Your Answer to Offsetting Winter Weight Gain May Be More Sunlight

As if there weren’t enough factors conspiring to pad us with fat during the winter, we can now add lack of sunshine right behind cookies and eggnog. Groundbreaking research from the University of Alberta has found that certain light from the sun’s rays might reduce fat and regulate metabolism, while too little bodily exposure to these rays can make our fat cells plump.

It all comes down to scWAT, or subcutaneous white adipose tissue. It’s the major form of fat in humans that sits beneath our skin’s surface and helps regulate our metabolism, including how much fat we store. These cells shrink when exposed to blue light waves from the sun, according to the study.

RELATED: How to Get More Sunlight During the Day

"When the sun’s blue light wavelengths—the light we can see with our eye—penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell," study author Peter Light, professor of pharmacology and the director of UAlberta’s Alberta Diabetes Institute, said in a press release. "In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat."

Theoretically, the reverse is also true: Insufficient sunlight exposure could increase fat storage and help add extra pounds to our bodies. So people in northern climates, who deal with shorter days in the colder months, may have the relative lack of sunlight to blame for their wintertime weight gains.

Look good riding in the sun with these Oakley shades: 

RELATED: How Much Vitamin D Boosts Your Immune System?

This is all extremely preliminary and not an excuse to eschew sunscreen or ride your base miles in your birthday suit. But Light, a cyclist himself, is keen to determine just how much sun exposure it takes to have an effect.

“We are actively following up with more research to determine if just the fat exposed to sunlight is affected, or can this effect be transferred to other fat cells that are covered up,” he says. “So short sleeves and shorts may be all that’s required, especially if you like the tanline look.”

In the meantime, you have an excuse to test his theory somewhere sunny and warm. See you in Sedona!

Check out Bike Your Butt Off! for more weight loss tips for cyclists.

Biking in Sunlight - Winter

Biking in Sunlight - Winter

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Here’s What Happens When Cyclists Don’t Protect Themselves from Sunburn

South African racer Louis Meintjes got a painful lesson in skin care this weekend, if a photo he tweeted on Saturday is any indication. The grisly image showed his back, which had turned beet-red aside from glaring white stripes left from his heart rate monitor and bib straps.

What happened? Well, the Dimension Data rider had neglected to slather on sunscreen beneath his mesh jersey and got badly sunburned.

“Rookie mistake,” Meintjes wrote, adding a few emojis for effect.

His followers, though largely sympathetic, offered an amusing array of color commentary, so to speak. Some noted the pattern resembled the flag of Denmark:

Others felt his pain and/or expressed gratitude for the public sun-safety announcement:

RELATED: The UPF Gear You Need to Avoid Sunburns While Riding

And of course, this being Twitter, more than a few offered unsolicited advice on what he should do next:

Hopefully it worked and Meintjes is back in the saddle without seeing red.

Louis Meintjes Sunburn

Louis Meintjes Sunburn

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The Surprising Reason Why Drivers Don’t ‘See’ Cyclists

It’s bad enough that we have to worry about distracted drivers looking down at their phones, but new research has found an even more vexing trend: Drivers can look straight at cyclists and still not “see” them, leading to dangerous or deadly encounters on the roads.

A recent study out of Australian National University asked 56 adults to examine a series of photographs depicting common roadway scenarios from the driver’s point of view. Some photos were manipulated to include either a motorcycle or a taxi. Overall, the volunteers were more than twice as likely to notice the appearance of the taxi as they were to spot the motorcycle. In fact, a full 65 percent indicated that they didn’t see the motorcycle at all.

This phenomenon—a person’s failure to notice an unexpected object in plain sight—is known as “inattentional blindness.” It’s the reason why a driver might look right at you, but cut you off anyway. Their eyes see you and your bike, but they don’t register your presence (as they would if you were in a car). And, sometimes, they hit you. That also has a name: looked-but-failed-to-see (LBFTS) crashes.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Driving Alongside Cyclists

“When we are driving, there is a huge amount of sensory information that our brain must deal with. We can’t attend to everything, because this would consume enormous cognitive resources and take too much time," study author Kristen Pammer, a professor of psychology and the associate dean of science at Australian National University, said in a press release. "So our brain has to decide what information is most important. The frequency of LBFTS crashes suggests to us a connection with how the brain filters out information.”

See how to safely pass a cyclist in your car:

Though the study focused on motorcycles, it doesn’t take a giant leap of logic to discern how well cyclists would fare in the same scenarios.

RELATED: Distracted Driving Can Kill Cyclists, Yet Some States Only Charge a $20 Fine

“I imagine the issue might be even worse for bicycles that operate in traffic differently from cars or motorcycles,” inattention blindness expert Daniel J. Simons, co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Invisible Gorilla, told Bicycling. “We tend to see what we’re looking for, and we often miss unexpected things, especially when they differ from the focus of our attention. So if drivers are always looking for cars and bicycles are rare, they can look right at the cyclist and not see them.”

The study concluded that more driver awareness programs should instruct on how to watch out for non-car road users. In the meantime, Simons said, “assume drivers won’t see you and ride defensively.” Employing some of the same strategies as motorcycles, such as daytime running lights, may help cyclists catch the attention of drivers.

Keep up with the latest cycling news by subscribing to our newsletter

Cyclist Looking Out for Cars

Cyclist Looking Out for Cars

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In Honor of Eddy Merckx, the 2019 Tour de France Will Start in Brussels

The 2019 Tour de France will start with two stages in and around the Belgian capital of Brussels in a tribute to Eddy Merckx, race organizer Christian Prudhomme confirmed on Tuesday.

The first, 119-mile stage will set off from the city’s Royal Museums of Fine Arts and take in the Lion’s Mound on the battlefield of Waterloo and the Mur de Grammont, a steep climb used in the Tour of Flanders.

The following day, a 17-mile team time trial will run from the Royal Palace to the Atomium, one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

RELATED: 7 Reasons Why We Can’t Wait for the 2018 Pro Cycling Season

The 2019 Tour will mark 50 years since Belgian great Merckx first took the overall race leader’s yellow jersey on home soil at Woluwe-Saint-Pierre near Brussels, where his parents ran a grocery shop. It will also mark 100 years since the introduction of the yellow jersey.

Now 72, Merckx, nicknamed the Cannibal, won the 1969 Tour de France and went on to win it a record-equalling five times overall, the last being in 1974. (Pick up this incredible Eddy Merckx Alphabet poster.)

RELATED: The 5 Must-See Stages in the 2018 Giro d’Italia

"It was important to start in the home city of the champion who has worn the yellow jersey more times than anyone else," Prudhomme said.

Brussels previously hosted the "Grand Depart" of the Tour de France in 1958.

Eddy Merckx 1971

Eddy Merckx 1971

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Happy FriYay! Enjoy the Best Bike Videos of the Week

It’s time to get stoked for the weekend’s riding possibilities with another roundup of our most awesome bike videos from the week. Whether you love sweet bike stunts or jaw-dropping riding feats, there’s something guaranteed to get you inspired to grab your bike and get out there. (Show off all the elements you love about cycling with our Periodic Table Of Cycling Posteravailable in the Bicycling shop.)

We kick it off with a pro-level circus act from Tomas Burcak from Slovakia, who, in a video humbly captioned “multitasking,” literally hops aboard his rollers and proceeds to juggle. Pretty amazing feat for those of us who consider staying vertical while riding rollers without crashing into the TV high-level multi-tasking…

Then we hop over to the south of Spain where fixed gear enthusiast Javi Ballestero and friends shush and slide—but stay totally upright—down a tight, twisty, definitely icy mountainside path. If you, like many of his followers, want to know what tires assisted such a feat, they were Marathon Winter Spiked tires from Schwalbe. But you may not want to try that one at home.

Two(!)-year-old Mateo Mercado shows us how to ride a rad wheelie with a little help from his dad…who is on a skateboard, proving the power of nature plus nurture. Not to be outdone, Max Bikelife busts out a single-handed, rooftop, townie bike wheelie, just because.

RELATED: The Wheelie: One Trick That Rules Them All

If none of that made your head spin, watching 3-year-old Demid Skripachenko from Russia pull off not a single, but a double barspin on his BMX bike will.

Hopefully you’re now inspired to spin out some of your own adventures this weekend. Be sure to tag us in your epic adventures on Instagram, and you could be featured in our next FriYay roundup. 

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Go Anywhere (and Have More Fun) With the Allied Alfa All Road

You might look at the Allied Alfa All Road’s disc brakes and generous tire clearance (up to 38mm) and be inclined to call it a gravel bike or an adventure bike. But despite having these features in common with those types of bikes, the All Road is something quite different.

It is a light, road-race-influenced bike with quick steering, a tight wheelbase (its chainstays are 420mm, only 1cm longer than those on the Allied’s rim-brake Alfa road bike), and a bottom bracket with 69mm of drop (similar to a race bike, though its longer fork and the option to add bigger tires would effectively raise the BB’s height). Unlike the stability-forward feel of a gravel bike, the All Road is very lively. With narrower tires, it’s almost indistinct from a road-race bike in the way it feels and moves: it’s stiff at the bottom bracket, with efficient pedaling; it’s compliant and very smooth; and it’s sharp, accurate, and intuitive in its handling.

RELATED: The Most Soul-Crushing Cycling Events on Every Continent

Allied Alfa All Road Bike
Matt Rainey

The All Road’s simple, 920-gram (claimed) frame also distinguishes it from the gravel genre. You won’t find mounts for fenders, racks, a third bottle cage, or a top-tube bag; it doesn’t have suspension, and it won’t accommodate 650b wheels. It’s just a bike with clean lines and proven geometry without the fluff. That isn’t to say those amenities aren’t desirable, even crucial, for a certain type of rider. But from my experience, it’s mostly the tires—and a bit of help from lower gearing—that make a bike capable off pavement. Despite bike manufacturers’ attempts to convince you otherwise—because selling you two bikes instead of one is in their best interest—a simple tire swap (and, of course, the appropriate clearance) is often all it takes to expand your road bike’s potential. That’s why, if you’re more in the market for a versatile bike (in terms of where it can go) and less concerned about having all those extras, the All Road fits the bill.

You Versus the Peloton: Riding on Flat Roads:

With 25mm Vittoria Corsas, the All Road is a road-racing bike. But throw on a set of 38mm Panaracer GravelKing SKs, and it becomes a gravel bike (race or otherwise). Hell, with 33mm Challenge Baby Limus tires, it becomes a cyclocross bike—or even a sweet singletrack ripper. I rode it primarily with 30mm Kenda Valkyries, which made the All Road a honey badger that didn’t give a shit where I rode it. Best part: Bigger tires don’t change the All Road’s fast and stiff personality; they just allow it to go more places and roll more smoothly. (Check out the world’s best cycling rides and routes, from Italy and Belgium to Arizona and Texas, in Bicycling‘s book The Cyclist’s Bucket List.)

The All Road isn’t the only alternative for a big-tire-ready, disc-brake, drop-bar bike. It may not be the right bike for everyone. But I like it because it feels and handles like the road-racing-style bikes I’ve been riding all my life. Only now it has much better brakes and can fit much bigger tires. It’s a bike that lets me go more places and do things I’d never dream about doing on a typical rim-brake, road-racing bike. And going places is how I have adventures.

Allied Alfa All Road Bike

Allied Alfa All Road Bike

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Win Winter With This Super Warm Sealskinz Cycling Glove

The Fingers
Your digits stay warmer when they have each other to cozy up with. The split construction of this lobster-style glove achieves this union while also providing the mobility you need to shift gears. Gussets at the knuckles let you bend your fingers freely for a better grip on the handlebar, and the brand’s highest level of insulation keeps you warm even when the temp dips below zero degrees.

RELATED: How Cold Weather Might Supercharge Your Workout

The Palm
Durable and abrasion-resistant palms are reinforced with extra stitching at key points and have additional padding in high-wear areas.

Here’s how to layer properly for winter rides:

The Liner
A waterproof and breathable liner lets sweat escape but keeps moisture from getting in. Plus, it’s securely fastened to the exterior, so it won’t slip or bunch when you take the glove off.

The Cuff
The longer the cuff, the more coverage you have. But it won’t do you any good if cold air creeps in. A Velcro closure lets you cinch the Highland down snug, and the cuff’s reflective piping makes you more visible on gloomy days.

winter gloves for cyclists

winter gloves for cyclists

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8 Things to Know About Cyclocross National Championships

Cyclocross National Championships are underway, with the elite race set for Sunday afternoon in Reno, Nevada. The town, best known for its casinos, is surprisingly fired up about the event: Everyone I’ve encountered, from the copy guy at Staples to the rental car customer service rep, has heard about the race and seems excited that it’s happening. But who should you place your bets on this weekend? There are a few things about nationals that you should know. (Keep up with all the latest cycling news by subscribing to our newsletter.)

Reno, baby!

Last year, the city held a UCI race that was a bit of a test to see how a bigger bike event might fare. This year, the nearly week-long nationals are being held at Rancho San Rafael Park. They began on Tuesday, January 9, and are culminating with the pro races on Sunday. In a weird way, it makes sense to see this event come to a Nevada town— after all, Las Vegas’ CrossVegas is one of the best-known cyclocross events in the US, and the first place that the US hosted a World Cup. Additionally, with Interbike moving to Reno next year, CrossVegas will also be shifting to the smaller version of Vegas. Nationals is a great chance to pave the way for more successful cycling events in the "Biggest Little City in the World."

Another National Race at Altitude

Reno is 4,506 feet above sea level, so racers can expect to feel some level of altitude adjustment—just not as much as they did in Boulder, where nationals was held four years ago. Boulder is 5,306 feet above sea level, and many contenders learned a valuable lesson while racing there: Don’t mess with altitude. Because of that, many of the racers have elected to arrive in Reno well ahead of the race, while others opted for altitude camps. Even those coming direct from Europe added a few days to their stay here—and not just because of the casinos and all-you-can-eat buffets!

It’s True Cross Tech

Reno got some rain earlier in the week—enough to render parts of the course muddy and the off-cambers treacherous. For anyone who said that Reno wasn’t the ideal place to host nationals, it’s time to eat your words. Considering that the East Coast is either snowbound or slushy, the semi-sunny, above freezing weather is a welcome change, while maintaining a cyclocross vibe. And Reno knows how to party, so that adds a bit of almost-Belgian flair to the mix.

KFC Goes for (an Unbelievable) 14 

Katie Compton, or Katie "Effin" Compton (KFC) as some call her, is one of the biggest stories this year, since she’s won nationals every single time since 2004. That’s right, she’s a 13-time national champ. Her season has been up and down thanks to some bad luck and issues with asthma, but she started 2018 by winning the Sven Nys GP race in Baal against world champion Sanne Cant, so it’s clear that she’s feeling pretty darn good. She’ll be one of the older racers in the field, but that’s never stopped her before.

Kaitie Keough is Right There

Ranked second in the world right now—above Compton—Kaitie Keough has been patiently waiting in silver-medal position for a long time at nationals (and Pan-Ams). This year, it’s been the Kaitie and Katie show at the front of many races, including in Namur where Compton took fourth and Keough finished sixth, so Keough is arguably the woman to watch if you’re looking for someone who can contend against Compton. It’s reminiscent of the Tim Johnson versus Jeremy Powers battles we watched just a few years ago: Compton is Keough’s former coach and still a good friend, while Johnson was a mentor-type to Powers on the Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld team when both were on it.

Can Stephen Hyde Hang onto His Crown?

It seems likely—Hyde was unstoppable earlier in the season, rarely off the podium and often topping it. Tobin Ortenblad had a few races where it seemed like he might be able to duke it out with Hyde, but by mid-October, the redhead from Florida was back on top. He won Pan-Ams back in October, and has had decent top-20 results over in Europe in the last two months. Will Hyde’s fitness hold up after an incredibly long season? Or will his knee issues hold him back? Ortenblad is hopping that his downtime training through the winter “break” will prove wiser than Hyde’s consistent racing. 

RELATED: Watch Cyclocross Legend Sven Nys Ride up a Staircase

Young Guns Will Be Blazing

This is the first year that Ellen Noble will be racing in the elite women’s race, and everyone is excited to see what the 22-year-old racer will do. She has been the four-time national champ in the younger categories, so there are a lot of U23 women currently excited to see how the U23 women’s race plays out without her. Emma White is the heavy favorite there. In the men’s field, the race will look different from earlier US-based races, since riders like Gage Hecht and Spencer Petrov won’t be in the men’s field. As U23 riders, they still took plenty of elite podiums early this season, and the race could easily go very differently without the young guns pushing the pace early in the race.

The Elites Have Prepped Very Differently

Some teams, like Aspire Racing, opted to cut racing after the Namur World Cup—the team comprised of Jeremy Powers, Ellen Noble, and Spencer Petrov even traveled to Albuquerque to get acclimated to altitude. But racers like defending champs Stephen Hyde and Katie Compton elected to stay in Europe and travel straight to Reno earlier. Some racers, like Kaitie Keough, who lives at altitude already, simply stayed home and traveled Wednesday night to Reno to get race-ready. But by Friday, all contenders will be in town. We’ll see what happens when they toe the line over the weekend.

So with all that in mind, who’s going to take the title? It’s anyone’s guess, so make sure you’re following Bicycling on Instagram and watching our Stories this weekend as we scope out the racing—and spectating—action.

Cyclocross Nationals in Reno

Cyclocross Nationals in Reno

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These Smart Sunglasses Let You Check Your Cadence and Heart Rate Without Ever Looking Down

As we explore the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, we’ve found that cycling gear is getting "smarter." Products like the Coros Omni helmet can wirelessly connect with your phone so you can get directions, make a call, or listen to music while staying safe on your ride. Eyewear brand Solos also got in on the action with its new smart sunglasses, featuring a built-in heads-up display. 

RELATED: 4 Wearables We’re Super Stoked About at CES 2018

We first saw Solos prototypes back in 2015, and it looks like the technology has come a long way. These smart shades project data into your line of vision, but without obscuring your view of the road. A see-through display allows you to switch views between the road and your data simply by changing your focus. All data screens are customizable so you can track your heart rate, cadence, and power depending on your training plan.

Sync up all your data by connecting to your smartphone and sensors using Bluetooth and ANT+. The Solos ride app pairs with other apps, like Training Peaks and Strava, to connect them with the sunglasses. Built-in speakers can provide calling and turn-by-turn navigation. 

Plus, the glasses use voice activation to make everything hands-free. (We’ve seen similar tech in Oakley’s Radar Pace sunglasses, which have built-in audio but no heads-up display.) This could help compulsive phone- and Garmin-checkers keep their eyes on the road during a ride. 

The new Solos Smart glasses should be available later this year with an MRSP of $499. 

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6 Weird Things That Happen to Your Body When You Get Scared on a Ride

What Fear Does to Your Eyes
There’s a reason cartoons show a character’s eyes growing saucer-size as he lies tied in the path of a train. When you’re scared, your eyes open wider so you can better see and process threats (that swervy rider to your left) and escape routes (the gap that’s opening up in front of him). A 2013 study published in Psychological Science found that people making a “scared face” versus a disgusted or neutral one enhanced their peripheral vision by 9.4 percent.

RELATED: How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Cycling Fears

What Fear Does to Your Neck + Shoulders
Your muscles tense when you’re freaked out, which can wreak havoc on your bike handling. To reduce this, relax your shoulders—performing some shrugs or shoulder rolls should help you loosen up. (Feel more confident in the saddle with the Bicycling Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills!)

What Fear Does to Your Heart
The body releases adrenaline when you’re scared, which triggers a rise in heart rate. It’s part of the “fight or flight response,” says Margee Kerr, PhD, a sociologist and author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear. “It’s meant to prepare us to be strong and fast.”

What Fear Does to Your Hands + Feet
If you’ve ever clutched the bar with clammy hands after outsprinting a menacing dog, you know that a scare can leave your extremities chilled. That’s because your body pulls blood away from the skin to aid major muscles and your heart and lungs. This prepares them to do hard work to help you flee.

Here’s how drivers can safely pass cyclists on the road:

What Fear Does to Your Bladder
“So scared I peed myself” is more than just a saying, says Denise Dixon, PhD, licensed psychologist with Suffolk Health Psychology Service in Port Jefferson, New York. An increase in your heart rate can trigger the kidneys to process fluids more rapidly, and voilà, you have to go. That sensation only adds to the anxiety—so maybe take a bathroom break before the jump line.

RELATED: 6 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Crashing

What Fear Does to Your Skin
Escaping a threat is a lot of work. Your body anticipates this by sweating to help you stay cool. But if you don’t end up sprinting, you won’t need that evaporative cooling—that’s why you may find yourself shivering after a scare.

injury prevention for cyclists

injury prevention for cyclists

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