impending arrival.

 

Best running shoes: ASICS MetaRun / Runners, look no further. This shoes was designed with long-distance runners in mind and has spent more than 3 years being tested in the lab. The kicker? There’s only 60,000 of these shoes made so you better hurry to claim your own.

Asics MetaRun
Asics MetaRun

 

Best headphones: Trainer Ti100 / These lightweight in-ear earphones feature two custom tips. While these phones offer a few improvements from the previous model, like a looser fit, these earphones may feel like they’ll slip out, though they won’t on your run!

 

Best Sleep tech: Withings Aura / Sleep is fundamentally important to athletes so why not include this on the gear roundup. This comprehensive sleep device will measure, soothe, and help keep you slumbering each night. Featuring a smart alarm and brightening lamp, designed to wake you slowly and naturally. Connect the supporting app to monitor your the temperature and noise while you sleep.

Withings Aura
Withings Aura

 

As a fitness lover and outdoor enthusiast, I find it amazing, and at times, overwhelming, at the amount of new technology and gear that is available to buy. It may seem easy to get stuck using the same brand of running sneakers for years on end, but why not give another brand a try? You might be amazed at the differences between two shoes. As always, send me your latest finds as your embark on your active lifestyle.

 

Paleo Diet: Making the Switch

 

Paleo: Making the Switch

 

In my earlier post, I’ve outlined the basic history and overview of the Paleo Diet. While many of you may find it an interesting topic, you may find yourselves questioning if this lifestyle change is right for you. What are the noticeable differences? How will it affect my life for the better? Most importantly, how will this be different from all of the other diets I’ve tried?

I know first hand how difficult it can be to manage a new exercise routine or diet change. These are significant life changes and they require a large amount of time and dedication. After the initial excitement of embarking on a new journey wears off, what remains? You feel tired. You’re craving your traditional food choices. Worse yet, you’ve committed weeks, maybe even months to the change and you’re barely seeing any results.

 

Plant photo

 

Various diets promise fast results overnight. Don’t believe them. I’m can’t promise that adopting the lifestyle will be easy. What I can guarantee is that in a short amount of time, you will have more energy and you’ll look and feel healthier. The Paleo Diet is different from other fad diets. It prioritizes real food that our ancestors ate millions of years ago. We’re not only biologically built to consume this food, but to benefit from the specific nutrients related to it. Check out the list below as a preview of the awesome new lease on life you’ll receive after making the switch.

 

You’ll look better.

What happens when you consume more protein and fats? You’ll not only lose weight but you’ll develop muscle in its place. By ditching a carb-heavy diet, you’ll be reaching for a richer, healthier palette of foods designed to sculpt your body into a leaner and stronger form.

 

Cherries

 

You’ll feel better.

You’ll not only eat a lot of meat but you’ll also consume a large portion of vegetables. Vegetables are the secret to a healthy and happy digestive system. Strive to eat 2-3 servings of dark, leafy greens for a week and watch what happens. You’ll micro-biome, or your gut’s ecosystem will begin to repair and run at an efficient level. Amazing things happen when your gut is in working order.

 

Sunlight on tree.

 

You’ll sleep better.

Paleo prefers that you exclude coffee from your diet. This can be an extremely hard switch to make. You’ll no doubt feel tired, restless, even depressed. This is what happens when your body detoxes from harmful substances. If you’re serious about adopting a pure Paleo diet, try and stick with the elimination. In a few weeks, your body will begin to adjust to your normal energy levels. Better yet, you’ll have less sleeping issues due to the elimination of caffeine in your system.

 

Cat sleeping

 

You’ll work faster.

Your bones will be stronger. You won’t be reliant on caffeine. The paleo diet restarts your system to run at an efficient level. Another added perk? Say goodbye to the mid-afternoon slumps at work. When you’re no longer dependent on caffeine or sugar, your body will no longer run in spells, dipping when sugar is low. For those interested in adopting a Paleo lifestyle, the rewards are countless. Check back often for more posts on how to live a healthy and active life.

 

Man Hiking

 

4 Tips Every Beginning Cyclist Should Know

 

Mark Dziuban offers 4 tips.
Mark Dziuban offers 4 tips.

 

 

Cycling is a great way to become physically active while providing an outlet for the adventurous and travel-minded individual. It’s a great way to boost your aerobic activity. It’s also an excellent way to support the environment. All beginning cyclists can benefit from the following tips, designed to get you logging dozens of miles in no time.

 

Develop a Plan

 

The sooner you create a plan for your cycling routine, the faster you will see results. Cycling, like any form of aerobic conditioning, requires a steady, but slow, plan. You can find hundreds of training plans online or in cycling guidebooks. These plans help get you from a low-mileage position to race-ready in a matter of weeks or months. Check out this plan, featured on Bicycling.com.

Additionally, researching local races or rides can be a great motivator to put your plan in action. You’ll find it easier to stick with your weekly and monthly goals when you have your eye on a larger prize.

 

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Invest in Proper Equipment

 

What tools do cyclists need? To start, you’ll need to research what type of bike is right for you. Check out REI’s guide, here, for an overview–road, mountain, crossover, folding? Be sure to have your bike fitted. Test rides are an extremely important process in buying this investment piece. Unlike a pair of sneakers that may only last a season, a high-quality bike can provide you with years of value.

Necessary accessories include safety gear (helmet and reflective clothing), tail lights, an adjustable mirror, a travel-sized tool kit, and a small saddle bag to hold your accessories. It’s not a bad idea to keep a rain jacket, water bottle, and snacks with you, either.

 

Take care of the human machine

 

This is a crucial tip for any new fitness program. Proper self-care will provide you with a solid foundation. After each workout, carve out time to stretch. Make healthy eating a priority. Keep track of the hours that you sleep and strive for longer sessions. Because cycling is such a time-consuming and physically strenuous activity, it’s also important to fit the activity around your professional life. As a beginner, it’s not advisable to log a difficult workout after spending 10 hours in the office. Train when you’re fresh and take time to recover when you’re feeling tired. Living a healthy lifestyle will support all of your physical endeavours and allow you to reach your fitness goals faster.

 

Row of Bikes. 4 Tips for New Cyclists

 

Join a Community

 

Finding a community of riders can be a huge help in motivation. Stop by your local bike shop for teams that ride in the area. Just like the bicycle, you’ll want to find the right group for you. Groups will differ widely in terms of style and purpose. It’s most beneficial to first find a “no drop” team. During the ride, experienced cyclists will fall back to help those unable to continue with the pack. Before you begin your group adventure, you’ll want to be sure you can ride in a straight line, have all of the proper equipment, and are capable of controlling your speed.
If you’re not ready for the large group ride, why not enlist a friend or family member to start the hobby with you. You’ll receive the same amount of motivation with less stress.

 

Bike shot. 4 Tips for new cyclists.